Great Britain

From staycations & cruises to vaccine passports — all your holiday questions answered

BORIS JOHNSON’S roadmap to recovery has triggered a huge surge in holiday bookings, both here and for trips abroad.

But with the relaxation of restrictions dependent on many factors – and with international travel still a long way off – should we be booking hols? And how can we protect our hard-earned cash?

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Travel Editor LISA MINOT answers the important questions . . . 

Q: WHEN can I go on holiday with my family in the UK?

A: The roadmap will let single-household families book into self-catering accommodation in England, including cottages, mobile homes and lodges, from April 12.

On that same day, theme parks and zoos can open. But campsites will NOT open shared facilities such as toilets and showers.

From May 17, hotels will open and up to six people from two different households will be allowed to share holiday homes or cottages. If all goes to plan, from June 21 any number of people can go on holiday together.

The Welsh and Scottish govern ments are yet to release dates when holidays can be booked in those countres. Wales is due to review its current restrictions on March 12 and there is hope some accommodation will be able to open at Easter.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon signalled yesterday that hospitality might open in some areas by the end of April, yet there is no detail on where or when.

Q: Should I book a UK holiday now, for when travel is allowed?

A: Travel companies are reporting a huge increase in demand. Booking now will mean you can guarantee your break but check the fine print carefully before handing over any money.

Check for flexible booking policies and ask what will happen if you cannot go were restrictions to be reintroduced.

Airbnb has a filter on its website to show only accommodation that lets you cancel your trip up to 24 hours before travel. And Butlin’s has a Covid guarantee that includes refunds.

Cottage companies including, Sykes and Hoseasons all now promise refunds if the Government’s restrictions mean you can’t go on holiday.

Which? Travel’s Rory Boland says: “UK holidays carry considerably less risk than holidays abroad, especially if you book with a reliable provider that offers flexible booking terms.

“Choosing a company with flexible terms is especially important, as the dates for domestic holidays resuming are subject to review, meaning you should get your money back or the option to rebook if your holiday cannot go ahead as a result.”

Q: Can I take a day trip in the UK now?

A: No. Under the current lockdown you should not leave your home unless it is for work, education, exercise or to shop for essentials.

Government guidance says: “If you need to travel, you should stay local. This means you should avoid travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live.”

This applies to England but Scotland and Wales have similar restrictions. In England, under the new roadmap the advice changes from “stay at home” to “stay local” on March 29 but there is no definition yet of “local”.

In Wales, the “stay at home” rule could be relaxed from mid-March.

Q: When can I take a holiday abroad?

A: A new task force set up by the Government will look at ways to resume international travel. It reports back on April 12.

The roadmap says the earliest travel could be allowed outside the country is May 17 – and only then if all the previous lifting of restrictions has gone to plan.

Some travel experts believe a more realistic date for travel to restart is June 21, when all travel restrictions are due to be lifted for holidays in England.

Q: Is it a risk to book a break abroad now?

A: While we don’t yet know how or when travel will restart, booking a break abroad will ALWAYS come with an element of risk now

We are still not sure if travel corridors will return and, at present, returning from any country requires either ten days self-isolating and three negative Covid tests or a hotel quarantine stay if you have visited one of the 33 “red list” countries in the 14 days before you return to the UK.

You can mitigate the booking risk by buying an Atol-protected package holiday with an established tour operator or travel agent.

Package holidays – any trip where you book a flight and one other element, be it a hotel, villa or apartment – come with extra protection. All major UK operators have Covid guarantees and flexible policies but check them carefully to see exactly what is included. The travel association Abta has a guide to booking a holiday at

Always buy travel insurance as soon as you book the trip. Then you will be protected in the run-up to your holiday as well as when you are away. The cheaper the policy, the less cover you will get. So check it will offer the protection you need.

Which? Travel’s Rory Boland says: “It is riskier to book a holiday abroad. Destinations may remain closed to UK residents and some airlines may not provide refunds if that’s the case.

“Travellers will also need to cover the cost of any testing that might be required, which could easily add up to several hundred pounds for a family. And if your destination is added to the red list while you’re abroad, you’ll have to pay for hotel quarantine on return at a cost of £1,750.”

Q: Will I have to have a vaccine to head abroad?

A: The Government have confirmed they are looking at the idea of a vaccine passport but has yet to reveal any detail, and there is no global agreement as to what it would entail.

The Greek and Spanish tourism ministers have been in talks with our Government over vaccine passports as a way of restarting travel to what are two of our favourite holiday destinations.

Clearly they are seen as a vital tool in allowing travel to restart. Many airlines are already trialling digital passports or apps on which passengers can upload negative test results – and these could eventually also hold vaccine information.

Q: When will be able to go cruising again?

A: With the total shutdown of all cruising from the UK and only very limited restarts in some countries abroad, there is no firm start date for holidays at sea for us.

Cruise lines have been working with the Government for months to show they have put in place all necessary precautions. But at present, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is still advising against cruise-ship travel.

Over-50s specialist Saga has confirmed it will require all passengers on its cruise ships to have had both vaccine jabs at least two weeks before they are due to travel.

Q: Will holidays be cheaper or more expensive than they were before the pandemic?

A: The huge surge in demand for holidays in the UK means there are very few bargains about for staycation breaks.

But with travel overseas still not certain, there are deals to be had as travel companies try to tempt us to book with bargain prices.

Skyscanner has flights on offer for August costing just a third of the average prices in August 2019.

Threat to holidays as EU leaders call for extension to ban on travel from countries including UK

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