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How to plan a safe holiday during Covid-19

27 August 2020 08:19

Take the stress out of booking your next getaway

Take the stress out of booking your next getaway

With many borders reopening for foreign getaways, we take a look at the official guidance from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for planning a safe and happy holiday during the pandemic.

1. Follow guidance at home

A safe holiday starts by being vigilant at home. Rules differ between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so you should take time to read through guidance to ensure it's safe for you to travel. In Northern Ireland, people have been allowed to stay one metre apart, while in Wales, people aged 11 and older are asked to maintain two metres' social distance. Local lockdowns could even prevent you from leaving your city or county.

Guidance regularly changes too. In Northern Ireland, the self-isolation period for people displaying coronavirus symptoms recently extended from seven to ten days. Sticking to local advice will minimise your chance of contracting coronavirus, with or without symptoms, and carrying it with you to a foreign country.

2. Choose your destination wisely

Finding the right holiday location may seem a challenge, especially as the FCDO have advised against non-essential travel to a host of destinations. Thankfully, you can travel to places permitted through the government's travel corridors system. There's no need to self-isolate when returning home from the chosen regions and the list of countries should help whittle down your options.

Once you've decided where you'll be jetting off to, you should keep up to date with the latest developments for your destination. Specific travel advice for every country you can think of is easy to find on the government's website, where you can even sign up for email alerts in case anything changes. TravelHealthPro is a great resource with guidance on reducing your chances of spreading the disease in specific locations.

3. Check for entry restrictions

Although travel restrictions from the UK have relaxed in recent weeks, the same isn't true for the rest of the world. Some regions are still banning non-resident foreign nationals from entering a country, despite being added to the UK's list of travel corridors.

When checking foreign travel advice, you should pay close attention to their entry requirements and restrictions. You may have to complete online forms in advance, so look out for these too. If you're unclear about any entry requirements for your holiday you should contact the UK-based embassy of the country you're traveling to.

4. Get flight ready

The government's safer air travel guidance will let you know everything to expect at the airport, during your flight and when you arrive at your destination. Rules will vary depending on where you're flying from. For example, advice as of the 20th August, recommends face coverings in airports in Northern Ireland and Wales, while masks are mandatory in English and Scottish airports.

You should check in online and try to avoid taking any hand luggage to speed up boarding and minimise transmission. Anyone entering the UK, including residents returning from holiday, will need to complete a passenger locater form. The online questionnaire will ask for details of your journey and can be completed 48 hours before travel. Failure to complete the form is a criminal offence.

5. Make accommodation checks

Hotels, Airbnb's and holiday villas may be snapped up early in popular destinations, especially those where you don't need to quarantine on arrival. So always try and book your accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment. When you arrive, you might find things work a bit differently to what you're used to.

To avoid any surprises, try contacting your accommodation provider to ask what measures they're taking to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus. Ask whether contactless check-ins are available, if hand sanitiser will be provided and whether guests have to wear face masks. Learning about processes before departing will help reassure you about the holiday ahead.

6. Check your cancellation rights

Before you book flights and accommodation, ask about cancellation policies. Although fear of the epidemic won't be enough for a customer to cancel and claim a refund, you should be eligible for your money back if hotels and airlines pull the plug on a trip.

Cancelled flights should be repaid within seven days and cancelled package holidays should be fully refunded within 14 days. Processing refunds in the current climate may take a little longer. Although checking cancellation policies won't make your trip any safer, it will help you make a better decision on who to book your travel and accommodation with.

7. Read local authority advice

Take the time to read through local health guidance at your holiday destination. This will help to manage your expectations of any social distancing measures you'll be asked to follow. You'll also be better prepared to talk to your accommodation provider about the safety measures they're taking.

Advice might change while you're enjoying your break. Keep an eye out for new advice from your local authority and the UK government too. We've already seen the likes of Spain and France moved to the self-isolation list while UK travellers enjoyed their holidays there. Remember, quarantine rules are always changing.

8. Get covered

As always, you should arrange travel insurance for your getaway. World First policies won't provide cover if you travel against the advice of the FCDO, unless customers have contacted us in advance with their reasons for travel and cover has been agreed in writing. However, if you catch coronavirus while abroad, our policies will cover emergency treatment.

If it's medically necessary to bring you back to the UK, our policies will also cover these costs. You should check our Coronavirus FAQs or contact us to run through any questions you might have.