Understandably, holiday bookings over the last 12 months have fallen dramatically on account of the worldwide COVID-19 crisis. As countries fluctuate between small bursts of economic openness and nationwide lockdowns, many people have postponed their holiday plans due to the unreliability of travel. From plane journeys to advice warning against non-essential use of public transport, our ability to travel large distances has been substantially diminished over the past year.
As 2021 opens to another UK lockdown, many would-be travellers are probably worrying about the prospects of their holidays again. With hotels like the Chilworth Hotel Paddington London now reserved for key workers and emergency accommodation, would-be London tourists are probably once again postponing any overseas commitments and travel plans that they might have made. However, now is a better time any last year to get booking your holidays. With plenty of spare time on our hands, we can plan our next trip down to a tee, and ensure that there are contingency measures in place to counteract any sudden changes in international travel. Furthermore, there are some travel companies are offering great value deals to help bolster the tourism industry through this crisis. Whilst these companies may not be offering flights in the here and now, they are looking forwards to potential peak holiday seasons.
So if you’re a jaded holidaymaker searching for something to keep your optimism up, this blog lays out the ground rules for planning travel in 2021, as well as some top tips on how and what to book.
What Does Travel Look Like In The UK?
Before we even consider what international travel could look like this year, it’s a good idea to interrogate the restrictions that are currently in place – and could remain in place – over 2021. Whilst restrictions might be lifted as the UK COVID infection rates decrease, they could very well be implemented again at very short notice, thus scuppering any London getaway deals you might have booked.
Right now almost the entire country is under a national lockdown. Ministers have warned that these restrictions might remain in place all throughout January and perhaps even into March. At the moment, the previous tier 1, 2, 3 and 4 restrictions have been replaced by a lockdown that amasses to restrictions on international travel, work from home orders and all non-essential shops to be shut. On top of this, travel outside of your local area is advised against and socialising with those outside of your household is banned.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Some parts of the UK, most notably the Scottish highlands and nearby islands are still under tier 2 and 3 restrictions. This means that technically speaking, people living there are still allowed to travel abroad. This is of course undermined by the many travel bans that other countries have put on the UK, but at least means that there is still some hope that Brits can go abroad.
Hopes For Travel
So apart from the minority of Brits who are living in areas that have remained under tiered restrictions, what are the possible holiday opportunities that are closest on the horizon?
It’s worth noting that prices for holiday breaks have risen up to 1/7th higher than prices were in 2019. This is partly due to the increased price of air travel and the reduced capacity on planes that have resulted from public transport social distancing measures.
There are already a few holiday packages on the market for skiing trips that are booking as early as March. Whilst restrictions on the UK and travel bans are likely to stretch into March, therefore rendering any packages void, the hope still remains that Brits could travel to ski resorts in countries such as Austria and Finland before Easter.
Sunny Winter Holidays
One of the only holiday destinations open to British travel right now is Dubai. Hypothetically then, those living in areas of the UK that are not under lockdown could book accommodation in the historically wealthy city, where the temperature is currently reaching the mid-twenties!
The Euros 2021
The much-anticipated Euros championship was due to take place in 2020, but due to the coronavirus was pushed back a year. This is a prime opportunity in June and July to book event-focussed European city trips. That being said, prices will undoubtedly rise due to the high demand for flights and football tickets, that is if they’re even permitted to go ahead.
Smaller cruise and liner packages are still being sold in some countries. Many of these, however, are situated in just one country, rather than traversing several. British cruise companies have not got any bookings lined up until April. Whilst it’s still up in the air as to whether these will go ahead, you can still book them at the moment, albeit with inflated prices.
Holiday Future Proofing
As you can probably tell from the above, many of the holiday options that are open to British travellers are riddled with caveats and hypotheticals. This means that it’s more important than ever to “holiday proof” your travels.
Many people tend to book separate parts of a holiday individually. From accommodation to travel to entertainment, all these moving parts don’t suit the unpredictability of our post-COVID world. Booking everything in a package makes it far easier to manage all the moving parts of a holiday.
Travel insurance is key to ensuring that you never lose money on a holiday. To COVID-proof your holiday, make sure that you’ve covered all bases – your cover should include both medical cover for if you contract the virus whilst on holiday, and financial cover if your holiday is cancelled due to tightened travel restrictions or your exposure to the virus at home.
Be Flexible If You Can
Not all of us have the luxury of flexibility, but the ability to quickly capitalise on a newly opened flight corridor adds a new level of freedom and potential to any 2021 holiday plans. As mentioned several times through this blog, circumstances are fluid when it comes to international travel and the easier you can work at short notice, the better.