Britain may have just about shaken off the cold weather - winter is finally receding. It is April after all, and here at the Civil Aviation Authority, we're thinking that it's about time to welcome in some sunshine and get in to the holiday spirit.
As are also 12 million people in the UK who are so eager to get away for a short break that they're heading off on holidays within a week of booking them.
Year on year UK consumers are spending more on their holidays, which reflects what an important purchase it is to them.
So here are some tips for everyone who is planning a holiday in the near future.
Think outside the box - package holidays can be personalised
There are plenty of ways to tailor a holiday for you and your family, so don't be put off by the term 'package holiday'. Buying a package in which flights and accommodation are booked through one company means your holiday will be ATOL protected and your money will be safe.
Remember, if you book a hotel and flight with different suppliers, your whole trip will not be ATOL protected and you could lose your hard-earned cash if either company fails.
Do your research and check for ATOL protection
Make sure your package holiday is ATOL protected before booking - look out for the ATOL logo on travel company websites. Once you've booked, you'll receive an ATOL certificate which confirms what is protected-it's important to take this certificate on holiday with you.
Think beyond the price
There are some foreign-based travel companies, which offer cheap and attractive package holidays, but these will not be ATOL protected. If booking with a non-UK travel company, find out what financial protection - if any - they provide and if this covers company failure and repatriation. If not, you may decide to take out additional travel insurance to cover the risk of a company failing which is likely to mean paying extra.
Take your ATOL certificate with you
You must receive an ATOL certificate as soon as you pay any money towards an ATOL protected holiday. The certificate confirms what is protected, which company is responsible for your holiday booking (it may not be the company you are booking with directly) and what to do if the company ceases trading. Whether you print out the certificate or have a digital version with you, it's important to take your certificate with you.
Use a credit card and take out good medical and travel insurance
If you are booking your holiday through different travel operators, e.g. flight, accommodation, transfer, this will not be ATOL protected, so remember to pay with a credit or debit card. They provide some protection if the goods and services you've booked are not delivered. For instance, if one of the travel operators fails but may not cover consequential losses. Make sure you have travel insurance, which will cover medical costs and other expenses such as losing or damaging your possessions.
Visit http://www.packpeaceofmind.co.uk/ for more information about ATOL protection.