Last year was a lame duck of a year for travel. If you were lucky enough to sneak in a holiday at the start of 202 you may have been caught up in a race to get home or, worse still, been locked down in a foreign hotel as Covid-19 restrictions began sweeping the world. Since then it’s been a rollercoaster ride as lockdowns have come and gone, a tier system had people shedding tears and the government’s list of travel corridors was here today, gone tomorrow and back again a few weeks later.
As we emerge from lockdown three, holidays are within reach but it will be some time before travel is completely back to normal. What’s certain is that most destinations will remain subject to changing restrictions and requirements and the business of booking and going on holiday has become much more complicated.
Of course the best thing you can do to avoid headaches is to book your holiday through a professional travel company, like Charitable Travel. This will ensure your trip is ATOL-bonded and refundable. But it will also mean you have someone to help you navigate through the complexities of post-pandemic travel and someone to call for advice should the situation change at any point after booking.
Last year the beleaguered travel industry fought back against lost bookings with some innovative changes to their brochures. Many tour operators pivoted their offering from long haul multi-centre trips to stay-put staycations and others reinvented the phrase ‘bubble break’ from a hot tub holiday to a private tour for a family of group of friends.
Many people are asking, is there such a thing as a pandemic-proof holiday? Charitable Travel offers a huge range of holidays for every budget, to all corners of the globe, but here is some inspiration for trips that might weather the covid storm better than others.
Whether you like it or not, the safest bet for a holiday over the last year has been one that stays in the UK, and that trend for domestic breaks is likely to continue. But with reports of rental properties selling out within hours of Boris’ announcement and some companies doubling prices due to demand, it looks like even booking a domestic holiday could be tricky.
The best thing to do is keep an open mind. If you’re set on a sea view cottage in Cornwall, you might be disappointed. The UK is a vast and varied land with plenty of room for us all to find blissful holidays. If you can’t find anything suitable in Cornwall, try West Wales or Northumberland, which have similar gorgeous coasts with features like rugged cliffs and wide sweeping beaches but are often much less crowded.
The Wales Coast Path is an epic 870-mile-long trail and its website has new 20221 themed itineraries, including a wellness walk.
Best of all, stay away from beaches all together. Rural Rutland is a landlocked county in the east Midlands and is one of the UK’s smallest at 18 miles long and 17 miles wide. Here you can enjoy a slow pace of life, pretty English countryside and quaint villages with traditional pubs. Plus Rutland Water and the nearby Nene Valley region provides plenty of opportunities for watersports.
If you’re in the camp that’s secretly gutted about the prospect of a domestic break then perhaps you need to see it in a different light. the beaches off the west coast of Scotland have sand as pure white as that found in the Maldives, Kent’s lavender fields are as pretty as Provence’s any day, and Sussex is fast becoming the new Champagne region thanks to the number of wineries making quality English Sparkling wine.
Are you pining for India? Visit Brighton’s onion-domed Royal Pavilion. Perhaps you want to be in Italy? Portmeirion in Wales is a
village Purposely modelled on Italy, with its brightly-coloured houses clinging to the green craggy Welsh coastline instead of the Italian Riviera.
Wherever you are heading, staying in self-contained accommodation is a good way to minimise your risk of mixing with others, and therefore potentially coming into contact with Covid-19.
Whether its a cute thatched cottage in the Cotswolds, a white-washed villa in the Balearics, a white château in rural France, a chalet in the Austrian Alps or an apartment in Madrid, you can
be safe in the knowledge that you have ensured splendid isolation for you and your travel companions.
Of course, hotels will have stringent Covid-19 restrictions in place and don’t forget that many resorts have self-contained accommodation on-site – offering the best of both worlds if you prefer the resort experience.
If you have a large family or can get a group together, perhaps two families, then there are some luxurious and impressive self-contained options that offer superb value for money. The Great House in Antigua is a micro-boutique resort and with just eight suites, sleeping 16, is ideal for a resort buy-out. It’s centred around
the 350-year-old stone Great House in 26 acres of tropical gardens, with a pool and a spa, and it could be yours only for £1,649 per person including flights!
One way to stay away from the crowds is to keep moving. Google searches for campervans have rocketed in recent months and no wonder – the lure of the open road during lockdown was an irresistible one. Of course campervanning means you have to book campsites to have access to facilities. Motorhomes, or RVs as they’re called across the pond – have toilets and showers onboards as well as cooking facilities but campsites will allow you to hook up to electricity.
Of course, the U.S. or Canada’s open roads and retro diners spring to mind when you think of a motorhome holiday, but there are plenty of places closer to home that are a great fit too. France is famous for its proliferation of campsites and has Atlantic beaches, the snow-capped alps and a rural heartland of vineyards and châteaus. Alternatively, Norway has stunning scenery and quality campsites and, as it’s an expensive country, this is a good way to see it.
But you don’t have to hit the road. Why not take to the water instead? The UK alone has a mainland coast measuring over 11,000 miles and there are about 4,700 miles of navigable waterways where barge holidays are ubiquitous.
Cross over to Europe and options abound. Croatia, Greece , and Turkey are popular for Yachting holidays and you don’t necessarily needs sailing experience as some operators offer skippered options.. Neilson operates flotilla holidays in the Greek Ionian islands, where you sail yourself, taking in beautiful harbours, bays, and anchorages along the way, but return to the safety of a fleet most evenings. This kind of holiday is popular across the Mediterranean as well as the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and parts of the Far East, like Thailand.
Avoid the peak season and you avoid the crowds, try Dubai in summer, Thailand in its wetter season, Iceland in winter, or Greece in Autumn and you could also get a bargain holiday.
It’s no surprise that many island nations have managed Covid-19 infections well. Being able to shut borders quickly and in the case of smaller islands, manage the population easily has kept classic holiday destinations like the Caribbean Covid-free.
The Cayman Islands is one such destination, where lucky locals have been living relatively Covid-free, with no need for masks (except on
public transport), no social distancing rules, and no limitations on small gatherings.
The islands also have abundant villa options and miles of beaches. Although they haven’t opened their doors to visitors yet, they are likely to from April. If you have the budget, there’s always the option of getting a whole island to yourself. There are several tempting alternatives for this in the Maldives, including Gaathafushi at W Maldives. This small hump of fine, white sand surrounded by turquoise sea comes with luxury accommodation and just two sun loungers, patiently waiting for you and your chosen companion. Plus you can still book your private chef for a romantic beachside dinner or organise a sunrise Champagne breakfast for two.
If you want to be safe, keep it simple and natural. While theme parks and theatre shows are at risk of being closed or cancelled, walking, cycling, or horse riding is more likely to go ahead.
There are so many wild and beautiful places in the world and many that you’ve probably never heard of. Like Poland’s Masurian Lake District, also known as the ‘Land of a Thousand Lakes’. Here, you can kayak picture-perfect rivers and marvel at untouched landscapes.
Or you could hike through Bohemian Switzerland National
Park, a fairy tale landscape which is actually in the Czech Republic. This region of pine forests, deep valleys, rock cities, and ravines has miles of hiking trails and is home to Europe’s largest rock arch.
An outdoor-focused holiday lends itself to one of the latest accommodation trends, glamping. There are so many options out there now, from treehouses in the forests of Scandinavia to bubble tents on a beach in the Seychelles.
Contact Charitable Travel to explore any of these ideas and more! We will find you your perfect holiday and allow you to raise money for a cause you care about at the same time.
This is a feature from Issue 4 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.