Where might you go if start planning a trip abroad?
By Mark Bibby Jackson, TravelBeginsAt40
Despite everything the opportunity for travel is being to open up for all of us. You may very well be looking forward to spreading your wings and going abroad for the first time in a long time. But where might you go for a family holiday, bearing in mind the ever-changing traffic light system? Pre-covid there was much talk of over-tourism. Destinations that had traditionally welcomed visitors with open arms, such as Barcelona, Lisbon and Venice had almost declared war on the international traveller, imposing tourist taxes, barring cruise ships and day-trippers, while locals adorned walls with graffiti making it abundantly clear that tourists were not welcome in their neighbourhoods.
Now countries are once more turning towards tourism revenue to stoke their economic recovery and provide much-needed income for those very same communities. Few of us advocate returning to the bad old days of mass tourism, but the past eighteen months has shown us how vital tourism revenue is to local economies.
So, which possible destinations should be on your family’s travel list? What colour are the lights? The first question is, of course, where can we travel? To provide a definitive answer to this question is as futile as painting the Humber Bridge. As soon as we state categorically that we can travel to certain destinations, such as Portugal, a new variant is discovered, and the traffic light changes colour forcing us to make an emergency stop. And that is not allowing for those people who get stuck on their holidays when the traffic light changes colour.
Last year, I was on a trip to Switzerland hosted by the Swiss Tourism Department, when the UK Government altered the travel status of the Alpine nation. Fortunately for us the tourism department purchased a new ticket home a day earlier than intended, so we were able to land at Heathrow before turning into metaphorical pumpkins. Many were less fortunate than us, frantically checking to see if they could reschedule their flights and whether their insurance covered their losses. It is important to remember that even when the UK Government is content for us to return home without entering quarantine, this does not mean the destination nation is equally as welcoming. My key advice to you is that before you commit to any international travel you choose travel insurance to cover such an eventuality. I like to use Battleface Insurance when I travel.
If you have family members who are history buffs who may like the idea of experiencing the celebration of the bicentenary of Napoleon’s death on St Helena, the Island off the coast of Africa, be wary. It is currently on the UK green list, but the catch is that you have to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival – recently reduced from 14 days – not exactly perfect for your two-week vacation.
Right now if it is sun that you are seeking then Malta could be your best, and easiest option, so long as you are fully vaccinated. The Mediterranean island has a wonderful collection of archaeological sites and ancient ruins in addition to the great cuisine and climate. Explore the capital Valetta or just chill on the beach. Unfortunately, if you are not vaccinated then you will have to turn another leaf. Further details can be found here.
Also, the time of writing Croatia has gone onto the UK Government’s green list. This is a beautiful country with a wonderful coastline as well as plenty of historic sites to visit – an affordable destination for a family holiday that is well worth considering. It currently requires proof of vaccination for entry from the UK as well as a test upon arrival. You can keep up with the precise requirements here.
If you have a bit more time to plan your journey, this might be a good time to do some Covid crystal ball gazing. With a fair wind the likelihood is that certain long-haul destinations will open up for travel in time for the autumn/winter season. Currently, Phuket is trialling what is described as the sandbox plan where from 1 July, double-vaccinated travellers are able to visit the Thai island without entering the normal 14-day quarantine period, so long as they do not venture to other parts of the country. The Thai government is aiming to vaccinate 70% of the islanders to facilitate this process. Quite how this will work in practice remains to be seen, but there is a strong possibility that once Thailand starts allowing quarantine-free travel to its borders, other countries in the region will follow.
Always check the current information
The list of green list countries will continue to be a moveable feast so it is best keep checking the government website for the rules applying to returning to the UK and as the government also advises – check the current requirements of the country you
are thinking of travelling to.
Once the green light finally is given for international travel to recommence more fully, perhaps late 2021 or early 2022, this might be a good time to start planning a dream trip. If these might take you far from home, it is likely that certain long-haul destinations will open up for travel in time for the autumn/winter season.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Bibby Jackson is passionate about travel and sharing the joys of visiting new places and people. He is founder and group editor of websites Travel Begins at 40 and London Begins at 40, as well as the award-winning author of three thrillers set in Cambodia. He is the former editor of AsiaLIFE Cambodia, ASEAN Forum and Horizon Thailand magazines.
Facebook / Instagram: @TravelBeginsat40