London Bridge and London Eye

How to travel during a pandemic? This is the number one question that we have been asked since travel restrictions were lifted earlier this summer. While a number of you will be sat at home waiting for the pandemic to pass, one look at social media will show you that many people are still going on holidays and having a great time.

Is it safe? Well personally, we have decided not to go on any holidays abroad during the pandemic and we’ll review that situation in the the spring. When we looked at going on holiday during the summer we concluded that while all trips/social interactions carry a level of risk at the moment, holidays are probably quite high risk. 

But that decision was personal to us and it’s really important to do what you feel comfortable with at the moment while complying with the law and local government advice. If you do decide to travel, it’s important to think carefully about your trip and how you can minimise the risks and make sure you stay safe. With that in mind – here are some of our top tips for travelling during a pandemic.

1. Check the government guidance

London - The gherkin

Yes I know it changes on a daily basis and you need a pHD to understand it – but despite all of their failings the guidance is there for a reason (and no it’s not so Bill Gates can put microchips inside the vaccine you crazy conspiracy theorists!). First of all that means washing hands, wearing a mask and keeping 2m apart where possible. But in relation to travel there are two key pieces of government advice that you need to follow. 

First is the safe travel list which is a list of countries the government considers safe to travel to at the moment. This is updated every Thursday and it’s important to check both before and during your trip because if your destination is not on this list you currently have to self-isolate for two weeks when you get back to the UK. 

Second is your local lockdown tier. If you live in England and your area is subject to tier 3 restrictions then the government is currently advising against all unecessary travel outside of your local area. This is advice at the moment rather than the law but we should really be following it.

2. Check the guidance at your destination

Every country is dealing with the  pandemic slightly differently and will have different rules on arrival. Even in the UK different rules apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland! Before you arrive at your destination, do your research to find out what the local rules are as you may have to isolate on arrival or take a test. Most countries have a slightly different set of rules about masks as well so be careful – you don’t want to start your holiday with a fine.

3. Check your travel insurance

Unfortunately the devil is in the detail on this one. Travel insurance is always something that is important to check but it’s even more important at the moment. Some travel insurance policies will not cover you if you get COVID-19 while you are away or need to cancel your holiday because of a COVID-19 related issue. If you are travelling to a destination not on the safe travel list, it is also important to check the terms of your cover. If you are not covered, there are more than 24 travel insurers providers which are providing some form of COVID cancellation cover. 

4. Limit your plans

Scotland - Landscape

If you want to go on holiday and feel comfortable travelling at the moment – that is entirely your decision. However as I said earlier, nothing is without risk at the moment so it is still important to be careful. The last thing anyway wants to do is to spread the virus so, even if you don’t have to isolate when you get back, maybe think about limiting your social plans for a week just to be on the safe side.

5. Think about a staycation

Glamping in the UK

One thing that we have learned from lockdown is that you don’t have to travel abroad to have a great holiday! There are so many wonderful destinations in the UK that are just waiting to be explored. Granted – you won’t be worshipping the sun in the UK at this time of year but there are still acres of wonderful countryside and coastal paths to explore (even in the rain!). Check out our list of the top 5 UK staycations.

6. Hands, face, space

Finally, it’s really boring but it really is the most effective tool against the virus. Wash your hands, wear a mask, keep your distance. When we’re on the road we find hand sanitiser really helpful for when you can’t wash your hands and we always carry a couple of spare disposable masks for when we need to pop into a shop.

Have you been on holiday since lockdown? How did you find it?

Alex is a solicitor at an international law firm based in London. He has always loved travelling and loves to eat like a local. His favourite destination is Peru where he spent a month travelling in 2009 with World Challenge.

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