Can I cancel my holiday?

July 9, 2015

If you have booked a holiday away this summer, you may be worried about the security of your booking and your personal safety due to disruptions in your holiday destination. We’ve put together everything you need to know if you are thinking of cancelling your holiday.

Am I entitled to a refund if I cancel my holiday?

When you book a holiday, you enter into a contract with the travel agent or airline and are bound by the booking terms and conditions. Getting a refund will depend on the reason for cancellation.

In the case of a package holiday, the tour operator has the right to cancel a package holiday or change an important term of the contract, such as accommodation, due to factors beyond their control. In such cases however, they have to offer you the following options:

  • a replacement holiday of equivalent or superior quality, if the tour operator can provide this, however, you may have to pay the difference if the replacement holiday is more expensive.
  • a lower grade holiday, with a refund of the difference in price, if the operator can provide this or
  • a full refund

In the case of a flight cancellation, you can find information about your rights on If an airline can prove that they cancelled because of an extraordinary circumstance which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures were taken, you will not get any compensation. Examples of this include extraordinary events like:

  • Unlawful acts (eg. terrorism)
  • Political instability of any kind where travel is not recommended

If you want to cancel your holiday because you have safety concerns, you will need to look at your contract with the travel agent or airline. If you decide to go ahead and cancel, you may not get some or all of your money back depending on the terms of your contract. Check your contract as there may also be an administration fee for cancelling. You are not legally entitled to a refund if you cancel because you have changed your mind about the holiday. In some cases however, the travel agent or airline may be willing to offer you a full or partial refund or the option to switch holiday destination, but they are not legally obliged to do this.

If there are government or public authority restrictions in place that advise you not to travel, contact the travel agent or airline (whoever you have the contract with) as they will have received instructions from the government on new travel or compensation arrangements.

What about my travel insurance?

You will need to check the exclusions in your policy document to see what you are/aren’t entitled to as it will depend on your policy. Every policy has different terms and conditions and these will vary from policy to policy. Your insurance company is unlikely to pay out if you decide to cancel your trip because of safety fears but it is worth checking.

Tips to stay safe when travelling

  • Take out comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical and legal costs. You should check any exclusions in your policy and make sure it covers you for the activities you want to do while abroad.
  • Take more than one means of payment with you (cash, debit card, credit card). Make sure you have enough money to cover emergencies, unforeseen circumstances and any unexpected delays or theft.
  • Know who to contact in case of an emergency. Make a note of the contact details for the Irish Embassy or Consulate in the country you are visiting. In countries where there is no Irish representation, take note of embassies or consulates of other European Union countries that you can go to if there is an emergency.
  • Before travelling, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for tips to stay safe when travelling and for travel advice when travelling to a specific country.
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