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How to holiday safely this summer

Whether you’re flying abroad or planning a staycation, here are our top tips on how to holiday safely in the midst of a pandemic.

It goes without saying that we all need to continue socially distancing (2 metres apart where possible), washing or sanitising our hands regularly and not touching our faces with unwashed hands. But there are also other steps we can take to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and reduce our chances of becoming infected whilst on holiday.

Consider if you should be travelling

This may be a depressing first tip, but bear with me! The truth is - times are strange and very changeable right now. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel (with a number of countries exempt and ok to travel to).

But even if the planes are flying and the resorts are opening, travel is not risk-free and travel disruption or national control measures can happen with very little notice.

Besides the above government advice, other reasons not to travel include:

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have had in the last 7 days
  • If you’re self isolating due to COVID-19 symptoms
  • If you’re in a household or support bubble with someone that has had COVID-19 symptoms in the last 2 weeks
  • If you’ve been advised by the NHS test and trace service that you need to self isolate

It is a good idea to check the government’s Foreign Travel Advice page for the latest information on entry requirements and travel warnings. Make sure you’re up to speed with the public health requirements in the country where you’re heading and also of any restrictions on re-entering the UK.

Staying safe when flying

When on a plane, keeping 2 metres apart from others will be difficult (or impossible) and the nature of air travel is such that you’ll be in close contact with many people, for a prolonged period of time. There is, of course, risk here that unfortunately can’t be avoided but it is a good idea to do as much as you can to reduce other opportunities for COVID-19 to spread.

The list below isn’t exhaustive but includes some key points and tips to consider when flying:

  1. Check in online and take as little as you can with you on the plane, to prevent your belongings coming in contact with other people.
  2. You’ll probably have to wear a face covering on the plane for the duration of the flight, so make sure the ones you bring are comfortable for you.
  3. Depending on the length of your flight, it is a good idea to take 3 or 4 face coverings on the plane, so that you can put a new one on if the other gets damp or has to be removed for any reason (for example to eat).
  4. If the flight is short, I’d avoid eating or drinking, but if you have to or you’re on a longer flight, make sure your hands are well sanitised before putting anything in your mouth.
  5. Take an alcohol based hand sanitiser with you. It’s a good way of cleaning your hands after you’ve touched a surface others might have touched or before and after you touch your face/change your mask.
  6. Don’t forget that liquid restrictions remain in place at UK airports, so don’t bring more than one 100ml bottle of sanitiser with you to the airport and plan to buy more, if needed, after you’ve passed through security.

Staycation tips

If flying isn’t for you this summer and you’re planning a holiday closer to home, you might find that things are quite different from before, but this shouldn’t get in the way of you enjoying your break.

Everyone in the holiday industry is working hard to make holidays as safe as possible for holiday-makers. Businesses are adapting and following government guidance and although some things may seem a nuisance (for example, a timetable for when you can use the campsite showers), new policies are there to keep staff and holiday-makers safe.

Besides following the guidance set by the facility you use, here are a few other tips on how to staycation safely.

  1. As with flying, make sure you have the necessary bits with you, such as face coverings and hand sanitiser.
  2. Don’t go with large groups of people. I know this isn’t in the spirit of holidaying, but try not to mix too many households in one place, especially if in an enclosed environment (for example a cottage).
  3. Try to spend as much time outdoors (fingers crossed for the weather!) as the virus spreads less readily outdoors than indoors.
  4. Self-catering breaks are likely to be lower risk than sharing your meals in restaurants and with other holiday makers. However, restaurants and hotels are always very careful in the way they prepare and serve food. Now, with COVID-19, there are even more safety precautions in place to reduce the risk of transmitting infection, including minimising contact with the waiters and spacing tables out so that diners are socially distanced.
  5. Try to avoid touching things that many other people may also have come into contact with, such as toilet door handles, with your bare hands. Coronaviruses have been found to live on surfaces for anything between hours and days. Use your sleeve or wash your hands after, and don’t touch your face without clean hands.
  6. The facilities will be cleaned regularly but there is no harm in bringing disinfectant spray with you and giving commonly touched surfaces (door handles, toilets, kitchen surfaces) a clean before you touch them and in-between use too.

If you get COVID-19 symptoms whilst away from home

Whatever you choose to do this summer holiday season - if you or someone you’re travelling with develops COVID-19 symptoms, you should avoid going to hospital, A&E, pharmacies or a GP surgery, as you may spread the infection to others.

If your symptoms start whilst travelling, stop and don’t continue your journey. Seek advice at the airport or from the place you are staying. There will be guidance available at all hotels, campsites, resorts etc.

You must self isolate immediately and, if in the UK, make sure to book a COVID-19 test straight away. You can use Babylon’s COVID-19 Care Assistant for help and information, or book an appointment on the Babylon app to speak to a GP, nurse or pharmacist if you need more advice.