The Coronavirus pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone, no matter where you live or what your job is. If you’re considering going on holiday during Covid, you may be wondering whether it’s safe. There’s also the moral aspect of travelling for leisure whilst a pandemic is in full swing. We also had these thoughts.
Travel has been one of the hardest hit industries during Covid and will take years to recover! If you’re in the position to travel safely and take extra care, we personally see no harm in enjoying a trip away and supporting local businesses – whether that’s a holiday in your own country or abroad.
After having a handful of holidays during the Covid pandemic ourselves, we’ve compiled a list of top tips and helpful advice so you can plan your own trip safely. Find out everything you need to know about a holiday during Covid below.
1. Keep an eye on the government quarantine exemption list
The UK government currently has an ever-changing list of countries on the ‘quarantine exemption list’ on their website here. If a country is listed here, you can return home without having to quarantine at home for 14 days. If it’s not listed, you must stay at home self-isolating for the 2-week period. As the quarantine is so disruptive to daily life, most people try to opt for a destination that doesn’t require quarantine.
These are usually countries where Covid infection levels are low and there’s less chance of transmission back to the UK. This list should be your first port of call for finding a safe place to go on holiday during Covid.
2. Monitor the vaccination programme of different countries
The news of a Coronavirus vaccine was an amazing thing to hear for everyone! If it’s effective as scientists say, life should be a lot better for many of us by mid-2021. That includes travel! As such, it’s important to monitor the vaccine efforts of countries that you’re considering for your holiday. Some countries will be able to vaccinate their citizens faster than others, thus achieving herd immunity and becoming a safer place to visit. Take this into account when choosing your holiday during Covid.
3. Be open on your destination
The biggest challenge when going on holiday during Covid is finding a suitable destination. Coronavirus cases change by the day and what may seem like a safe destination one week could be on the quarantine list a month later. We recommend monitoring Coronavirus cases in the country you’re visiting using this website.
The government travel advice site is another key place for info on choosing a destination, as mentioned above. Some countries that aren’t on the UK quarantine list might appear to be good places to visit, however they might not be letting in UK travellers. It’s important to also check the entry requirements of your destination country and see what restrictions are in place.
4. Book last minute
With an ever-changing travel landscape and the unpredictability of Coronavirus, a destination that seemed safe a month ago might be on the quarantine list now or have a surge in cases. We recommend monitoring the situation and booking a last-minute trip if you can. It’s the safest bet and you can often find a good last minute deal. Aim to book within 1 month to 1 day of travelling.
5. Buy a Covid-cover travel insurance policy
Not all travel insurance is the same, especially during Covid! Companies are now offering special policies that cover you for a variety of factors that may occur during the pandemic. These include:
- Covid holiday cancellation
- Re-patriation flights home if everything gets cancelled or a lockdown happens
- Medical cover if you or a family member catches Covid-19
Other companies aren’t offering any Covid cover at all so it’s important to read the details of what’s included and choose the right policy. We personally recommend the following travel insurance providers, all of which provide the best Covid-19 cover for UK travellers.
6. Book flights with an airline that has flexible cancellation policy
It’s easy to find ‘free cancellation’ hotels, but flights are a little more difficult. Airlines are definitely a lot more flexible now than they were before Covid but policies still vary between them and some are better than others.
We’ve found British Airways to be the best in the UK for flight changes and cancellations. Their Covid policy allows you to get a voucher refund if you want to change or cancel your flight and you can use that for a trip in the future. It’s easy to request and there are no fees.
Another airline that has stood out to us is Easyjet. Flights and even destinations are changeable for a small fee before travel.
Airlines that don’t have such a good cancellation policy include Ryanair and Wizzair. There’s often high fees and refunds can be challenging.
Choose an airline with the best cancellation policy for your holiday destination.
7. Book accommodation that’s cancellable for free
To minimise the risk of losing money when booking your holiday during Covid, we 100% recommend that you book a cancellable accommodation option. Some hotels and booking sites offer cancellation up until a week or so before, whereas others can be cancelled up until the day before you’re supposed to travel for a full refund. Then there’s some that are entirely non-refundable!
Always look at the hotel cancellation policy before booking. It’s even worth paying a little more for that flexibility. We’ve personally found the Booking.com, Ebookers and Airbnb policies to be excellent during the pandemic. Just be sure to filter by ‘cancellation policy’.
8. Be prepared to change plans at the last minute
Having had to change travel plans ourselves 5 times in 2020, we know how stressful it can be to have a holiday during Covid. Nevertheless, with a bit of patience and a sprinkle of luck, you’ll be able to go on a holiday safely. Monitor cases and government advice for your holiday destination and if things are looking likely to change, we recommend having some backup holiday options.
