Holidays are back on the agenda

5 min | 13 June 2022

Janice Warman

It's one of the things many of us have missed most during the COVID-19 pandemic: holidays. The thought of flying into the sunshine, lying on a beach, driving through a new landscape, skiing down a mountain or seeing long-lost relatives has kept many of us going.

Now holidays are back on the agenda. Since Covid rules changed in March, fully vaccinated holidaymakers can travel with little or less fuss. Those travelling in the EU can use their UK-issued Covid passes, but you’ll need to check the requirements (Opens in new window) of any country you hope to visit.

Those who haven’t been vaccinated will also have to follow the entry requirements of the country they are visiting. This may include proof of a negative COVID-19 test on arrival and/or quarantine on arrival. You may also need to quarantine on return to the UK.

All travellers will also need to check rules on social distancing, mask-wearing, vaccine passports and quarantine.

All that said, you can begin planning your next holiday!

How to book cost-effectively

Things have opened up in the UK. But, it's difficult to be sure whether things might change in the countries you're planning to visit, so it's best to be cautious. Try to book in a way that offers you the most flexibility if COVID-19 flares up again and plans need to change.

Package holidays can offer more protection against cancellation than individually booked flights and accommodation, says MoneySavingExpert. If you can’t go on your holiday because of new Covid restrictions here or at your destination, you may be able to get a refund, according to the travel association ABTA. 

Membership of ABTA or ATOL can offer protection for some cruises, flight bookings and package holidays, including if your travel company goes into liquidation before you leave or while you are abroad.

Finally, it could be wise to do some comparative shopping. Booking very early could unlock some good deals, and if you have some flexibility with dates, last-minute bookings can save you money. This may be important than ever this year, as flight costs have rocketed with the increase in fuel costs, demand for holidays is high after lockdown, and some destinations have had to shut hotels, affecting room availability.

Make sure you’re covered

  • Travel insurance is sometimes provided by your bank or home insurer, although it is important to check exactly what is covered
  • It can be cheaper to buy an annual policy if you plan to travel more than once a year, and an annual family policy may be cheaper than individual plans
  • Always let your insurer know about any pre-existing medical conditions, as failing to do so could invalidate your claim
  • Add winter sports, cruise holidays or activities like white-water rafting if that’s what you are planning, as they may not be included under standard cover
  • Consider buying insurance as soon as you book to help cover you if you have to cancel for personal health reasons or Covid restrictions
  • Check exact excesses when comparing policies, whether they are per person claiming or against each separate claim, such as theft and injury in a single incident. Higher excesses usually mean lower-cost policies
  • Check Covid coverage. Are you required to be vaccinated against Covid? What if you test positive while abroad or before you go?
  • Ensure you have an up-to-date Global Health Insurance Card to access medically necessary state-provided healthcare when in EU or Switzerland. You may still be eligible for an European Health Insurance Card if you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. Both are free, but beware of unofficial or even scam websites that may charge you a fee to apply

How to save for your holiday

Here is where the piggy bank system can come into its own. Work out how much your holiday will set you back, divide this figure by the number of months before you book it, and save this amount into a holiday fund. For example, £200 each month will allow you to spend £2,400 on a holiday after a year.

Make sure you don’t overspend

After so long, it may be tempting to splash out – but it's wiser to stick to a budget.

Before you go:

  • Create a budget for the holiday, including meals out, entertainment, sightseeing, entrance fees and car hire
  • Check how much your debit card (and your credit card if you use one) will charge you for cash withdrawals and payments in shops and restaurants. Consider taking out one that charges less, even if it’s just for the trip
  • Consider loading up a Travel Money Card before your departure. These are available at the Post Office, and work with a PIN, just like a debit card but without charges when you spend abroad (using an available balance of a local currency supported by the card)

On holiday

  • If you're on a tight budget, you might want to keep eating out to a minimum. This is easy if you are self-catering. And if you are staying in a hotel, you can buy picnic lunches to eat out or even in your hotel room. It can be fun to take advantage of town markets and farmers markets
  • You may like to keep shopping to a minimum, buying small gifts for yourself or those at home
  • Remember that you are there mostly for the scenery, beaches, free museums or to see your friends and relatives, and enjoy those experiences to the full

After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, where we’ve faced the largest restrictions on our liberty in our lifetime, a trip abroad may be just what you need to refresh your spirits.

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