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Covid-19: How Different Will Overseas Travel Look In 2021?

Whilst right now overseas travel for the purposes of holidaying isn’t possible given the various restrictions that are currently in place, it is expected that as the year progresses and more and more people receive their Covid-19 vaccinations, there will come a point when Brits will be permitted to enjoy trips abroad.

But how different will such travel be? What can UK holidaymakers expect when jetting off to enjoy a much-needed break in the sun? In this guide we’ve broken up the whole overseas travel experience into five sections to help provide a bit more clarity ahead of your trip away.

Before you go

Whenever you’re in the process of booking a holiday, you should make sure your passport is valid and within date, usually this means you need to have at least six months remaining on it. You should also spend some time researching the exact local guidelines in place at your chosen destination and any restrictions you will be expected to follow during your time in the country.

This includes, but is not limited to, the amount of people you’ll be allowed to mix with at any given time, social distancing rules, where or when you’ll be expected to wear a face mask and potential curfews that may well be in place.

Some destinations might require you to provide a negative Covid-19 test taken two to three days before your arrival and others could have isolation periods imposed on international visitors. The best thing is to look into this properly for the area you’ll be travelling to, and keep an eye on it right up to your time of departure as guidelines are constantly being refined and added to.

You may also want to consider taking out comprehensive travel insurance and should at least clarify what level of Covid-19 protection you will be receiving. For example some companies might pay for hospital or isolation fees should you come down with any symptoms whilst you’re away, but others may only offer standard levels of cover.



At the airport

Each UK airport will have their own guidelines that you will be required to follow and so you should check the exact rules in place before you arrive, however there are a number of blanket restrictions that you can expect whichever one you’re flying from.

Airports are indoor public areas and so masks will be mandatory whilst going through security, browsing duty free and walking to your terminal, however you will be allowed to remove them when eating or drinking. You can also expect to see social distancing markers and will be required to follow these when queueing or sitting in the departure lounge for example, as well as making use of the hand sanitiser stations at regular intervals. Because of all this, it would be wise to arrive a little earlier than you normally would to ensure you still have plenty of time to spare before your flight.



On the plane

Social distancing is expected when walking to your terminal and boarding, however this won’t be in place whilst on the plane – it had been reported that some airlines would block off middle seats but this isn’t the case. You will be required to wear a face mask for the entirety of your flight and are encouraged to keep walking in the aisle to an absolute minimum, whilst temperature checks could also be mandatory before entry onto the plane is permitted.

Hand sanitising stations won’t be present on planes and so you may want to consider purchasing your own personal hand sanatiser that you can apply whilst airborne, and many airlines are urging passengers to make any in-flight purchases via the contactless payment method.



Whilst you’re away

You should have researched the various local guidelines and restrictions in place at your arrival destination before you travel, and it’s also important to keep checking the most up to date advice whilst you’re on holiday and to, of course, abide by them.

Each country has differing levels of Covid measures in place for residents and visitors to follow when it comes to the use of face masks, social distancing, curfews and the mixing of large groups so it is difficult to provide a blanket piece of advice, other than to urge you to make sure you are constantly checking the local rules and any changes that may be made whilst you are there.

You should also keep an eye on the UK government’s advice for travel in the country you are in even whilst you are away as this can change at short notice. For example, the UK government may change their advice to ‘essential travel only’ to the country you are in, in which case you may be requested to return home immediately – this is a reason why it would be a good idea to ensure you have Covid-related travel insurance.

It’s possible that the government may also enforce periods of isolation to those entering the UK from the country you are in whilst you are abroad which (even if this wasn’t the case before you left) would mean you’d be required to self-isolate upon returning home.

The best thing is to keep an eye on all of the advice and stay alert at all times.



Returning home

Similar airport restrictions to the ones you will have experienced in the UK will be in place at your overseas airport, which includes guidelines on social distancing, the use of face masks and hand sanitising, and you also may experience longer queues or wait times than normal so it is advisable to arrive in plenty of time.

You should remind yourself of the restrictions in place in the UK (which may be different to that of your holiday destination) and find out if any new rules have been enforced during your time abroad including, for example, whether you will be required to undertake a period of self-isolation.

Remember to look out for the Covid-19 symptoms and follow the UK government’s dedicated advice should you come down with any when arriving back on these shores.




Where would you most like to go on holiday in 2021?