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Last checked : 04/05/2018

Package travel

Package travel is where you buy a combination of services for a holiday or trip that

  • takes more than 24 hours, or
  • includes an overnight stay.

The package must be pre-arranged, must include at least 2 of the following services:

  • transport
  • accommodation
  • other services that account for a significant part of the package (e.g. a ski pass for the duration of your holiday, sight-seeing tours)

and must be sold at an inclusive price (i.e. the price must cover all included services).

The rules on package travel also apply where the components of the package are billed separately.

Check with your tour operator or travel agent whether there are any national rules on  trips and holidays that take less than 24 hours or do not include an overnight stay.

Under EU rules you have rights both when booking and during your holiday. The most important of these are:

  • You should receive clear and accurate information about all aspects of the holiday before you sign the contract (including information on optional travel insurance, passports, visas and health formalities).
  • At least one party is responsible for the package as a whole, even where the individual services are provided by different companies. Depending on your country, this may be the organiser (tour operator), the retailer (travel agent), or both. You must be given this party's contact details in case you need to make a complaint during your holiday or seek compensation when you get home.
  • You have the right to assistance if you get into difficulties. You must therefore be given an emergency number for the tour operator or travel agent.
  • If the organiser/retailer goes bankrupt there are guarantees to make sure that you get your money back and, if you have already started your holiday, that you are repatriated. Practical details depend on national rules and the body through which the organiser/retailer has arranged this protection.
  • You can transfer your package to someone else if you are unable to take the holiday you booked. However, you may have to pay any extra costs arising from this transfer.
  • The price stated in your contract may be increased only under certain, specific, conditions (e.g. rises in transport costs, taxes/fees charged by third parties or exchange rates) and not later than 20 days before the start of the package.
  • If the organiser/retailer changes the content (including the price) of the package significantly and you then cancel the holiday, you can get your money back or choose an alternative package. The same applies if the organiser cancels the holiday. In certain cases you may also be entitled to compensation.

These rules are NOT applicable if you put your holiday together yourself by buying the various components from retailers or websites that are not linked in any way.

If anything goes wrong during your holiday which is not your fault (e.g. if a sightseeing tour is cancelled or the hotel is not as described in the brochure), you should contact one of the following as soon as possible:

  • the organiser, or, if applicable
  • the local representative

They should make immediate efforts to solve the problem.

If the problem persists, gather as much evidence as you can (photos, for instance) and file a complaint once you get home.

Depending on your country, the travel agency which sold you the package may also be your first point of contact. In some countries, there are deadlines for filing a complaint about your holiday.

If this doesn't work, see if your European Consumer Centre (ECC-Net ) can help. This is particularly relevant where the organiser is based in another EU country.

Sample story

Significant change of an essential element of a package holiday

Michel from Belgium booked a 3-week package holiday in Greece through a Greek tour operator (organiser). The trip was to begin with a 14-day guided tour and end with a week at a beach resort. Just days before his planned departure, he was told that the 14-day guided tour could not take place. Michel was offered a trip beginning with a week's stay at a beach resort followed by a 10-day guided tour instead. He was unhappy with this, as the shorter tour did not include all the sights that most interested him, and he did not want to begin his trip with the beach holiday. Michel was advised to contact his European Consumer Centre, which told him he had 3 options:

  • he could accept the offer if the organiser also offered him an appropriate price reduction;
  • he could ask the organiser to offer a substitute package, or
  • he could cancel the whole trip, be fully refunded and, possibly, claim further compensation.

Michel went back to the organiser armed with this information. He ultimately chose the first option - and received a reduction of 50% of the original price.

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