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Which? travel expert answers your most urgent holiday questions – Q&A

How much should you be paying for tests to fly, will cruises sail and what are the rules for travelling when vaccinated and unvaccinated

Which? travel expert answers your most urgent holiday questions – Q&A

With quarantine requirements removed and the tests needed reduced for those who have been fully vaccinated, more of us are considering a holiday. But many of you still have questions about travelling abroad safely, hoping to minimise the risks of cancelled plans and wasted money. 

Between changing test requirements, confusion over vaccine passports and worries about which travel insurance policy is right, making a plan to go abroad can feel daunting. But Travel Editor Rory Boland has answered the most frequently asked questions on Which? Travel’s Facebook Group to help make your summer planning a little less confusing.

Which? Holiday Checker
Which? Holiday Checker

If you have a travel question you want to put to our experts or like-minded travellers, join our travel Facebook group


Amber list rule clarifications
sitges promenade in spain

My family are flying to the UK from Spain this month. Do they need to isolate until they’ve received their day 2 test results?

Good news. The UK has just announced that EU residents who have been double vaccinated will not need to quarantine when they enter the UK from amber list countries. Your family will not need to isolate while waiting for their day 2 results, but obviously will need to quarantine if their day 2 result is positive.

Can I travel to Budapest – currently an amber list country – in mid-August? If so, what tests and certificates would I need?

Unless Hungary changes its rules, it’s unlikely you will be able to travel. UK residents are currently barred from entry, unless they have Hungarian family or are ordinarily resident in Hungary. This may not be the case by mid-August. Check the FCDO Hungary page for updated guidance.

My daughter’s vaccination takes place on the day we fly to Tenerife for 12 days. As you’re supposed to get a vaccination at least 14 days before travelling, will the 12 days spent abroad count towards that? Will she need to self-isolate for more than two days when returning to the UK?

She will need to self-isolate for the full 10 days. The rules you follow on testing and quarantine on return to the UK are those on the day you land.

What do I need to do before I fly to Spain? I have had two vaccinations.

Currently you do not need any tests to travel to Spain, as you have been vaccinated. You will need to provide evidence you are fully vaccinated, either through the NHS app or a letter from the NHS. You can find more details on how to do that in our NHS app guide. Under amber list rules you will require a pre-departure test to return to the UK, and a day two PCR test.


Read our amber list Q&A to understand more about quarantine and testing rules


Refund rights and rescheduling
Woman on the phone distressed

Will I be able to travel to Florida by the end of September 2021? Our travel operator says that if we choose to defer to next year it’ll cost us an extra £3,000.

Impossible to say, I’m afraid. The UK government has lifted restrictions on travel from the US, which is on our amber list, but the US government has not reciprocated. When it will do so is anyone’s guess. £3,000 is an extraordinary amount of money for an operator to ask for when rebooking, but unfortunately the best advice for now is to sit and wait to see if the US lifts entry restrictions before September.

I’m having trouble deferring and rebooking my May 2020 holiday to Malta, because prices have increased for the trips my tour operator provides. First we deferred to May 2021 and had to pay an extra £200, even though our original hotel was cheaper. Then we deferred again to 2022, changing to a hotel in Spain, which cost an additional £108. Since then I’ve noticed reviews for the hotel in Spain aren’t great – can I now demand a refund instead? 

This is very unfair given you have tried to help the tour operator and travel agent by being flexible about your holiday. Unfortunately there may not be much you can do if you have already accepted the new holiday. However, if the travel agent was not clear with you about the quality of the new hotel, such as what star rating it is or overstated the facilities available, you should ask for a refund or an amendment to a holiday of the same quality, and with the same star ratings as your original booking.


What are my flight and holiday refund rights if NHS test and trace tells me to self-isolate before I’m due to travel?


Testing requirements and testing company recommendations

woman taking covid swab test

I’ve been fully vaccinated. Do I need a PCR test to fly out of the UK?

