Coronavirus and your travel plans

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Latest update

Please note that this article was written in September 2020 and last updated on 1 October 2020. Visit GOV.UK for guidance on coronavirus.

Read our tips on how to manage your finances and travel plans, from trying to claim money back for a cancelled trip, to sorting out insurance or booking a holiday.

Many of us have had to cancel or change our holiday plans because of the coronavirus pandemic. Whether you’re trying to claim a refund from a travel provider, buy travel insurance that covers you for everything you need, or book a future trip without having to worry about your money, here’s some information to help you.

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If your holiday’s been cancelled

If your trip has been cancelled because of coronavirus, it’s best to contact your travel provider (travel agent, hotel or airline) first to discuss your options. If the company you booked with cancels the booking, you have the right to a refund or to rebook for another time. Some providers offer vouchers as an alternative to a refund, but you might not be able to claim a refund later on if you accept them.

If you’re having trouble getting a refund from your travel provider, you can contact your credit or debit card issuer (if you paid by card) to see if you can make a claim. What, or if, you are able to claim will depend if you paid via credit or debit card, on your individual situation and also the contract you have with your card issuer.

Another option is to make a claim on your travel insurance. Most insurance policies include cover for cancellation of travel arrangements, providing you booked the holiday before any government travel warnings via the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). But it’s always best to check your policy and contact your insurance provider to discuss your options for making a claim. Find out more about coronavirus and travel insurance on the Money Advice Service website.

Finally, if you booked a packaged holiday and the provider has gone out of business, you can contact the industry associations ATOL or ABTA for advice on how to get your money back. You can find out more about claiming compensation for a holiday on the Citizens Advice website.

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If you want to cancel a future holiday

If you want to change or cancel an upcoming trip because of coronavirus, the first thing to check is the terms and conditions of your travel provider and/or your booking. Alternatively, it’s also worth contacting the company and asking what your options are. If they won’t offer you a refund, you could try and change your booking to a later date, or wait and see if they cancel the booking later on (if they cancel, you have the right to a refund).

If you want to review or buy travel insurance

Contact your provider if you have an existing travel insurance policy, as many companies are changing cover on policies for coronavirus-related claims. It’s important to check if or how coronavirus affects your policy, especially if you have an upcoming trip.

If you need to take out a new travel insurance policy, it’s still possible to get the cover you need. Comparison sites like MoneySuperMarket and Compare the Market can help you find the best price and cover for your trip, and read the documents provided by your insurer. Most policies include emergency medical treatment and repatriation (getting back to the UK), but it’s worth checking that this also covers coronavirus claims. Please remember that your travel insurance won’t be valid if you travel against FCO advice, so you wouldn’t currently be covered in countries that aren’t on the exempt countries and territories list.

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If you’re booking a future trip

Constant changes to foreign travel advice mean it’s currently quite difficult to plan and book a future trip abroad. But there’s lots of information available if you want to do so.

Where you can travel

If you’re planning to travel within the UK, visit your government website for the latest information on what you can and can’t do in relation to coronavirus:

If you’re planning to travel internationally, make sure you check the FCO advice before you book. At the moment, the FCO is generally advising against all but essential travel – however, travel to some countries and territories is currently exempt from this advice. Travel advice is reviewed on a regular basis and can change, so make sure you check the website and stay informed about any updates.

Some countries also have specific entry requirements that you’ll need to comply with, such as having a visa or certain vaccinations. Visit the GOV.UK website for the latest FCO travel advice for the country or countries you plan to visit, including information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.

What to keep in mind when booking

If you’re booking a trip, you could consider choosing flexible options where possible in case you need to change or cancel it. You’ll sometimes pay a higher price for a flexible booking, so make sure you take account of that when budgeting for your trip.

When it comes to transport, there are lots of options for car, rail or air travel. Train companies often offer flexible or ‘anytime’ tickets or the ability to exchange your ticket for a different journey. If you need to travel by plane, check flight comparison websites such as Skyscanner and Kayak for flexible change or cancellation options on flight tickets. For car hire, check that the rental company you use offers free cancellation or free amendments to your booking.

For accommodation, again it pays to do your research. Many websites, including Booking.com, Hotels.com or Air B&B, offer free or flexible cancellation options on hotels, holiday rentals and other types of accommodation.

Finally, make sure your travel insurance covers you for any changes you may have to make to your travel plans.

What you’ll need to do when you return

Keep up to date with your government’s travel corridor list, which shows the countries and territories you can travel to without having to self-isolate when you return:

Countries can be taken off or added to this list at any time, so check it regularly if you plan to travel. If you travel somewhere that isn’t on this list, current coronavirus regulations mean that you must self-isolate for 14 days when you arrive in the UK (this includes UK residents and visitors to the UK). Visit the GOV.UK website for information on how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK.

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Helpful tips and guidance

General tips and advice
Claiming compensation
Travel insurance
Your consumer rights

Budget-friendly staycation tips

Planning to stay in the UK? There are lots of ways to have a great holiday at home without spending a fortune.

  1. Set a budget or daily spending limit
  2. Travel outside the school holidays or mid-week
  3. Use comparison websites for booking accommodation
  4. Avoid the most popular tourist towns or coastal resorts
  5. Research ways to save on travel (e.g. buying a family railcard)
  6. Check out voucher websites for discounts on hotels or activities
  7. Look for off-peak, cheaper times to visit attractions
  8. Find free and cheap outdoor activity ideas at the National Trust or Wildlife Trust
  9. Bring your own food and drink on days out
  10. Consider getting insurance to cover your trip