If you're taking the family away for half-term in February, you need to start getting ready now - yes, with a whole month to go! Family holidays can be hassle-free, even with Covid and testing rules in place, but you need your jabs and your paperwork sorted in advance.
1. Check the entry rules for your destination
This is the biggie. If you're going away, you need to know what the rules are for both kids and adults to get in to your destination country. The rules, and the age at which rules apply, are different for every country.
Destination rules this half-term
Where you can go with the kids in February?
Here are some quick examples of different rules in force for kids across Europe.
To visit Spain (including the Canary Islands) or Malta, anyone 12 and over must be fully vaccinated, making family holidays with children over 12 potentially impractical this half-term. To enter Portugal, anyone 12 and over just needs a negative test, but once you're in you'll regularly need to either prove your vaccination status or show a recent negative test, so unvaccinated kids will need regular tests to go anywhere.
2. Check the rules for hospitality and activities
The second thing you need to check is what paperwork you need to move around the country you're visiting. In lots of European countries especially, anyone aged 12 and over needs to either prove their vaccination status or present a recent negative test to get into restaurants, cafés and leisure facilities.
3. Sort out your vaccination paperwork now
If you're fully vaccinated and have the NHS app you're pretty much good to go. But what about the kids?
Jabs and paperwork for children
Kids aged 12-15 can get their second jab 12 weeks after their first, as long as they haven't had Covid in the meantime. They can't use the NHS app to prove their vaccination status so you'll have to request a letter for them instead, and that can take up to 7 days. So count backwards from your departure date - if you're relying on getting the kids double vaxxed before you go, they need the jab a week before you fly.
Kids aged 16+ can get the second jab on the same basis, and can use the NHS app to prove they've had it when they fly. Even on the app it can still take up to 5 days for a new vaccination to show up, so again work backwards from the day you're flying and get it in good time.
4. Book your tests (both ways)
If you're taking the kids somewhere that requires them to get tested regularly, make sure you have all your tests organised. For example, if you head to France or Portugal with kids over 12 who don't have both jabs, you'll need to get regular tests for them to get into restaurants and leisure facilities.
To check what tests you need, our Covid testing guide will help.
You also need tests to come back to the UK from almost everywhere, and you need to book them in advance to be allowed to board your plane. If you're not fully vaccinated, you'll need day 2 and 8 PCR tests while you isolate. If you are, it's an antigen test by day 2. Kids aged 17 and under are exempt from the test to return.
5. Get the right insurance
We always recommend you take out suitable insurance whenever you book a trip overseas. If you or your family will be taking tests while you're away, make sure your policy covers you in the event you test positive and need to isolate overseas - extra nights in a luxury hotel can soon add up!
Holiday Extras offers travel insurance, including Covid protection as standard as well as enhanced Covid cover if you need it.