Updated 26 Jan 2021: If you were planning on booking a summer holiday in the next couple of weeks, sadly it might be time to rethink your plans.
Despite hopes that lockdown restrictions would be eased in time for people to head outside the UK come summertime, the potential introduction of new travel restrictions – including quarantine hotels for people coming into the country – has made those dreams seem a lot less likely.
Speaking on Sky News this morning, the vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi said it was “far too early” to book a holiday and speculate about what conditions might be like by the summer.
But does this mean a summer holiday is completely off the cards in 2021? The lockdown rules and advice, of course, will vary from country to country, and you should always check the local policies for the latest coronavirus regulations before you travel. Under the current UK Covid-19 restrictions, we must all stay home. As the government guidance explains, we’re not to travel out of or around the UK without a legally permitted reason to do so.
It is too early to predict what the situation will be over the summer months. In hopes of making some of the confusion around optimistic conversations a bit clearer, however, we asked some travel experts to clarify the risks and explain the likelihood of being able to book a trip abroad this year.
As reported 28 Dec 2020: While some of us may have been lucky enough to get away in 2020, for the majority of us, travelling anywhere – let alone outside the UK – just wasn’t a possibility. But with the vaccine rollout underway, can we begin to dream about a week away in summer 2021?
According to travel search engine KAYAK, many of us are already doing just that. In a recent survey, 67% of respondents said they were planning to travel internationally next year, with 40% saying they planned to book a trip in the next six months.
To find out more about the risks involved in booking a holiday right now – and what might happen between now and summer 2021 – we spoke to two travel experts to get their advice. Here’s what they had to say.
What risks are involved with booking a holiday abroad in summer 2021?
“While there is optimism in the air, there are some elements of travel that seem to be playing on people’s minds,” explains Kate Hopcraft, EMEA director of public relations at KAYAK.
“In our survey, the number one concern travellers highlighted for 2021 is that restrictions will change in the destination they are planning to visit (43%), followed by the worry they will lose money if their travel is cancelled at the last minute (16%).”
Although the situation will likely improve as more people get vaccinated, it seems these are still very valid concerns – especially when we’re facing a possible third lockdown should cases rise after Christmas.
“It’s important to remember that while the Covid-19 vaccine will hopefully be rolled out far and wide next year, our way of life over the next few months is still subject to change,” says Helen Chambers, head of travel insurance at MoneySuperMarket.
“Currently the FCDO advises against all but essential travel with only a handful of destinations available to Brits without quarantine restrictions being in place either on arrival or return. As we continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic next year, it’s important to have adequate policy coverage for any trip to make sure you are protected should Government guidance change.
“Also make sure you are clear on the cover each policy offers in term of Covid cover. MoneySuperMarket has ensured all policies shown on its website offer medical and repatriation cover for anyone impacted by Covid-19 while travelling, with over 50 per cent of its partners providing more enhanced levels of cover. However, you should always read the full Ts and Cs of a policy before committing to a purchase, so you are clear on what is included.”
Alongside navigating the everchanging rules associated with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s also important to consider the impact that Brexit may have on your travel plans next year if you intend to go on holiday to an EU country – especially when it comes to travel insurance.
If we decide to book, how can we mitigate some of the risks?
It’s clear that there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to booking a holiday in summer 2021, and all travel plans will remain subject to change as countries across the world navigate the coronavirus pandemic. However, if you decide to book a trip, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your plans against some of the changes.
“To help ease some of the concern people are feeling, KAYAK has a range of tools to help people find a flight with a level of peace of mind,” says Hopcraft. “These include a flexible filter that enables travellers to sort flight search results by those providers offering free cancellations or waiving change fees, and a travel restrictions map that displays the current status for each country enabling users to quickly navigate and grasp what restrictions are applied to the destination.”
For those people looking to insure themselves and their trip, Chambers recommends checking the fine print to ensure you’re completely covered and checking the latest government guidance to ensure your insurance is still valid before you travel.
“Policies vary by provider and type, so it’s important you are familiar with and understand what your policy covers,” she says. “Some annual policies may not cover travel during the coronavirus pandemic so it’s important to speak with your provider before booking your trip.”
She continues: “As advice and the tier system changes, it’s important to continue following Government guidance on keeping safe as well as travel advice both in the UK and internationally. Government guidance at the point of travel may be subject to change and this can impact the amount of cover your policy offers.
“It’s important to take out a comprehensive policy at the time of booking to ensure you are covered against any cancellations or unexpected changes.”