Should I book a summer holiday now? Vital checks to make, where to go and best deals

The coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on our travel plans in 2020, with millions of Brits seeing trips cancelled and changes to travel corridors making it difficult to know just where you could book a trip.

However, 2021 is looking more positive as Covid vaccines are being rolled out, and offering a hope of getting abroad – in fact, since the jabs have started being administered travel firms have noted a surge in bookings from over-50s.

Of course there are still ongoing restrictions and uncertainty around travel – should you book a holiday, what happens if there’s another lockdown, and even whether it’s possible to find deals.

To give you a helping hand, Reach Travel Editor Nigel Thompson has answered some of your biggest questions below…

What kind of holiday should I book this summer?

A person booking flights on a laptop
What kind of holiday should you book?

As we know all too well, it’s been an incredibly volatile time for travelling.

I’m definitely recommending buying package holidays this summer, to ensure you have the added security of UK Civil Aviation Authority ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) protection, which helps you if your travel company or airline goes out of business.

This covers both a firm going bust while you are on holiday, or a collapse before you travel. Many tour operators also offer specific virus cover if your holiday, or you, are affected.

Also, look out for trips with ABTA’s consumer financial protection scheme, which can cover non-flight based holidays, such as cruise, coach or rail holidays.

What if I want to book a DIY getaway?

Should you prefer to arrange your own travel, buying your own hotel and flights separately, it’s always smart to pay on a credit card if you can. That way you are covered for up to £30,000 under section 75 of the UK Consumer Credit Act.

Anything to keep an eye out for ?

Look for the ATOL and ABTA logos on websites, newspaper adverts and brochures, so you know your holiday is safe.

Will I need extra insurance for a summer holiday?

Passengers wearing face masks arrive at London Heathrow in July 2020
Passengers wearing face masks arrive at London Heathrow in July 2020

You should never travel abroad without a suitable travel insurance policy in place and it’s definitely considering buying one with extra cover for corona.

Many tour operators also offer virus cover if your holiday, or you, are affected.

Are there any good deals available for this summer?

happy family jumping together on the beach
Happy family jumping together on the beach

Yes! Apart from the arrival of the vaccines, the great news for holidays in 2021 is that it’s a buyers’ market out there and there are some stellar deals to tempt families and couples back up those plane steps.

Tour operators, airlines and cruise lines have had a battering in the pandemic and are for your business and I’ve seen some fabulous discounts of up to 50% on getaways.

Also, Brits are regarded as premium travellers, heading overseas in our millions and contributing hugely to many countries’ vital tourism economies. So the destinations will be wooing us too.

Bargain basement deals I’ve seen recently include an all-inclusive week on Egypt’s Red Sea coast from £262 per person, room-only on The Strip in Las Vegas from £454 and B&B in Turkey from £176. Sensational value!

After the first lockdown there were Med weeks for as little as £97 and I expect to see that repeated this summer as travel firms scramble to get us to book.

What if there’s another lockdown? Will I get a refund?

Undoubtedly there were lamentable, inexcusable failures over refunds by some travel companies and airlines when holidays were cancelled early in the pandemic.

However, they have surely learned their lesson now and the Competition and Markets Authority is keeping a robust, watchful eye. So, yes, you should.

Of course, if you had lousy service from a travel company, you are free to vote with your wallet or purse and take your custom elsewhere.

Will I need a negative coronavirus test to board a plane?

A view down a plane aisle with passengers sat in the seats
Passengers on a plane

Clearly this awful virus is not going to go away overnight, so I do think it’s almost certain that you will, plus temperature testing at the aircraft gate and another negative test report on your return arrival.

Whether you will need a vaccination certificate to board an aircraft, I’m not so sure.

We do not know how quickly those vaccines will reach the arms of younger holidaymakers down the priority list. Do we really want to end up with, say, under 30s, effectively barred from travelling until they have had their second jabs in – perhaps – the autumn?

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