A Checklist For Travelling This Summer

After so many months in lockdown, and the resulting restrictions placed on travel abroad, it’s great news that the government has finally announced a return to travel for those living in England, even if it’s in a very cautious form, from Monday 17 May.

But as the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing, planning a getaway is not the straightforward endeavour it once was with lots of factors to consider and plan for.

To make sure you know what’s what, we’ve put together a checklist of things to think about before you book and make that dreamy reward of holidaying a reality.

However, as things are changing all the time it’s important to always check for the latest information on gov.uk!

Consider your vaccination status

It’s not mandatory to have a COVID-19 vaccine, even for travel abroad, but in line with the government’s advice, it’s strongly advisable to have it if you’ve been offered it. Not only will it offer protection against the mingling you’ll be doing at airports, on the plane and while on holiday, it can also widen the range of destinations you’ll be allowed in. For the latest on the vaccination roll out visit the NHS website here.

Pick a destination that the UK government allow

The government have now published a list of countries that are ‘green’ (which needs a couple of tests, but won’t require isolating upon return), ‘amber’ (which calls for self-isolation for at least five days) and ‘red’ (which needs a mandatory ten day stay in a hotel at a cost of £1,750). They urge that countries on the amber and red list shouldn’t be considered for leisure travel. If you transit through an amber or red list country, you’ll need to follow the rules of the strictest colour.

They government will keep the traffic light list of countries on their website, and review it every three weeks. If each review is published exactly 21 days from the date of their first announcement, these will be:

28 May / 18 June / 9 July / 30 July / 20 August / 10 September / 1 Oct

Ireland will always stay a ‘supergreen’ country where we can return to the UK freely, because of its existing relationship with the UK. Otherwise, the decision is based on case numbers at the destination, the percentage of the country’s population that has been vaccinated, whether the destination has variants of concern, the country’s data collecting abilities, and whether it’s a high-traffic transit hub.

The traffic light system will also be re-assessed on 28 June, 31 July and 1 October, to make sure it’s as effective as it can be.

Check entry conditions to your destination

It’s worth noting that even if a country is on our green list, it doesn’t mean you’re allowed to travel there. For example, it’s likely that Australia and New Zealand will remain on the green list, but they’re not accepting international travellers. So thoroughly research the destination that you have your eye on, and see what conditions you have to meet in order to travel there.

Portugal, which is likely to be a popular destination this summer as it was the only major European destination for sunseekers on the first green list, requires you to take a PCR test within 72 hours of departing the UK, and you’ll be denied boarding if you can’t prove a negative result. Meanwhile for Iceland, you’ll need to take that pre-departure test, as well as another on arrival in Iceland, and another 5-6 days later.

Understand the cancellation policy of your bookings

Whether you go it alone and book flights, accommodation, car hire and activities separately, or get a package deal from one holiday operator, it’s critical to check the cancellation and change policy, especially relating to COVID-19. To build confidence, many companies are offering incredible flexibility. For example, Thomas Cook are offering refunds within 14 days if your destination has a travel ban, and they’ve waived their change fees. EasyJet too are waiving their change fee on all flights before 30 September.

On a related note, especially at this fragile time for the industry, it’s worth considering ATOL-protected package holidays. That way, you’ll be fully compensated if your tour operator goes bust.

Know how to get your tests

All holidaymakers will have to take a bare minimum of two tests to travel: one that’s taken three days before your return to the UK, and one that’s taken on day two after your arrival back. You’ll have to check that you can get a high-quality PCR or lateral flow test at your destination for the first one, and you’ll have to book a private test in the UK for the second – here’s the government’s list of private test providers.

If you’re travelling from an amber list country, you have the option to either self-isolate for ten days or take an extra test on day five, as part of the Test to Release scheme.

Travel insurance

Call us biased but it’s critical to get insurance, and it could be said it’s even more important during COVID-19 times, as things like missed connecting flights, illness and cancellations may be more likely. And while standard insurance won’t cover all possible scenarios that COVID-19 flings up, it can help with some.

For example, Switched On’s standard insurance covers you if you test positive while on holiday and need emergency medical treatment, to stay longer, or require repatriation. You’re also covered if your travelling companion, your hosts abroad, your family or member of your household tests positive and you have to cancel your holiday to self-isolate. See section 22 of our policy wording for all the terms and conditions.

Plus, Switched On is currently offering 25% off its Single Trip and Annual Multi Trip policies (T&Cs Apply)! To get a quote click here.

The paperwork

To go with these extra rules and regulations, you’ll need a few extra documents too. These include:

– A Passenger Locator Form filled out online up to 48 hours before returning to the UK.

– The NHS health app, which will be used as proof of vaccination, negative test results or recent antibodies.

– For tests that won’t show up on the NHS health app, a paper copy or email evidence of a negative result.

– Evidence of booking a day two test, upon returning to the UK.


Details given in this article were correct at the time of writing but to keep up to date with the latest news on England’s lockdown easing please visit gov.uk. For those living in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland please refer to the devolved government websites for specific plans and details.