It’s taken longer than anyone expected, but the day has finally arrived when holidays will be less fraught with stress and complication.
An easing of restrictions governing foreign travel comes into play today, making it much simpler – and cheaper – to travel abroad.
Falling into line with most of Europe the UK no longer requires a negative PCR test for double vaccinated travellers to enter back into the country. It puts an end to the stress and hassle of having to find a clinic abroad and removes the risk of getting stuck in hotel quarantine overseas – unless, of course, you happen to fall ill while away.
A passenger locator form will still be needed along with a day two PCR test, although these are rapidly reducing in price – around £48 through Co-op Travel. Even better for budgets, by the end of the month, it’s likely they will be replaced by a lateral flow test for a select number of countries. Non-vaccinated travellers, however, will have to do either home or hotel quarantine – depending on the destination.
Since the news was announced on September 17, tour operators have seen a steep increase in bookings.
“The government’s plan to drastically simplify the restrictions from the UK has been a real boost for the travel industry,” says Pablo Caspers, chief travel officer for booking platform Opodo. “We have seen a 37% increase in searches since the announcement, showing a clear uplift in people’s confidence and appetite for travel.”
With several winter sun favourites also removed from the red list, such as Egypt, Turkey and Kenya, the choice of holiday options is vast. Several countries, however, are proving to be favourites for winter deals.
The Greek holiday season has historically ended in early September, but this year many villas and hotels have chosen to stay open longer – in some cases up until Christmas. As a result, Opodo has seen a spike in searches, with customers snapping up some great deals. Members of Opodo Prime (£59.99 per year) have access greater reductions on flights and accommodation via the Opodo App with up to 50% off.
News the USA will open to double vaccinated travellers in November has caused ripples of excitement. Virgin has resumed flights to Orlando, Las Vegas and San Francisco from Heathrow after an 18-month hiatus; in November, flights launch from Manchester to Orlando and New York.
An affordable way to see the country would be to jump on the RV trend, which dominated domestic travel during lockdown. Capital Region USA and Vacations to America have launched a new 14-day Great American Road Trip. Travelling through Virginia and Maryland in a motorhome, with a visit to the Shenandoah National Park, it’s touted to be the next Route 66.
Easily reached within a four-hour direct flight, Turkey is a great option for winter sun; the average temperature in November is 21C. Booking platform Travel Republic report there are rumours the season will be extended until mid-November, providing more options for holidaymakers. As a guide price, they currently have a seven-night all-inclusive package to Marmaris for £308 per person.
With no testing requirements to enter Spain if you’re double vaccinated, the beaches have been proving popular. Emma Coulthurst from holiday price comparison group, Ice Travel Group, which owns TravelSupermarket and Icelolly, says: “If you are looking for a late season get away before the end of October, our pricing research shows that the Costas in Spain, particularly the Costa Brava, Costa Dorada and Costa de Almeria are offering the best deals.”
Although the summer heat has subsided, there are still around 11 hours of sunshine per day and highs of 22C. According to Coulthurst, prices have fallen by 38%, costing around £37 per night per person for a B&B package with flights.
A deterrent for some, on the flipside mandatory PCR tests could also be a tool for keeping prices down. Put off by the restrictions, many sun-seekers have chosen to go elsewhere. As a result, prices are surprisingly low for this time of year – particularly in the Algarve. The multiple hiking and sightseeing opportunities make it a good option for those who bore easily of the beach. TravelSupermarket currently have deals for around £42 per person per night all-inclusive at a three-star property, including flights.