From frequent flyers to once-a-year beach-breakers, everyone is itching to get back out and discover the world. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has other ideas. Some countries have closed their borders, while others are asking visitors to get tested before arrival. That said, although travel planning during COVID-19 is tricky, it’s not impossible. Airlines and hotels have gone the extra mile to help you feel as safe as possible. There are also new flexible policies and search tools based on cleanliness to help you book with confidence.
Read on for our top five tips to help you get to grips with the ‘new normal’ of travel planning.
1. Use the ‘Where can I go?’ map to plan travel during COVID-19
If you’re aching to sink your toes into Caribbean sand – and let’s face it, we all are – pop your dream destination into our travel restrictions map and see how, and when, you can make that dream a reality.
Entry requirements change all the time, making it hard to keep tabs on which destinations are open for tourism. Luckily, our map makes things easier. It’s updated every day with the latest entry and quarantine rules. Because it’s colour-coded, you can see at a glance which destinations are ‘open for business’. Just click on the place you want to visit to see the restrictions in full. You’ll get an instant rundown on how long you have to quarantine, what kind of COVID test you need to bring, and so on.
Is your dream destination closed for now? You don’t need to check back every day. Sign up for an email alert, and you’ll find out as soon as anything changes. Even if your country is open, and you have a trip planned, it’s a good idea to set this up. That way you’ll know immediately if anything changes, and whether you need to make new arrangements.
2. Keep up with the latest coronavirus travel advice
Whether you want to sleep under the stars in the Scottish Highlands or jet off to the Canary Islands for some sunshine, the best way to book with confidence is to stay informed.
Before booking any travel, always check the local restrictions in the place you want to visit. The rules might be different from where you are. Reading up in advance means no nasty surprises when you arrive, and also gives you the chance to decide if you’re comfortable with the restrictions. For example, some countries might require you to wear a mask even when you’re outdoors. Most countries have a dedicated COVID-19 page on the website of their official tourism board with all the information you need.
As for overarching information to help you plan travel during COVID-19, our Coronavirus Travel Advice page is a quick and easy round-up. It’s updated every day with the latest details about the UK’s current travel corridors, flight cancellation policy news from major airlines and travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). It’s also got links to official sources, so you’ve got a jumping off point if you want to do your own research.
3. Look for flexible policies
The only thing more disappointing than having your dream holiday cancelled is losing out on the money you’ve spent on it. Luckily, COVID-19 has encouraged airlines and hotels to be more flexible. Some policies entitle you to a full refund, even if you have to cancel at the last minute, while others let you rearrange for another time. This is the biggest confidence-booster when planning travel during COVID-19.
The easiest way to find the best policies is by using the Flexible Ticket filter when you search with Skyscanner. This narrows down your results to providers with the most accommodating booking terms. All of the search results include a direct link to the airline or hotel’s booking policy so you can dive into the details.
It makes it easier to plan big adventures. For example, if you’re dreaming of a road trip around Iceland’s famous Ring Road, you don’t need to worry about the country being removed from the travel corridor list. You can recoup the money you’ve spent and either head somewhere else, or rearrange the trip once it becomes possible again.
4. Pay attention to cleanliness and safety ratings
Excellent hygiene and cleanliness have always been important, but during the pandemic they’ve become a huge priority. Knowing that your hotel room has been steam cleaned before you arrive can be a real confidence-booster at the moment. Most airlines and hotels are proud to boast about the extra steps they’re taking during COVID-19. You can usually find this information set out on their official websites.
If you don’t have time to go through every airline and hotel in your destination – and who does? – you can narrow it down quickly with the Cleanliness and Safety Ratings filter on Skyscanner search.
How do I know which airlines are safest during COVID-19?
Skyscanner’s COVID-19 safety ratings for airlines uses data from our exclusive partnership with AirlineRatings.com. Each airline is scored out of five, based on how many of the following health and safety measures they follow:
- Mandatory face masks
- Plane deep-cleaned daily
- Flight crew wearing PPE
- Passenger sanitation packs provided
- Changes to food service
The purple badge icon, which appears on all search results, links to an at-a-glance overview of the health and safety measures taken by each airline in your itinerary. It also tells you what’s expected from travellers so you can decide whether or not you feel comfortable booking.
How do I know which hotels are safest during COVID-19?
We’ve added a new cleanliness rating to our hotel search, and the most hygienic hotels are highlighted with a purple badge. To achieve this level, the hotel has to have a minimum score of 4.5 out of 5 for hygiene and cleanliness. These ratings draw on data from our partnership with TripAdvisor. They’re updated in real time and based on feedback from guests.
5. Read the latest news about planning travel during COVID-19
Having all the information at your fingertips makes it easier to plan travel during COVID-19, but sometimes you need a little bit of inspiration to really get excited about where you can go. Feed your wanderlust by reading travel blogs and news. For example the Skyscanner blog has plenty of articles full of tips and advice on the latest destinations, trends and travel news.
So whether you’re wondering “can I travel to Spain, the Canary and Belearic Islands?” or are looking for some tips about how to plan travel in 2021, you’ll find the answers.
Here are some examples of what you can expect:
- Tips for flying during coronavirus: essential face mask information
- Staycation rules and ideas in the UK
- Cheap holidays 2021: planning for every budget
- Wellness travel: Why it could be the post-coronavirus stress-buster you need
- Flying in 2020: A step-by-step journey through airports
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Ready to plan travel during COVID-19?
Planning a trip during COVID-19 is a lot easier when you’re armed with the information you need. From knowing which countries you can visit to which airlines have the most flexible policy, we hope these tips give you the confidence to book your next holiday.
Remember: things change really quickly during the pandemic. Although we’re constantly updating our articles and maps, it’s always best to double-check official government guidelines before booking. Bon voyage!
Planning travel during COVID-19 FAQs
Being in any public space with other people will increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19, and that includes travelling. That said, travel providers know this and have put extra measures in place to limit this. There are also things you can do to reduce the risk and make travelling safer for yourself and others. For example, wear a mask and stay two metres away from people who aren’t in your bubble. If you or your travel buddy feel unwell, postpone your trip.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against non-essential travel to countries not included on its travel corridor list. This list is under constant review, and destinations are regularly added and removed.
Since 10 July, people arriving in the UK from countries on the travel corridors list don’t need to quarantine. For countries not on the list, you still need to quarantine for 14 days. From 15 December, travellers returning to England from non-corridor countries can cut quarantine time in half by testing negative for COVID-19 five days after arriving home. Different rules apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Want to read more?
- Coronavirus travel advice: find all the info you need to plan travel during COVID-19 right here.
- Why travel planning is more important than ever: taking a break and having something to look forward to can work wonders for mental health. Find out why you should plan travel during COVID-19
- Everything you need to know about flexible travel: find out how to plan a flexible break, including everything from your flights to car hire and hotels.