Where I take my first overseas trip in a year, fill in a lot of forms and take a few Covid tests.
I have finally gone off on a little overseas holiday. I risk drowning in a sea of tuts from British people who think we shouldn’t be travelling overseas, but I’m used to disapproval, so no worries.
The traveller in me wanted to hunt down a trip that was more of a challenge, but in the end I decided to take the path of least resistance, and I booked somewhere with no PCR test required to get in (assuming you’re fully vaccinated) and only a minimum of red tape and form filling required. Welcome to Greece.
To enter Greece, you simply need to prove that you have been double vaccinated (NHS app for British people) and fill out a passenger locator form shortly before you get there, detailing where you will be staying.
A lot of people seem confused by the various rules and regulations and I’m sure that’s a deliberate ploy on the part of the government to discourage us from travelling overseas. They haven’t got the person-power or resources to operate border control if we were still travelling at the normal rate.
Some people think you need a test to leave the UK (in fact I read and re-read the rules because so many people told me that I needed this; you don’t unless it’s required by the county you’re travelling to). A lot of companies are implying that it’s a requirement and are using the confusion to sell expensive pre-flight tests. Welcome to the UK where there’s always somebody trying to exploit an unclear situation that people don’t fully understand.
The tests all start when you try to re-enter the UK, where you need a test to get on the plane (can be a simple lateral flow, although you need it verified) and a PCR test pre-booked for the two days after you get back. My tests added £78 to the costs of my holiday. I ignored the government website ‘suggestions’, where many of the providers charge much more than the advertised price, and found a provider local to me through asking in a Facebook group.
You are also required to fill out a passenger locator form that makes War and Peace look like an easy read and involves filling out your name, address and passport number multiple times, just in case it has changed in the hour since you started on the damn form.
Whilst I was away a review of the travel restrictions removed the need for a pre-departure test and changed the PCR test to a cheaper lateral flow, however these rules don’t change until October unfortunately so I’m stuck with the testing.
The UK have the highest rates of infection in Europe, yet apply the toughest border controls. In the end it took the imminent end of the furlough scheme, and the fact that many more working in the travel industry could end up on unemployment, to force a rethink of the rules.
A lot of people opted to remain in the UK for their holiday this summer, which made everywhere extremely crowded and things booked out for anyone who, like me, prefers to decide last moment (usually after stalking the weather forecast).
Prices were exploitively expensive too (I read that hotel prices in my little seaside hometown of Brighton have risen by 89% this year as hoteliers greedily try to rake in as much money as possible).
Plus, it has been ridiculously rainy this year.
So I’m starting my little mini adventure-ette in Athens. More to follow…
(Excuse the slightly wonky formatting, I am travelling WITHOUT MY LAPTOP. It’s an experiment to see how I cope).