We don't want to jinx it, but our summer plans may have been salvaged. With a fresh set of countries having been given green-list status and the rules around post-holiday quarantining changing, we're optimistic that our summer jaunts might still be on the cards. Although navigating the ever-changing travel landscape can be a struggle.
To help you cut through the noise, we've joined forces with our friends at bespoke tour agency nemo to guide you through everything from booking PCR tests to navigating the UK green list. Think of nemo as your very own back-pocket travel concierge.
Green means go, go, go: your summer 2021 travel questions answered
First things first, are we legally allowed to go on holiday now?
Absolutely - and lots of people are. You can legally travel to any green- or amber-listed country, as long as the destination is open to travellers from the UK. This clears you for take-off to some amazing destinations, from the sun-drenched Cyclades to Morocco's dramatic Atlas Mountains.
But what happens if a country turns amber when I'm out there?
Stay calm: you will be able to get home safely and there's no need to make drastic changes to your plans. If you received your second vaccine dose over two weeks prior to travel, you'll be able to return home without a home quarantine. If not, you would need to quarantine at home for fiving days, using the Test To Release scheme.
What do I need to do before I travel? Have you got a checklist I can follow?
Your first order of business is to get excited! Check your passport is valid for six months and head to the government website to double-check entry requirements for your destination. Here, you'll find out if you need a PCR test to travel and what forms you'll need to fill out. The process is much easier than it might originally seem when the steps are broken down - ask for advice if unsure, as we're always on hand.
I need some sun. Where do you suggest?
For nemo, this summer has been interesting as we've been able to change people's perceptions of classic destinations - namely Mallorca, the Cyclades and Portugal, where there's so much more on offer than people often assume. There are some truly incredible hotels that still have availability and there's such variety that it feels like a real adventure. We love to have a quick chat with all of our travellers to learn about how they love to travel, then create an amazing curated journey for them. If you need a sun-soaked getaway, we'll help you work out where you should be heading to.
What about a city break?
For savvy travellers, now's the time to take a city break. Cities are a lot quieter than they were 18 months ago, and there are some real wallet-friendly finds - it feels very local, too. Personally, Lisbon is my favourite city, so I'm naturally biased there, but I'm also off to Athens next week. Palma is always a good choice - its food scene is insanely good.
How about somewhere a little more off-the-beaten-track?
Zagori in Northern Greece often flies completely under the radar. It's a beautiful, mountainous region with everything from design-driven boutique hotels to unspoilt beaches.
People also underestimate Portugal. For a back-to-nature escape, go deep into the countryside and prepare to be amazed.
I'm seeking a bit of adventure. Where would you suggest for an autumn trip?
Morocco is proving popular for those who miss long-haul travel and want something different. It feels a million miles away when it really isn't - it's only a three-and-a-half-hour flight to Marrakech, and the culture hit is just what we're craving. Travellers are often surprised when we tell them that Morocco is amber-listed and open for UK travellers, but it most definitely is. Go!
My long-haul honeymoon got cancelled this summer. Could a European trip be just as memorable?
In short, yes. One of the greatest things about post-pandemic travel has been hearing briefs like this and still being able to deliver incredible honeymoons. We've put some epic trips together to the Greek Islands, Mallorca, Portugal and Puglia. Our agile approach has meant that when a country's status changes, we simply switch our honeymooners to a new destination, making the whole experience as stress-free as possible.
I'm trying to change my travel habits. How can I travel more sustainably?
Slow travel is the way forward. Try to take fewer internal flights by opting to use trains, and stay for longer in each destination. This immediately lowers your carbon footprint and means you support the local area more, ultimately encouraging their tourism offering to evolve in an ethical way. We also make sure every traveller has a tree planted for their trip and donate 1 per cent of all revenue to an amazing charity called Hello World.
What about hotels - how can I make sure they're doing their bit?
If you book your curated trip through nemo, you can rest assured that we vet every hotel carefully, paying attention to their ethical practices and community approach.
I want to book a long-haul trip at the end of the year. Do you think that's a good idea?
Travel's revival is around the corner, if the announcements are anything to go by. Things are looking a lot more positive. We've learnt from the past 18 months to try not to predict the future. I would stick to the green and amber countries for now and make sure you plan with a company that can offer fully refundable terms… like nemo.
So, where should I book?
Morocco is our top pick for a long-haul destination outside of Europe. There's so much variety and it suits all types of travellers.
I'm a bit anxious about travelling. How can I support the industry?
Stay engaged. Whether you're reading an article on SUITCASE or checking out our journals or hotel partners, engaging with informed content both gives you a dose of escapism and helps us to grow.
I know travel looks a bit different, but what can I expect to see when travelling?
It does feel different but, personally, I found myself slipping back into holiday mode so quickly. I think it was the thrill of not hearing the monotonous British accent for a bit and being able to unwind. People are excited to see people supporting the tourist industry and everyone is really welcoming.
These rules are still confusing me. Can nemo help at all?
Yes. We talk through every question that our travellers have in detail and cut out all of the background noise. Our role is to be your travel partner, not an agency, and we want to make life as easy as possible for you to help you travel with confidence again. No question is too small and we are always ready to listen.
By combining years of travel expertise with an easy-to-use and interactive website, nemo is transforming travel planning. Giving travellers complete control over their itineraries, with no nasty add-ons or sales pitches, the company promises honest advice and arms you with the tools to design your dream trip. Get planning at nemo-travel.com