I often hear from individuals with specific problems, but it’s rare to get direct experience of what readers are thinking about travel more generally. So it was fascinating to be involved in our How to Travel in 2022 Telegraph Live event for subscribers on Wednesday evening.
Hundreds dialled into the event, which was focused on the practical and strategic challenges we all face as the world (hopefully) emerges from the pandemic. And you contributed dozens of questions and suggestions, giving a more detailed insight into where and when readers are thinking of travelling, your recent experiences and what are the main concerns in these uncertain times.
The biggest worries were about keeping up with the latest requirements on testing, vaccination, boosters and form filling both here in the UK and abroad. We try to keep abreast of developments at telegraph.co.uk/travel – but it is also always worth using the Foreign Office advice website (gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) as a regular port of call both before travelling and while abroad.
And, I would also add two things. First, while vaccination requirements are likely to remain an issue for some time to come, there does seem to be a general easing of testing rules around the world as well as in the UK – Switzerland removed the need for a pre-arrival test for vaccinated travellers for example – and that easing is likely to continue. Second, while the forms seem daunting and stressful at first, in practice they are normally very straightforward to complete and certainly nothing to worry about.
Mask-wearing on planes was also a popular area of concern and there was a wide spectrum of views about the pros and cons. Some readers found the idea of having to wear one for a whole flight very off-putting, others were worried about lack of compliance. James actually found some positivity in the Covid protocols: “I have just flown to Kenya; wore a mask for eight and a half hours didn’t bother me. Plane was super clean; toilets were cleaned three times during the flight … felt safe.” Meanwhile Val pointed out that some people on her flight to Lanzarote sipped drinks for four hours to avoid wearing a mask during the flight. Overall, I think it is likely that mask-wearing requirements will be common on flights for some time to come.
Concerns about cruises also ranked highly. How safe were they, what were the risks of cancellation, what would happen if you tested positive while on a ship? Jacqueline had some reassurance on the latter point: “We have just done a Caribbean cruise and felt safer on the boat that I do in a supermarket. The cruise company was exceptional with anyone who tested positive.” My own feeling is that cruising will probably offer excellent value this year, but that it’s worth checking that you are happy about how the protocols on social distancing, mask-wearing and so on will affect life on board and shore excursions. And also that the booking conditions give you flexibility to cancel or postpone if you want to.
Finally, there were two other prominent issues which I regularly mention. First, will insurance cover cancellation costs? The answer is that most policies will cover you if you have to cancel if you test positive or fall ill, but none will do so if you simply decide you don’t want to travel – read more about travel insurance with Covid cover here. Secondly – do we advise booking a package rather than travelling independently? And the answer to that is yes, because it gives you much better financial and legal protection. And if you can’t or don’t want to book a package, then pay particular attention to the terms and conditions of your accommodation booking – if you have to cancel, that is where you normally stand to lose most.
We will be holding our second online Telegraph Live – Where to travel in 2022 – on the evening of Wednesday January 26. Full details at extra.telegraph.co.uk/events/live-travel-in-2022.