HOW TO HAVE A HOLIDAY THIS SUMMER

Sun hats at the ready. Travel expert Louise Gardiner answers your questions.

Where should we think about booking our summer holidays?

If you are looking to go from July onwards, look at England. There are so many beautiful places to visit and by staying here in the summer, we can help kickstart the UK economy and save jobs. Cottages, lodges, farms, caravans and canal boats are taking bookings from July 4th onwards and I have already booked staycations for many of my clients. A cottage is probably your best bet because once you’re there it’s like home from home, so you’re not risking infection. Companies like Hoseasons and Haven have stringent cleaning policies so you can book with confidence.

Is there any point booking holidays or flights this year?

Yes definitely, although not for travel in the immediate future as everything is still up in the air. The rules about restrictions and quarantines are changing hourly, it seems. As of Monday 15 June, France has opened its borders – but there is still a 14-day quarantine. France’s tourism minister last week said Britons should book a holiday to France, despite the quarantine threat, appearing to be confident that quarantine restrictions would be lifted by July. And if the air bridges that the government is hoping to put into place become a reality, then we’ll hopefully soon be able to start travelling to Greece, Spain and Portugal, without the need for quarantine. But there may still be restrictions in place, for example you’ll only be able to use the outside areas of bars and restaurants, and still have to wear face masks and observe social distancing.

What is the safest way to book holidays right now?

Always make sure you book with a fully ATOL protected agency. It’s always better to book with someone that you can actually speak to with a direct line. As many have found during the pandemic, not being able to speak a person on the end of the phone can be extremely stressful, especially when things go wrong.

Is it likely that travel insurance policies in the future will exclude any type of pandemic cover? Many didn’t seem to cover it before.

A few of the insurance companies, such as Stay Sure, have announced that they will cover Covid-19 medical and repatriation in the very near the future and I’m hopeful that they will also include deposits and balance payments too. Meanwhile your travel insurance will still cover you for the usual reasons – injury, hospitalisation, etc. If you have booked a holiday my advice is to book your insurance as soon as possible, although it is unlikely that people will be able to take out new insurance until travel restrictions ease – and it will be pricey. In future always book it at the same time as you book your holiday, as it covers you from that moment onwards. Booking travel insurance should be as important as booking the holiday.

Will we be able to travel to France mid August for our son’s wedding?

By then you should be fine to travel there, but keep an eye on what France are doing with regard to weddings. Most weddings in the UK have been cancelled for this year. Check with the venue as to whether the wedding can still go ahead – hopefully you will have heard from them by now.

How can you do social distancing in an airport?

The airports will have social distancing procedures operating at check in, security, bars, restaurants and shops. There will also be one way system through the airports and there will be masks at the airport for people to use. It will be like the social distancing in a large supermarket, with lots of security guards to enforce it. It’s highly likely that wearing masks on the plane will be obligatory due to it being an enclosed space.

I would like to know how to get a refund for a holiday I wasn’t able to take because I was placed in quarantine
Is there anything at all I can claim? I had full insurance, it was a package and it was abroad. The insurance refuse to pay out because I actually flew to the location, however when I landed after 26 hours of flying, a quarantine had been imposed, meaning the insurer believes I should be refunded by the operator. The operator is Australian and refuses to pay out because I failed to take the trip… because I was placed in quarantine.

I’m afraid you would need to take this up with the Australian Tour Operator. If you have all the documentation showing that you were quarantined, have you sent that to the TO, or your insurance company? Was it booked as a package in Australia? How comprehensive was your insurance? Can you do a charge back on your credit card?

I’d be curious to know if SCUBA is shut for the foreseeable future. I don’t think they can possibly rent out any sort of respiratory apparatus (even just the tanks) until we’re sure everything can be super-sterilised, right?

I can’t see anyone being able to rent scuba equipment of any kind for the time being. It will just be a waiting game I’m afraid.

We have a house booked in the south of France in August – it’s through Air BnB – they’re being quite wriggly about whether or not we will get our (very sizeable) deposit back. Would love to know how to go about this?

You would need to check Air BnB T&C’s with regard to Covid-19. Every company has different policies set in place. Hopefully you will be able to take the holiday if quarantine is lifted, as predicted. If not, swap the booking to next year.

Louise Gardiner is a West Sussex-based Travel Counsellor with more than 15 years’ experience in the travel industry. For more information and advice about holidays contact Louise here.