Last minute packing, busy airports and long flights can leave anyone feeling frazzled. We asked the travel experts for their top tips on how to get holiday ready without the stress and tell you what you need to know about planning a trip during the pandemic.
- What you need to know about travelling during the pandemic
- Ways to save space in your bag, even if you're at the airport
- How to protect yourself against lost luggage
The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has curtailed travel for many. Throughout 2020 and into 2021, national borders have remained closed and holidays are off the table amid government mandated stay-at-home orders. Now restrictions are starting to ease, what do you need to know about going on holiday and how else can you make the trip as stress-free as possible?
Planning a trip during the Covid-19 pandemic
1. Before travel
Firstly, before you even book, you need to check the status of the country on the FCDO website. If the FCDO advises against travel or against all but essential travel, you won't be covered by your travel policy.
Then, check the country you wish to visit is on the green list and be aware that there is a chance this can change. Also, that the rules both in the UK and in other countries are changing all the time, so you need to keep on top of any updated advice. Be aware that, while some countries have made the UK’s green, or amber, lists, UK travellers are still currently banned from many nations worldwide. It may be legal to travel from the UK, but it is currently illegal to enter many nations per their own border restrictions.
Once you have booked, you need to find out whether there are testing or quarantine requirements. On the day of travel, make sure you have a mask, you’ll need to wear this on the flight. Make sure you also know the restrictions in the country you are travelling to so you can follow these on arrival. Don't forget to check the FCDO advice!
2. During travel
While you are on your holiday you need to make sure you keep checking any restriction updates and be aware that you will need to comply with them. You should also be prepared that this could disrupt your holiday and may delay your travel home.
3. After travel
Before you do travel home, you’ll need to take a Covid test up to three days before and will need to show that it is negative on arrival. You may also have to take several further tests in the week’s following your return to the UK, as well as potentially quarantining at home regardless of your test results.
Packing advice from the pros
4. Check the airline's cabin luggage allowance
'Cabin luggage allowances differ from airline to airline and can change, so always check before you fly,' says Kate Simon, former travel editor of the Independent on Sunday and co-author of Lonely Planet's How To Pack For Any Trip (@lonelyplanet).
5. Don't forget a see-through bag
'The 100ml liquids rule in hand luggage continues to apply at UK airports,' says Kate. 'Pack them in a transparent plastic bag and put it in a side pocket for a less stressful experience at security.'
New scanners are expected to change this restriction over the next few years but for now it is still in place.
Many UK airports have plastic bags available, but you don't want to be hunting through your luggage for liquids if you're in a rush to get on a plane. Don’t forget to pack hand sanitizer.
6. Consider cross-packing
'Travelling with a friend or family? Consider cross-packing,' says Richard Krulik, CEO of Briggs & Riley. 'Pack each person's essential items in both bags. That way, if a suitcase is lost, everyone will still be able to enjoy their trip until the bag is found.'
7. Make your suitcase recognisable
'Attach a tie or unusual ribbon onto your suitcase so you can easily recognise it when you land,' says Nina Hobson, who has lived in seven countries and runs The Expater blog.
Ace your time at the airport
8. Be ready to board when the gate opens
'Try not to be at the back of the queue to board the plane,' says Andy Mossack, travel writer and managing editor of TripReporter (@trippyreporter). 'Sometimes airlines won't take all the hand luggage in the cabin – they might not have room for it and will put some in the hold.'
9. Copy your important documents
'Always have copies of your important documents, both a digital and hard copy,' says Sheila Manzano, founder and MD of Three Little Birds PR, who has more than 25 years' experience in the travel industry (@3lilbirdspr).
'If the worst happens, it's easier to replace these documents if you have copies that have all the correct details.'
If you can get digital copies of your travel insurance documents or plane tickets, download these as well – then you have both a hard and digital copy if one doesn't work or gets lost.
10. Use your card at the airport
Let your card company know you're travelling abroad – many banks have a phone or internet service allowing you to do this – but, if you forget, buying something at the airport will help let them know.
'That way, the bank will see you're travelling and won't cancel your card,' says Lysbeth Fox, frequent traveller and founder of Fox PR, a communications agency specialising in travel, wellness and food.
11. Have your phone charged and ready
'Buy a mobile battery charger and charge it before you travel,' says Lysbeth. 'But take your phone cable with you, as they don't all come with the right one – there's no point in buying a battery charger and not being able to use it!'
12. A quick fix for overweight luggage
'If your hand luggage is over the weight limit, buy something from duty free shopping to get a plastic bag which you can take on the plane,' says Nina.
13. Secure your loose items
'While queuing for security, put loose items in a side pocket of your hand luggage,' says Nina. 'Many people leave them in the tray, fumble around for them, or even lose them.'
Advice for a fantastic flight
14. Keep moving for a comfortable flight
'Keep your circulation going by circling your ankles and drawing the lower-case alphabet with your toes,' says Barbara Currie, a yoga teacher and former air hostess.
15. Wear comfortable clothes
'Travel comfortably – on long flights, wear loosely fitted trousers,' says Chris Orlikowski, Group PR and communications director for COMO Hotels and Resorts.
16. Arriving before check-in? No problem
'If you're arriving before check-in, email the hotel directly and ask to use the pool and store your bags,' says John Spencer, frequent traveller and founder of luxury travel blog Eight Roads.
There's plenty you can do to be as prepared as possible for your travels, from travel insurance to charging your gadgets and even finding the perfect comfy flight clothes, so you can get that holiday feeling started before you take off.
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