Advice for booking a holiday in 2021

Mar 8, 2021

It’s been a long year, and many of us are eager to get away for a while. Though the guidance may still change again, what should we know about booking a holiday in 2021?

The Rules

There are a number of restrictions on travel and socialisation currently in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. This includes the stay at home order and a ban on international travel. Those who do need to travel internationally are required to quarantine in a Government approved hotel at their own cost for two weeks upon returning to the UK. But when will this change?

Assuming everything goes according to the Government roadmap:

  • From the 12th of April, self-contained accommodation can re-open, which means you and your family can take a mini-break within the UK to a campsite, holiday park, or rented cottage.
  • From the 17th of May it will be possible for six people from two different households to spend time together indoors, the remaining types of accommodation can reopen, and international travel restrictions will be lifted. That means you could book a romantic hotel for the weekend, a holiday cottage with friends you haven’t seen this year, or even take a trip overseas!
  • All remaining legal limits on socialising should be lifted on June 21st.

What should I do if I want to visit another country?

The Government Travel Advice Guidance webpage has the following recommendations:

  1. Make sure you keep checking the latest rules for where you live and where you’re travelling to.
  2. If you’re travelling internationally before May 17th, you must have a legally permitted reason to do so.
  3. If you’re planning to travel internationally after restrictions are lifted, make sure you stay up to date with the latest guidance and requirements in the country you’re visiting, including any screenings, restrictions, or quarantine.
  4. If you need proof of a negative Covid test result to enter another country, you’ll have to get one through a private company as the NHS cannot provide these.
  5. Read up on the safety measures and cancellation policies for your accommodation and travel providers.
  6. Purchase travel insurance- circumstances can change quickly, and you want to be financially protected.

    Is there any advice on booking a low-risk holiday?

    Any travel carries a certain amount of risk, especially during a pandemic, but the Association of British Travel Agents has some helpful insights:

    1. Book a package holiday for protection under the Package Travel Regulations, meaning you’ll have the right to a full refund or replacement holiday if a change at your destination significantly changes your holiday.
    2. Book early. Lots of people are excited to get away now, so getting set up early will offer you the most choice at the best prices.
    3. There are flexible booking policies available, so if you’re worried about having to cancel or reschedule, look for a deal that allows you to change free of charge.
    4. Sign up for alerts from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, make sure all your documents are current (many countries require you to have six months remaining on your passport, for example) and double check if there are any new steps you need to take travelling to Europe post-Brexit.

      Which? goes even further:

      1. Make sure your package holiday is ATOL protected, and do not book separate flights and hotels. This will protect your money if one of the providing companies fails. A package will also protect you in the event of national lockdowns or a change in travel corridors.
      2. Book with a local travel agent to make sure you get updated on any changes, cancellations, or refunds. Don’t book with an online travel agent. Bigger companies can be hard to contact, and online travel agents haven’t had great customer service during the pandemic.
      3. Book with a credit card for more financial protection- the Consumer Credit Act makes card issuers “equally responsible for the delivery of a service.” That means that if your hotel or airline cancels your holiday, you can apply for a refund from your credit card company.
      4. Try not to pay a deposit. Look for a company offering low or zero deposits, as well as the ability to pay the balance as late as possible. This will help reduce your risk if situations change between booking and your holiday.