Booking a holiday post-COVID has become much harder as everything is so changeable and in some instances, there's a lot of risks; risk to your health but also your bank balance. As self-certified travel addicts, we at WorldSIM have a strategy for booking travel post COVID which is detailed below, this isn't advice it's just an outline that might help you to travel without suffering any negative consequences. If you are concerned about catching COVID, are in an at-risk category, have underlying health conditions or haven't been double jabbed, then you should consider if you should be travelling at all – only you can answer that question.
Consider different destinations
You might always go to Spain or USA for holidays but in the current climate, you might need to consider being less picky. Consider destinations that are doing well with their vaccination program. Some destinations, like Gibraltar, have rolled out the vaccine across their whole population. Alternatively, countries with less population and lots of outdoors activities are a good idea – soak up some culture, natural wonders, interesting cuisine and try something different. Slovenia is stunning, just saying!
Identify destinations that are consistently on the green list
Gone are the days where you can go where you want, we are now all a slave to the green list. Make a point of checking the green list (or whatever the equivalent is in your country). If you are in the UK you can see the UK green list here. Make a shortlist of possible destinations that are on the green list and check weekly to make sure there haven’t been any changes. Eliminate any destinations that switch to amber or the dreaded red list as this could be a costly mistake for you.
Look at local requirements
From your shortlist of possible countries to holiday in, check: what are the requirements are for PCR tests, will you need to be double jabbed to enter the country, are tourist attractions and restaurants open, is life back to normal in the destination you are considering. This will whittle down your choice of destinations, ideally, if a destination doesn’t require a negative COVID PCR test on arrival, this eliminates many issues of holidaying.
Either book with a travel agency that will offer you 100% flexibility right up until the day of departure or book cheap as there is a chance you could lose some money if you can't supply a negative PCR test or if you are unable to travel due to COIVID within 3 days of your departure date. An alternative is COVID cover travel insurance (there are only a few companies offering this).
Make a multi-option plan
For those of you that are spontaneous, you aren’t going to like this one; select 2 or three destinations from your shortlist and decide on two to three possible places that you would stay (hotels, Airbnb or whatever that has availability). Look at flight times and prices – basically create several holiday options that you would be happy with and save these somewhere. These will be your go-to options for the booking step which is to follow. Check the airline and hotel policies as well as costs to change last-minute changes due to COVID (you might not be able to cancel but you will likely be able to change dates to the following week for example). Make sure you keep your diary free for the following week after you plan to travel in case you catch COVID and have to move your holiday by 7 days or so.
Watch and learn
Keep an eye on infection rates in your 2-3 chosen destinations for about three weeks before you travel (longer if you can) and make sure there are no sudden increases. Any substantial infection increases should result in your deleting the possibility of that destination from your shortlist.
7 Days before you plan to travel
If you are travelling to a destination that requires a negative PCR test before you arrive then don’t socialise and be extra cautious in the 7 days before your holiday. Getting COVID, even if you experience no symptoms and have been double jabbed could wreck all your plans! Stay home where possible, mask up and use hand sanitizer frequently. It's also worth doing daily lateral flow tests, or at least a few times during this week.
3 Days before you travel
The planners amongst you will hate this one – sorry! So, you already have several options for your holiday planned out and you are keeping an eye on what is happening in these destinations and on the infection rates. All you have to do now is wait, then book 3 days before travelling. If you are going to a destination that needs a negative PCR test before you travel, you should get the PCR test result before you book so you know you won't have any issues getting to your destination.
Consider the return home
Think about the return journey – the UK requires a negative PCR test to enter the country. Take precautions while you are away for the 7 days prior to returning, stay in open-air places and avoid huge crowds unless you have an FFP3 mask (which protects you by as much as 99.9% according to new research). It's also worth taking some lateral flow tests with you.
When you are ready to book, you should also check our travel booking checklist. Good luck!