The festivities of Christmas and New Year are over, and the month of January feels very long and dark. To combat the January blues, thoughts turn to warmer things and booking a summer holiday is top of the to-do list for lots of people.

In the UK, international travel restrictions are easing, just in time for Half Term. From 4am on 11th February, fully vaccinated travellers (people who have had two doses) and under-18s will no longer need to take a lateral flow test two days after they arrive in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Travellers who aren’t fully vaccinated will no longer have to self-isolate on arrival or take a test on day eight. However, they will still have to show proof of a negative Covid test taken two days before they travel, and they must still take a post-arrival PCR test.

All passengers will still need to fill in a passenger locator form.

However, as restrictions ease here in the UK, they are still in place in many countries around the world. It is important to check the FDO website to see what they are, if any, and how they are likely to affect the enjoyment and quality of your holiday.

Can I travel abroad this year?

Absolutely. As far as the UK government is concerned, you are free to travel to whatever country you like. However, that doesn’t mean that the country you are planning on visiting will accept travellers from the UK. It is important to check the foreign travel advice for the country you are wanting to travel to. This will tell you if they are currently accepting visitors from the UK and whether or not you must be fully vaccinated. It is likely that you will need to show recognised proof of your vaccination status, proof of a negative Covid-19 test or both, as well as to fill out a number of online forms.

The latest foreign travel advice for each country can be found on the FDO website.

Things to bear in mind:

  • Individual countries may have restrictions on UK travellers
  • If Covid cases in another country suddenly rise, the travel situation could change at very short notice
  • Last minute changes may invalidate any travel insurance you have
  • Unvaccinated travellers could have stricter restrictions imposed on them
  • At present, there are no countries on the government’s red list. However, this situation is constantly being monitored so could change at very short notice.

Should I book a holiday abroad?

This is ultimately your choice. It is important to know your travel rights and weigh up any risks if you do book. Even if there is no quarantine on arrival or FDO guidance in place for the country you are visiting, there is no guarantee that the situation won’t change, and at very short notice.

Hints and Tips:

  • Keep up to date with the latest FDO guidance
  • Check with your travel insurance provider to see what exactly you are and are not covered for
  • Check the cancellation policies of your flight and accommodation providers
  • Pay for your holiday with a credit card – this gives you added protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act
  • Consider booking a package holiday – this will offer you more protection than if you self-package a trip

What should I look for when buying travel insurance?

Think about how frequently you plan to holiday within the next 12 months. You can take out either an annual policy or a single trip policy. It is important to take out your policy at the same time you book your holiday. This is because if you leave your insurance cover until just before you travel, you aren’t covered for anything that may happen that stops you from going – illness, injury etc.

When you are searching for a policy, make sure you opt for one that includes the following:

Covid-19 Medical and Repatriation Cover. This will cover you if you become infected whilst away and cover any associated travel costs with your journey home.

Most insurers will cover emergency medical treatment and repatriation for coronavirus claims as a minimum. If you are diagnosed with coronavirus before you are able to get home to the UK, you will need to seek medical treatment first. If you fall ill, tell your travel insurance provider immediately and they will advise you of your options.

Your travel insurance should meet any medical expenses you incur, provided you did not ignore government travel advice.

You may also be able to claim for additional expenses incurred because of your prolonged stay overseas, such as bed and board for other members of your party.

If you are placed into quarantine abroad, you may also be able to claim for out-of-pocket expenses.

Covid-19 Cancellation Cover. You will need this to be able to make a claim on your travel insurance if Covid prevents you from travelling for any reason.

Scheduled Airine Failure Insurance (SAFI). This will cover you if the airline you are travelling on goes bust.

Excess. If you make a claim, this is what you will be expected to pay yourself. You must be able to cover the excess amount, so make sure it is within budget.

Travel insurance policies purchased through Buckingham Insurance include ‘failure of supplier’ for added peace of mind.

Tony Buckingham, Managing Director of Buckingham Insurance says, “The situation with Covid-19 and travel has been constantly evolving over the past 2 years. With the travel restrictions due to ease on the 11th February, people may be more inclined to book overseas holidays. However, there is understandably still a nervousness from some. To discuss your travel insurance policy and to make sure you have adequate cover for any holidays you plan to take, please contact us or telephone one of our friendly staff on 01246 575 625 (Clowne) or 01773 748 627 (Ripley). They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.”