Sun-seekers and those planning a reunion with friends and relatives who live overseas are making careful preparations as they get ready to go abroad for the first time in months.
Travelling abroad has now changed, with Government guidance in place to keep everyone safe and protect their health as they embark on international travel, so there are a number of things you need to check before you go.
Your travel checklist
Travelling abroad will probably be different to the last time you went. The Government recognises it’s important to take a cautious approach that protects public health and the success of the vaccination programme. That’s why it has put in place a traffic light system with Red, Amber and Green destinations that balances the reopening of international travel with managing the risk of Covid-19 and imported variants.
What will happen if I catch Covid-19 while I’m abroad?
COVID TESTING Coming down with Covid on holiday can be a big and costly problem, so it’s best to make sure you know what you must do if the worst happens – and if you can afford it.
PAYMENTS Make sure you have the money needed for any payments or adequate insurance before you go.
QUARANTINE Some countries insist you enter a quarantine hotel – and you may have to pay for it. EHIC or GHIC cards cannot be used to cover the cost of staying in a quarantine hotel.
MEDICAL TREATMENT If you do need medical treatment in a country covered by the EHIC/GHIC scheme, the UK Government will fund this treatment as usual.
Rules and guidance could change at any time, so you need to take steps before you travel and to keep safe while abroad in case things change while you are there.
Know the rules: You can travel to Green and Amber List countries, but travel to Red List ones is not advised. Visit gov.uk/travel-abroad for a step-by-step guide to the things that you need to do for a safe trip. Countries have different Covid-19 regulations, so you will also need to check those.
Get a test: Make sure you book authorised Covid-19 PCR tests and complete relevant documentation (such as passenger locator forms) for your destination, and for when you come back to the UK.
Sort out your passport: Check your passport is valid using gov.uk/check-passport and allow up to ten weeks for the renewal process. The rules have changed now the UK has left the EU, so it’s best to prepare early. Check gov.uk/visiteurope to ensure you comply with any new rules.
Check health cover: Make sure your travel insurance covers all your needs, including healthcare, and that you have an in-date EHIC or a new GHIC. This might have changed since the last time you went abroad, so it’s vital to check before you go.
Don’t forget pets: If you’re driving, travelling with a pet or taking products such as food and drink with you, see the relevant rules at gov.uk/visiteurope.
Ensure you’re cleared to entry: Countries have different rules during the pandemic, so you may need a Covid-19 status certificate (either via the NHS app or in paper format). If you need a negative Covid-19 test to enter a country, you should use a private test provider – go to gov.uk/find-travel-test-provider to source one.
Follow local safety measures: Check the guidance on safety measures such as face coverings and social distancing in your destination and follow any local guidance.
Prepare before you go and have all the correct documentation ready to meet the UK’s health and border rules, otherwise you may face delays or even be refused entry. You need to book authorised Covid tests and any hotel packages, and fill in your passenger locator form before travelling to the UK.
When you get to the border, have all your documentation ready, including travel documents and passenger locator form. Visit gov.uk/travel-abroad to see what you need and if you’re a non-UK resident visit gov.uk/uk-border-control.
“We’re having a holiday in this lovely country”
Fiona Dalziel and her husband Mark, from Alloa, have opted for camping staycations instead of going abroad this year
Fiona and Mark, who are in their 50s, would usually be planning a holiday to Canada as well as their regular trip to Lanzarote in November. But this year they’ll be enjoying a staycation near their home in Alloa. Fiona is well aware of the guidance for travel, but she’s swapped PCR tests and planes for a camping break.
Explained: green, amber and red
GREEN LIST If you’re arriving from a country on the Green List, you’ll need to take a PCR test before you leave your destination, and another on or before day two of your return to the UK. You must also fill in a passenger locator form before you travel back to the UK.
AMBER LIST Take a PCR test before you leave your destination and another on or before day two of your return to the UK, plus a test on day eight. You must self-isolate for ten days when you return to the UK.* If you have been fully vaccinated you do not have to take a test on day eight or self-isolate for the full ten days. Fill in a passenger locator form before you return to the UK.
RED LIST Travel to countries on the Red List is not advised. But if you are in a Red List country, take a PCR test before you leave and book hotel quarantine for ten days on arrival in the UK.Take a PCR test on or before day two of your return to the UK, plus another on day eight. Fill in a passenger locator form before you return to the UK.
Find out more: gov.uk/travel-abroad
*There are exceptions when fully vaccinated people need to self-isolate returning from some countries, so check the latest guidance.
“Mark and I travel a lot and we’re double vaccinated, but this year we just thought: ‘We’re not doing it,’” she says. “We weighed up the impact of foreign travel.
“My husband runs a large construction company, and they’re really pushed now because it’s busy and so many people are off. He’s less inclined to go away because if the guidance changes, he doesn’t want to have to self-isolate when he comes back – he needs to know he’s only going to be off on holiday for two weeks.”
But that doesn’t mean relaxing holidays are off the menu for the couple – they’ve already enjoyed two camping breaks. Says Fiona: “The first time was three quarters of an hour away to Three Lochs Drive. It’s literally wild camping, so right back to basics, and we loved it. And we still managed to produce some gourmet dinners!
“Then we had three nights in Aberfoyle, which is not that far away, and we walked to the pub through the woods one night, sat by the side of the river – lots of great stuff. And we’ve got another trip planned already.”
Despite having travelled extensively to far-flung destinations such as India and Japan up until August 2019, Fiona has discovered the
joy of camping. “We live in a lovely country and we’re a stone’s throw away from the most beautiful scenery.
“The first camping trip we went on, I have to say we saw the best sunset I’ve ever seen in my whole life. I don’t think we’re going to be jumping on a plane soon – though I do miss it.”
“We’re ready for take-off”
Londoners Mitra Abtahi, David Reilly and their son Sebastian are fully prepared for their holiday to Malta.
After postponing their family holiday to Italy last summer and taking a few camping holidays, Mitra, David and son Sebastian are now looking forward to getting away to Malta for some much-needed sea and sunshine.
“Going abroad is one of the things we all look forward to – having fun and spending time together with no distractions. It’s about switching off and making memories,” says Mitra.
David agrees. “Holidays are also about exploring new places, unleashing curiosity in kids, and making new friends. They’re such a vital part of our annual calendar as a family.”
As a keen sea swimmer, being on the coast is key for David, while Sebastian loves the idea of both a pool and beach. Mitra is looking forward to the sunshine and a chance for a “bit of me time”.
Now that they are both fully vaccinated, Mitra and David feel much happier travelling abroad, but they’ve taken extra precautions such as pre-booking taxis for airport transfers rather than using public transport. With their travel insurance organised, proof of vaccination on their phones and pre-departure Covid PCR tests booked, the family can now concentrate on having fun in sun-soaked Malta.
“I never thought I’d say this, as I used to travel a lot for work, but I’ve really missed going to the airport and catching a flight to a different country,” says Mitra. “I can’t wait to get away – just to be out of our zone and somewhere completely different.”
Find out more: gov.uk/travel-abroad
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