COVID-19 Travel Top Tips
Borders are opening again and travel restrictions are easing. But is it safe to travel during COVID-19? We answer all your questions and give you tips for staying safe.
Find out about:
- Travelling safely during COVID-19
- Travel during COVID-19: what to know
- Tips for travel during COVID-19
After months of lockdown, countries around the world are reopening their borders and easing travel restrictions. International travel is now possible, though the UK government still advises against non-essential trips. Travelling carries a risk, increasing your chances of catching – and spreading – COVID-19. But if you do travel, there are things you can do to protect yourself and others.
Am I allowed to travel during COVID-19?
With the easing of lockdown, domestic travel within the UK is now allowed. However, local councils are still appealing to the public not to flock to popular destinations at popular times, such as the beach on a hot day. This causes crowding, making social distancing a challenge.
International travel is also possible, but not every border is open yet. Countries like Japan are still closed to UK visitors. Where borders are open, restrictions vary. Some countries require an exemption visa or a 14-day quarantine when you enter.
Before you book a trip, check the travel restrictions and guidelines for the country you’re visiting. These guidelines change daily, so monitor them right up until your departure – and even throughout your trip.
Is it safe to travel during COVID-19?
When it comes to avoiding COVID-19, the safest place to be is at home. Travel increases your exposure to people and, therefore, the virus. For this reason, those over the age of 60 or with underlying health conditions should consider postponing their travel until it’s safer to do so.
If you do travel, you can help make it safer for everyone by playing your part. Continue following the same good hygiene practices you do at home. Keep two metres away from others and wash your hands as often as possible.
You should never travel if you have COVID-19 symptoms, or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 symptoms in the last two weeks.
Are aeroplanes safe to use during COVID-19?
Aeroplanes put you in close proximity with others, so they aren’t risk-free. However, airlines are working hard to make air travel as safe as possible, including deep cleaning their planes and giving staff protective equipment to wear. You can also help by practising good hygiene, washing your hands often, wearing a mask and sneezing / coughing into tissues.
Do I need to self-isolate when I travel?
On arrival: Some countries, like Australia and South Korea, require UK visitors to quarantine for 14 days when entering. It’s best to check with a travel site, or government website, to see if your destination is on the quarantine list.
On return: When returning home, a large number of countries are on the UK exemption list (also known as the travel corridor list), meaning you do not need to self-isolate when you get back. However, if you return to the UK from Canada, the United States of America, South America, most of Africa and any other region not on the exemption list, you’ll need to quarantine for two weeks. The UK government reviews and updates the exemption list as infection levels change, so make sure to regularly check it.
In-transit: If you make a transit stop, either on the way to or back from your destination, you may need to self-isolate if this area is not on the exemption list. Remember, you’ll need to check the exemption list of both the UK and the country you’re travelling to.
During your trip: If you develop COVID-19 symptoms during your trip, or are exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms, you will need to self-isolate at your destination for up to 14 days. This could impact your travel plans and prolong your stay. To protect yourself financially, consider taking out travel insurance to cover unexpected costs. When budgeting for your holiday, also keep extra cash aside in case you need to stay longer.
Do I need an immunity passport?
Some countries were experimenting with immunity passports – certificates issued to people who have recovered from COVID-19. The idea was to show your immunity, marking you as ‘safe’. However, the World Health Organisation does not recommend immunity passports. Researchers are still trying to understand how immunity against COVID-19 works. It’s not yet clear how long immunity lasts or how strong it is, meaning immunity certificates aren’t 100% effective.
When do I need a passenger locator form?
As part of its Test and Trace system, the UK introduced passenger locator forms. All residents and visitors need to complete this form when entering the UK from overseas. You need to complete the form online up to 48 hours before you enter, ready to show at the border.
You don’t need this form if you’re travelling domestically, or returning from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
Do I need to wear a mask when travelling?
Each country has different rules for wearing masks, with some stricter than others. The general guideline, however, is to wear a mask where social distancing is not possible. This includes on public transport like aeroplanes, trains and buses (including at airports and stations). It may also include indoor areas, such as shops and museums. Some countries, like South Africa, require you to wear a mask at all times when outside your home – even when you’re outdoors. Again, check the rules in your areas.
Should I get a COVID-19 test?
Reliable, accurate and accessible testing is key to squashing the spread of COVID-19. If you think you have – or have ever had – COVID-19, getting tested helps everyone out. The free swab test is the most important one to take. There are over 600 dedicated facilities set up for this test across the UK, making it easier for you to access.
Tips for safer travel during COVID-19
Travelling during COVID-19 means taking more precautions than usual. However, if you follow the guidelines, travelling can still be enjoyable.
- Always follow the travel guidance outlined by your country.
- Keep up-to-date with the latest restrictions and developments at your destination (including rules for entry, public transport, face coverings etc.). This information is easy to find online, through travel and government sites, or through embassies. Most importantly, be prepared to follow the rules.
- For peace of mind, chat to your airline and accommodation provider about their safety and hygiene measures.
- Always carry hand sanitiser, cleansing wipes and a supply of face coverings. Have enough face coverings to wear a clean one at least every day.
- Consider travel insurance with appropriate cover in the case of unforeseen changes.
- Consider making bookings with cancellation options. Opt for tickets or bookings that are refundable, so that you’re financially protected in case plans change.
- Plan to use contactless payments. Chat to your bank about contactless options at your destination to avoid using cash.
The best advice? Plan ahead
The best way to travel during COVID-19 is to plan ahead. For example, booking all your activities online ahead of time, paying contactless and skipping any queues. Look up the busiest times at attractions and go when it’s quieter. Avoid using public transport during rush hour, or look for alternatives like cycling and walking.
With a little bit of extra work, travelling during COVID-19 can be less stressful – and safer for you.