What To Know Before Booking Your Next Holiday

With travel advice changing daily, having all the up-to-date information is essential before booking a holiday right now. Whether you’re thinking about your next getaway, or you’re apprehensive about travelling abroad, we asked Emma Coulthurst from TravelSupermarket for her advice.

What’s the most important thing to do before booking your next holiday?

When you’re looking at potential destinations, check the coronavirus infection rates in each country. This may seem obvious, but the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) reviews its travel corridors’ list frequently and, as we’ve seen, it can remove a country with less than two days’ notice. To stand the best chance of avoiding a last-minute change, it’s essential you check the latest stats. Although other factors can come into play, countries with fewer than 20 Covid cases per 100,000 people are generally given the green light from the UK – it’s when they experience a spike that they tend to be removed. Worldometer is a useful site to check the daily numbers, and various news sites are also publishing up to date figures. It would be much better if the UK could act consistently with its quarantine lists and advice – at the moment, the Welsh, English and Scottish Governments have different guidelines – so make sure you check the requirements for where you live, specifically.

Are certain countries more Covid-safe than others?

Currently, there are no restrictions in place for people from the UK travelling to the following destinations, (meaning it’s okay to visit and you don’t have to quarantine on your return): Turkey, the Greek mainland, Greek islands including Kos, Kefalonia, Corfu, Rhodes and Skiathos, Italy, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Madeira, Denmark and Cyprus. As there are lots of destinations which have closed their borders at the moment to tourists, it’s easiest to look at where you can go. Find the full government-approved list here.

How do you check the entry requirements for each country?

Check the government advice for your chosen destination before you decide to book, or go straight to the country’s government website to ensure you meet the requirements. Even if a country has been given the green light, it’s still essential to check – for example, Cyprus requires you to have a negative Covid test in the UK before you enter the country, results from which you must show upon arrival. Once you’ve double checked the requirements, speak to your employer about what to do if the FCDO was to change its advice while you’re away, as you may need to self-isolate at home for 14 days. Ask if you can work from home if you end up having to quarantine and if you’re unable to do so, it could be worth rethinking your chosen destination to avoid having to take extra annual leave.

When is the right time to book your next holiday?

Due to the possibility of last-minute changes, the time between looking, booking and going on holiday can be incredibly short – at TravelSupermarket, we’ve noticed people are booking their holiday as little as 48 hours before their departure date. In terms of destinations, places which are proving popular at the moment are resorts in Turkey such as Alanya, Lara, Marmais and Belek, places on the Greek mainland such as Halkidiki, Madeira, Greek islands not on the quarantine list like Kos, Rhodes, Kefalonia, Skiathos and Corfu, and city breaks in Italy and Germany and Poland, particularly Krakow, Berlin, Rome and Venice. If you’re travelling to Greece, be aware that you need to fill in a Greek Passenger Locator form at least 24 hours before you travel, and you’ll receive a QR code to show on arrival. Those looking for a city break right now should consider Bologna, Turin, Munich, Ljubljana and Copenhagen – all of which are great last-minute options. 

Check the government advice for your chosen destination before you decide to book, or go straight to the country’s government website to ensure you meet the requirements.

Is there an advantage to booking a package holiday?

To ensure you are entitled to a refund in case of cancellation, it’s best to book a package holiday. The benefits of booking a flight and hotel together have really come into play in 2020, for example, despite government advice, some flights went ahead earlier this year, leaving those who no longer wanted to travel unable to get a refund. With a package holiday, your trip should be cancelled if official advice changes and you’ll be entitled to your money back. However, if you want to book your flight and hotel separately, be sure to thoroughly read any T&Cs beforehand. Check if:

  • You can get your money back if you change your mind

  • You can switch your trip to a different date or destination

  • You have to change your flight dates/destination by a certain time to not incur any fees

What’s the best way to ensure you get a refund if your holiday is cancelled?

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act protects credit card purchases over £100, so if you are struggling to get your money back on a cancelled flight or holiday, contact your credit card provider who may be able to issue a refund. Booking on a credit card also protects your money if a company goes into administration, so it’s generally much more secure than other payment methods.

What’s the best way to protect yourself if you contract Covid while abroad? 

Travel insurance is very much back in business. If you compare policies via TravelSupermarket, you’ll be able to filter for enhanced Covid-19 cover, which can include cancellation protection if you were to contract the virus before your holiday, plus all our policies cover medical treatment if you contracted it while abroad. As always, it’s important to buy your travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday to cover any unforeseen serious life events which prevent you going. It’s also worth noting that the free European Health Insurance Card is not a replacement for medical cover, so adequate travel insurance is always essential. 

What else should you bring to the airport?

Alongside your passport, boarding pass and entry documentation, once you return to the UK from abroad, you’ll need to provide your journey and contact details on a Passenger Locator Form provided by your airline. This includes travelling from a country or territory where you do not have to self-isolate when you arrive in the UK. Ensure you print or download a copy of the document at least 48 hours before your return to the UK, to show UK Border Force who will scan the QR code to check you have completed the form. 

Is now too soon to book a holiday for 2021?

At TravelSupermarket, we’re seeing a lot of people searching for holidays for summer 2021. There are some good prices available at the moment to try and stimulate demand, and people are looking to lock in a good deal as there is no knowing if prices will increase next year. Summer 2021 holidays to Turkey and Crete are the most popular short haul price comparison searches at the moment, while the Maldives, Orlando and Las Vegas are popular package holiday searches. If you’ve had a luxury destination on your travel list for some time – now’s the time to treat yourself.

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*DISCLAIMER: At the time of writing, all countries and provinces mentioned were exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel, though travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice before you book. Please ensure you are aware of the social distancing guidelines in place as well as rules on meeting up in groups larger than six.

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