Planning for a successful summer break
Travelling doesn’t always go the right way – and it’s not always PH that can derail things! In this blog PHA UK member Julie Royle explains how a recent holiday was planned to the detail, which meant she didn’t lose out when covid stopped play.
“I wanted to tell everyone about my partner Kevin and I’s recent experience of attempting to travel abroad and getting covid.
Earlier this year, after two years and more, we finally decided we should get back out there and start living again, instead of existing at home.
We’re in our 60s and 70s and it matters that we still have time to travel as we’ve always done.
When the first lockdown came, I didn’t renew my travel insurance, as we had no need for it. Little did I know it would be two years later when we could even consider going abroad again. But with three vaccines, we decided to take the plunge.
For anyone who knows me, I am very organised and thorough when I do anything. So, as soon as we agreed a date to visit France for a week, I started to plan our break:
- Travel, hotels and insurance
We booked our ferry with Brittany Ferries because we always travel by car rather than flying. We find having our own car with everything we need with us as relaxing way to travel, we go at our own pace and enjoy everything.
We arranged three different B&Bs which is part of our traveling so we get to explore more places.
One of my first tasks was to check with the ferry company about their covid rules, and our rights if we had to cancel.
For the B&Bs are used reputable sites, booking.com and Airbnb.co.uk, as they have free cancellation policies up to 24 hours beforehand with full refunds.
For my travel insurance, I went back to Staysure as they’ve always covered me for annual multi-trips since my diagnosis of IPAH. I spoke to a rep rather than doing it online as I wanted to ensure we had maximum covid cover for all eventualities, either at home or abroad.
They fulfilled my needs, and my cover didn’t cost much more than it did two years ago.
- Driving plans
Next was the car. I have a Motability car which has had the lease extended to five years from three. So, I contacted them and was told to check my MOT and service if not already done. I asked them what I needed to drive to France post-Brexit, as it’s all changed since our last visit.
We needed a UK sticker not a GB one, and a current breathalyser kit for the glovebox. We also needed a breakdown kit, high vis jackets, triangle etc, which I bought at Halfords.
As I was driving the Motability car, we needed to have a form called VE103 to prove I was able to drive it abroad.
- Tests, medication, and covid passes
I collected extra lateral flow test kits, so we could test whilst away as it’s important to be negative to travel on the ferry both ways. I contacted my drug company, Sciensus to ensure I’d have enough medication for before during and immediately after our break. They arranged my delivery before we were due to leave.
I normally take enough meds for the period we are away plus a week either side in case of delays etc. I packed all our meds in my insulated picnic bag I use to keep the meds at an even temperature and altogether.
Lastly, we updated our domestic and travel covid passes on our phones and put them into our wallets. We also printed off hard copies of all our documentation, including our covid passes in case of WiFi failure.
We changed our currency and so all was set.
AN UNWELCOME SURPRISE
The week before our holiday, we started to do daily testing as we had to be covid-free within 48 hours of travelling on the ferry. Plus, we had included a short trip to stay with our family friend for a couple of days before sailing on the Sunday.
We tested Thursday morning and drove to Portsmouth, both negative. By the time we had arrived in Portsmouth, Kevin felt poorly with fever, aches, coughing and sneezing, so he went to bed.
On Friday morning, we tested again and he was positive. I tested positive by the Sunday, so our trip had to be cancelled.
Can you imagine, after all that time in preparation?! My friend suggested we stay a few days until we felt better as it was too far for me to drive initially, even though I was still negative. So, we stayed and rested as we were both pretty poorly.
CANCELLING OUR PLANS
The morning Kevin was positive, I started the process of cancelling the trip.
I called the ferry company first, which was a good idea because if I’d have cancelled online, we’d have lost our money. Instead, the rep I spoke to arranged a new date in the future which we can change to suit, and we didn’t lose the booking. So, it’s a good tip to call and wait in a queue as it’s worth it.
I went online for the B&Bs and was able to cancel with a full refund as it was more than 24 hours before we were due to stay. If we hadn’t have chosen these methods, we could have used the travel insurance, who wanted proof of positive PCR tests, which we did locally for free. But we didn’t need them as our companies had reimbursed us, so all was good.
When we felt well enough, a few days later, we travelled home without stopping as we were still positive and remained so for ten days each. It was difficult driving all the way up to Manchester with no stops, but luckily we timed it well and got home safe.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
I wanted to share our experience with you all with PH as we won’t hesitate to try to travel abroad again soon. We’ve looked at our lives and ages, and our breaks matter to us when we can afford them.
My insurance covered all eventualities of covid, whether home or away, so there was reassurance at all times that we were okay. As I had prepared and checked everything the whole experience has been positive for us.
If you’re considering travelling, please check all aspects of your trip and don’t take risks or shortcuts as it can be costly. Kevin and I have only lost our holiday time, but no money, and we will attempt it again as we have peace of mind with planning.
I do hope you enjoyed reading about our experience. Good luck and happy holidays!”