The Handbook
The Handbook

To call 2020 a ‘washout’ is being kind to wash, to call it a ‘blowout’ is being kind to blow and to call it a ‘sh*tshow’ is being kind to Baroness Harding’s Track & Trace system. And if there’s one thing that we’re really missing this year, it’s holidays. Maybe you were smart and you decided to staycate by the sea, like I recommended, or maybe you did as I did rather than as I preached and booked and rebooked a series of holidays in perfect unison with successive quarantine orders leaving you without any summer sun at all.

Fear not. If you have nerves of steel, a buoyant bank account and an unrealistically optimistic take on how the pandemic’s developing then there are still non-quarantine-y options available to you. And now might be a smart time to travel; as Britain’s cases continue to sky-rocket it looks unlikely that many destinations will be added to our unsafe list (as our infection rate is likely to exceed that of potential ‘air-bridge’ nations), but the flip-side of this is that potential holiday spots are possibly looking at the UK’s numbers aghast and could be about to slap quarantine orders on arrivals.

And it goes without saying that nobody should travel if they have any symptoms of coronavirus, and it would be wise to invest in a pre-flight test. But if you’re up to it, and you’re hungry for some vit-D, then here are some options…

The Maldives

Swap Mitcham for the Maldives this winter. The Indian Ocean destination is classic honeymooner territory, but given the fact that brides and grooms were as tricky to find this year as an eight-pack of loo roll in March, they are anxious to accept guests and there are some great deals to be had.

The rules for tourists are they you must take a private Covid test which must be within 96 hours of travel.

Germany

I know we promised you sun, and let’s face it Germany is not well known for being parched by the midday rays, but wait a second.

Germany is the coronavirus version of Europe’s panic room, having somehow avoided the huge infection rates engulfing most of the rest of the continent and world. So there are few countries that are safer to visit. Plus, Germany is underrated by tourists, and deserves more attention.

From the vibrance and excitement of Berlin to the culture of Munich to the beauty of Bavaria, Germany is well worth a mooch around, covid-times or not.

Only head there if you’ve not been to any Tier 3 areas recently. You may need to show a negative test taken within 48 hours.

Cuba

Britain’s bucket-list favourite, Cuba, is welcoming guests and anyone in need of some Caribbean relaxation should be jumping on the plane this second to spend a fortnight in this quixotic country.

Rapidly modernising as it opens to the world (expect a Biden victory next week to intensify this), now’s the time to experience the old-school charm of this fascinating country.

 

Greece

Would you rather be queuing to get into Tesco, or chilling in a taverna? Assuming the answer’s the latter, then Greece is your ticket.

The popular destination leap-frogged traditional Brits-abroad mainstays like Spain by being relatively covid-secure and, because, why wouldn’t you want to head to a Greek island?

Mykanos was off-limits for a time, but is now back off the naughty step leaving you to enjoy the sun in relative peace without the incessant tourists and take in the beauty of this ancient country.

Canary Islands

These volcanic outcrops in the Atlantic are what remains of the Spanish empire and the islands, including Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote, are famed for their their black- and white-sand beaches, relaxed way of life and, of course, the African sun.

The Canary government just changed their entry requirements to insist that travellers can present a covid-negative test from within the last 72 hours, but otherwise you’re free to visit.

Gibraltar

If you’re yearning for Spain but also have a yen for red post boxes and monkeys, then have you come to the right place. While Gibraltar is on mainland Spain, it isn’t subject to the quarantine that’s just over the border.

The British Overseas Territory is a unique blend of British and Spanish cultures, and being on the southern-most tip of Spain it also is guaranteed to be summery for longer than anywhere else in Europe.

Also, they’ve got wild apes. What more could you long for?

Sweden

It’s the dinner party (remember those?) bore’s favourite talking point, how Sweden took a very different approach to the rest of the world and somehow didn’t see the same level of economic destruction as the everyone else. Wether Swedish citizens fared better remains to be seen, but you can make your mind up for yourself with a visit to this Scandinavian nation.

As for winter sun, yeah we’ve tricked you again, but surely a fair trade is the Northern Lights?

Madeira

Show me a part of Portugal that’s not currently subject to quarantine? Piece of cake…

Madeira, comprised of four islands off the coast of Africa, is so good that when I sent a Handbook writer there to cover it, she went back all on her own this year, she’d enjoyed it so much.

Visitors from the UK need to show a recent negative coronavirus test or else be tested on arrival and have to hang about for the 12 hours it takes to process.

Obviously, I can pretty much guarantee that the moment we publish this article it will become obsolete as one or more of these countries, or our own, tear up the rules or shift things round. With this in mind, please do refer to the FCO website or to each territory’s own government before making travel plans!

Or, y’know, just leave it until 2021 like everyone else…


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