Safe travel is something that we all want as the world opens up and we start getting used to living with Coronavirus. The cruise, train, and air industries have all put measures in place. They may seem a little strange at first but they will improve the safety of everybody as they travel.
Taking the right preparations at the right time will make these changes easier and less daunting. We’re going to share some pointers and give you the confidence to travel from home to hotel and back again!
What do I need to do pre-flight to ensure safe travel?
Two months before you travel:
- Check your passport is in date – an uplift in travel has led to passport delays.
- Check your EHIC Card is in date or replace it with a GHIC Card.
There are new rules for UK visitors, which cover passport validity, access to healthcare, taking a vehicle or pet, and travelling with food and drink products. Check all the new rules by viewing the gov website. You can also check the latest travel health advice for any destination by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre.
- Check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) Advice website
Understand the risks of visiting a country, as well as its Coronavirus rules, restrictions, and entry requirements. You might be asked to prove you’ve been fully vaccinated. Also, there may be limits on group numbers and curfews. So, make sure you visit the FCDO travel advice website which goes into a good level of detail. It will also explain what the rules are when you return.
- Find out what proof of vaccination status your destination accepts
In England and Wales, download the NHS app and follow the instructions to validate your NHS Coronavirus pass. If you live in Scotland, you’ll need a record of your coronavirus vaccination status. If you live in Northern Ireland you will need to apply for a vaccine certificate so give the process a little longer to allow for any delays.
- View the UK governments ‘safe countries list’
Refer to the safe travel list when deciding where to fly. You can do this by viewing our safe travel at-a-glance table. Remember that in exceptional circumstances, non-essential trips can still be banned. On the other hand, a country can still close its borders at short notice. So, you should always…
- Find a flexible holiday provider
An airline or tour operator who can give you as much flexibility as possible within their booking terms is best. This should enable you to adjust your travel dates or let you defer travel. If you require a last-minute deal for a cheap international flight, read our last-minute holiday blog for more tips and advice.
- Take out travel insurance
Make sure you know what the exemptions are with on your policy. At Free Spirit, we provide Coronavirus cover. This will protect you if you have to cancel your trip if you or a travel companion takes ill with or tests positive for Coronavirus.
Two weeks before
- Book pre-travel COVID tests (if required).
- Download your digital NHS COVID Passport or apply for a paper copy.
If you’re not fully vaccinated (or travelling from a country on the red list):
- Book a day 2 post-travel PCR test.
- Book a quarantine hotel package to include two Coronavirus tests.
Find more information about COVID passports, why we need one for travel, and how to find yours by reading our blog on COVID vaccine passports.
Can you go on holiday without being vaccinated?
The simple answer is yes but you’ll need to check the rules of the country you intend to visit first. Be prepared for the possibility that testing may make it a more costly experience than it would usually be. Plus, you will need to factor in the time to quarantine if a country requests you to do so on arrival.
One week before travel
Be prepared for change. Unfortunately, Coronavirus is still a threat. Travel disruption is still possible. So, to protect public health in the UK, countries may be added to the red list if their situation deteriorates. Or vice-versa, they can also close their borders to the UK if things get worse here. Alternately they may change their entry rules for travellers at short notice.
So, check the following again…
- FCDO Advice
You can keep up to date with travel updates for your chosen destination by subscribing to email alerts. Just search for the country, navigate to the page then click ‘ get email alerts’ under the contents and follow the instructions.
- Entry requirements
A country will close its borders to protect its people. Make sure you have the correct travel insurance in place and book your break with a flexible holiday provider. This will allow you to have the opportunity to travel again soon with peace of mind. Refer to our table that lists some top UK holiday destinations, which you can visit when travel restrictions are in place, as well as what the requirements are to enter each one.
- Check FCDO travel advice
Countries will continue to be reviewed regularly by the UK government and the FCDO to make sure they are safe to visit.
Three days before
- Take a COVID test (if necessary).
- Complete travel entry forms (if necessary).
Also, your airline should inform you of its measures to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.
What do I need to do before travelling home to ensure safe travel?
When it nears the time to return home do the following…
72 hours before flying home
- Take a PCR test or lateral flow test before setting off home but only if you’re not fully vaccinated.
- Complete a passenger locator form.
- Print off all your travel documents to get through airport security quicker.
Once You Have Returned Home:
From Friday 7th January, if you arrive from abroad and are fully vaccinated (or under the age of 18), you’ll no longer need to take pre-departure Covid tests. Plus, you’ll no longer need to self-isolate on arrival until you’ve received a negative result. However, you’ll still need to take a test on or before day two after arriving in the UK. This can be a lateral flow device rather than a PCR test from Sunday 9th January.
Recently, our Technical, Compliance and Customer Complaints Manager returned from a holiday in Ibiza, Spain.
Here are her 5 top tips for travelling safely with confidence:
- Book with a tour operator or holiday provider that can provide easy access to discounted testing kits.
- Get through airport security quickly by printing everything on paper. It can easily be checked and scanned.
- You’ll need to complete passenger locater forms while away. If you’re in a hotel, ask if they can print the documents for you. Our hotel did this without charge. However, some might require a small fee for printing. On the other hand, if you’re not in a hotel, your local holiday rep may be able to help.
- If your documents are on your smartphone, make sure you have set up accounts to access the forms and/or have the page open in your browser – internet or 4G access is hit and miss when in the airports. So, web pages may not load.
- If you screenshot information, ensure your name, etc is visible. A picture of just the QR code on a passenger locator forms will not be accepted.
Take Free Spirit Travel Insurance for Safe Travel
Our policies include a range of features and benefits, as well as Coronavirus cover. This cover will allow you to travel safely in the knowledge that you have protection in place if you fall ill with COVID. We make continuous developments to our cover to ensure it is best suited to travel (both in the UK and overseas). Therefore, we can assure you that Free Spirit will provide Coronavirus cover to protect you and your travelling companions if you catch coronavirus outside of the UK.
We believe that everyone has the right to travel, no matter their age or medical condition. So when you feel it is safe to travel again, we can give you the confidence to do so!
For more information about safe travel post lockdown, view our COVID Travel Guide for an anxiety-free holiday.