THE news is dire, the weather even worse.
No wonder millions are dreaming of sunny summer holidays abroad.
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With vaccines rolling out, there is increased interest in breaks — many being booked by older travellers who have had a jab or will soon.
Operators are tempting us with emails and TV ads.
But how safe is it to book a getaway?
Millions faced long waits for refunds last year, with Ryanair and Virgin singled out this week for their unacceptable delays.
Here we have all the answers for those eyeing trips, plus tips on how to safeguard your money…
HOW best can I protect my outlay if I do want to take a foreign holiday?
Booking an Atol-protected package holiday is the best way. Should a country be put on the Government’s no-go list, your holiday provider must cancel the trip and refund you within 14 days.
Booking flights and accommodation separately is more risky — some airlines have continued to operate routes when countries are on the banned list or are taken off the travel corridors list, and getting your money back in that case could prove hard.
Check what each travel firm offers in terms of flexibility.
Look for a small deposit and the chance to pay your final balances as close as possible to departure — but ALWAYS make sure your holiday is Atol-protected.
Operators including Tui, Jet2, easyJet Holidays, British Airways Holidays and Virgin Holidays all have flexible policies. Long-haul specialist Kuoni has also produced a good, clear guide to the restrictions and tests needed for all popular destinations, at covidtraveladvice.kuoni.co.uk.
It is also a good idea to always pay for any holiday using a credit card — this gives you a further level of protection, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
IS there a vaccine passport?
At the moment there is not but every country will be deciding over the coming months how they will deal with the pandemic.
It has long been necessary to have vaccinations against diseases such as yellow fever, hepatitis A and B and typhoid for travel to some long-haul destinations.
Over the coming years, it may be necessary to have a vaccine against Covid-19, too, but at the moment there are no plans.
IF I do not have a jab in time for summer, can I still go abroad?
With the UK among the first countries to start mass vaccinations, it is highly unlikely you will need to show you have had a vaccine to travel to Europe.
But it is very likely you will need a recent negative test result for Covid-19 to get into most countries.
From Monday, and for the forseeable future, you will also need to get a negative test to fly back into the UK.
Do your research before booking any trip — to ensure the destination you want to travel to can offer the correct tests and within the required timeframe.
CAN I get insurance for Covid-19 if I’m planning to travel abroad?
Yes, many companies now have policies that give some level of protection but as a rule of thumb most will only offer medical cover and limited cancellation cover.
Again, research is key. Ask questions before you buy a policy. Generally, the cheaper the policy, the less protection.
If possible, look for policies offering at least £2million of medical cover, at least £3,000 of cover for cancellation — and, importantly, if booking a DIY trip, scheduled airline failure insurance (SAFI) that will pay out in the event your airline goes bust.
It is vital to get insurance as soon as you book your trip so you have some protection should the worst happen before your holiday.
I KEEP getting served ads online for cheap flights to America and Thailand. Can I go?
Right now, the answer is no. Many countries have closed their borders to flights from the UK as we deal with the new, more contagious Covid-19 strains.
While these cheap deals may be tempting, booking just a flight is a risk — it is far better to book a package holiday that comes with more protection.
BREXIT is done, so will this affect my planned holiday in Europe?
Make sure your passport has at least six months left on it from the time you will be heading abroad.
You can check at gov.uk to see if you will need to get a new one. Make sure your European Health Insurance Card is up to date or apply at nhs.uk for the new post-Brexit Global Health Insurance Card.
SO should I just book a holiday in the UK?
Many holidaymakers chose to staycation last year and, no doubt, this will also be very popular in 2021.
But with limited supply, it is best to reserve early. If possible, book with a travel agent or tour operator for extra protection — and get travel insurance with Covid cover, even if you’re just heading to the coast.
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One great bet for a stay-cation, or a break farther afield in Europe, is The Sun’s Holidays From £9.50 which are now back once again by popular demand. If you’re not already collecting tokens or passwords, start now.
With our Covid-19 cover, you can book knowing that if travel curbs are in place you can postpone or get a refund.
There are more than 150 parks to pick from, at home and in selected European countries, for hols up until November.
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THE news is dire, the weather even worse.