Is it looking like your holiday to Greece will go on the UK quarantine list? Be prepared to change your holiday to a safer country before departing. We recommend having 2 or 3 backup options.
9. Be aware that you may need to get a Covid test before flying
To minimise the risk of new Covid infections entering the country, many destinations require a mandatory Covid-19 PCR swab test taken before arrival (usually 72 hours). The result must be negative and the individual requirements of the test must be met for you to pass through customs.
Check the government travel website ‘entry requirements’ for the country you’re looking to visit to find out more information.
If you do need to take a Covid PCR test, we recommend booking a private test in a clinic near you. Most UK cities have private clinics and Boots Pharmacy are also offering speedy tests. They can be a little expensive but they give you peace of mind before travelling. You’ll feel more comfortable knowing that your fellow aeroplane passengers have all received a negative test.
Find Boots coronavirus test locations on their website here (UK only).
10. Stock up on face masks, hand sanitiser and other safety essentials
Keep yourself protected for your holiday during Covid by stocking up on essentials before you leave. Airports, supermarkets and other public places all require masks to be worn at all times. Some destinations even require you to wear one on the beach! 70% alcohol hand sanitiser, face masks and gloves all come in handy.
11. Consider staying in Europe
Whilst we’d all love to jet off to faraway, exotic destinations right now, the majority are off limits due to the virus. Most of Asia is closed to tourism and North and South America are seeing a surge in cases. Whilst Europe is still struggling with the pandemic, there are countries that have been able to contain the virus and you can travel with slight restrictions. You’re also close to home in case anything goes wrong and healthcare is very good.
If you still fancy a destination that’s a little more exotic, the Caribbean islands are the safest option. The travel restrictions list is always changing and we anticipate more long-haul destinations opening up to travel very soon!
12. What happens if my holiday is cancelled?
If your holiday is cancelled by the airline or travel company that you booked with, you’re almost always entitled to a full refund. If they try to offer you a voucher for a future holiday booking, you can take it, but you’re also within your rights to ask for the full amount as a cash refund.
13. Choose care hire over public transport
It’s a lot safer to travel around in your own car than using public transport with strangers. We recommend renting a car if you can and avoiding buses, trains, taxis. If you do need to travel on public transport, make sure you always have a face mask on hand.
14. Expect facilities and entertainment to be closed in many destinations
Covid has been a real challenge for the tourist industry and many businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Reduced passenger numbers have meant that many bars, restaurants and attractions have had to temporarily close. As a result, you may find that your destination is a lot quieter than usual, with less things to see and do.
We fully support helping out the local economies by eating out and travelling where you can, but it’s important to be safe at the same time. Some destinations have a lot less closures and restrictions than others so it’s important to pick your holiday carefully. You don’t want to arrive into a local lockdown with nothing to do!
15. Choose a destination with outdoor activities
Following on from the above advice, we recommend choosing a holiday destination with lots of outdoor nature activities. Beaches, mountains, forests, outdoor landmarks and scenery are almost always open so you’ll have plenty to do! A place with lots of natural attractions is a much safer choice for your holiday during Covid than a resort full of bars and indoor activities. Take this opportunity to enjoy nature!
16. Check the hotel’s Covid-19 safety precautions and measures before booking
Contrary to the above, staying in a hotel can still be a safe option if the hotel is taking Covid precautions into consideration. In our experience, some hotels are much safer places to stay than others during Coronavirus. Check out the hotel’s website to find out what they’re doing to reduce virus transmission and read recent Tripadvisor reviews to see what other guests are staying.
17. Stay in an apartment/house/villa rental over a hotel
On a similar note, choosing a more remote place to stay in your destination is a good way to socially distance and keep yourself safe from the virus. Your own villa in the mountains, a cabin in the woods or private apartment will minimise your interaction with other people. Large, busy hotels are riskier places to stay.
18. Look out for great travel deals
Amongst all of the negative things about Covid-19, one thing it has introduced is cheap travel. As far fewer people are going on holiday than ever before, you can often score a great deal on flights and accommodation. Stay in a luxury hotel that’s usually £400 a night for only £200 ,or jet off to Italy for £20. There are some great deals out there if you do the research.
Thanks for reading our list of travel tips for going on holiday during the Covid pandemic! This is a challenging time for all but things are looking up and we hope that travel will be a thing that can enlighten us all again, not so far in the future. If you have any questions about our own experiences of going on holiday during Covid or need help planning your trip, give us a shout!