Should I stay or should I go? A question I have been asked so many times lately! While this is a personal decision, hopefully my handy guide should help if you are thinking of travelling overseas this summer.
Thankfully the promise of a vaccine has many of us thinking of travelling overseas this summer. While we are still unsure as to when travel will resume to pre-covid levels, it is safe to assume that there will be some form of travel happening this year. With this in mind I have highlighted some top tips for travelling overseas below which might be useful.
The fact that Ireland is allowing visitors into Ireland, even from high risk countries such as the USA, only ads to confusion about whether we should or should not travel. Hopefully this handy guide will help you decide whether to travel or stay at home. If you do decide on travelling overseas my 10 tips for travelling during Covid-19 will help you prepare for that journey.
1. Government advice against non-essential travel remains in place to countries outside Eu traffic light system.
The Irish government are currently advising against non-essential overseas travel to all countries except those that are on the EU traffic light system for travel. The latest government travel advice as stated on the Department of Foreign Affairs website is as follows:
Ireland is implementing the EU ‘traffic lights’ approach to travel, which applies to countries in the EU / EEA. Our current advice for travel to these countries is ‘exercise a high degree of caution’. Our general advice for any other overseas travel remains ‘avoid non-essential travel’ or in some cases, ‘do not travel’.
2. You need to quarantine for 14 days after returning into Ireland
Currently if you travel abroad to ANY overseas country that is not a Green region on the EU traffic light system for travel, you should restrict your movements for 14 days on your return.
Upon your return into Ireland you will be given a locater form to fill out, where you must provide contact details and information on where you will be restricting your movements. You may be contacted by government officials to check if you following their advice. You are able to produce negative PCR tests to reduce quarantine times – see more about this in my guide to the EU traffic light system for travel.
3. If you travel against government advice, your travel insurance will be invalidated
If you travel against government advice, it is important to note that your travel insurance will be invalidated. This could have serious financial repercussions if you travel outside of the EU.
However, if travelling within Europe, you can get the European Health Insurance card which will give you medical treatment for free, or at a reduced rate, in all European countries. See more here. Note, this will only cover you for medical treatment, and not for cancellation or curtailment, or for expenses occurred should you have to remain in a country due to a Covid-19 outbreak.
4. Modern aircraft have air filtration systems similar to hospital operating theatres.
While the plane journey is just one of the components associated with travelling overseas, it is one that many are concerned with. However, it has been widely stated that the risk of catching an infection on an aircraft is typically lower than in crowded shopping centres or pubs. The main reason is that modern airplanes have cabin air filtration systems equipped with HEPA filters. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air filters) have similar performance to those used in hospital operating theatres, and can capture 99% of the airborne microbes in the filtered air. You can read more on HEPA here.
5. Check entry requirements of the country you wish to travel to.
If you are thinking of travelling overseas, is important to check the entry requirements to the country you are travelling to. With Covid-19 cases increasing all the time, countries are updating their entry requirements on a daily basis.
Some countries will require you to fill out Passenger Locator forms or health screening questionnaires online before you travel, (currently Greece require this to be filled out 24 hours in advance of travel), while others will accept paper forms on arrival.
Many European countries including Spain, require PCR Covid-19 tests to be taken 72 hours before arrival if you are coming from a country that they consider as high-risk, while other destinations such as Dubai and the Canary Islands require a negative PCR Covid-19 certificate for ALL international visitors.
It is imperative that you check with the country you are travelling to before your departure to ensure that you are following the correct entry guidelines.
6. Countries have individual policies in tourist resorts.
It is important to check the guidelines in the resort / city that you are going to. Some holiday resorts and hotels will require you to pre-book pool times, beach space and even breakfast times. If there is a particular restaurant or theme park that you wish to visit, book it in advance to avoid disappointment.
Masks are mandatory in many countries and you may get our temperature checked on arrival. Holiday hot spots like Spain and Portugal depend on tourism, and you will find that they will do all possible to ensure protocols are being obeyed.
7. Flights are and will operate from Irish airports regardless of government advice and refunds wont be given.
If your flight operates, and government advice against non-essential travel is still in place, you are NOT entitled to a refund if you wish to cancel. Most airlines will allow you change dates for free, note Ryanair will only waive change fees on NEW bookings made since the 10th of June.
You may be able to claim on your travel insurance if you don’t want to travel, and government advice against non-essential travel is still in place to the country you are due to travel to, but best to check with your insurance provider, as all policies are different.
8. You ARE entitled to a refund if your flight is cancelled
If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a refund under EU261. These are taking longer than usual to get processed, but you should receive one if you apply. Note EU 261 is an Air Passenger law, and applies to flights originating from Europe, not hotels, package holidays etc.
For more information on the latest travel updates, how best to secure a refund and travel insurance, check out the travel tips section of my website.