The UK does not require you to take a test to fly out of the country. Most European countries have also removed the requirement for fully vaccinated travellers to provide a negative test result when entering the country – but there are some exceptions, such as Italy. Check the entry requirements of the country you intend to fly to through the FCDO website.

My husband and I live in Wales, and we’ve found local testing prices to be extortionate. Can you tell us which tests we need – and where we can affordably access them – to fly from Gatwick to Greece? We’re both double vaccinated.

You shouldn’t pay more because you live in Wales, as most test providers can post the test out to you. But as you have both been double vaccinated the Greek authorities currently do not require you to take a test. You will need to book a pre-departure test before your flight back to the UK and a day two test for your return as Greece is an amber list country.

I’m flying to Spain at the end of August with my 12 year-old twins. I’m double vaccinated, but do my children need a test? If so, which is best to use?

The entry rules for travelling to and from Spain depend on whether you have been vaccinated or not. Children 12 and over follow the same rules as adults when travelling to Spain, meaning your kids will likely need a PCR test. When returning to the UK, under 18s need a pre-departure test and a day two test. You can find the best up to date information on the Spain FCDO page.

I’m going to Mallorca. Do I need a test if I’m double vaccinated?

No. If you have been double vaccinated you do not require a negative test for travel to Spain, just evidence of your vaccination status – either through the NHS app or NHS letter. Find out more here. You will still need a pre-departure test and day two test for return to the UK

I’m hoping to travel to Greece in August. We’ve all been double vaccinated – is proof of vaccination on the NHS app enough or do we need a paper certificate? And what tests do we need to take?

Greece accepts the NHS Covid Pass on the app as evidence of vaccination. If you have been fully vaccinated you do not need a test to travel to Greece, according to Greek authorities, but will need a pre-departure test and day two test for travel back to the UK. 

We’re travelling to Porto in early August and were double vaccinated months ago. What tests do we need?

Travellers to Portugal who have been fully-vaccinated still need to take a test before departure, and then a pre-departure test before returning to the UK and a test on or before day two of your return. We estimate this costs around £133pp.


Find out where you can get a cheap Covid-19 test to travel


Vaccines  and vaccine passports

vaccine passport

A member of our party hasn’t had the vaccine due to a needle phobia. Can he still travel?

It depends where he is going. He will need to follow the rules for unvaccinated travellers, which may mean extra tests, such as for travel in Portugal. Or he may not be allowed entry, such as in France. Some tour operators and cruise lines also require guests to be fully vaccinated.

Covid insurance

travel insurance shown on laptop

Can you recommend an insurance company to cover a trip to Spain for an 85 year-old person?

Unfortunately it’s difficult to recommend individual insurance policies without knowing the details of the person involved. There are some general tips in this guide, and it’s also useful to make sure what Covid cover is included. Also, be sure you have an EHIC or GHIC, as this provides useful medical cover and can reduce the cost of your insurance policy as well. 

For more detail generally about travel insurance , read our guide on the best Covid travel insurance cover.

Contracting Covid while on holiday

I’ve heard rumours that if you contract Covid while on holiday, there’s no way of returning to the UK without a negative test, which in some cases can take weeks. Is that true?

You will need a negative test to return to the UK, regardless of the country you are travelling from and your vaccination status. It’s true that some people have reported long periods of returning positive Covid tests after recovery. You can take out travel insurance to cover you for additional accommodation and flight expenses caused by testing positive while abroad.

Cruises
cruise ship in port

I’d like to go on a cruise in December. Is that looking possible yet?

International cruises are due to restart from 3 August, though that could change at any point in line with government decisions. Check FCDO advice for the countries where the cruise is due to dock, and stay up to date with the government’s latest international cruise advice here.

If you choose to book ahead, we’d recommend picking a company with a good history of refunding customers for cancelled trips (all Which? Recommended Providers offer this flexibility), and opting for a travel insurance provider whose policy covers your trip.

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