I thought it would be helpful to have a summary of the factors you may like to take into account when booking a holiday now that Covid-19 is a recognised pandemic which we all expect to have to live with for some time to come.
It is not meant to put you off, just help you manage the risks!
Planning your holiday
Our holiday planning process is unchanged, with the same attention to detail in making sure you end up with the holiday that you want. However, we are suggesting certain common-sense precautions to try and minimise potential disruption. Things you might like to consider include:
- Slower travel, with more time spent in each place
- Less flights, and a preference for non-stop flights where possible
- Even more reason to spend time in the countryside, in small hotels and lodges
- Choose light and airy properties
- Minimise the up-front payments needed, including instant purchase flights
Making a booking
When you book we will, as ever, ask you for a Last Frontiers deposit, which is not only a sign of commitment from you but also lets us make small hotel and flight prepayments without bothering you. In some cases specific hotels ask for larger prepayments which we cannot cover with our standard deposit, and we always advise clients what these are before they book, together with any specific terms and conditions attached to them.
Before you travel
Bearing all this in mind, these are the factors you need to consider pre-departure:
If you decide to cancel before departure then you will forfeit our (Last Frontiers) deposit, and possibly any extra hotel deposits, so need to make sure you have insurance cover for at least:
- ill health (including that of a close relative or close business partner)
- most policies also include jury service, or redundancy
- either contracting Covid or being contacted by Test and Trace and told to self-isolate
Once you have paid your final balance then you need to make sure you have sufficient insurance cover for that too, based on our sliding scale (which reaches 100% 6 weeks before departure). All the above should be available irrespective of the Foreign Office (FCDO) guidance in place at the time of booking/taking out the policy, because it could reasonably be expected to change.
If we cannot provide your holiday you will be offered a choice of an alternative holiday or a full refund. If you choose a refund that is what you will get - not a Refund Credit Note. It is important to understand that we will not be able to decide whether we can provide your holiday until departure is imminent, which may be as late as 2 weeks before your travel date. Factors that definitely count as us not being able to provide your holiday include closed borders or quarantine on arrival at the destination.
Factors introduced by the UK government that don’t affect our ability to provide your holiday include testing on arrival, and quarantine (either at home or in a hotel).
ABTA has also published some useful advice:
Once your trip has started
Once you are on holiday, then you should make sure that your travel insurance covers you for medical expenses, including you or a member of your party contracting/testing positive for Covid-19, with cover for the usual repatriation/hospital expenses, and in the case of Covid extra accommodation costs should you be required to wait until you test negative before returning home, and the cost of any flight changes.
Insurance - can it really do all that?
Having headed for the hills when the pandemic was announced, several insurers are now returning to the market with policies that cover everything above, but it is important to reassure yourself that your chosen provider has included everything that matters to you. There is no reason why you can’t take out more than one policy, as long as you don’t make multiple claims for the same event.
FCDO advice - what does it mean?
Foreign Office (FCDO) advice is guidance, not the law, and comes in two flavours. Advice against “all travel” is very serious and usually limited to risks of physical harm, terrorism or natural disasters. If the FCDO introduce this level of advice most insurance policies are invalidated, and if your departure is imminent we will consider that your holiday can’t be provided and offer postponement/refund options mentioned above.
Most FCDO advisories, including the current Covid-specific ones, advise against “non-essential” travel. The FCDO say “Whether travel is essential or not is your own decision. Only you can make an informed decision based on your own individual circumstances and the risks”. In relation to Covid risk “individual circumstances” may include whether or not you are vaccinated.
We have always been flexible with clients having a good reason to travel against FCDO guidance, and will always give our honest opinion of the risks involved. We do not consider that travelling with the FCDO advising against “non-essential” travel obliges us to offer a refund, particularly if the advisory is only for Covid-related risks with no concession for vaccinated travellers, but we will always allow postponement and will transfer our deposit to new dates at no cost to you.
For general advice and update on symptoms, spread, and precautions against infection the following links should be useful. The Foreign Office Travel Advice link also contains details of travel restrictions and implications for each country.
UK Foreign Office Travel Advice (FCDO): https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
World Health Organisation (WHO): https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC): https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/novel-coronavirus-china
United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Our World in Data Coronavirus pages: https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus
We hope these notes are helpful as travel restarts, and do ask us if they haven’t answered all your questions.