Things are a bit uncertain, but you can still plan ahead (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
With Covid-19 vaccinations underway, foreign travel could be easier for Britons in 2021.
However, there are lots of factors coming into play, so do a bit of research before you book.
Read on below to see your top travel questions answered.
Is it actually worth booking a holiday now?
There are some obvious advantages to doing so, including better availability – as the later you leave it for popular destinations such as Greece or Spain, or flights to cities hosting the rearranged Euro 2020 football championships (June 11 J – July 11), the less likely you’ll be able to secure your chosen dates.
Attractive advance-booking discounts will help the assault on your wallet.
When is it likely to be safe to book a holiday for?
Late-spring and beyond is the experts’ bet, with vaccination programmes underway globally and European case numbers seen to dip amid warmer weather.
‘I believe travel and holidays, both long and short-haul, will resume in May,’ forecasts Noel Josephides, a director of specialist travel association AITO.
Noel Josephides, director of specialist travel association AITO, says you might be able to go away again in May
Should I book a last-minute trip?
Doing so obviously reduces the risk of your plans being disrupted by British viral spikes, the FCDO’s continually-changing travel corridors lists or suddenly-unfeasible entry requirements.
There may also be great deals to be had. The clearest downside is, again, that much-reduced availability.
What should I look out for when booking a holiday?
As travel firms, airlines and cruise operators bid to woo hesitant travellers, flexible-booking policies have proliferated.
Typically, these allow you to amend, change or postpone a trip for no fee should, say, our Foreign Office begin advising against non-essential travel to your destination. Some companies even offer free cancellation within a set advance period.
However, always trawl the small print: often only one free alteration is permitted, while conditions may exclude selected dates or destinations. Some of the best flexible booking policies have been ranked by Which.
The pandemic doesn’t have to mean you miss out on the beach altogether (Picture: Getty Images)
Are there any specific Covid policies offered by travel companies?
Yes. If, say, a Tui holidaymaker contracts the virus while travelling, all expenses will be covered, and the same applies in the event of their local area entering a regional lockdown over the scheduled departure dates.
Similarly, Jet2.com and Jet2holidays offer Covid-19 protection for cancellations and medical claims abroad.
What kind of travel insurance is it best to have?
Travel insurers have adapted since the pandemic began, with new policies from the likes of Trailfinders and All Clear now including Covid-related medical costs.
That said, almost none cover losses accrued from enforced quarantine or from holiday cancellations or curtailments caused by lockdowns or a change in FCDO advice.
Is it better to book the flights and hotel separately?
Categorically no. As Josephides says: ‘Booking flights and accommodation separately means you’ll have two contracts with suppliers.
A problem with one won’t affect arrangements with the other supplier, who will expect the contract to proceed as normal’ (ie they won’t offer a refund). Effectively, ‘DIY bookings’ substantially increase your risk of ending up out of pocket.
So package deals are safer?
Undoubtedly. In conformity with the Package Travel Regulations, British package holiday providers possessing an ATOL licence from the CAA offer full financial protection in the event of trips being cancelled – not to mention more expertise. All the tour operator members of AITO or ABTA are ATOL-licensed.
When it comes to booking flights, it’s better to go for a package deal (Picture: Getty Images/EyeEm)
What Covid restrictions are likely to be in place in other countries?
If their borders are open at all, most destinations are now only admitting travellers with proof – usually between 48 and 96 hours old – of a recent negative Covid-19 test result.
Check the government website for each country’s specific requirements. While a universally accepted ‘vaccination passport’ is probable in the future, it’s highly unlikely to materialise this year.
Will holidays become more expensive?
Probably, unfortunately. Tui, Britain’s biggest holiday company, has said its prices are one-seventh higher than in 2019.
Airline capacity, meanwhile, is much reduced – and fewer seats plus reduced competition guarantees higher fares.
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