Several of you have written to us asking about the possibilities for travel this year…
Ryanair ran a (much criticised) Christmas advertising campaign with the slogan “Jab and Go”. Regrettably though, despite Ryanair’s characteristic bravado, and despite the fantastic news of the rollout of the Oxford vaccine in the UK from 4th January, it’s not going to be quite that simple. Not least, the administration of vaccines in all countries is seemingly beset by operational difficulties and despite optimistic targets being set by politicians, few countries are getting anywhere near them.
Back in November, the head of Qantas said that proof of vaccination will be a non negotiable condition of flying with the airline in the future. It was a contentious stance that has stirred up no small amount of debate. But however it comes to pass, unless there is some kind of documentation such as a “vaccine passport” – and for the time being, nothing of the sort is being considered – even those who have had the vaccine will still be subject to quarantine, CPR tests at airports and prior to travel, travel bans and all the other restrictions that we are all currently facing.
In addition to this situation, there is still the thorny issue of the UK Foreign Office advice – which, for as long as it advises against travel to a particular country, renders travel insurance invalid and creates a whole new set of complications. (But read on for more advice on travel insurance).
As if that were not enough, flight cancellations are also a problem. Passenger numbers are at a historic low and airlines are running greatly reduced schedules. Finding the flight to get to where you want to go won’t be quite as easy for a while.
So, even if the vaccine will bring peace of mind to those who receive it (and we hope we all do), it won’t necessarily kick-start travel just yet…
The great news is that several travel insurance companies are now offering cover against Covid, so hopefully, if you choose your insurer carefully, the battles we have all heard about in the media, will become a thing of the past. At Esplora Travel, we have always required clients to have adequate travel insurance, and we think Covid has made that even more essential.
When purchasing travel insurance, you should think about some of the following questions:
• What if a travel ban comes into force in the days before my departure?
• What if I receive a positive CPR test the day before I travel and therefore have to cancel?
• What if I receive a negative test result but my travel partner receives a positive result? Can I still claim on insurance if I no longer want to travel?
• What if, albeit with a negative test result, the day before my scheduled departure the NHS tells me I need to self-isolate for 10 days and I am no longer able to travel?
Ideally, your travel insurance should cover these eventualities – though, of course, if you are lucky enough to have been vaccinated, some of the questions may no longer apply. If you need advice, Esplora Travel have identified some of the better policies for UK travellers and we will happily share our suggestions with you.
For the time being, arrivals from the US are not allowed to enter Europe. We can only hope that as the new administration tackles the pandemic, the situation in America improves, and travel recommences.
Paradoxically, travellers from Australia and New Zealand can enter Europe. But that’s only if they can find a way to leave their homeland (and get back there without having to quarantine)! Of course, the big problem Australians have is that we don’t yet know when flights will become available again.
If you are already booked on a tour, we will do everything we can to run your tour as planned. But if you don’t feel comfortable about travelling at the moment, get in touch and we will happily reschedule you to a later date.
If you need to cancel, we will refund your tour money on the basis of the Terms and Conditions under which you booked. But if you are able to avoid cancelling your tour, saving it for a future date, not only will you have something to look forward to, but you will have secured an excellent deal on your trip price (it is inevitable that flight tickets and tour prices will increase next year).
For non-UK nationals it will have no effect.
For UK nationals there will be some changes that you will need to be aware of:
• You will need to make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your due return date.
• You will not be able to use the EU passport gates on arrival in Europe and should therefore allow extra time to pass through the checks.
• Your EHIC card will continue to be valid until it expires. You should bring this with you.
• You may have to show your return ticket on arrival and you should be aware of the 90 day limit in any 180 day period.
For UK passengers, the place to look is here.