Here is our guide for booking holidays in 2021, including key dates and important factors to consider.
We are definitely feeling more optimistic about travel. The roadmap out of UK lockdown has revealed that UK staycations should be possible from April 12th and international travel is subject to review on the 17th May. This is great news!
To help guide your travel-related decisions we’ve answered some of the crucial questions below based on information that is accurate as of 31/03/2021. A further travel update is expected from the Government on the 5th April.
While we can’t wait to travel once again, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest travel information and have comprehensive travel insurance in place. Please be aware that the information provided below is subject to change based on Government advice and regulations, please check the FCDO website for the latest travel advice before you travel.
Where can I go on holiday?
The lockdown roadmap is set out in four key dates, and these include the gradual reopening of holiday accommodation, both in the UK and abroad.
These roadmap dates are for England only – it’s not yet clear whether Scotland and Wales plan to allow England residents to visit for a holiday.
If you’re after inspiration on where to go, you may want to check out our staycations blog which has all the latest destination ideas and guides that could be useful.
May 17 – All other accommodation can reopen. International travel may be allowed to resume, but this is subject to review.
Each step will be guided by data rather than dates – so these could be pushed back. Therefore these dates are the very earliest these will reopen, and are subject to change if the government deems it necessary.
Where can I go abroad?
At the time of writing, international travel for leisure is still illegal for Brits as part of the ongoing lockdowns.
It’s not yet clear whether governments will return to a travel corridors system – which determined if you’d need to quarantine on your return home – or if they plan to open up certain destinations for holidaymakers.
Under the roadmap dates, it’s hoped that international travel can resume from May 17.
The government is launching a Global Travel Taskforce from April 12 to “facilitate return to international travel while still managing risk from imported cases & Variants of Concern”.
Here are some key points to consider when thinking about destinations:
- Whether a country is opening borders to Brits and any quarantine rules – some countries such as Cyprus and Iceland have already said they will lift quarantine rules for vaccinated travellers.
- Entry requirements when you’re returning to the UK – currently this includes showing proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel, followed by 10 days of quarantine with Covid tests taken on day 2 and day 10. (If a country is added to the UK’s ‘red list’, you’ll need to stay in a quarantine hotel on your return – and fork out the cost of at least £1,750 yourself). For more information, read our quarantine and travel corridors blog post.
- The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says it expects its digital Covid Travel Pass will be ready “within weeks”. The pass is an app that verifies a passenger has had the Covid-19 tests or vaccines required to enter a country. It also verifies they were administered by an approved authority. The industry body sees the pass as essential for reopening air travel, as many countries still have strict restrictions or quarantines in place.”
Should I book a holiday now?
Obviously, the choice is yours, but there are a number of factors to consider:
- You’re more likely to get the holiday you want: With surges in bookings and demand, it’s likely that accommodation will sell out quickly, especially in popular locations such as Cornwall, Devon and the Lake District – so booking now could save you the hassle of scrambling around for somewhere later this year or risking your favourite places being full.
- There are deals to be found: Travel firms have some tempting offers for both UK holidays and holidays abroad in a bid to entice holidaymakers.
- Flexible booking policies: A number of firms have introduced flexible policies that allow you to rebook or get a refund if your plans need to change because of government guidance. For example, Butlin’s has a Covid guarantee which includes no-quibble refunds. British Airways offers free amends with its Book with Confidence offering, and TUI offers Covid cover and free amends in its Travel with Confidence offering.
The main risk to consider is because the lockdown roadmap is being guided by data, those key dates could change, and mean your holiday is cancelled. In this scenario, if the firm has to cancel your holiday you’ll be offered options such as rebooking or a refund, but it’s worth noting that this will be dependent on the booking policy for your holiday – so if you book make sure to check the fine print.
For holidays abroad, there are a number of factors that come into play including a country’s Covid-19 risk, quarantine rules and whether borders will be open to Brits. If you book a package holiday and the Foreign Office advice doesn’t allow for travel, you are entitled to a refund or rebooking to a later date if the company cancels your trip. Again, check the fine print of your booking policy.
What happens if the travel rules change – can you get your money back?
If you book a holiday in England but the lockdown roadmap is changed, it will depend on your booking policy.
During the pandemic, most hotels and accommodation will offer you the option to rebook for free, or a refund if the government has banned domestic travel. However do double check the terms of a policy before parting with your cash, as in some cases it may just be a rebooking option or credit that’s on the cards.
If you’ve booked a package holiday abroad, you should be entitled to a refund because the company is cancelling your holiday. Travel firms tend to get in touch with those due to depart imminently and offer a range of options including a refund, credit with the brand, or a chance to rebook to a later date (sometimes with an extra incentive).