10 Tips to Navigate a COVID-19 Safe Family Holiday
Updated: Feb 22
After a long year working very hard during this pandemic, we decided that Summer 2021 will be our season for COVID-19 safe holidays. We start our first trip on the Algarve in June and plan to travel to Germany and Greece in August, before Alexander starts his first year of school in September.
One of the main questions I am constantly asked is 'How do you select a COVID-19 'safe' or 'friendly' destination for families during the pandemic? Its not as simple as booking a spontaneous flight to a destination of choice any longer, so working out a country with 'low' rates is critical. There is also the element of navigating the COVID-19 testing and quarantine rules in the UK with the new traffic light system, where prices can easily hike just with testing alone for a family of four, if this is not closely watched.
Here are 10 tips to consider when selecting your travel destination and planning your COVID-19 safe travels.
1) Check the Case Rate per 14-day cases per 100,000 for a Given Country
This will give you a good idea on the COVID-19 situation in a particular country. Why this particular 'rate' matters is that it gives a like for like comparison between countries and also reflects that current situation which is important during the pandemic where several dynamics can affect case rates. Thus if there is an outbreak, you can easily see it reflected in these rates. Here is a good site to rely on for European destinations, the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control or ECDC, which has the official statistics.
2) Check the UK COVID-19 Travel Update
The UK has a traffic light system which indicates that:
- 'Red' countries require a 10-day hotel quarantine upon arrival from said countries
- 'Yellow' countries allow quarantine at home for 10 days and require day 2 and 8 tests plus day 5 test to release (optional)
- 'Green' countries require day 2 tests only
Children under 4 do not need to take the day 2 and 8 tests but do need to take the day 5 test to release test.
3) Check Country Entry Criteria
Country eligibility entry criteria is available on the Gov.UK foreign travel website. Its important you check this before booking and prior to departing as this is subject to regular changes.
Some countries require rapid antigen tests on entry and other PCR tests or a full vaccination pass (official government document). For UK travellers, this can be printed or downloaded from the NHS app.
4) Book a Flight that can be Cancelled within 24 hours
My advice because of the frequent official travel changes is to book a flight that can be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance, if needed. British Airways for example has a fantastic policy that offers vouchers that can be used up to two years later if a flight is cancelled at least 24 hours in advance. This provides security in this every changing situation.
5) Check your Cancellation Policy on your Hotel
Please earmark your cancellation policy time and select a hotel that can be cancelled with a full refund, in case this is needed.
6) Download your Vaccine Pass
Many countries are now allowing those who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to travel with a Vaccine Pass which can be downloaded from the NHS website. Prepare this by downloading the app and having your pass downloaded to your 'documents' or 'files' folder is it is at hand.
7) Prepare your return COVID-19 Tests (as needed)
The UK Government has official test providers for day 2, day 5 and day 8 COVID-19 PCR tests. Please check their website for an official provider prior to ordering tests. Tests should be ordered prior to departure from your holiday for your return to the UK. Example, order 5 days before departure so that your day 2 and 8 tests arrive at home when you arrive in the UK, so there's no delay. Some providers that are often used are:
- Express Test
- Randox Health
- Dante Health
Tests can also be taken at a walk-in centre and might be quicker if you need a test to return to work or school, for instance.
8) Take your Rapid Antigen Test prior to Arrival in the UK
A rapid antigen test must be taken prior to arrival in the UK from your holiday destination. This has to be taken locally as you need a print out of your negative result prior to boarding the return flight (this will be checked at the airport). Many hotels offer these or check with your hotel for a local pharmacy where these can be taken. Approximate cost is £40 per test and children under 4 dont need to test.
9) Fill in your Passenger Locator Form for arrival in the UK
This form is mandatory for entrance into the UK and is available here. Each traveller regardless of age must have one completed.
10) Prepare for your Day 2 and 8 Tests
Day 5 Tests can be taken to release out of the 10 day at home quarantine scheme for those arriving from amber countries. However, all ages, including those over 2, need to test in this case.
Hope this helps and Happy Travels!
The Kensington Diary