Travel in 2021: how to Covid-proof your holiday plans

When should I book a trip? Will I need a vaccine passport to travel?

Can I get a refund if I have to cancel? Will my travel insurance cover Covid-19?

These questions and others like them have become all too familiar amongst those hoping to salvage 2021’s travel potential with a trip abroad by the end of the year.

With so much uncertainty still surrounding coronavirus – and any rules that may be put in place to hinder its spread – you can be forgiven for feeling utterly defeated by the sheer complexity of working out if you’ll be able to travel or not.

And with uncertainty, comes risk. Specifically, the risk that your pricey foreign holiday will be snatched away from you at the last moment – leaving you with little more than a credit card bill and a sudden two-week opening in your diary.

Welcome to limbo: population everyone.

But fear not. We’re here to provide you with the questions you need to be asking to ensure your travel plans are robust enough for the planet’s current predicament.

Booking flights

Although some airlines have tweaked booking policies to add a flexibility usually reserved for premium-ticket purchasers only, the devil is in the detail. Check exemptions, alternative ticket options and whether the validity of your flight changing is limited to a specified time frame.

Here’s what to watch out for:
  • Does ‘no-fee flight changing’ apply to basic economy tickets?
  • Does it apply to already-discounted flights?
  • How soon before departure can you make changes to your flight?
  • Can you use a voucher to change a flight more than once?
  • Does a flight voucher have to be used within a certain time period?
  • Is it cheaper to just buy another ticket than purchasing a premium flexible ticket?

Booking accommodation

Hotel groups, independent hotels, and popular platforms such as Airbnb vary massively in their approach to flexibility. But grabbing a great deal is possible – as long as you read the small print.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Does my accommodation booking fall under use permitted by the Government?
  • Does cancellation within a certain time period incur a fee?
  • Does cancellation due to changing Government restrictions entitle me to a refund?
  • If I contract coronavirus, will I need medical proof in order to receive a refund?
  • Is there a fee for changing the date of my booking?
  • How much notice will I have to give in order to cancel/reschedule a booking?

Buying travel insurance

Coronavirus has meant travel insurance is no longer an ‘optional extra’ – wherever you’re heading. But it also means you need to be smart in picking the right policy.

battleface offers travel insurance for medical expenses caused by or resulting from Covid-19 for travellers aged 59 and under. Find out more here.

Here’s what you should be asking:
  • Does the policy cover me if I become ill with Covid-19?
  • Is there an age limit for certain cover?
  • Will the policy cover me for all activities I will be partaking in?
  • Does the policy cover FCO-Advisory countries or those on the Government’s ‘red list’?
  • Will I need additional cover for high-value equipment like cameras or laptops?
  • Does it cover trip cancellation or curtailment?
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Jack Davidson is a nine-year digital nomad who's made his home in such far-flung locations as Cambodia, East Timor, Colombia and Hungary. He writes on a variety of topics relating to travel, travel insurance and financial matters for globetrotters and occasional wanderers alike. Jack is also the host of battleface's podcast When It Hits The Fan.