Where to look and how to book a holiday right now | Pandemic travel

We’ve touched upon this already here on Explorersaur, but there are definitely some ways to get out, about and adventuring safely right now. Rules and regulations change all the time at the moment, regarding different countries, quarantine periods, and UK rules about who you can see where. It can all seem very messy and hard to understand, so we have decided to streamline some ideas here today about how you can go on a well needed break!

When to travel

Before we get into anything, obviously we shouldn’t travel if feeling unwell. Tests are very easy to get now if you do develop symptoms, and if you’re feeling at all ill it’s best not to go, or go and get tested to check. We’re going to go into the cancellation details later in this post, but most holiday places/airbnbs offer free date alterations if this is the case. If booking time off work is an issue it’s a good idea to book over a weekend so less holiday days are at stake. With that being said, if you’ve booked a trip we would recommend isolating as much as possible for a week before if you’re working from home get a decent food shop in and enjoy time out on walks and less busy places. If you are working in an office/outside of your home, take precautions to keep distance and avoid public transport where possible in the lead-up, the usual. With that out of the way, let’s get into more of the fun stuff!

Where to travel

One positive from the travel restrictions is how much people are getting to enjoy their own country! Where we often look for cheap deals abroad to score the deals and experience new things, we often miss out on all the beauty on our own doorstep. If you are looking to travel abroad though, check the government website (here’s a cheeky link,) to see the rules across countries. A good place to look at all the current countries you can travel without huge restrictions is this section of the government website. This can change super quickly though so you could book a holiday for a month away, and you may find you have to quarantine or change your plans even though the country is currently exempt. It’s best to keep checking this even after you’ve booked your holiday, so if there are any changes you can change your plans or get a refund before the wave of other customers looking to alter plans comes through.

Right now as I type this, there are quite a few countries across continents you can travel. They include – Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Turkey; and a whole bunch more. Knowing this, you can check Skyscanner or Expedia to see good deals in these places. For example, a quick search on Skyscanner and I’ve found flights for a week in Turkey in October from £112 per person, £48 to Paphos in Cyprus, and £98 to Norway. Check the cancellation policy with your flight company before booking!

The UK really does offer some beautiful places to see, and is a lot safer and cheaper to travel with a car, as you can isolate the whole way and just pay the petrol. We recently got back from a stunning cabin stay (read that post here!) in Kent – which was only an hour to travel and we were completely alone. We had a hot tub, fire pits and the quaintest little cabin. We’ve also booked a stay in the New Forest for October and think forest breaks are such a good holiday option right now! There are so many forests, beaches, lakes, castles and activities to do in the UK so it should be a contender for everyone to consider!

Who to book holidays with

We normally don’t recommend booking holidays through travel providers, as usually you’ll find a better deal with your own research, and can have a more tailored experience for a better deal! With that being said, some holiday providers are offering better protection to your travels right now which can take some of the trouble away from you. This really varies across companies so although boring – read that small print to see what happens if your trip has to change/be cancelled.

Secret Escapes has a whole section devoted to refundable holidays, and TravelZoo have some refundable options also. (We’ve never personally booked with them though so let us know if you’ve had any experiences to note with them!) We’ve also had a great experience cancelling with booking.com this year, but that is generally down to the hotel so it depends on their specific cancellation policies.

Somewhere that we have to shout about this year is airbnb – definitely not a new development as they’ve always had some serious gems and places to stay a little different to hotels. They have been so upfront with cancellation policies and you can clearly see on each listing, “cancel by this time for a full refund, cancel by this time for a 50% refund.” Usually the 50% refund threshold seems to be the day before your holiday so you get plenty of notice when booking this way. They also have enhanced cleaning procedures and all airbnb owners are encourages to leave out cleaning products so you can do your own whizz round to be as safe as possible. (Never hurts bringing some of your own cleaning supplies too!) You can book airbnbs all around the world still, so you could take a UK break, or book flights with a refundable provider, and an airbnb with a refundable owner. #winning

Also in the UK and definitely not the cheapest option, but a bloody brilliant one, is Forest Holidays. This is a great place to look at in the UK – they have settings dotted all around the country and are beautiful cabins with hot tubs, surrounded by woodlands and lakes depending on what site you go to. I’ve been following them for a while and stayed with them before (about to again!) and they’ve had a huge influx in cleaning procedures, self check in and precautions. As they’re set in natural beauty there’s always plenty to do. You can hire of bring bikes and explore, or spend time in the beautiful cabins with log burners, hot tubs, sky movies and games. They. are. dreamy.

Travelling in the UK tips

When looking for a UK break, consider how far you’d want to travel; for us personally, if we’re only going away for one or two nights we would prefer not to travel for more than two hours, but the longer we’d be away for the higher our radius goes. Once you’ve considered this, look on a map to see where there are the most recorded Covid cases. Avoid the high risk places and make sure you look at what places are (or could shortly be,) in a local lockdown, to avoid cancellations. One place you can see a Covid map is on the New York times website here – but make sure you’re looking at the most recent one and do a little research into cases in the area you’re considering.

One beautiful upside about travelling within the UK is the freedom of packing. We are now experts in fitting everything into a teeny tiny case to save money when going abroad, but the beauty of hopping in your car and driving is the little restrictions to packing. You can bring sooo much food (always thinking about food,) and all the clothes and options you might want. As we took a trip to a cabin with a whole bunch of outdoor facilities – hot tub, kitchens, lounge areas etc, we were able to pack for every possibility. (There’s only so much a UK forecast really tells us right!?) So much food, so many layers, blankets, wellies, boots, activities and games. The possibilities are as big as your car will allow haha!

Wherever you travel, have a look at the options around your hotel/rental. A lot of pubs offer outdoor seating/takeaways/distanced seating indoors, activities such as go ape (treetop climbing!) run with slightly reduced numbers, national trust sites and castles are open in different capacities. Look at what there is to do around your areas and what is closed etc so you know what to expect and can have a rough plan.

As a final note, if you are vulnerable, can’t book a trip right now for any reason, or are too nervous to go, do. not. worry. We are all in the same position and it makes sense for us to all look out for each other and be as safe as possible. There are plenty of tips online about how to stay entertained and sane with all this staying in, and you can always spend some time outside in the garden or walking in less busy areas. If you’re ever struggling do reach out to people and keep an eye on your loved ones. Sending love always!

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