Juggling home-schooling, childcare and work? Mums and dads, we applaud you! No one needs a holiday more than parents right now, which is why we're here to help you navigate this new world landscape, so that travelling with kids during COVID feels like a breeze. Indeed, despite the UK's borders being open, there are still quite a few rules and requirements in place that can make travel a little confusing. We’ve pulled together all the information you need below, so that you can travel safely with your family again and finally get that much-needed getaway...
Is It Safe To Travel With Kids During COVID?
As an industry, we've been working exceptionally hard to adapt to any new regulations put in place to keep travellers safe. That means you’ll certainly notice some changes the next time you and your family arrive at an airport, board a flight or check in to a hotel. What it also means is that we've been keeping up-to-date with all the latest news as it happens, to ensure you can explore the world with ultimate peace of mind.
When travelling internationally, most airports and airlines require you to wear face masks at all times – except while eating or drinking. Children under 12 will generally be exempt, but this varies from airline to airline, so be sure to check with your Travel Consultant. For example, American Airlines requires anyone over the age of two to wear face masks while onboard.
To keep crew and passengers safe, travellers are encouraged to travel as contact-free as possible through checking-in online and using self-service kiosks where available. Most planes have now been fitted with hospital-grade HEPA air filtration systems which replace cabin air every 2-4 minutes, while hotels have increased and enhanced cleaning protocols to keep you and the whole clan safe on your travels.
On a personal level, there are several actions you can take to keep yourself and your family safe while travelling, including social distancing wherever possible, regular hand washing or sanitisation, wearing a mask or face-covering in public areas, avoiding contact with anyone who may be unwell and staying home if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
UK's Travel Restrictions – What's Changed?
International travel is back on the cards for British travellers, but that doesn’t mean we're able to do without restrictions just yet! Here are some things to know before heading for the airport.
Most countries require you to be fully vaccinated to enter without quarantine, so it's likely you will be required to show your NHS COVID pass before your departure. If you are not fully vaccinated, and are not medically exempt from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, different rules around entry and quarantine may apply.
The rules for children vary from destination to destination, with most under 18s not needing to be vaccinated to be exempt from quarantine. For more information, see the Foreign, Development and Commonwealth Office.
To meet the UK's definition of being fully vaccinated, 14 days need to have passed since you received your second vaccine dose. You are able to download your proof of vaccination from the NHS COVID App, wherein you can opt to get a QR code, PDF copy, or request a hard copy version of your COVID Pass. Be sure to select the option for travel, as opposed to domestic use.
Returning to England
When returning to the UK, travellers need to complete a Passenger Locator Form online. This must be done in the 48 hours before your departure. You must also take a pre-departure test. This can be a lateral flow or PCR test, and must be booked privately – the free NHS rapid antigen tests cannot be used for travel.
After your return, travellers who have been fully vaccinated are required to take a PCR test on or before day 2 of their time in England, and self-isolate until they get their result. Your arrival day is day 0. Those who have not been fully vaccinated are required to self-isolate for 10 days and take a further test on day 8, or use the test-to-release scheme on day 5. Testing requirements do not apply to children aged four and under. Children aged five to 17 years are to follow the same testing and quarantine rules as those who are fully vaccinated, including the pre-departure test and day 2 test. For more details, check the government rules here.
Travelling Abroad? Be Sure To Check Destination Travel Rules
As mentioned, it's important to remember that just because the UK borders are open, you're not guaranteed entry into another country. It’s crucial that you carefully check your destination’s rules and restrictions and speak with your Flight Centre Travel Consultant for advice, particularly if you’re travelling with children.
Similar to individual hotels and airlines, individual countries and sometimes cities may have different safety measures, rules and entry requirements in place.
Here are three of our top destinations for UK travellers and their current entry requirements for families.
At the time of writing, Australian borders had just started reopening for citizens. Families heading home to reunite with loved ones will need to be meet entry, testing and vaccination requirements, which vary from state to state. For example, travellers visiting New South Wales must be double vaccinated, must self-isolate for 72 hours on arrival, and take tests on day 1 and day 6. Children under the age of 12 who aren't vaccinated but are accompanied by a double-jabbed adult are considered to be fully vaccinated when it comes to quarantine.
You can find the latest information on the Australian government website.
British families looking to experience Dubai's year-round sunshine, water parks and culture can now do so! You must undertake a COVID-19 PCR test no more than 72 hours before departure and present the negative result prior to departure, at check-in. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from this requirement. Random testing may be undertaken on arrival in Dubai. For more information, visit the UAE website.
As of November 2021, the USA borders are open once again for international travel, provided Brits meet specific testing, vaccination and travel requirements.
To find out if you are eligible to enter the USA and what requirements you and your family will need to meet, visit The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for the most up-to-date information, and check out our blog on everything you need to know for USA travel.
COVID-19 testing is now an unavoidable and crucial part of travel. With requirements varying from destination to destination, or by airline or hotel, it can be tricky to know exactly what tests you need when, in order to travel safely.
PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and RT-PCR testing is not the same as rapid antigen testing, and will typically require you to make a booking and pay a higher fee to cover lab testing. At Flight Centre UK, we work with a range of testing providers who offer both PCR and lateral flow (rapid antigen) testing.
You can see more information around COVID testing for travel for children and adults – when leaving and returning to the UK – on our COVID testing for travel blog.
You can also find out more information within our interactive COVID travel tool, which lists the entry requirements for each destination, from testing and vaccinations to quarantine rules where applicable.
Helpful Tips For Travelling With Kids During COVID
Travelling with kids can be a bit of a balancing act at the best of times, but doing so during COVID is most definitely possible with a little extra planning! Here are just a few tips to help you when planning your family holiday during coronavirus:
- Wait times may be longer than they used to be, especially at airports, so make sure to pack lots of distractions! Our favourites include colouring books, tablets, headphones, toys and snacks.
- Be prepared with extra face masks, wipes and hand sanitiser just in case.
- Take our travel insurance that includes COVID-19 cover before your trip, so that you and your family are protected if anything goes wrong.
- Triple-check the requirements for your destination (not forgetting any transit points) before you leave to avoid any unnecessary stress or delays. Your Travel Expert will be on hand to help with this if needed!
Looking for more information about travelling during COVID?