Tonight The Holiday Hit Squad team returns (8pm, BBC1) for a second series. Angela Rippon (The Holiday Programme), Helen Skelton (Blue Peter) and Joe Crowley (The One Show) travel the globe inspecting hotels, dealing with foreign police and meeting holiday crooks so that you, hopefully, never have to. They offer advice on everything from insurance to lost passports, dubious watersides and the perils of safari.
"We don’t want to put people off [going on holiday]" says Rippon, "we want [people] to have a really great time, but we want to make them aware of the pitfalls that may exist and to show them how they can avoid them and if they do get caught, and how they can get out of it."
When we travel abroad, not only are the customs, laws and safety standards often different, but we are more relaxed than usual, explains Rippon. "You go away on holiday and you’ve got your holiday head on," she says, "you forget that things can go wrong... you forget all the precautions that you would take when you're at home. You make assumptions about where you are. We're here to make sure that you don't have the holiday from hell, that things don't go wrong."
Book with one travel company
"Some people, instead of doing something through an individual travel company, go online and book everything individually themselves," says Rippon. "You don’t have the same protection if something goes wrong as you do if you book through an individual tour operator. You could be getting your holiday accommodation and think that you’re booking it with a company in Britain, but it turns out it’s a company operating out of Spain somewhere – then if your hotel isn’t quite up to standard or quite what you want, you’ll have a quite a lot of difficulty getting through to the people who are responsible for giving you what you think you’ve paid for. [On the new series of Holiday Hit Squad] we give a lot of advice about how to avoid getting caught out."
Get travel insurance
"Make sure you have travel insurance," says Rippon. "Everybody really should have travel insurance because you just never know when something is going to happen when you are on holiday; at least [with it] you quite literally have insurance to get you out of a problem."
Keep hold of your passport
Rippon recalls one couple she meets during the show: “When they got to a hotel in Turkey, they were asked for their passports, which is quite normal,” she says. “People tend to take information from you when you go into a hotel. But instead of giving them back to them, the hotel said 'we keep them now until you leave.' They didn’t worry about that too much; they assumed they were going in a safe place. When they came to leave, the hotel said, 'we haven’t got your passports.' This huge row ensued; the couple was not able to catch their flight because they couldn’t leave the country, because they didn’t have their passports. They had to get temporary passports, the flight that they were getting on was leaving very early in the morning but the hotel wouldn’t let them go back into their bedroom so they had to sleep in the foyer of the hotel. Then they came back to Britain and got new passports, and all of this is an additional cost. The insurance company wouldn’t pay out, the hotel company wouldn’t pay out. They later discovered that the hotel did have their passports but they’d given them to another couple, who, without realising, had taken them home to England.” The Holiday Hit Squad tracked down the couple with the wrong passports and returned them, “at which point the hotel had to admit negligence,” explains Rippon. “We were able to get some kind of recompense from the tour company for that particular hotel as well. Never part with your passport. And always take a couple of copies of your passport with you. If someone insists on having your passport, give them the piece of paper, because that’s all that they need. Never part with your passport, it’s a very valuable document.”
Check your balconies
"If you check into a hotel and there is a balcony and you’ve got small children, check whether there is any furniture on the balcony that the children can get on, which makes them big enough that they could fall over the balcony," says Rippon. "Also, check whether the gaps on the bars of the balcony are so small that the child could get trapped or be able to crawl through it. Make sure it’s the way it’s supposed to be by British standards."
Be careful of your private property
“There are thieves and rogues all over the world. Be careful of your private property, and pay close attention to things like jewellery, iPads or valuables," says Rippon. "If you are mugged or if someone does steal from you for one reason or another [we give advice on Holiday Hit Squad] about the treatment that you are likely to get from the police station and how you should deal with it."
Take valuables out of your hand luggage
"A lot of the low cost airlines try and persuade people to only take hand luggage," says Rippon, "the trouble is the planes aren't being made and bigger and the overhead lockers aren't being made any bigger. It's a new kind of spectator sport – sitting in a plane watching people trying to get all of their hand luggage into those over heads," jokes Rippon. "We had an instance with a family [of four] who were going to Budapest. They got on the plane and there was no room for any of their bags. Because it's hand luggage, we tend to put personal stuff and valuable things in there. As there was now space to put it the air steward said, 'I'm going to have to take the bags,' the family assumed that the steward would put it in one of their lockers in the cabin. They didn't, they put it in the hold. The family hadn't locked their bags and hadn't taken out their valuables. When they got to the other end, they found out that the jewellery case the wife had taken was completely empty. If you are travelling and you are only travelling with hand luggage make sure you take out everything that's valuable and keep it on your person if you are told that there is no room for your hand luggage in the cabin. Carry a small lock so you can lock it before you hand it over. If it hasn't got a hold tag, it's pretty obvious that's it hand luggage, making it an easy target."
For more travel tips and advice watch Holiday Hit Squad tonight at 8pm, on BBC1
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