How many of us are brave enough to be travelling overseas this summer with all the uncertainties involved? Not only all the horror stories of those having to isolate in horrible locations for weeks on end with awful food or being removed from their children, but the never-ending changes to the traffic light system that the government keep making. The decision to go ahead with your holiday booking, with all the attached risks is certainly not for the faint hearted as so much can currently go wrong or indeed change at the last minute.
If you can work remotely from your laptop and can afford to rent something somewhere for at least a month, or have family to stay with, then it makes more sense to go – it’s less hassle to stay away for longer and it’s much more environmentally friendly to fly less anyway. I suspect there will be a new trend of staying away for longer periods of time – like the whole of August moving forward just as the Europeans do. But what about the rest of us who can’t spend that long away? Despite working in the travel industry and living abroad for a large percentage of my life it’s still been a difficult decision. I’ve even always loved the actual process of travelling, the airport, the plane, train or boat ride, the discoveries, the food, the drink, the people, the cultures and yet this has lost it’s sheen for now and I was still extremely nervous about the whole entire process.
Never have people deserved a holiday more, but you have to be prepared to deal with the sweaty palms on the aeroplane in case you’re tested on landing at the airport like we were. It feels as if the joy of travelling has been sucked out of the whole experience, owing to all the stressful red tape to wade through. So much paperwork to fill in for the airline and the country you’re going to and each one is different. Then you have to upload all the documents to your boarding pass (and then print out in case your phone lets you down or if you are technically challenged), getting your head around which testing kits need to be ordered and done before, during and after your stint abroad and all the additional costs involved. I had to spend £200 for my son to do his tests on his return from Ibiza, which went on to the amber list whilst he was there. He had to do a test whilst there, followed by a two, five and eight day test back home. He duly did them all, but never got the results because it turned out that he didn’t register his details correctly online. What a waste of money.
Having decided to go for it, we arrived at Stansted airport highly stressed in the early morning, queued for a little longer than usual (but not much), watched our check in staff use her very long nails to zoom in and out of all our documents with baited breath and then she wanted to see our printed ones anyway. Once on the plane I tried to hold my breath for the four hours it took to fly to Greece in case someone on the plane had it and then we walked tentatively through passport control trying to avoid the eye of the immigration officers only to find ourselves being “invited” into the queue to have a lateral flow test by someone wearing PPE. One member of every group on the Passenger Locator List seemed to be chosen unless you had young children and very kindly someone else stepped up to offer his nasal passage to be interfered with whilst I waited nervously. If he’d been positive then we would both have to spend our ten day holiday quarantining in a government establishment. But realistically, having done tests before we left, how would we be positive? But what if our lateral flow tests were false negatives? Fifteen long minutes later we were free to go. Half an hour later our luggage still hadn’t arrived and we were the only passengers left waiting. We eventually found them on another carousel going round on their own. My fault, I was too nervous to check the details. We had to show our vaccination papers and negative tests again when we got on the ferry from Rhodes to Halki and unless you are doing this all regularly, it’s all quite stressful.
That said, once you’ve done it, it gets easier and when you find yourself on a beautiful Greek island, all your worries dissolve into that gorgeous clear turquoise water and it’s suddenly all worth it. Halki, we discovered on arrival hadn’t had one case of Covid on the island the entire time and even though I was still thinking “please god, don’t let me be their first case,” we settled into the swing of our Greek Salad Days fairly quickly and even managed to occasionally forget that there’s a pandemic going on at all, which was very good for the soul.
We were delighted we took the plunge, especially given it was into water that looked like this:-
It was so lovely to be somewhere else, enjoying the sunshine – especially when the weather in the UK is so shit right now. I know there’s a lot to get your head around, but I would say it’s well worth taking the risk if you can bear it.