Preparing for a holiday abroad is now a very different experience. Right now, booking a last minute deal and flying out at a moment’s notice just isn’t possible, and booking your getaway will take a lot of careful planning, including researching your destination and booking tests, as well as arranging your cheap airport parking. We’ve put together some helpful Covid travel tips to guide you through the process and point out important things you need to look out for and remember to do.
Long Term Planning
As holidaymakers, we now seemed to be trapped in a bind that involves having to plan in advance, whilst also being aware that guidance can change at very short notice. However, there are lots of things you can do to give yourself more peace of mind before you travel:
Check International Travel Restrictions – Start by researching your shortlisted destinations thoroughly before booking anything. Things you need to check include current foreign office advice for particular locations, the specific Covid restrictions and guidance for that country, the current infection rate (although this can change or a daily basis, of course), testing or vaccination requirements, and whether your NHS Covid Pass will be recognised there. It’s also important to remember that often local and state restrictions differ from national restrictions, so double check these for your locality too. And is the Covid guidance there different for children too? You may also want to consider things from a more ethical point of view as well. For example, has the country you’re considering been adversely affected by the pandemic and does their tourist industry now need supporting?
Research Your Airline – If you have a bit of flexibility over what airline you can travel with, check online what their Covid measures are and what guidance they’ve introduced for their flights. You may also want to take a look at any recent reviews to get a better idea of what the experience might be like. Another good bit of planning is sorting out how you’re going to safely get to the airport and back again. Although public transport is always an option, many more people might now prefer to take their own car to the airport. It’s very easy and convenient to book an airport parking space in advance and there are always lots of good deals and low prices available.
Covid Hotel Tips – Any reputable hotel will now have Covid-safe procedures in place and should have comprehensive information about them on their website. Make sure you are happy with these before you book, and if you can’t find any or very little information, then this may be a red flag in itself, and you may want to look elsewhere for a potentially safe hotel. If you’re arranging self-catering accommodation, then the same rules apply – try and find out as much as possible about what is being done to keep the property clean and safe. Again, read recent online reviews, and if you’re not entirely sure, then it may be best to look for something else.
Covid Travel Insurance Advice
Of course, whatever the circumstances you should always double check your cover before taking out a travel insurance policy. More than ever, it’s so important to go over all the Covid travel insurance details thoroughly – now is not the time to just opt for the cheapest policy. For starters, what cancellation cover does it have and are you covered if your holiday gets cancelled due to a change in Covid restrictions? You might also want to check what happens if you fall ill during your holiday. Also, does your travel provider, hotel and airline have a flexible cancellation policy? Last year, many people were left out of pocket when they were only entitled to voucher refunds, and the price of holidays subsequently increased.
Before You Board
Once you have booked your holiday in advance, there are some more things you need to do when it gets a bit closer to your departure date:
Getting a Covid Test Before Travel – This is probably going to be by far the most important thing you need to do. Before booking, you should already have looked into the testing requirements of your destination country. Book your Covid test as soon as you possibly can, but it’s important to remember that you can’t take it too early as result will not be valid for your departure date. At present, you cannot take a travel PCR test via the NHS, so you will need to book with a private testing provider and budget for this accordingly.
Packing List – In addition to all the usual holiday essentials, there are a few extra things you now need to remember. Firstly, make sure you’ve packed an adequate supply of face masks for the duration of the trip, be they reusable or disposable ones. Secondly, remember to take hand sanitizer with you wherever you go. And lastly, it’s also a good idea to pack a decent supply of disinfectant wipes. All these things also apply to your hand luggage to, as you will need all of these for your plane journey as well.
When You Arrive
Now you’ve reached your holiday destination, you should be able to relax, of course! But if you want to take some extra precautions, here are some extra tips:
Hotel Precautions – We’ve mentioned above that packing disinfectant wipes is a good idea, and when you get to your hotel, they may come in useful. In theory, you room should be cleaned thoroughly before you arrive, but it might be a good idea to just give those key areas a quick wipe down first – door knobs, TV remotes and taps for example.
Covid Safe Holiday Activities – Many activities are now almost back to normal, but with Covid still with us, some holidaymakers might want to re-evaluate what holiday activities they do whilst away. Before we wouldn’t have thought twice about jumping on a crowded boat as part of a day trip, but these days that might not sound quite so appealing. If possible, see what suitable tours are available before you arrive, and if you are happy with the procedures in place, book in advance. And if budget allows, you might want to consider booking a private tour instead of a group option. If in doubt, stick to outdoor activities and avoid crowded places if possible.
Responsible Tourism – Although this should always be a consideration whether we are in a pandemic or not, please be mindful of how you treat your location. For example, if you are using disposable masks while you are out and about, please make sure you take them back with you and respect the environment. And referring back to the point above, perhaps consider where you spend your holiday money too. For example, if there are local businesses you can shop or dine with that have suffered during the pandemic, then your holiday spending can do some good that way.
And lastly, before you even leave for your holiday, consider any important things you need to do when returning home. Although the number of red list countries is much smaller than last year, it’s still important to check you don’t need to quarantine, and if you need a recent test before entry to the UK, make sure you have that booked too.
Even though there is now a bit more admin involved, don’t forget, going on holiday should be an enjoyable experience! There will always some degree of stress involved in holiday planning, but if you have all the points on your Covid travel list ticked off, then that stress can be dramatically reduced, and you won’t be left with any short notice surprises.