Wherever you’re travelling to, it’s highly likely that day-to-day life will have changed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as countries look to keep their citizens and holidaymakers as safe as possible.
Here’s some of the changes you can expect when travelling abroad this year.
Arriving at your destination
Before you leave for your trip, it’s really important that you plan ahead.
You’ll need to follow guidance for the country you’re visiting, and restrictions vary from country to country, so make sure to do your research and keep an eye on the FCDO’s travel page for up to date information.
Testing requirements on arrival
Before you travel, you’ll usually need to provide proof of a negative COVID test.
As for testing on arrival, there isn’t a blanket rule for every country – the restrictions vary and can change quickly. Keep an eye on the FCDO’s guidelines for wherever you’re going.
The type of test you might need to take on arriving in your destination could be different as well. Some countries ask for a PCR test to be taken on arrival, but some will accept a lateral-flow test.
Self-isolation and quarantine hotels
Like testing, self-isolation measures are different for each country. Most will ask you to quarantine for between 7-14 days, but you need to check before travelling as this could be a stopper for your holiday plans.
Some countries are asking travellers from specific countries to quarantine in government-managed hotels for a set period. The idea is to help contain any new variants that might be coming into the country and to track potential cases more carefully.
Hotel quarantine stays usually come at the cost of the person travelling, so you may need to budget for these extra costs.
The same might apply for your return to the UK depending on where you travel to. Quarantine in a hotel can cost £1,750 for one adult, in one room, for 10 days and 11 nights.
Passenger locator forms
Again, much like in the UK, it’s commonplace around the world to fill in a ‘passenger locator form’ of some sort. This just gives the government your details – such as where you’re travelling from, where you’ll be staying, etc. – to make it easier to track and trace cases where they crop up.
You might not be asked to fill in one of these forms everywhere, but it’s worth being prepared if the country you’re travelling to does require it.
Plan activities and make bookings in advance
For the moment, the spontaneity of holidays is going to be a bit hampered so you should look to plan wherever possible. This will help you make allowances for any COVID-related issues that crop up, and it also helps the businesses you’re visiting.
Booking in advance, whether it’s at restaurants or elsewhere, really helps businesses to manage and prepare for their customers – making it easier to keep you safe with social distancing measures.
You should also be very mindful of cancelling if your plans change or you can’t make your booking. Businesses are under a lot of strain at the moment so this will just make things a little easier for them, and it doesn’t take long.
Speak to your travel providers for more information on the things you can do, how far in advance you need to book, and anything else you might need to know about planning and booking activities on your holiday.
Prepare to stay longer than you intended
Something else you might need to prepare for is staying longer abroad than you intended. This is likely to happen if you contract the virus or start showing symptoms, or if the local restrictions change.
This could have financial implications on you, so just like with any potential quarantine periods at either end of your trip, you need to be prepared financially.
Other things to think about include your medication and medical needs – make sure to prepare for these so you don’t get caught short if you need to stay away longer.
What happens if FCDO travel advice changes when you’re abroad?
Even when we’re allowed to travel, it won’t be completely risk-free. This means that the FCDO travel advice could change while you’re away. So you might be wondering, what should you do if it does change?
First of all, there’s no need to return to the UK, unless you’re asked to do so by the government. You should follow the local guidelines to make sure you’re helping to control the virus.
Cutting your trip short
If you need to cut your trip short, you can speak to your travel providers and insurance company about what your options are.
You’ll then need to follow the guidelines for travelling to the UK, which might have been updated.
At the very least, you’ll need to provide proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of travelling, fill out a passenger locator form, and self-isolate in your home or a government-designated hotel upon your arrival.
If, for example, there’s a new variant where you are and you aren’t able to return to the UK right away, there are a few things you might need to do.
Firstly, you’ll need to quarantine as advised by the local government. This may mean you have to stay in your hotel/accommodation for 14 days. Then, you should contact your travel providers and insurance company to discuss your return.
It’s also important that you look after your mental wellbeing when quarantining in another country. Keeping in touch with your family and friends is a good way to keep your spirits up. The government has more guidance for looking after your mental wellbeing in quarantine here.