WILL you be joining the race for cut-price half-term hols?
As testing and red-list restrictions ease, the next weekend offers the best chance for a low-cost and hassle-free overseas trip since the pandemic began.
A family of four could save £1,000 on compulsory Covid tests compared with the summer. Most countries no longer need a negative test from vaccinated Brits. And dozens of destinations have come off our own red list.
While half-term flights are cheap, travel firms will bump up prices for Christmas.
TravelSupermarket said: "The scrapping of tests is having a major impact on bookings. People are really keen to get away."
Paul Charles of travel consultancy the PC Agency added: "Rule changes give people the confidence to go abroad again."
Here I outline the savings.
No PCR test to return to UK
PCR or antigen tests in the three days before coming home were ditched on October 4.
Overseas providers often charged between £30 and £50 for antigen checks and £50 to £100 for PCR tests. But unvaccinated Brits still need the test to return home.
SAVE: £30-100 per person
No PCR test to go abroad
EUROPEAN nations, and other countries with a high level of vaccinations, have gradually removed the need for double-jabbed Brits to have PCR tests before leaving the UK. The destinations had previously insisted on negative tests, before changing policy in late spring and early summer.
Many countries still require unvaccinated travellers to get tested.
You still need to fill in a passenger locator form to visit most countries, and to return to the UK.
SAVE: £70 per person
No Day 2 PCR (from October 24)
DOUBLE-jabbed travellers' PCR tests on Day 2 after returning to the UK – around £70pp – will be replaced by antigen tests costing around £30. The change will take place from October 24, with lateral flow tests being able to be booked from October 22.
Unvaccinated passengers will still need Day 2 and Day 8 PCR tests.
SAVE: £40 per person
No quarantine for 47 countries taken off red list
WITH 47 countries taken off the red list last week, visitors to those nations no longer need to quarantine for ten days at a UK hotel on their return, at a cost of £2,285 for one adult and another £1,430 for a second adult or child aged over 11. Just seven countries are now on the red list.
SAVE: Up to £2,285 per person
Cheap half-term flights
SOME half-term flights to winter sun hotspots are less than half the price of Christmas trips to the same places.
London to Antigua flights cost from £433 over half-term – cheapest from October 22-31 with British Airways – but from £930 over Christmas, with the cheapest deal from December 20-27 with Virgin Atlantic.
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'May trip cost us £700 in tests, now it's easier'
A LONDON mum is whisking her son to the French capital to see the Eiffel Tower now pricey Covid tests are being ditched – having been stung for £730 in tests for a spring holiday this year.
Katharina Roelofsz, 38, is taking Sebastian, seven, to Paris on the Eurostar train.
They will save as they are allowed to enter France without taking tests before their departure – or after their arrival – from the UK as Katharina is fully vaccinated and Sebastian is under 12. And the French don't require any tests.
The civil servant from Wandsworth, South London, is relieved test rules are being scrapped, having forked out hundreds of pounds after taking her son to Greece during half-term last May.
Katharina, who is married to Ian, 50, a project manager, said: "We felt desperate for a holiday after the months of lockdown earlier this year.
"So we booked a trip to Thessaloniki at the end of May. We had a great time there but the cost of all the tests – before we went, while we were there and when we got back – added up to more than £700.
"It's so much less hassle to travel now, with test requirements ending. Sebastian was keen to go up the Eiffel Tower before Covid. Now we can do it as the cost of tests is being removed."
BARGAIN BREAKS STILL AVAILABLE
VENICE , £237pp: October 21-25, fly from Stansted, self-catering at Hotel Le Boulevard. Ryanair flights and hotel booked separately.
MAJORCA , £258pp: October 24-31, flying from Birmingham, self-catering at Playamar Hotel & Apartments. Package with onthebeach.co.uk .
GRAN CANARIA , £298pp: October 25-November 1, fly from Glasgow, self-catering at Jardin Del Sol Apartments. Tui package.
ANTIGUA , £771pp: October 22-31, fly from Gatwick, self-catering at Coco Rose, Urlings. British Airways flights and hotel booked separately.
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