The latest travel recovery news
What are the latest announcements?
Update: Fri May 7 Today's press conference announced, much as expected, the resumption of overseas travel from May 17. The same conference also announced which countries were on the green, orange or red lists which govern the procedures for returning to the UK - green for a test and a relatively hassle-free resumption of normal life as soon as you step of the plane; orange for 10 days' self-isolation, reduced to as little as 5 via test to release; and red for 10 days in a government-approved hotel at your own expense, currently around £1750. Stay away from the red list is our advice (and it's easy advice to follow too - red list countries are mostly closed to visitors).
The initial green list included Portugal (which plans to open up to UK tourists this month); Israel, which is expected to do the same; Iceland (open only to visitors from the EU/EEA, of which we are not members); Gibraltar (British Overseas Territory on the southern tip of Europe, currently closed to visitors); the Faroe Islands (part of Denmark, accessible only to visitors who can prove a "worthy purpose" for a visit); plus various long-haul destinations which are either closed to UK visitors or practically inaccessible for holidays (for completeness Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, the Falklands, Ascension Island, Tristan de Cuhna, St Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
The next review is expected on May 28 - three weeks after travel reopens - at which point more countries are likely to be added.
For more information on which countries are not only on the UK's green list but also open to visitors and served by direct flights, visit our Green Green Green list of countries open now for a hassle-free holiday.
What does all that mean for my holiday this year?
There's going to be three main considerations booking an overseas holiday this year.
When can we go? From May 17
Where will let us in? It's all very well to be allowed out of the country again, but other countries have to be open to visitors. New Zealand is lovely, and effectively Covid-free, but (not coincidentally) its borders are also closed.
The good news is that lots of countries are either open to visitors already, or have announced plans to open up to UK holidaymakers, with appropriatre precautions, as soon as we're allowed to fly again. We've got details of the most likely destinations this summer below.
Which countries we can come back home from without having to quarantine either at home (bit of a hassle) or at the airport (punitively expensive)? We've now got the government's traffic light list, so we know the rules for coming and going from the UK - and we're expecting regular updates to the list which should add more countries as the summer rolls on.
The Green Green Green list
Keep up to date with where you can travel this summer.
What is the traffic light system?
It's the UK government's new system for categorising countries once travel reopens. Green for countries which you can easily and conveniently visit for a holiday because you can come and go with just a test and no isolation period; red for countries on the banned list (so requiring an expensive and inconvenient quarantine when you get back); and orange for everywhere else.
OK, which countries do we think will let us in?
Lots of places are either already open to visitors with a vaccine or a negative test, or have announced plans to open up to UK visitors in good time for our restrictions being lifted. See our Green Green Green list for everywhere we expect to be open for a holiday from May 17.
When can I book a holiday?
Whenever you like! Claims earlier in the year that it's illegal to even book travel during lockdown were balderdash - it's just non-essential trips themselves that are not allowed at the moment. Transport Minister Grant Shapps confirmed recently that the government no longer advises against booking a summer holiday.
Prices are likely to rise as time goes on and lockdown gradually phases out so - as long as you can get decent cancellation and amendment terms from your holiday provider - you might be best to book sooner rather than later and then cancel or change your dates if anything changes.
At which point everyone will want to book, prices will skyrocket and flights and resorts will sell out - so if you're planning to go away for the summer, our advice is to pick your dates, check your cancellation terms will let you change your mind, and book before the rush.
Will I need a vaccine passport?
The vaccine is of course not mandatory. Some carriers, such as TUI, have explicitly said that they won't be turning away unvaccinated passengers. That said, it may be a challenge to find holiday destinations enthusiastic about letting in unvaccinated passengers, at least for the moment. Unfair though that may be for younger travellers who are often last on the list for the vaccine, ultimately it will be up to foreign governments and carriers to decide on the risks they are willing to bear in order to get their holiday season back this summer.
To visit some destinations, it will be helpful, and save you a test, to bring proof that you've had the vaccine. A number of the top tourist spots - for example Greece and Cyprus - have announced that they expect to admit UK visitors either with a recent negative test or proof of vaccination, so if you've had it, certainly it's worth taking the paperwork.
Turkey announced in March that it may allow UK visitors to enter without proof of vaccination or even a negative test, so if Turkey makes the green list it may be possible to visit without either.
A handful of countries appear to be open only to visitors who can prove they've had the vaccine (or recovered from the virus) - at time of writing it's possible to visit Poland, for example, and skip the otherwise-mandatory self-isolation on arrival if you have proof of vaccination. However Poland is unlikely to be on the UK's green list when travel reopens, and most of the plausible holiday destinations appear ready to accept either a test or vaccination certificate.
Will I need a test to travel and return?
It will depend on the entry policy of the country you plan to visit, and the policy at home for returning travellers. For every major destination we've rounded up the current entry and return requirements at our testing page - pick the country you're planning to visit and we can tell you what test you need and even in most cases recommend a suitable provider.
What if I'm not flying overseas this year?
Take a UK short break instead! We've teamed up with some of the UK's top attractions and hotels to create some great deals on packages of stays and tickets - click below for details.
What about the devolved nations?
The announcements in April and May apply to England. Travel rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already are different, and may remain so. For example, Scotland plans to implement its own traffic light system and resume overseas travel from May 23.
When's the next announcement?
There's a review of the green list scheduled for Jun 7, and if you're signed up to our emails we'll send you an update as soon as we know more.
Looking for more inspiration, information or a handy travel guide? You'll find more on our travel hub.