Holiday FAQs: Everything you need to know before traveling this summer

The holidays are coming, in the words of Coca -Cola – though hopefully they will come with a little sun and a little Santa.

But even as travel restrictions are eased in many places, there are still many issues that must be addressed before you leave this summer, from test requirements to potential flight cancellations. Here is our handy guide to the most common travel FAQs.

Do I need to be vaccinated to travel abroad?

That depends on where you are heading. Many destinations have removed all travel restrictions, including the requirement to present proof of vaccination and/or a negative test. The exception is Asia, where some countries are still not open to international travelers.

Click here for our guide to destinations that scrap all travel restrictions.

Do I need to take a test to travel abroad?

Again, this varies between destinations. In many cases, you only need to show a negative Covid test if you have not been fully vaccinated (although the definition of “fully” also varies, with some countries only counting adults if they have received booster jab. Check the Foreign Advice Office (FCDO) for your destination before you go).

Check out our guide to areas that still need a negative review.

Any paperwork to fill out?

Many countries that have scrapped testing and proof of immunization requirements for visitors have also removed passenger search forms, including the UK.

It’s worth checking the FCDO’s advice first; Here are guides to some of the most popular travel rules below:

Do I have to wear a mask?

The protocol regarding mask wearing is relaxed in many countries, but varies between destinations. In some cases, mandatory face-covering rules may be lowered in most areas but still enforced on public transport. Check the FCDO’s advice for your destination, but it’s also worth having a storage of masks with you just in case: specifically the FFP2 masks, which are specifically demanded by some countries (including Italy).

How long do I have to leave in my passport?

It depends on your destination. Due to Brexit, British passport holders entering EU countries are subject to different rules: your passport must be no more than 10 years old (see date of issue) from time of entry and have at least three months left (expiration date) at the point where you leave the EU.

Click here for The IndependentGuide’s to the new EU passport rules.

Click here to see how long you have to leave in your passport to enter different countries around the world.

Should I renew my passport just in case?

So far, passport renewals have taken longer than usual due to the backlog of applications generated during the pandemic. The passport office advises travelers to take 10 weeks to receive their passport, numbered Independent readers report the process took three months (or more).

It may be worth waiting to renew your passport until strictly necessary-or, if you need to renew it easily, pay more for a fast-track one-day or one-week appointment.

Click here for our guide on how to renew or get a first passport.

How long can I stay in the EU?

Again, policies have changed for Brits thanks to Brexit. There is now a time limit on how long and how often you can visit EU countries, without a visa. The FCDO advises: “You can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa.

“To stay longer, work or study, for business or for other reasons, you will need to meet the entry requirements of the Greek government.”

You must also have your passport stamped upon arrival and departure of the country. Make sure this takes place with passport control to avoid any confusion over how long you have been there.

How early should I arrive at the airport?

The “riot” at the airport hit the headlines this summer, with pictures of UK airports damaged by several hours of security and luggage queues. Although passengers are told to arrive at a good time, arrival too not advised in advance – this actually creates more issues, with bottlenecks forming and travelers with earlier flights becoming snarled up in longer queues.

Check your airport and airline’s advice about when to arrive: Heathrow currently advises all travelers to arrive three hours earlier; Gatwick said at least two hours; and Manchester for three hours. Also check what time to check-in if you need to drop a bag (usually four hours in advance for long-haul and three hours for short-haul). Leave longer if you need to pack a bag and check-in at the airport than if you are pre-checked in and traveling hand luggage-only.

Should I check-in a bag?

Baggage has also been hit this summer, with a shortage of baggage handlers leading to straying and delays of bags at some UK airports. There’s no way to know if your case could get into trouble-but if you can reduce your packing, the safest bet might be to just hand luggage.

What if my flight is canceled?

Staff shortages have seen airlines including easyJet and British Airways having to reduce their flight schedules, with some on-the-day cancellations. Heathrow introduced a limit of 100,000 daily passengers until September 11, instructing carriers to stop selling additional tickets to avoid overwhelm the airport.

That being said, most flights ay goes on as planned – unless you hear something else from your airline, suppose you’re leaving. However, if you are in the sinister minority, you have the right to be taken to your destination as soon as possible, even if it means going with a rival carrier, and may be entitled to cash compensation depending on the circumstances of the cancellation.

See our full guide to your passenger rights if your flight is canceled.

What should I pack?

This one is easily answered: see The IndependentThe ultimate packing guide for inspiration.