As travel continues to open up, it can be a minefield for passengers to follow COVID travel rules and entry requirements in different countries.
Despite the easing of some restrictions in the UK and EU, two-thirds of travelers still worry about quarantine requirements, according to Inmarsat’s Passenger Confidence Tracker.
Some 57% remain concerned about border closures and a third are confused about security protocols.
So how should Brits prepare to travel abroad?
The first thing to look for is whether you need to be single, double or even triple vaccinated and what the requirements are for children.
In America, children over the age of 12 cannot visit certain tourist sites such as indoor restaurants, gyms, theaters or arenas without proof of a single vaccination. This varies from city to city and is getting closer. In Boston, starting February 15, people ages 12 and older must have proof of full vaccination and starting March 1, children ages 5 to 11 must have proof of a single dose. This changes to full vaccination from May 1.
If you book too far in advance, your vaccination or booster may expire, so this is another factor to keep in mind.
There are a handful of countries people can travel to without a COVID vaccination if they have proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen test. At the time of writing, these included Greece, Portugal, Croatia, Turkey, Italy and the Maldives. Some of these countries require a digital passenger locator form.
Also be aware that a handful of countries are still not open to UK passengers, such as Australia, Japan and China.
Having the right documents in both paper and digital format will help you prepare for all eventualities. Keep the necessary vaccination, test and tracing certificates and forms with you at all times.
Most countries still require some form of negative COVID test for anyone entering from abroad. It is important to understand what type of test is required, such as a lateral flow test, PCR, or rapid antigen test, and when you should have it.
Travelers should also consider the cost of private tests, as these cannot be ordered through the NHS. Prices go down but still range from around £20 to £80 depending on the type of test, the turnaround time for the result and whether the test is carried out at home or on site, such as at the airport.
Some travelers have also reported problems getting refunds from private testing companies if tests are no longer needed or their travel plans change, so be prepared to lose that money if you can’t travel.
“If in doubt when it comes to taking your PCR test, use a date and time calculator and remember to use the time of your chosen destination. And if you don’t are not sure whether to use a side stream or a PCR, always play it safe and go for a PCR Some airports have testing centers so you can do one before you depart, but just make sure you allow plenty of time” , said Britt-Marie Monks, founder of The Honeymoon Fixer.
Reliable sources of information
Travel rules change on a weekly or even daily basis, so it’s essential to sign up for alerts from the foreign office website for the destination you are traveling to.
“If you’ve booked with a good travel agent, they’ll let you know of any changes before you travel, which makes things even easier,” travel consultant Emma Savage said.
Other good sources of information are the websites of tourist offices and the ABTA.
But some destinations are harder to master.
“It’s extremely difficult for people traveling outside of Europe. I recommend people follow embassy websites and I often send people to Facebook groups asking current travelers and expats for information. “said travel blogger Steph Dyson who documents COVID travel changes on worldly adventurer.
Insurance and reservations
Be sure to purchase travel insurance as soon as an overseas trip is booked rather than waiting closer to the departure date.
Read the policy details carefully to understand which COVID-related issues you are and are not covered for. Check if you need to provide proof of COVID cover on your insurance certificate as some countries like Mauritius now require it.
Consider what will happen if you contract COVID abroad and need to quarantine, which may extend your stay. Set a budget for this scenario and see what provision your insurer provides.
Try to book refundable accommodation and check the airline or train’s cancellation rules. Some will refund while others can only offer a voucher.
“It should be noted that British Airways will only allow you to take a voucher if you are flying before August 31. You are taking a risk if you book with them for travel from September. If you have airline miles, book with those – your flight will still be refundable for a small fee,” advised Rob Burgess, editor of loyalty website Head for Points.
And finally make sure know your rights when it comes to canceling a vacation.