WITH just four destinations now open to travel without any restrictions, you would be forgiven for thinking that foreign holidays are once again an impossible dream.
But think again. With a bit of extra research and a little flexibility, an overseas break is not only possible but could be cheaper than ever.
Plenty of insurers now offer comprehensive cover to destinations in Europe on the red list.
And hotels are tempting tourists back with bargain deals on longer stays that make quarantining on return well worth the trouble.
And if the country you are visiting requires a Covid test, it’s never been easier to buy one privately before you travel.
There is also hope that the Government might finally scrap the 14-day quarantine rule for “red list” countries and replace it with a system in which a negative test after five days lets holidaymakers leave quarantine early.
Here, JACOB LEWIS reveals how to give yourself a break.
The only four countries where English holidaymakers (rules vary in the rest of the UK) can now travel without any restrictions are Sweden, Germany, San Marino and Gibraltar.
All other countries are either on the Government’s “red list”, meaning you will have to isolate on your return and/or have their own restrictions on arrivals.
Some countries, such as the US, Australia and New Zealand, still have an outright ban on tourists.
However, for many countries, the restrictions don’t rule out travel altogether and are only in place to make travel safer.
There may be a few hoops to jump through, such as testing before you leave and/or on arrival.
Holiday hotspots that will let you in without restriction but are on our Government’s two-week quarantine list include France, Turkey, Spain and Greek islands Crete and Mykonos.
While popular destinations with no quarantine on the way home — but stringent checks and testing requirements either before you leave and/or on arrival — include Cyprus, St Lucia, Barbados, Bermuda and Italy.
Think Long Trips
While hopping on a budget flight for a weekend city break may not be worth the hassle, hotels and resorts worldwide are offering discounts on longer stays.
Eco Village Finca De Arrieta in Lanzarote, where Covid rates are extremely low — and so is the cost of living — offers long stays from £910 per month for a couple. With high-speed wifi, for some it opens up the possibility of a work-from-holiday getaway.
As for city stays, boutique hostel chain Generator offers savings of 30 per cent off per night when guests book seven nights or more as part of their Stay Longer Save More offer at all its locations including London, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris, Rome and Stockholm.
Seven nights’ room only in Amsterdam is from just £172pp based on two sharing.
Thailand, a country that is closed to most visitors, is taking tentative steps to let tourists back in, but only if they intend to stay for 60 days.
The application process is currently too difficult, including a police background check, for us to recommend it but the system may be expanded or simplified in future.
What cover you need will depend on whether you’re visiting a destination against the advice of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office or one that’s on the Government’s safe list.
AGAINST FCO ADVICE:
Some insurers offer cover for travel against FCO advice but most plans only cover European countries.
One of the best is insurefor.com where you can get 20 per cent off with exclusive code SUN20.
They were the first to offer protection against Covid- related issues pre-departure and while abroad.
The downsides to holidaying outside of FCO advice like this is that insurance can be more expensive and the insurer may not throw in extra coverage elsewhere.
For example, protection if you are made redundant and cannot afford to travel any more, is unlikely to be included.
WITHIN FCO ADVICE:
If you are travelling within the FCO advice, remember the advice could change before your trip and invalidate any regular insurance.
If so and you still want to travel and stay insured, you should buy a new policy that covers travel against FCO advice.
If you are confident the FCO advice won’t change then coverforyou.com is a good choice as its policy includes protection against redundancy, you or your family falling ill with Covid before you set off or the destination country introducing quarantine restrictions.
HERE: Some countries will require a certificate proving you were free of Covid within a certain timeframe before departure.
Don’t use the NHS service for this but book a private test. The NHS testing service is strictly for those with symptoms, not for discretionary travel.
Many companies online, such as Lloyds Pharmacy, offer at-home swab-testing kits through the post.
They cost from £119 and come with a certificate which can be printed for airlines or other official purposes.
THERE: For countries that require testing upon arrival, some will offer this for free and others charge a fee. Either way, it’s a quick, efficient and mostly pain-free process.
For example, it costs £57.97 in Bermuda, while in Barbados it’s free at the airport or £115.94 if you want to take the test in your hotel.
HERE: Holidaymakers returning from “red list” countries may soon be able to end their 14-day self-isolation early as part of plans to be considered by a new taskforce.
Travel bosses hope that the new system may resemble Germany’s where returning holidaymakers from high-risk countries can leave quarantine if they test negative after five days.
This could make a winter sun holidays possible for families over the two-week Chrismas holidays.
THERE: Unless you are visiting for a very long holiday, you won’t want to travel to a country such as Latvia that requires a UK-style 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
Some destinations that administer tests on arrival, such as Jersey, don’t need you to self-isolate while awaiting results.
In most Caribbean islands you are required to wait at the hotel for results that should take less than 24 hours to process — easy
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