Booking a holiday can often be a stressful experience and in the post-lockdown era things just got even more complicated. There are quarantine periods, antibody testing, PPE rules and loads more to think about – all on top of the normal holiday admin. We wouldn’t blame you for feeling a little wary of booking a holiday right now, so we’ve broken it down into simple stages and steps to help you book with confidence for your 2020/21 holiday.
Stage One: Choose a Destination
Now is not the time to pick a destination at random or based on what is the cheapest right now. When looking to book a holiday you need to choose not only a destination with the climate and local attractions you want, but you also need to check that you can actually travel there and on arrival enjoy your holiday to its full extent.
1. Is the border open? Country borders across the world are slowly starting to re-open, but many are still closed. Check that the country you’d like to go to is open to visitors on the date you’d like to travel. You can do this by searching by destination on the GOV.UK website.
2. Is it on the safe list? This is the first of two lists you need to check. This government list details which countries are safe to travel to, as they are no longer presenting an unacceptably high risk to British people travelling abroad.
3. Is it on the ‘travel corridor’ list? This second list specifies the 59 countries that the UK has formed ‘travel corridors’ with. This means that any passengers returning to, or visiting England from these destinations with a “reduced risk” of re-importing coronavirus will no longer need to self-isolate on arrival. This does not mean that you will not have to quarantine on arrival in the other country.*
4. What is open there? The border to your chosen country might be open, but local beaches, hotels, restaurants might still be closed. We suggest Googling the latest news to check what you will be able to do there.
5. Will you get insurance? There is so much uncertainty surrounding holidays right now, so it’s never been more important to get travel insurance. It will be most difficult to get insurance for countries that are not on the safe to travel list, but if you stick to the list you should be fine. As always, check the fine print so you know what you are covered for.
6. Are they running any incentives? A few destinations are offering incentives such as money off main attractions or even paying you to visit certain areas. Don’t miss out on a deal and do your research when making your decision.
Stage Two: What Are the Current Rules for My Chosen Destination?
OK, so you’ve found somewhere that’s both open and safe, great! What next? This is where you need to dig a little deeper into your research to make sure you don’t miss anything important before you book.
1. *What are the quarantine rules? Each country has different rules in place, so although you might not have to quarantine on your return you may need to on your arrival. Check your destination on our list, if it is not displayed here you can search for it on the GOV.UK website. If you need to quarantine on arrival for longer than a few days you may want to go back to stage one and choose another destination.
2. Will I need proof of booked accommodation? Whatever you do, do not book a flight and turn up at the airport without booking your accommodation. Some countries are asking to see proof of booking before boarding or you may need this information for a pre-flight form, either way it’s a good idea to come prepared.
3. Will I need a health certificate? Some countries are asking for a health certification to be displayed before you board the plane. This is to prove that you are ‘fit to fly’ and can be acquired from your GP. They can cost up to £40 and you may also be refused if your GP deems you unfit. This rule may apply to everyone or just those who have recently been discharged from hospital or those with an existing health condition. You will need to check the government’s latest advice for your chosen destination.
4. Will I need a negative test result? This again depends on the country, some require test results from within 48-72 hours, whereas some don’t require one at all. Others are conducting testing at the airport. Once you know what the situation is for your destination you may need to contact your GP about getting a test. If you experience symptoms in the days running up to your holiday, contact your travel agent to rearrange.
5. Will I need a visa? Some good news here: a few destinations have cancelled their visa on arrival for UK travellers during this period. However, visa rules change frequently so fact-check anything you read in the news and refer to the government’s official advice on this.
Stage Three: Post-booking Essentials
Once you’ve collected all the right paperwork and passed any tests, you can now confidently book your holiday. Yay! But, don’t stop here. Now it’s time to put together your safety precautions and pre-book the itinerary for your trip.
1. Will I need to take a mask? Yes, on any form of transport you will need to wear a mask, and even if it’s not enforced it’s safest to do so. While out and about, rules will vary by country, so come prepared with masks and read up on the regulations in your holiday destination so you know when and where to wear one.
2. What is the procedure now on flights? Like everything else at the moment, flying has changed. Airlines have introduced stricter in-flight measures that you have to adhere to. As well as wearing a mask, you may not be able to use the toilets and will need to stay in your seat for the duration of the flight. Check your airline’s website for all the details regarding your flight.
3. Do I need to book activities in advance? Yes, unfortunately you won’t be able to be as spontaneous as you would normally be. Attractions are starting to reopen but because of social distancing measures, many have reduced availability and are using time slots. Book ahead to avoid missing out.
4. Do I need any forms? Some countries do have forms that you will need to fill in and return, but this will be done at the airport and doesn’t need to be done in advance, just make sure you have all your booking information with you.
That’s everything! You are now good to go and there’s nothing left to say but… happy holidays!