The whole world has been on lockdown and at one point it seemed like we would never travel again. There is no denying that there will be more bumps in the road ahead, with government guidelines proving vague, and restrictions changing from day to day.
The key to being a top travel agent is giving expert and reliable advice. During the pandemic, this has been increasingly challenging to do but we’ve taken each day as it comes and adapted as necessary.
The difficult times may go on, but the skies are opening up again.
People have understandably been unsure about whether to take the plunge and book a holiday, desperate to get away so that summer isn’t completely cancelled, but fearing that the trip will be. There have been the brave few, however, who have decided to dip their toes into the water.
We have sent a number of clients to various destinations over the past few weeks and they have come back smiling from ear to ear. After speaking to them all, one thing is clear... holidays look a little different now.
The moment you start your journey, it’s important to remember your mask. From the flight to chatting with staff at hotel reception, you will begin to start appreciating people's eyes a little more as you won’t be seeing their smile.
Jaine, who travelled to Crete in August, also suggested "going to the loo and eating before your flight as you will be wearing a mask for the duration" and queues for toilets aren’t advised. She also said that "walking through Duty Free was a dream as it was so quiet but all the shops were open."
What is wonderful to see is the response from teams on the ground. Airlines, transfers, resorts and hotels are all doing everything they can to ensure the safety of everyone who passes through. We have heard constant feedback on the hotels and rooms being spotless, hire cars being disinfected and wrapped in plastic, as well as talk of measuring sunbeds to ensure families are social distancing safely.
One thing is for sure… they’re doing a fantastic job. And that can be seen with the loyalty of clients.
Duncan, who returned to Hotel Cavtat Croatia post-lockdown said: "I’ve been to Croatia a number of times before and wanted to return and support them - particularly since we hadn’t been away." His advice? Prepare to return to your room with a sticker sealing the door to say it’s been cleaned and disinfected. No it’s not a crime scene, just precautionary.
For those wanting to take extra precautions, pick a hotel so nice that you never have to leave.
Ian, who visited Daios Cove in Greece, recently told us: "We couldn’t believe how efficient the hotel was. The checks were brilliant, everything was well managed and communicated clearly. The place didn’t lose its atmosphere at all - despite social distancing - and there is no need to leave the hotel if you don’t want to."
Another option for those feeling a little nervous but eager to get away, visit somewhere you know and love.
Our client, Carol, said: "For us, Portugal is home from home, so we were comfortable with knowing the area and medical facilities, etc." She went on to say: “I was slightly nervous about the flight and travel experience as to how it would work at the airport and what it would be like in the hotel, but they sent lots of information prior to our arrival. The hotel felt a bit strange at first but you get used to it. You had to wear masks walking around. There was no buffet-style breakfast, and room service was served at your door, which I actually prefer."
For those able to quarantine on return, there are more options. Carol returned home to a 14-day quarantine and admitted they were lucky they had the ability to do that.
Steve, who spent some time in Rhodes, said: "It’s important to double check form filling requirements. Having a good travel agent, I knew I would be taken care of, but you can also ask airport and hotel staff for help."
Steve was so pleased with his trip that he has already booked a Christmas holiday to Antigua.
Most countries now require you to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before departing from the UK. You must also go online before you return to the UK and complete one.
For those looking to book, our team can give you a sense of how many people are travelling and where to, as well as the locations least likely to require quarantine upon return.
That was the advice that helped Sanjay choose Turkey for his first post-lockdown trip. He told us he needed a break after working through the pandemic and had a fantastic time staying at Gloria Hotel, adding: "I’d have no reservations travelling as long as you are prepared to follow the safety recommendations."
So what can those looking to travel expect from a post-lockdown trip?
Face coverings and hand sanitiser to start. Followed by social distancing from your fellow travellers - which may be a huge plus to some. Alongside extra cleaning and disinfecting, although we have never heard clients complaining about a room being too clean.
But overall, expect some schedule changes and a few additional rules which will require a little patience and a lot of hand washing...