Travelling in 2020 was close to impossible. Covid started to tear itself through the world in January, creating huge outbreaks in Europe in March. From that point onwards, travelling internationally with any certainty was difficult. But, with the ability to book a private Covid test in London and further afield in the UK, travel in 2021 is looking a little more likely.
However, the UK finds itself going in and out of national lockdown in a hard to read cycle. Those lockdowns put serious curbs on international travel, despite having lived in a Covid world for so long now. So what does the future of travel in 2021 look like? Will we be able to go abroad this Summer? Or are we destined for another year of staycations?
What will travel look like in 2021
The ability to travel in 2021 will slowly come back – but it won’t be an immediate return to what we considered normal behaviour of 2019 and before. Instead, there will be a slow return to the ease with which we previously jetted off to sunnier climes. As scientists increase their understanding of the disease, our ability to live with it in a more normalised manner increases – which improves our chances of enjoying travel as we once did.
However, in the meantime, there are a number of factors that travellers should be aware of and the impact that those factors have on the ability to travel in 2021. They are:
Improved testing will improve our chances of being able to travel abroad at all – however, the constant changing advice with regards to tests can cause issues. For that reason, it is imperative to read up and keep abreast of what is required from you as a traveller before going abroad to a particular country. Different countries – and even different regions in a country – have different requirements as to what test you need to enter.
Timing of tests is also an issue. You must allow enough time for a test result to be returned to you, but staying within the remit of being legitimate. PCR test results take around 2 days to be returned, so that must be factored into your travel plans.
While rapid tests with results given in under 30 minutes do exist, they may not be seen as valid by the country you are travelling to. Additionally, their accuracy is not widely considered as high. Sadly, this means no impromptu visits to Paris. Instead, planning in advance before jetting off anywhere will remain the norm.
Another characteristic that looks set to stay for a great deal of travel in 2021 is the amount of flexibility that we must all build into our travel plans. There are so many unknowns when it comes to travel at the moment, that it can be prudent to make a number of contingency plans to mitigate against them. Being flexible in when and where you go can help, as well as how.
One happy side effect of the Covid pandemic is that, to attract customers back to flying, many airlines are offering fully flexible tickets as standard. The result is that travellers can book their flights with confidence – knowing that if they have to change their travel plans at the last minute, they can. The financial impact and worry is therefore eradicated, making flexible travel plans a possibility.
While insurance was an important and sensible product to buy before any travel, it is even more vital to purchase now. Travelling abroad always has its risks. However, given how different countries struggle to contain the coronavirus, one of those increased risks is now being taken ill with the disease.
The implication of that is not only incurring healthcare costs abroad, but also the cost of repatriating a person who is sick whilst overseas. Travel insurance policies that are worth buying account for those heightened worries so that going abroad – either on holiday or for business – is a possibility.
It’s fairly typical when going abroad to experience differences in another nation’s culture in comparison to our own. That will also be the case when it comes to how countries deal with Covid in terms of the restrictions placed on its citizens.
Remember, therefore, to swot up on what rules your destination country has in place in terms of how it curbs its infection rate. For example, what does it require with respect to face masks inside and outside? What social distancing measures does it have?
Finally, due to the uncertainty that surrounds international travel continuing in 2021, it could well be that staying local to the UK is one of the best ways to get your hit of travel, without having to set foot aboard a plane.
While that can mean uncertainty in terms of what weather you will get when on your staycation, remaining in the UK means you can have a getaway to look forward to, even if your big international holiday may suddenly get cancelled due to unforeseen Covid reasons. However, the main thing to think about here is whether travelling in and out of tiers could be an issue in the future.
If none of the above mitigating factors minimise the risk of cancellation enough for you, then remaining within the UK’s borders is a good option.
Travel in 2021 and beyond
Covid put so many restrictions on our civil liberties that we took for granted prior to 2020 – travel being one of them. However, the future does look rosier when it comes to going abroad in 2021. It just takes a little more planning, a bit more flexibility and a PCR test.