You can start by comparing the prices offered by different providers. Remember to check if the prices include taxes, service charges, or any extra fees for things like baggage, for example.
Read the terms and conditions carefully. Unlike most types of online shopping, statutory rights to cancel do not apply to buying flights, reserving accommodation, or hiring cars.
You will be entitled to cancel or postpone your trip only if this right is expressly mentioned in the terms and conditions.
Find out how reliable the provider is
Ensure you are not dealing with a provider that only gives an email or P.O. Box address. Check online forums and communities to see what other travellers think about the provider.
Bear in mind that a provider may be based abroad even if their site is in your own language. This means that they may not offer customer service in your language.
Be careful to complete the booking form correctly and check the price. Any changes to bookings usually incur a service fee, and sometimes changes are not possible at all. Check the prices once more before paying for your trip.
If you are buying a flight or other travel services from a foreign company, a credit card is the best way to keep your money safe.
If the trip you booked is not realised for any reason, such as a bankruptcy on the part of the vendor, you can claim your money back from the credit card company. Paying by credit card also protects you if the provider turns out to be fraudulent by selling tickets for non-existing trips.
Be aware of the risks associated with DIY travel
In package tours, the tour operator is responsible for the entire package: transport, accommodation, and assistance in any emergencies.
DIY travellers, however, must make any complaints to service providers on their own.
Practice some healthy distrust. If you can’t find information on cancellations, payment terms, or change policies on the provider’s website, or if the terms and conditions seem particularly strict to you, carefully consider whether it would be better to buy from another provider.
If you book a trip or flights from a travel agent based outside Europe, consumer protection may not be as comprehensive as with European companies.
Sources of information: Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA/KKV) (www.kkv.fi), European Consumer Centre Finland (ecc.fi)