The Travel Column with Katie Butler, Total Travel

Once again I am lucky enough to be writing this week’s update away from home.

Sunday, 19th September 2021, 2:30 pm
MASK WEARING: Mandatory in the airport and on the plane. Photo: Getty Images

Once again I am lucky enough to be writing this week’s update away from home. This time on board the new P&O ship Iona, experiencing a “staycation” cruise. P&O have given several lucky travel agents the chance to experience the new ship with its facilities and enhanced Covid protocol. An offer that would be rude to refuse!

The Covid protocols on-board are extremely thorough. A negative test is required prior to boarding, this is included in the price of the cruise. The test is completed at the cruise terminal and the results took just under half an hour to arrive by text message. The fleet is sailing at approximately 60 per cent capacity and social distancing measures are in place, along with the requirement to wear a mask in indoor spaces. More on cruising at a later date.

This week we are expecting the next travel review and traffic light update. There is much speculation that the whole system could be overhauled with new requirements dependent on vaccination status. There are still several countries including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives that are on the red list hoping to be moved to amber. I will of course update all the changes next week.

I have to say we have had far more holidaymakers take the plunge this year than we expected and it feels fabulous to be playing our part in filling planes and getting you on your much deserved and long-awaited holidays. If you are thinking of getting away for a late summer holiday or indeed some winter sunshine, here are our top tips for travelling right now:-

FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) Advice: If you have a holiday booked ensure you keep up-to-date with the entry requirements for your destination. As we are all well aware - these can change overnight. It’s an easy procedure - simply type into your search engine “FCDO Spain” or your chosen destination and it will take you to the requirements. You can also activate email alerts for updates for that destination.

Paper Copies: Back to basics on this one. Having all your documents available on your mobile device is great but it can take longer to get through check-in and when you get to your destination borders. Also, we are finding that not all devices are connecting at the airport. With this in mind, we advise that passengers have hard copies of locater forms, proof of vaccine or proof of negative test. This format is proving quicker and more efficient.

Masks: At most destinations you are not required to wear a mask outside but it is still mandatory to wear one at the airport, on the plane and when indoors. Ensure you carry one at all times, as well as spares.

Pre-book tests for returning home: Regardless of where you are travelling from and your vaccination status, you will be required to prove on your return passenger locater form that you have pre-booked your return Covid tests. It is much easier to have these pre-booked before you depart the UK. Remember to take a note of the booking reference for each passenger.

Full update next week on any changes to the system and to where we can and cannot travel to.

■ If you have a specific travel question you would like Katie to answer in her column, please email: [email protected]