Despite the fact the UK is actually having some good weather at the moment, we know you're all gagging for a holiday, so.....if you've booked one or are thinking about it and wonder what it's ACTUALLY like to go abroad right now, let Hannah tell you what it was like when she recently went to Menorca with her family....
We booked our holiday through Jet2. Having had several holidays cancelled and promptly refunded by them in the past year, we thought they were a good shout. We booked just a couple of days before we were due to fly, which pained me as I usually enjoy a good six month lead up to a holiday, but with things as they are, this was the option we were left with.
At the time we went away, you the entry requirements for Menorca for adults were that you either had to have received both vaccinations 14 days prior to travel and have the NHS certificate to prove it, or have taken a PCR test and show a negative result within 48 hours of travelling there.
I am fully vaccinated, but my husband isn't yet, so he had to go down the negative PCR test route.
He got this from Randox, with a Jet2 discount, (you can choose between a home sample collection kit or visit one of their ravel centres in the UK) he just took it at home, posted it in a special Randox postbox, and got the result back the next day (the day before we flew). We also had to fill in a Passenger locator form for Menorca, with details like passport numbers and hotel address.
Luckily our child - at two years old - didn't have to test either departing or arriving and just had to be included in the passenger locator forms THE JOURNEY When we went to check in at Manchester airport, the Jet2 staff checked our vaccination records - on our phones via the NHS app, and the PCR test results. Manchester Airport was a dream. There was hardly anyone there, which meant we got through security really quickly. Jet2 staff seemed really on it when it came to documents and tests. On arrival at Menorca, we had to show our passenger locator forms at customs. The system was smooth and quick, no queue (though might be different in the school hols!) THE HOLIDAY: Honestly, after such a long wait, I found it utterly thrilling to be abroad, even with a grumpy toddler in tow. The thought of a nice cold beer on a beautiful beach had kept me going for the past 18 months, and it didn't disappoint. At our hotel most things were business as usual, other than masks as you came into reception and in the restaurants. Also some extra cleaning of sunloungers etc. It all felt proportionate and pretty normal. THE RETURN JOURNEY:
Testing for the way back was also pretty straightforward. We had lateral flows from Collinson (also via Jet2) and they were via a video call, two days before we were due back in UK. We then got a certificate emailed to say we were negative. We also had to fill in a UK locator form, similar to the Menorca one, where we also had to enter the reference number of our pre-bought Day 2 PCR tests (are you keeping up?) These seemed a bit pointless, considering no one has checked up on whether we have actually taken these tests since arriving home. We had to show our lateral test results at check in at Menorca airport, and Passenger locator forms at passport control in the UK. It didn't seem to slow us down, but I can see how it could - for example, we saw some people get into bother because their phone ran out of battery, which had their QR code on. They had to go to a corner and just wait for it to charge. If this starts happening on a larger scale it will be carnage.
Make sure you have your phones fully charged or documents printed out! All in all, it was pretty straightforward and, if you're used to travelling with kids, then it was not much more hassle on top of the mountain of hassle already required for a family holiday (ie - you're expectations are significantly lowered anyway) However, nothing went wrong for us - we didn't get any last minute positive tests, or isolation requests, or delayed test results. We also knew that, as we both WFH, we could isolate when we got back if we had to, which took a lot of pressure off. Written by Hannah Gibbons-Arrif
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