POST PANDEMIC TRAVEL GUIDE
Ahhh! The smell of freedom is finally upon us! With travel rules and restrictions majorly easing across the globe, it is safe to say that travel is back, baby!
Whilst many people can’t wait to hear the sounds of suitcases rattling through the airport and to reconnect with friends and family abroad. For many of us, it will also be the first time travelling abroad since the first lockdown came into action. Although the UK has now dropped many of its travel restriction, we still need to factor in the COVID entry requirements and rules for other destinations, as well as the fact that the UK has also since left the European Union.
There is a whirlwind of new things to consider when booking a holiday now; but before you get overwhelmed by it all, I am here to help! Use my checklist below to ensure that you have covered all bases so that your first post-pandemic trip goes as smoothly as possible!
1. Check Government guidance To find the latest travel advice for the country you intend to visit, either check their local government/tourism website or head to www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Here you will find the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, as well as entry requirements related to Coronavirus, including whether need to present proof of vaccination and/or a negative test result.
2. Check your passport Check your passport’s expiry date and allow plenty of time to renew it if needed – NOTE: this can take up to 10 weeks!
Many countries require you to have at least six months left on your passport from your date of departure. Depending on how soon you plan to travel, I would personally look to start the renewal process of my passport up to 9 months before it expires – better to be safe than sorry, right?!
Unfortunately, Brexit has created more stringent rules on travelling to the EU for us Brits, so if you thought you could grab a cheeky break to an EU destination to make the most of those last couple of months left on your passport… think again! If you’re travelling to the EU, your passport cannot be more than 10 years old when you enter and most places require you to have at least three months left on your passport on the day you depart from your destination (basically, this means that your passport must have been issued less than nine years and six months ago). While you don’t yet need a visa for short trips to Europe, you will need a visa if you plan to stay more than 90 days in any 180-day period.
3. Take out travel insurance Make sure you take out comprehensive travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday. Many insurance policies offer different types of cover for COVID-19, such as medical expenses while on holiday or cancellation if you’re unable to travel, however, most only cover the minimal issues that could occur so be sure to read the policy details carefully to ensure it covers your specific needs so that you can worry less if anything COVID-19 related was to occur. Don’t forget to weigh up the necessity of adding on extras such as gadget or cruise insurance too! Most importantly, make sure you take the documentation with you when you travel!
4. Make sure you have a valid EHIC or GHIC If you’re travelling to Europe, make sure your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is still in date (cards are valid for five years when issued) and if not, apply for the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Both cards entitle you to state-priced emergency healthcare and some insurers won’t cover all your medical costs if you don’t have an EHIC or GHIC.
5. Check your roaming rates now that the UK has left the EU There have been many changes for travelling to Europe now that the UK has left the EU, including mobile data roaming. Many network providers may now begin to charge you a certain amount a day to use your data as you would in the UK, even if it’s included in your contract. Check the dates of your contract to see when their new terms may apply to you.
6. Get your COVID-19 documents in order Having read the Foreign Office advice, you'll know the COVID-related travel requirements for your destination. Give yourself plenty of time to fill out any forms required and get any documentation in order; make sure you check what format your destination will accept - either digital or paper or both.
I personally keep a printed version of all documentation (including boarding passes, ATOL certificates and travel insurance) in case my phone/device has a problem/runs out of battery. Plus, being able to give each individual their own documentation makes life a lot it easier if you are travelling as a group!
7. Plan ahead If you know you’ll need to hire a car or there’s a particular attraction you definitely want to visit, make sure you book in advance to secure your preferences and avoid FOMO (fear of missing out). Always read the booking conditions; If you think your plans may change, check to see if there are flexible booking conditions which will allow you to make changes closer to your departure date.
8. Airport charges
A number of UK airports have implemented a charge to drop off and pick up passengers from the airport. Check if this could affect you in advance and how much it could set you back by. If you are booking a taxi, find out if the drop off/pick up charge is included in the fare, or whether it will be an additional cost. As with pre-covid travel, ensure you leave enough time to get to the airport so that you don’t have to rush through check in – as an approximate, arrive to the airport 3 hours before your boarding time.
9. Final check before you head off COVID requirements at home and abroad are constantly changing as we learn to live with Coronavirus, so make sure you revisit the latest advice for your destination and before your return to the UK as your departure date nears.
Be sure to also check any COVID rules such as wearing a face covering, showing covid passes or practicing social distancing, which may be required on your journey and at times during your holiday. Not just in relation to COVID, but for general hygiene purposes also - keep your own hand sanitizer or wet wipes handy, you never know when it will be needed!
10. You don't need to do anything on your return to the UK! Leaving the best till last! All of the UK’s COVID-19 travel measures have now been removed, so you no longer need to take any tests or fill in any forms on return to the UK.
Now, let’s just hope it stays that way!
Safe travels! x