What The Recent Traffic Light Changes Mean For Winter Travel

Those of us who’ve been hankering for a holiday will be delighted with the government’s latest announcements on travel. While until recently we had to jump through a few hoops to get the break we’ve all been waiting for, now, the admin around travel has been reduced.

Not only has the headache of the ever-changing traffic light system gone away, but most countries now have the same minimal restrictions, which removes the burden of working out what’s required to come back from each country. The upshot is that it’s the easiest it’s been to travel for a long time, giving us confidence in planning our winter breaks.

So as the evenings elongate into the days and the temperature dips, here’s what the end of the traffic light system means for our winter travel planning. But as nothing is set in stone just be sure to always check for the latest rules and regs via the relevant government websites – here and abroad.

Holidays are go!

The government has changed the traffic light system. Now, destinations are categorised as either the red list (ie no go areas) or ‘rest of the world’ (ie places where you can go), which simplifies the process of travel, and effectively means we’ve reached a level of normality while travelling in the pandemic. For most destinations, for vaccinated travellers to return to the UK all you’ll need is a private test within 48 hours of returning. Currently it’s a PCR test, but in the next few weeks, expect that to change to the cheaper, quicker lateral flow test.

For unvaccinated travellers, it’s trickier, although consistently so. You will need to take a COVID test before you return, and book and pay for day two and day eight PCR tests for your return. You will also need to isolate for ten days. But in England you can use the Test to Release scheme to pay for another test that can get you out of self-isolation earlier.

There may also be other differences in rules between the nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – double check before booking.

These changes look here to stay for the foreseeable, which suggests there may be less surprises to contend with when booked trips roll around.

Multi-destination holidays are feasible

The levelling of requirements also means it’s easier for those who are backpacking or destination-hopping. Rather than having to think about all the places that you’ve passed through before returning to the UK, it’s more than likely that it will be a straightforward process, based on the one set of rules for most countries.

Some places are still out of bounds

While most of the world is back open now, seven countries remain on our red list: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. If you need to go to these countries, you’ll need to quarantine for ten days in a hotel at a cost of £2,285 on your return.

We’ll still have to check entry requirements for our destination

While these changes mean that we can return home without too much faff, we’ll still need to check what the status is at our chosen destination. Even in the EU, this varies country by country, while there are quite a few destinations across the world that currently aren’t allowing in UK travellers.

For example, to go to Spain you’ll need either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arriving. However in Croatia, whether or not you’ve been vaccinated, you’ll need to take either a lateral flow test or a PCR test before entering.

Largely, it helps to be double vaccinated. So if you want to travel but haven’t yet had your jabs, they’re highly recommended in order to avoid a rake of tests.

To check the latest information visit the foreign travel advice section of the gov.uk website here.

Winter sun is in sight

For sunseekers missing the lure of a warm, sandy beach, these changes have broadened our choices this winter. You could head to Mexico, where the turquoise sparkle of the sea is only made better with a margarita in hand. Case rates are rapidly decreasing, and they’re currently a third of their peak in August. Or how about Morocco – with case rates also falling, there’s the allure of sun and 20C temperatures in December to tempt us back.


If you’re planning to travel this winter Switched On Travel Insurance offers great value cover that’s packed with features to give you real peace of mind. Including automatic protection against specific COVID-19 related issues, there’s also a 24 hour emergency medical helpline and free gadget cover.



Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing but as things can change it’s important for everyone to check the latest rules and regs at gov.uk (or your devolved government website) prior to making any arrangements.