Travel: Can I go on holiday even if there's no air corridor in place?
Travelling the world feels very off-limits. But with careful planning and insurance, it is still possible, says Sarah Marshall
AS MOST of us prepare for a winter at home, the idea of getting on a plane and travelling for more than eight hours feels like a dream too impossible to imagine.
In reality, countries are continuing to open their borders to international tourism, though the British and Irish governments are not encouraging foreign travel. Only recently South Africa and Botswana announced they would be welcoming back British and Irish travellers; Costa Rica and Ecuador are options on the other side of the globe.
Although all travel is off limits during lockdowns, once restrictions lift, there are options for holidaying further afield.
At the time of writing, the list of long-haul destinations granted a UK travel corridor (and where no quarantine is required on arrival), include UAE, St Lucia, Maldives and Barbados. But there are many other places with efficient Covid safety protocols already in place and ready to host UK and Irish holidaymakers – even if the FCDO and Department Of Foreign Affairs (DFA) still consider them largely to be ‘no-go' zones.
In many parts of Africa, for example, infection rates are lower than in Europe so if you're confident enough to make the break, here are some things you need to know…
:: Testing is everything
Nearly all countries require travellers to present a Covid-19 negative test result on arrival. Airlines in Britain and Ireland won't let you board a plane to many destinations without one. Although there are lots of tests on the market, the most widely accepted is the Antigen PCR test.
You won't be able to get one through the NHS, so be prepared to pay around £175 for a test and certificate. The Harley Health Centre in London offer a service with a guaranteed turnaround of 48 hours (harleyhealthcentre.com). There is also the option to buy postal tests, although these will take 48-72 hours to process (£145).
Stipulations on the time lag between results being received and a person arriving in a country do vary, however. Requirements can be anything between 48 hours and 14 days; check with each country first.
If you need a fast turnaround, the Private Harley Street Clinic in London offer a rapid test available same day or within 24 hours (£250; privateharleystreetclinic.com). Again, a home testing kit is available but results can be guaranteed only within 72 hours (£149).
Two private companies say they will be trialling rapid testing at Dublin airport with results delivered in five hours (€199; Rocdoc; rocdochealthcheck.ie) and between 24-48 hours (€99; Randox; booking.randox.ie). Book via the companies' websites.
Anyone travelling with Emirates to Dubai – either in transit or with UAE as their final destination – can take advantage of a test on arrival included in the price of the plane ticket and available within 24 hours (emirates.com).
:: Insurance is key
Finding travel insurance is one of the major concerns when travelling to a country with an FCDO or DFA warning; most policies will be immediately void.
There are, however, two companies willing to cover holidaymakers visiting these destinations.
Battleface (battleface.com) are specialists in this area, with years of experience protecting humanitarian aid workers and journalists working in difficult territories.
Single-trip policies include Covid cover as part of a Travel Medical product for anyone under the age of 59. (Older travellers can still make use of standard benefits, but won't be able to claim for medical expenses caused by or resulting from Covid-19.) Covid-related expenses for trip cancellations or lockdowns are not covered.
Travellers aged between 60-74 can buy medical cover from Seven Corners (sevencorners.com), who offer a Liaison Travel Plus Medical policy.
:: Check airline and operator cover
Many operators and airlines are offering clients flexible booking options. When it comes to ground arrangements, many properties will allow holidaymakers to change bookings or even – in some cases – receive full refunds if plans change due to lockdowns or contracting Covid-19. Ask in advance.
:: Check requirements in every destination
Every country has different regulations – which can change frequently. The FCDO or DFA are good starting points, but information isn't always up to date. It's recommended to double check with individual embassies or tourism boards.