Today is quarantine Thursday. At 5pm Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will deliver an update, via Twitter, on whether the travel ‘green list’ – the clutch of countries that we can travel to without facing two weeks of self-isolation on our return – has been further reduced.
As it stands, there are just four options left for restriction-free breaks. Now, added to this, are the tier two and three restrictions – and prospect of a “circuit breaker” lockdown. Together, these have left UK-based half-term plans in disarray.
It is no wonder then, that many who escaped the increasing gloom in the UK for sunnier, or merely less doom-laden destinations, have opted to extend their trips. According to exclusive data from travel company Sandals, in 2020 its customers' average length of stay is 1.57 days longer than it was for the previous two years (11.41 up from 9.84 in 2018 and 2019). Meanwhile, the average duration of holidays booked increases significantly again in 2022 (10.21 days on average) and 2023 (10 days).
Gail Glanville, a travel agent from Clapham, London, added an extra four nights onto her all-inclusive trip to St Lucia after enjoying the quiet – and ease of working remotely – from her chosen Sandals resort. Gail and her husband Brian booked their holiday last-minute (around 10 days before flying) to Sandals Regency La Toc. It was originally eight nights, once out there, they tacked on four more.
“With what’s going on, we’ve waited a long time to get away. You want to make the most of it,” said Gail. If Brian’s job - he’s in the fire service - had allowed - they would’ve stayed for longer, she added. The couple, who are in their 50s, found the resort to be well-organised and their trip to St Lucia (which required them to ensure negative Covid test results, presented on arrival), to be smooth. “It is highly professional, signs indicated to keep away from each other; when you left a sunbed it was sanitised for the new people to get on,” Gail added.
The rise of working from anywhere has led Airbnb to offer discounted, month-long stays. According to a poll of 2,000 office workers, of those who had gone on holiday since lockdown lifted, a third had extended their trip.
Christian Cerra, from Manchester, is among those who’ve taken up the chance to combine work with a holiday. Christian headed to Porto in Portugal for seven weeks, to work remotely.
“I’ve actually been working remotely for the last few years, and taken the opportunity to travel all over the world while working from my laptop in Airbnbs,” Christian explained. “In the past, friends and family just thought I was travelling around and slacking off at work, but with many of them now having a taste of working from home I think they have a bit more understanding,” he added.
The worsening situation in the UK (as it stands, the UK’s seven-day rate is 157.6 per 100,000; Portugal’s is 85.6) is part of what prompted Christian to extend his trip. “Media reports and government briefings suggested the UK was slipping into a 'second wave,” he said.
Others have realised the benefits of working from overseas while on holiday. Stephanie Conway, a virtual assistant, copywriter and marketer from Cumbria, is among them. In September, she headed to a resort in Corfu for a weekend break with her mother.
After experiencing how quiet the usually crowded island was she decided to add another two weeks to her stay. “I loved swapping the rainy north England for the turquoise blue sea, white sand beaches, and luscious emerald green hills of Greece,” she said.