Why stay home this summer
when Crete is cheaper than Cornwall?
Why it could be cheaper (and easier) to take your summer holiday overseas
With lockdown dragging on, many of the best UK holiday spots are filling up fast. Prices are going up accordingly, and the beaches, pubs and restaurants are busier than ever. There's even reports of holidaymakers queuing so long to get into some seaside hotels here they give up and go home!
But have we already reached the point that getting on a plane to Greece is cheaper than trying to book a week away at home? We quickly found that we have - with a week in Crete or Malta coming in at £500, and the same week at some of the UK's top seaside resorts costing more than £1000.
Don't get us wrong - a UK break can be a great holiday, and most of us at Holiday Extras will be spending much of the summer enjoying a London citybreak, a weekend at a theme park, lazy days on the beach in Cornwall or a walking holiday in the Welsh mountains. But with UK hotels, beaches, pubs and attractions filling up, with lockdown restrictions dragging on, and with trips overseas perfectly legal, it's worth at least considering whether a quiet beach in the Canaries or a sleepy taverna on a Greek island could actually be your cheapest and easiest option for your summer holiday.
How to fly (almost) anywhere
Lots more places to travel in 2021
Crete for £500 or Cornwall for two grand?
Checking several of the main holiday websites, we looked for the very cheapest offer for a flight plus accommodation (overseas) for two adults, or just accommodation for two adults (UK), staying from Friday July 9 for one week.
To keep the maths simple we picked three beautiful and popular UK seaside towns we know like, all three of which are a 257-mile drive from the centre of London. We added one more seaside town on the Kentish coast, then compared them all to three of our favourite European beach resorts. And to be as responsible as possible we picked three islands that, while they're on the amber traffic light list, the Foreign Office says it's fine to visit for a holiday* - that's Malta, Tenerife and Crete.*The traffic light system is run by the Department for Transport. A separate system for assessing the safety or overseas destinations is run by the FCDO, and if there's a concern either "advises against non-essential travel", "advises against all travel". For Malta, Crete and Tenerife, the FCDO does not advise against non-essential travel.
Comparing prices for Crete, Malta and Tenerife with the British seaside
Tests for travel
We've compared a range of test suppliers to give you all the information needed to make the right choice for your holiday.
What's the whole holiday cost?
Just looking at flights and accommodation gave us a good starting point for comparing costs - but on top of all that you've got to get your tests for an overseas trip now - which for an amber destination for two people the best price we found was £288.80.
In fairness, if you're taking a holiday in a UK seaside town you've got to get to and from it too, so we added the cost of driving there and back from London (it's more, in every case, if you wanted to take the train or fly). With all but one of our seaside retreats 257 miles from London, we can use the same cost for each one and keep things simple.
Include Covid testing costs and petrol, the table looks like this:
Including Covid tests and domestic travel
Conclusion - it could be cheaper (and easier) to get away this summer
Even with tests included, it's cheaper to fly to Crete for a week in July than it is to stay at home and spend at week at some popular seaside towns.
(The exception is Morecambe in Lancashire - cheaper, for the moment, than many other UK seaside resorts, possibly because Lancashire is one of the regions of the UK where, at time of writing, the government recommends limiting non-essential travel).
And it could well be less hassle to spend a week on a Greek beach than an English one too. Yes, you'll have to do some paperwork and sort out your tests both ways. But that's a simple enough process. We can help find you the right (and the cheapest) test. Once you get there...the beaches are less busy, the bars and restaurants are open (often even without booking) and you might be surprised what a great hotel you can afford with a view of the Med compared to what you'll get for the same price at home.
If we've convinced you - take a look at our guides to the three destinations we've recommended.
A longstanding favourite for British holidaymakers, Greece has been a lifeline for overseas holidays all through 2020 and 2021. One of the first to open its islands to us this year and one of the last to close when the second round of lockdowns came at the end of last year, Greece has been consistently enthusiastic about having us as guests.
At time of writing (June 16) Greece is on the UK's amber list. You'll need tests both on the way out and back, and to isolate for 10 days when you get home (down to as little as five via test to release). At time of writing there are five Greek islands to which the FCDO does not advise against non-essential travel - Crete, Corfu, Kos, Rhodes and Zakynthos.
Malta was the most puzzling exclusion from the most recent revision to the UK's green list - reporting zero new Covid infections last weekend and with the virus very firmly under control, the consensus was very clearly that, if the science was being followed, Malta should be open.
Happily Malta is open - you just need an extra test or two and the patience to isolate for 5-10 days when you get back.
Advertising themselves as "the best climate in the world", the Canaries have a point. Tropical islands off the north coast of Africa, but with Mediterranean facilities and service, the Canaries are the UK's annual favourite winter break - and hardly less popular in the summer either.
Unlike mainland Spain and the Balearics, you'll need a Covid test if you're staying in tourist accommodation; but, also unlike the rest of Spain, Covid rates are low enough that our Foreign Office doesn't advise against non-essential trips.
The first green list was mostly distant rocks and the second just took Portugal off again. If you want a proper overseas holiday this summer, and you don't want to wait until our government adds more places to the green list (when prices will surely rocket), you might decide to book somewhere on amber.
We make no judgement either way. We're a holiday company; we think travel is a great and valuable thing; and we're aware that, while some branches of our government seem keen to discourage overseas trips, other branches of the same government seem more sanguine about the possibility. At time of writing there is neither any rule against flying overseas nor any Foreign Office advice against visiting any of the destinations we've listed for a holiday.
We'd always advise anyone thinking of booking a trip to take account of the advice from the Foreign Office and the Department for Transport. We'd advise you to take out appropriate insurance whenever you go away. Please don't break the travel rules, they're there to protect everyone. But also remember that time is precious, and holidays are some of our most precious times of all.
At Holiday Extras we're all about hassle-free travel - so we've read all the documents and done all the research so you don't have to.
Wed Jun 23 2021 14:24
In our guide to Covid testing for travel - find out everything from current PRC Covid testing requirements for your holiday to Covid-19 test procedures.
Mon Jun 21 2021 16:39
All the latest news about the return of travel this year.
Wed Jun 16 2021 09:55