How you can escape to the sun and holiday on a budget
If the recent wet weather has dampened your mood, maybe the thought of a sunny summer holiday will brighten things up? Travel expert Simon Calder is here today to prove that escaping to the sunshine doesn’t have to break the bank. He’ll be talking us through his secret booking hacks, revealing whether it's cheaper to book through a travel agent or go it alone, and he’ll be sharing his expert list of the cheapest holiday destinations in Europe.
Can we expect any easter travel chaos?
Flying: Security strikes at Heathrow could continue
British Airways will be making dozens of cancellations, around 32 flights a day - mainly because of a planned strike by 1,400 members of the unite union working in security at Heathrow.
They are walking out From Friday 31st March until Easter Sunday 9th April, in a dispute over pay.
The only airline affected is British Airways from terminal 5; anyone flying from another terminal should fly as normal.
Heathrow Airport is telling passengers to turn up no earlier than two hours before European flights, or three hours before intercontinental flights.
French strikes could continue into April British Airways also says that striking air-traffic controllers in France, and undesirable weather are responsible for causing widespread disruption- with 50 flights cancelled to/from Heathrow on Thursday.
Multiple departures to Amsterdam, Hamburg, Nice, Prague and Zurich have been grounded, along with the inbound legs from those cities.
Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle are the domestic destinations affected too.
Crossing the channel: will we see chaos at Dover like last year?
Summer 2022 was plagued by seemingly endless issues at the UK's major ports, but in particular Dover, as the main crossing point between the UK and France.
Last year, holidaymakers experienced delays of up to 6 hours queuing into the port, and clogging up local a roads and motorways.
The port of Dover have assured travellers that 'no such delays are expected this summer' and that they 'are doing their upmost to prevent a repeat of last year'
'Stay-cationing' - delays on roads, the AA predicts getaway traffic will peak next Saturday 8th April with at least 15 million journeys taking place.
The national rail strikes planned for 30 march and 1 April have been suspended. But widespread engineering work continues, especially over Easter and the end of April/beginning of May.
The most significant disruption to intercity services will be on the West Coast main line.
Right through the Easter weekend, no trains will run to or from London Euston. Trains from the West Midlands, Northwest England and North Wales will terminate at Milton Keynes Central.
At the other end of the West Coast route, Southern Scotland will be cut off from England by long-term improvement work at Carstairs.
Passports, passports, passports... On Monday 3rd April, 1,000 workers at HM passport office are due to start a five-week strike.
More than one million passport applications could be stuck in a bottleneck.
HM passport office still insists travellers allow 10 weeks for passport applications, even if they are straightforward renewals.
Is your passport valid?
If you're going to Europe, look at the issue date, and check that your passport hasn't had its 10th birthday.
Look at the expiry date, and check that the day you're planning to come back, that you have 3 months remaining.
Tour operators are telling people they have to subtract 3 months from the 10-years, but this isn't the case.
Looking ahead - when should we book?
Now is a good time to book for lots of bargains!
Typical 'booking horizon', when people look to secure a holiday, is 10-12 weeks. So if you book a July holiday now you'll be just ahead of the pack.
As always, taking advantage of cross-border holiday hopscotch is good if you're in northern England or southern Scotland - go south to fly from Newcastle or Manchester in early July, or north to Edinburgh or Glasgow in late august.
Where to shop around?
Human travel agents are able to give you a wide range of options and good advice. But it's always worth shopping around the worst thing you can do is search 'cheap holiday spain' - you'll get dodgy agents.
If opting for online, the 3 big holiday companies in the UK, TUI, Jet2, Easyjet holidays - they together, sell most of the package holidays in the UK, and if anything goes wrong they have to look after you - don't set yourself up to be let down by going with an unknown agent/site.