Back before Covid-19 reared its ugly head, the decision to go abroad was made based on your bank balance and annual leave allocation.
These days, however, there’s a lot more to consider.
Coronavirus-related travel restrictions remain in place, from pre-departure testing to straight-up bans on entering certain countries.
That means, beyond choosing the right package deal, holidaymakers need to be aware that trips can end up more expensive than expected – or even be cancelled altogether.
Although things are far more open than they were in 2020, and the government traffic light system that plunged plans into chaos is gone, there’s still a level of uncertainty.
Research by Volkswagen Financial Services (VWFS) found that 24% of Brits were planning a domestic road trip this year, compared with 20% who are heading to another country.
There’s also been a boom in staycations, with UK accommodation providers reporting an influx of bookings for close-to-home breaks.
While it’s great we’re seeing more of what’s on our doorstep, there are some things you can only experience by travelling to other countries. But is it the right time to book?
If you’ve got a case of wanderlust but are worried about the risk of losing money, getting stuck abroad, or spending the trip of a lifetime in quarantine, we’ve got you covered.
We spoke to three money experts to get their thoughts on the matter.
From whether you should stick to the staycation to how to stay financially protected, here’s everything you need to know.
Helen Forward, Money Expert at Chip
Helen tells Metro.co.uk: ‘First thing to consider is the Covid rules and restrictions at your chosen destination. While things are relaxing here in the UK, other destinations might have stricter regulations in place, meaning you might need to pay for additional tests or isolate for significantly longer if you happen to catch Covid while abroad.
‘Travel within the EU is also more complex now. Firstly, the roaming charges are coming back, so it’s worth checking if your network provider has introduced them yet and how much it’s going to cost you to use your data abroad.
‘There are a few other changes to travel within the EU, so check the validity of your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), if you have one. If not, it’s now been replaced by the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
‘The rules have also changed for passports – some EU countries have different requirements for passport expiry. So again, check the entry requirements and any other rules for your chosen destination, and it could save you some unnecessary expenses.
‘Speaking of planning ahead, it’s always good to get your travel budget sorted in advance, so it’s no wonder holidays rank so high among the top savings goals for Chip users. Putting holiday money aside over a longer period of time will allow you budget better. You can even build up a travel buffer fund for any unexpected travel costs.
‘So in summary, do your research, prepare, and shop around, and you should be all set for a holiday abroad!’
Helen’s top travel money tip
‘Shop around. For flight bookings, use websites such as SkyScanner and Momondo to find the best fares and flight times.’
James Andrews, Senior Personal Finance Editor at money.co.uk
James tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Thanks to COVID-19, last minute cancellations are now much more common with international travel, so it’s essential to protect yourself by getting travel insurance that comes with a robust cancellation policy.
‘Remember to take out insurance when you book your trip, as that way you will be covered if travel advice changes later.
‘It’s also a good idea to pick one that comes with foreign medical treatment too. If you were to contract Coronavirus in America, for example, that could end up costing you a small fortune if you weren’t covered.
‘There are dozens of policies available, but when you’re deciding who to go with, it’s essential to look at the whole picture, and not just go with the one that’s cheapest. In the current climate, it’s worth paying a little more to make sure you’re covered for every eventuality.
‘Package holiday providers often offer some of the most comprehensive protection policies, especially when it comes to cancellations. Many also offer flexibility by allowing customers to rebook or get a refund if their trip is disrupted.
‘Be aware that lots of countries require a negative COVID-19 test to enter, and the prices of these can vary hugely, with some tests costing in excess of £200. If that’s the case with your destination, make sure the fee is factored into your plans before you set off.
‘Lastly, remember that COVID-19 measures are subject to change at any time, so you must keep up-to-date with the latest updates at home and abroad. You can do this by regularly checking the Foreign Office website here.
James’s top travel money tip
‘It’s important to know the latest regulations in the country you are visiting if you want to avoid surprise costs at the border.
‘Flight aggregator site Skyscanner has a handy travel map that gives you up-to-date travel guidance, with information on what you will need to provide on arrival, and whether you will need to quarantine.’
Liz Edwards, Editor-in-Chief at personal finance comparison site, Finder.com
‘Booking is more risky these days but there are ways to protect yourself. Firstly, check the cancellation and refund policies of everything you book, and go for the most flexible options you can.
‘When you’re booking, the main consideration, of course, is your travel insurance. If you’re planning to go abroad, it’s crucial to get your travel insurance sorted out as soon as you book – not nearer the time of the holiday but straight away.
‘Another bit of useful protection that many people aren’t aware of comes from your credit card. If you pay for goods or services that cost more than £100 – even if you’re just paying the deposit for them – your credit card company is just as liable as the airline or holiday provider you bought from if things go wrong.
‘This could be useful if, for example, a company goes bust. You can turn to your credit card company thanks to section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
‘Covid tests for kids while you’re abroad are a particular consideration if you want to use restaurants or go into public places like museums as many countries – such as France and Greece – will insist on seeing a recent negative test before allowing kids inside if they’re not fully jabbed, and you’ll need to buy these tests yourself.
‘The same can also apply if you want to use public transport. Prices vary but expect a test to be €20 or more.’
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