COVID travel post lockdown is going to look and feel very different in the UK and around the world. However, this means that your journey will be more safe, comfortable, and enjoyable than ever before!
Free Spirit Travel Insurance believes that everyone has the right to travel, no matter their age, disability, or medical condition. Therefore, we hope that our COVID travel guide will give you the confidence to travel once again.
When can I travel?
From April 12th we have been able to go on a domestic holiday or staycation – if you’re staying in self-catered accommodation. Pub gardens and outdoor restaurants will also be open.
So, if you see yourself as a foodie, spend a long weekend tasting a different town’s local cuisine. Or, take yourself on a culinary journey across the UK! You could start in Norfolk for a Cromer crab supper and finish in the ‘Land o’ Cakes’ (Scotland) for dessert.
May 17th is the date highlighted on our calendar for international travel if all goes well. After this, we will have to wait and see which destinations are cleared for travel by the government, and which ones we will have to self-isolate on return to the UK. Although if this is no issue for you, we can offer you specialist cover to travel against FCDO advice.
When should I book a holiday?
Whenever you feel comfortable booking a trip, make sure you find an airline or tour operator who’ll give you as much flexibility as possible within their booking terms. This will allow you to change the dates or defer travel if required. We strongly recommend a package trip as you will benefit from legal protection.
Once booked, take out Free Spirit travel insurance on the same day. That way you will have cancellation cover in place straight away. You will also then have all the features and benefits for your chosen level of cover. For instance, a Super Duper Policy is a good level of cover to have as it provides cover for the disruption caused by a natural disaster such as a volcanic eruption that affects air travel.
Where can I travel?
As the UK vaccination programme continues to progress, countries around the world are ready to open their doors to British citizens. Find out where you can travel after you’ve had your COVID vaccine, at-a-glance using our helpful guide and summary table.
If you want to stay closer to home you could spend some time exploring London town from the 12th April, while staying in rented accommodation, within one of the leafy suburbs like Richmond or Hampstead.
However, if you’d be more relaxed staying in an open space, away from the crowds in the UK, you could opt for a holiday off the beaten track or spend a long weekend visiting a UK heritage site.
Do I need travel insurance for a UK Staycation?
Yes, it’s wise to obtain travel insurance for a staycation. The specialist cover will protect you against unexpected events, which could still happen during a UK holiday.
Why do I need travel insurance for a staycation?
- If you need to unexpectedly cancel your holiday. Due to illness, injury, redundancy, or bereavement, you’ll need cancellation and curtailment cover. This will help you claim the cost of your unused accommodation, any pre-booked outings, or travel expenses.
- It may be sensible to get staycation insurance if your hotel or cottage goes into administration before your departure, due to the economic climate.
- Your breakdown cover may need upgrading to help you get towed if you’re more than 10 miles away from your home or destination.
- Your home insurance may not cover all your personal belongings outside of your home as standard. Plus, if you’re travelling with many expensive gadgets and/or equipment, these items can add up. Especially if you’re travelling as a family of four or more.
- If you have annual travel insurance for multiple trips abroad it may not cover you for a staycation.
- You still need cover for adventurous activities if you are in the UK. Plus, it will come in handy if your expensive equipment is damaged or stolen. Or even if you can’t ski, due to the piste being closed during a ski holiday in Scotland.
On the other hand, if you want to treat yourself or your family to a summer’s holiday in Europe, there are sure to be options within a few hour’s travel time.
If so, check the expiry date on any EHIC cards. If they are out of date soon, order your new GHIC Cards, for access to healthcare in participating countries.
Of course, there is no need to limit yourself to European travel – further-flung destinations are also likely to be available to you too.
COVID Travel Maps
- To make a decision based upon where the lowest numbers of COVID cases are around the world, visit the CNN Health website where the number of cases is updated every 15 minutes.
- Visit the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to view a map and list of COVID-19 travel recommendations by destination.
- View the Kayak website which has a COVID travel map to illustrate which countries have entry restrictions by air, for travel into the country.
Who can I travel with?
If things go according to the government’s plan:
- from May 17th, two households of up to six people can meet inside. So from this date you could go on holiday with another household.
- from June 21st anyone you choose. By this time all legal limits on social contact within the UK should be lifted. Not only will you be able to holiday with family and friends. You’ll also be able to have a party before jetting off!
You just need to meet the entry requirements of your chosen destination and fill out any mandatory paperwork if you choose to holiday outside of the UK. We have gathered some of the most important info on ‘green list’ destinations on our at-a-glance guide.
With a Free Spirit policy, whether you’re jetting off somewhere exotic or going on a UK staycation, we’ll cover you and everyone in your party. Whatever their age or medical condition. Free Spirit is one of a rare group of specialist providers that provides cover for the vast majority of medical conditions. We can even cover travellers who are waiting on further treatment or investigation for some diagnosed conditions. Give us a call if this applies to you and we will do all we can to help.
COVID Travel Rules
If you go on holiday with a burning desire to explore the local area you can still do so – as long as you follow the rules and guidelines in your destination.
Travelling on public transport after lockdown
If you can, aim to travel by foot or bicycle when venturing around the UK or within a foreign city.
