Updated: Mar 15
Travelling During Covid
Has Covid Made Travelling Too Much Of A Hassle?
I had a long weekend planned in Prague for December, which unfortunately we had to cancel due to Covid. Due to new requirements, we would have needed to covid test before we travelled, before travelling home and within two days of arriving back and remain in isolation until we received PCR results. The bars would be closing at 22:00 on the days we would be there, so unfortunately it didn’t seem worth the hassle for just two days away.
I think so many people have had to cancel similar trips due to general covid travel hassle, and the effect on the economy due to this must be huge. The cost for hotel and restaurant owners, flight companies and general moral is taking its toll on everyone. It is reasonable for most people to be put off at the thought of travel, particularly with increasing restrictions due to Omicron. However, my recent experience proves to even the most cynical, that is it worth it.
When my husband suggested that instead of a weekend in Prague, we would spend Christmas in the sun in Cape Verde instead, I thought he was a bit mental initially but was willing to look into it further. Obviously, I hit Google hard researching any restrictions, testing requirements, isolation periods and trying to see if it was even possible. I was very nearly put off the entire idea at this point. Gov.uk had some pretty clear and straight forward advice, which didn’t seem too complicated. I was able to clearly find out Cape Verde’s requirements for entry, and what we would need to do on arrival back to the UK. However, when looking on other perfectly legitimate seeming sites, I was overwhelmed with conflicting information and nearly scrapped the entire plan.
For example, Gov.uk stated we would need to take a PCR or lateral flow test within 72/48hrs before departure respectively. However, when Googling specifics, I was confused by whether I could do an at home lateral flow or would need a testing centre. Were antigens and lateral flows the same thing? and what if I ended up choosing a test which didn’t meet the sensitivity requirements – and this was only step 1. I became increasingly concerned where I read somewhere that Cape Verde would not accept the digital copy of our NHS covid vaccination status and would require a letter format.
My advice, if you are thinking about going overseas, stick to the information provided by gov.uk and don’t research outside of this or you will just end up confused. I ended up ordering two lateral flow test kits which arrived at my home. I went online and activated my kit, swabbed ourselves and uploaded a photo with the test. A certificate was just emailed over within 10 minutes. I also ordered our day 2 PCR’s from the same company (Project Screen) which were waiting for us at home when we got back. I should have ordered our predeparture lateral flows from the same site, but the thought didn’t occur to me until we were in Cape Verde. Thankfully, our hotel was able to direct us to a clinic which tested us and gave us a certificate within the hour for £20 each.
On arrival to Gatwick, our lateral flow results, passports and passenger locator forms were checked before we boarded. Cape Verde checked our passports and covid swabs only. After our holiday, Cape Verde checked our covid swabs, and passports and Gatwick only checked passports. We were not asked for proof of vaccination at either end, and slightly concerningly our covid tests were not checked by Gatwick on arrival back to the UK. I presume the passenger locator form came up digitally when our passports were checked, but I am not entirely sure.
I must admit, I was slightly concerned about our lateral flow results at Cape Verde before returning home. I had taken out a specific insurance for this holiday, including Covid cover. I do have holiday insurance provided by Halifax with my Current Account, but I didn’t want to risk not having enough cover should we test positive and end up having to fork out for a quarantine hotel for a fortnight, paying for additional flights etc
I had developed very mild cold symptoms whilst on holiday, which I presumed was the same virus my husband and son had had previously (they had a negative PCR a week before we flew out), but I remained slightly concerned all the same. In Cape Verde, the locals were amazing at wearing masks, and I often saw Taxi drivers using alcohol gel after handling money etc. Around the hotel the staff were amazing, but other holiday makers were a lot more relaxed and mask wearing wasn’t 100% complied with.
I am personally not a huge fan of flying at the best of times, but I did find it even more irritating due to Covid. In my opinion, the tannoy on aeroplanes is massively overused. It seems like every half hour an announcement is made about something or other, with the flight attendants choosing to use 1000 words to say something that could be said in 100. The constant announcements due to mask compliance, giving reasons for a reduction in bar service, recommending specific toilet break times, asking us to report any covid symptoms, all on top of the usual announcements for us to buy duty free, safety briefings, were incredibly irritating, especially during a night flight when you have a small person trying to get some sleep.
Overall, it was so much less stressful than I thought it would be and I would absolutely recommend having a break away should you feel in need of a holiday. Don’t over google, you will find a huge amount of out-of-date advice and it is worth remembering that anyone can start a website and upload an awful lot of incorrect information. Stick to the UK government, and government sites for your destination which are updated immediately when restrictions, and policies change.
Cape Verde was a fantastic destination if you are looking for a relaxing, lazy week in the sun. For further information and an honest review, check out Relax In Cape Verde.
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A glass of wine in each hand