A mum was yesterday enjoying a sunshine family holiday in Spain – for half the price of a caravan break in the UK.
Nadia Issa, 34, and husband Nizar Soufi, 40, booked an 11 night trip to the Costa Daurada after being quoted £1000 for a five-night stay in a caravan in Cornwall.
The couple believe they and children Layla, eight, and Riyad, four, are one of the first British families to brave a post-lockdown trip abroad.
The resort they are staying in is almost completely deserted – meaning social distancing is no problem.
Nadia said: “We are one of the first families in Britain to go on holiday abroad after coronavirus.
“There were a lot of couples on the plane but we were the only family.
“Our cabin fever had been building throughout lockdown so we just wanted to get out and escape – break the routine.
“It’s over 30C here and it was 14C and raining when we left Britain so it’s a massive change.
“Spain feels like a different world and the beach is completely empty.
“It’s so lovely to be away as a family and being somewhere different has given us all a huge boost.”
Nadia and husband of 16 years Nizar say East Midlands airport was almost empty when they flew out on Monday.
Staff at Reus airport near Barcelona told them they were the first tourist flight to have arrived.
Nadia added: “We were a little bit apprehensive about the coronavirus risk so we wore masks throughout the journey and took wipes to clean our seats and trays.
“The airport was like a ghost town with no hassle or queues and the flight was half empty – so plenty of space between people.
“There were hand sanitiser dispensers everywhere and when we arrived in Spain they took our temperature and waved us straight through.
“I felt safer travelling than I do shopping at my local Aldi because the plane and airport were so empty.”
Wedding belly dancer Nadia and food delivery key worker Nizar last went on holiday abroad in 2018.
In January they booked a 10 night all-inclusive trip to a Turkish spa resort.
But they were left devastated when Covid-19 caused the dream holiday to be cancelled.
Nadia, of Birmingham, said: “We were really excited but devastated when the flights were stopped by coronavirus.
The June 15th holiday cost £2300 and Nadia and Nizar initially struggled to get a refund.
But around 10 days ago the money was returned thanks to their bank Lloyds TSB stepping in to help.
The disappointment of missing out on the dream holiday hit the kids particularly hard.
Their ages mean neither has been in school – leaving them struggling to cope with the isolation caused by home schooling and social distancing.
Nadia, who is a qualified teacher, explained: “We are all well and none of us has been ill but my daughter has just been feeling really down.
“Because of her age she won’t be back to school until September so she hasn’t been able to see her friends.
“There’s only so many times you can walk through the park without getting fed up.”
When the Government gave the ‘green light’ to overseas trips late last month the Soufi family immediately booked a ten-day trip to Majorca.
That was cancelled at short notice last week – but by then Nadia and Nizar were determined to get away.
Over the weekend they booked a self-catering hotel apartment through AirBnb and separate seats with Ryanair.
The accommodation cost £1000 for 11 nights, while the flights were a further £200.
They landed in Spain on Monday afternoon before transferring to the coastal resort of Salou.
Nadia says that the post Covid-19 rush to book staycations has massively inflated holiday prices within the UK.
She explained: “I have had some backlash on Facebook with people saying I should be staying in the UK to help businesses recover.
“But when I looked into booking a caravan in Cornwall I was quoted £1000
for five nights.
“I would love to put back into the UK economy but it was actually cheaper for us to go abroad for longer.”
The Soufi family on Tuesday chased away the lockdown blues with a trip to the beach followed by a restaurant meal.
Nadia added: “Everyone in the resort has been warm and welcoming but they are nervous when they realise you are British.
“Almost everyone has a mask, although most people leave them hanging loose around their necks.
“But we noticed in the supermarket that when they hear an English voice the masks immediately go on.
“Despite this it feels amazing to be away.
“We have been stuck in the house for four months so this is the first time we have properly ventured out.
“Booking the holiday was a bit of a gamble but we are quite a spontaneous family.
“We like to just get up and go and live life.”