Planning a holiday? It has all got a bit complicated thanks to COVID, hasn’t it? There’s so much more you have to think about than before. COVID travel rules, what you have to do to get into another country, testing, the potential for new outbreaks and new restrictions to throw a spanner in the works.
But hey, that’s the new normal. If you want a holiday abroad this year – and lots of people do – it’s just what you have to live with. And human ingenuity has overcome far bigger problems than how to enjoy a trip overseas with a few extra health and safety regulations thrown in.
The key things are to be fully aware of the requirements and to be prepared to do what you have to do. Also, accept the uncertainty. No one can predict or stop a sudden COVID outbreak in any given destination, or a positive test. But there are things you can do to soften the blow.
There are practical tips you can follow to reduce the risks and smooth the planning process. Here are some of the best for booking a holiday in 2022.
Prioritise flexible bookings
Because of the uncertainty COVID is causing, one thing you really want to give you peace of mind about your plans is a little flexibility. Airlines offering no-penalty rebooking and accommodation providers operating free cancellation windows have come to the fore during the pandemic to help holidaymakers navigate the risk of cancellations more safely.
There are some suggestions that travel companies are looking to scale back these kinds of benefits as they anticipate travel returning to some kind of normal in 2022. But as long as most governments make testing a mandatory requirement for entry into their country, travellers need some kind of cancellation protection. The option to change bookings is one such protection, so make a point of only dealing with providers that offer it.
Keep on top of the latest travel rules
Things change quickly and often as far as travel rules and requirements are concerned. If you end up having to change your plans because, say, of tightening restrictions or lockdown measures, it’s best to have as much advanced warning as possible.
Equally, you need to know exactly what the entry requirements of your destination are at the time you travel. If there’s been a change to the testing regime or the type of documentation required and you haven’t got what you need, ignorance won’t be taken as a valid excuse.
The best place to find the latest country-by-country travel advice, including up to date information on entry requirements, is the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website.
Protect yourself with holiday insurance
Flexible bookings are one way to mitigate the risk of COVID cancellations. But they won’t give you 100% watertight protection. For example, some free cancellation windows will end two or three days before you travel. As you are usually required to take a pre-departure COVID test within 48 hours of travel, that won’t help you should you return a positive result.
Holiday insurance will help. The majority of travel insurance policies available now offer cover for COVID-related cancellations for this very reason. They will pay out on any money you lose because the reason for the cancellation (like a positive pre-departure test) falls outside the terms of the travel company’s policies.
Another reason why holiday insurance is a must is to cover you during your holiday. Many countries are now asking foreign visitors to take COVID tests after they arrive, either as well as the pre-departure tests or instead of them. Test positive then and instead of a long anticipated holiday, you can look forward to a spell in quarantine. At your own expense.
Travel insurance covers these kinds of costs, having to cut short a say in accommodation you have already paid for, or having to buy new flights home if a positive test means you can’t fly back as planned.
Vaccination opens doors
Whatever your personal views on vaccination, there is an unavoidable truth about travel – going abroad is much, much easier if you are fully vaccinated. The majority of countries now have much stricter entry requirements for unvaccinated visitors than for people who have been double jabbed.
Issues you will run into if you want to travel without being vaccinated include mandatory quarantine regardless of test results. There are a significant number of countries that simply won’t let you in if you are not vaccinated.
In some cases, even being double jabbed is not enough. If you want to travel to Austria, for example, you need to have had your booster jab to avoid quarantine. Germany and France have rules that restrict children as young as 12 from indoor venues if they have not been vaccinated.
In all cases, it is important to remember that just being vaccinated is not enough – you have to be able to prove your vaccine status. For UK residents, the NHS COVID Pass is the easiest way to do this.
Featured image: “Plane landing against the Manhattan skyline” by John Wardell (Netinho) is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0