It’s clear to anyone that in the last 18 months or so, the world of travel has changed. As an industry, it has been one of the hardest-hit sectors in the world, and for individuals, actually travelling in a Covid-19 world has felt like a much bigger, less certain proposition.
Even now that travel has opened back up (a little bit at least), many people are still uncertain about where they should go, when they should go, and whether they should go at all.
And there’s good reason for this. Endlessly changing rules and regulations, a traffic light system that makes countries opened, half-opened or closed on a daily basis, tests, quarantines and isolations have overwhelmed many into a kind of freeze, where travelling simply seems like it will be more hassle than it’s worth.
Last week Carol, our CEO, travelled to Greece for a week to experience travelling in a Covid-19 world first-hand. To assuage any fears of endless queues, hours of waiting around or quarantining in hotel, we’re going to give you a simple, step-by-step guide to travelling safely and in the knowledge that there isn’t a mountain of paperwork awaiting you at every turn.
Departing For Greece
Greece may be an amber country, but there is actually nothing stopping holiday-goers from jetting off to white-sand beaches and beautiful old towns of this hugely popular destination.
Whilst you may think that, right now, you will need a pile of paperwork a foot thick to depart for another country, the reality is that all you need is proof of your double vaccination on the NHS app.
Once you are in the airport, then the rest is smooth and seamless. Your journey to the plane is the same as ever, with only the same old stresses to consider (has everyone got their passport, which is our gate… etc.)
Getting Out the Airport
Once you’ve landed, for many travellers, you’re in the unknown in more ways than one. But as before, the process on Carol’s journey from the aeroplane to Greece itself was as smooth as anything.
Once through passport control, you are quickly directed to a testing area to take a lateral flow test. With results taking only a moment to come through, once you receive a negative test then you are directed to pick up your bags.
Many may think it will take hours to get out of the airport, but actually, once you are sent through in groups to get tested and get your results, it barely adds any time whatsoever.
On Your Holiday
Once Carol was in Greece, she noticed that when it came to all the restrictions we have become so familiar with, there were no additional pressures with masks, distancing, or anything else that might make an otherwise enjoyable holiday inconvenient or uncomfortable.
On the beach, by the pool, walking around in the towns, it felt as safe and as ‘normal’ as any UK destination. Despite obviously wearing masks in confined spaces like shops, there was no indication of overcrowding to be concerned about.
Travelling Home in a Covid-19 World
The biggest uncertainty, and therefore the biggest difficulty for Carol when returning home, was getting a test. You have two options here – booking a test before you go, or taking tests with you.
At this point, we should be very clear in saying that the test you will need before your return to the UK is an antigen test, the type you can use at home. An official will join you on a zoom call to take the test, and if yours is negative as Carol’s was, then you just need to take a photograph of your result with your passport.
We would also recommend ringing up your tour operator, your host or your hotel ahead of your holiday, to check whether you can take an antigen test once in the country. Carol found that her hotel was extremely helpful when it came to getting hold of some tests.
If your hotel or host can help, you can get hold of tests for less money and with a lot less hassle than bringing them over from the UK.
For your return flight, all you need to do is show the confirmation email for your negative test at the airport. After flying back to the UK, all you need is proof that you have booked for your day 2 test and that you have had your negative test in Greece and a passenger locator form which you can fill out online here.
You might think that this would involve a number of queues and digging for paperwork, but because all of this information is linked to your passport number, all you need to do is walk through the automatic gates, retrieve your luggage, and you’re free to head home.
To Sum Up
When it comes to travelling in these new times of Covid and quarantine, the main barrier that prevents many from getting out and enjoying experiences abroad is the unknown.
Our advice would be to simply be prepared, check ahead to see if you can get antigen tests in the destination country, and fill out all you need to online so that all your information is linked to your passport number.
There are only a few steps that have been added to what is already a relatively long process of getting through an airport, and hopefully, now that you are aware of the extra rules and regulations, we have cleared up some of the questions you may have had and made the dream going on holiday seem like a reality once again.