With coronavirus guidelines continually changing, a winter break may seem like a distant dream. Of course, holidays will need a little more research and planning than usual, but a winter getaway could still be on the cards. Below, we’ve summarised the vital things to consider for this year’s holiday.
A staycation in Great Britain
It isn’t easy to make a confident decision about where to go on a winter break in a COVID-19 world. As a result, staying close to home may be a cost-effective option and even reduce cancellation risks, depending on the terms and conditions of your stay.
A staycation is defined as “a holiday in which you stay at home and visit places near to where you live, or a holiday in your own country”. According to research by The Cairn Collection, searches for trips to Cornwall have risen by up to 325% compared with last year. There are so many beautiful areas of the UK to choose from, that you may be spoilt for choice!
Ideas for breaks include holiday villages, city breaks, and spa resorts. For the more adventurous, countryside holidays are an option. Wherever you decide to go, you’ll need to wrap up warm and take note of any restrictions. Although it’s easy enough to drive across the Welsh and Scottish borders, local Coronavirus laws are applicable.
Many UK hotels and B&Bs have started to offer policies that allow last-minute changes or cancellations. This means that you could get your money back if your plans change or new restrictions come into effect.
Thinking of going abroad?
Before departing on any holiday, visiting the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office webpages (FCDO) is a must. Their pages list essential information for British travellers as part of the UK government’s official website. The travel advice section lists countries alphabetically, with information on factors such as Coronavirus, safety and security, local laws and customs, and entry requirements.
While it’s a good idea to check this website before any holiday, travel advice is more crucial than ever in a COVID-19 world. You’ll need to consider the restrictions you face both abroad and upon your return to the UK. Local coronavirus laws and quarantine requirements change rapidly as the rate of infection rises in both Britain and abroad.
Things to consider when choosing your destination include:
- Are foreign nationals allowed to enter the country?
- Will you need to quarantine upon arrival?
- Do you need specific travel documents?
- Should you to carry out a test before you travel?
- What will you do if you develop symptoms abroad?
- When you return, will you need to quarantine?
When do you want to travel?
Planning in advance
Planning in advance may offer the best prices, but there is a greater risk that travel advice will change before you leave. For those who enjoy planning ahead of time, you could look at areas with low coronavirus rates that haven’t experienced recent spikes.
Travelling last minute
Booking last minute will limit your choices, but you will have up-to-date travel advice. Travellers who book last-minute usually need to be flexible with their accommodation choice, airline or train operator, and length of stay. Price comparison sites can help with this.
Cancellation policies vary, and travel insurance may not cover all coronavirus-related eventualities, whenever you book. It's important to check this when booking! Additionally, travelling against the latest FCDO advice may invalidate travel insurance, meaning you need to be prepared to cancel your trip. If in doubt, have a look at our article on choosing travel insurance for holidays in a COVID-19 world.
When to travel
Any holiday in a COVID-19 world brings risks of quarantine. If you’re fortunate enough to have extended time off or a flexible schedule, you may be able to quarantine without issue upon your return. Travelling when you know you have two weeks off afterwards could ease worries and help you enjoy your time away.
Choosing a mode of transport
Air and ferry travel
Despite new COVID-19 policies, aeroplane travel may still be the most attractive option for long journeys. Each airline offers coronavirus updates on its website, explaining the latest travel safety information. The GOV.UK website also provides extra advice for travellers, including:
- Avoiding the busiest times and routes.
- Keeping your distance when you travel (2 metres apart where possible).
- Washing or sanitising your hands regularly.
As an alternative to air travel, some ferry companies are still be operating. Many of these have begun to waiver their amendment fees, giving extra freedom for travellers.
Driving to your destination
If you'd prefer to stay away from other passengers altogether, the Eurotunnel offers more socially distant travel. Shuttles have been open during the pandemic and, once on the other side, you can use your car to get to your destination, which avoids extra contact with strangers.
If you decide to stay local, driving within the UK offers the additional freedom of visiting rural areas. However, remember local restrictions may be in place in certain countries and regions. Scotland and Wales, in particular, are subject to specific local rules, which you can easily check before you leave and monitor while away.
Alternatives to a winter break
If your winter break gets cancelled or you decide to stay at home this year, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the colder months. At Pension Times, we recently published a list of winter-proof hobbies, which are perfect for getting stuck into right away.
Are you going abroad this year? Leave us a comment below!