Many cities are trying to prioritise cyclists and pedestrians, for a safer and stronger recovery out of lockdown. For instance, Milan and Barcelona have ambitious plans for road-space reallocation and Berlin introduced a pop-up bike path.
On public transport services, measures are being put in place to facilitate physical distancing, such as reducing capacity on individual services and increasing service capacity to rebuild safe and connected cities. Be additionally aware of public transport rules set by the country you’re visiting.
3 rules to always follow on public transport post lockdown:
- Follow social distancing rules.
- Remember your face mask.
- Be prepared to make a contactless payments, to prevent the spread of illness. Doing so will also speed up the service for you and your fellow passengers. You may find that many services will only accept contactless payments for these reasons.
COVID Travel by bus or coach
Physical distancing at bus stops and stations has been put in place in many locations. You may even encounter two-meter spots for you to wait for a bus. Many bus stops themselves have also been enlarged. On a lot of buses you can now board from any door, reducing your contact with the driver and/or other passengers.
While onboard buses, look out for handwashing facilities and any monitoring systems. These will allow you to report any COVID-related symptoms to the driver.
For many coach operators, fumigation has started to become part of the daily cleaning regime. For further details, contact them before your trip to find out more.
COVID Travel by Train
Is it safe to travel by train during the COVID pandemic?
Trains are in fact much safer than you would imagine. In fact, the risk of COVID-19 infection on rail travel is less than 0.01% on an average journey (or 1 in 11,000 journeys), and that’s if you’re not wearing a face mask or practising social distancing!
The risk is halved again when the mandatory COVID-19 travel rules are followed.
Either way, it’s best to follow the advice set by National Rail while travelling in the UK, or another country:
- Travel when it’s quiet
- Use a hand sanitiser and wash your hands before and after your journey.
- Wear your face covering.
- Keep your distance between staff and other passengers.
Precautions for COVID Travel by air
Precautions for air travel post lockdown will include the use of face masks and standard-issue PPE and gloves for all staff. The easy availability of sanitisers will also become the norm. Several airlines in Asia and Europe have already made masks compulsory for both passengers and crew. For more information, read our blog on face masks.
Airports around the world are aiming to enhance their customer service. Their goal, hastened by the pandemic, is to ensure you have a safe and comfortable experience, from the moment you reach the airport.
What will air travel look like when it returns?
- Enhanced health protocols will mean you’ll have to arrive at the airport earlier.
- Pre-booked security processes will enable you to turn up at a set time slot. This way you’ll receive a personalised experience because there will be no queue.
- Contactless solutions will allow you to order food, drinks, and even duty-free shopping from your mobile to your airport lounge.
- A digitised airport journey will emerge, including contactless passport desks.
When you reach a country’s border, testing regulations processed at check-in will catch any positive cases. While your vaccine will be a way to keep the population protected. Both these actions need to be followed to keep everyone safe, to allow quarantine-free travel to return.
You should also plan for travel disruption. If a country closes its borders, it may do so with little or no warning. Before your journey, check with your transport operator for the latest travel advice on your route.
What will cruise travel look like post lockdown?
All being well, the UK government is planning to allow domestic cruises to reopen from 17th May. If you’ve never tried one before, now may be the time to give cruising a go. Either way, it’ll certainly give you the opportunity to travel again!
Which cruise lines will be offering domestic cruises in the UK?
- Princess Cruises have plans to set off in October.
- P&O Cruises are to start a series of short breaks and week-long trips in the summer.
- Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth will begin a series of UK voyages for summer. Each will sail from Southampton and travel around the UK for UK residents.
- Viking Cruises will begin departures from Portsmouth.
While onboard, all passengers and crew will receive daily non-invasive saliva PCR tests. Additional health checks, sanitisation, and physical distancing measures will also be introduced.
If the UK cruise industry can demonstrate that they can operate carefully and follow the correct protocols within the UK, cruising to Europe may then be made possible!
What activities can I do on holiday post lockdown?
It’s your holiday, so if you’ve had your full vaccination, give yourself the freedom to do something you’ve missed doing!
You might want to consider outdoor activities. After all, outdoor spaces (like hiking trails, national parks, and beaches), give you more room for social distancing measures, which will likely still be required in many destinations.
Don’t forget, a benefit of taking out a Free Spirit policy is that over 100 activities are included for free. So feel free to experience something new while away! Just follow the safety guidelines and use the appropriate, recommended safety equipment provided.
Why is it important to have COVID Travel Insurance?
It is important to purchase the right travel insurance after booking a break, to give you the confidence to travel.
Free Spirit travel insurance is ideal because each policy includes enhanced COVID-19 cover. When you travel abroad, COVID-19 cover includes emergency medical and associated costs, as well as state hospital benefits.
You can also choose from two different levels of cover – Super or Super Duper. Each comes with Coronavirus Cover, which includes: cancellation, repatriation, and emergency medical expenses to give you the freedom to travel.
So, in the event that you or one of your party is taken ill, or tests positive for the virus, just before you’re due to travel, our insurance will allow you to claim for cancellation and irrecoverable costs. For more details click here.
We hope we’ve included everything you needed to know, to have an anxiety-free holiday. However, if you have any questions or queries, please get in touch.