15 July 2021
Over the past couple of months our Travel Counsellors have been getting out exploring once again, seizing the opportunity to travel and experience the world as we begin to leave lockdown. Between them they have travelled to countries on both the Green and Amber list for the UK.
The specific details mentioned, regarding testing requirements and Government travel restrictions, are subject to change.
Like many others, I was absolutely desperate to get on a plane and start travelling again!
My first PCR Test cost £99 from a high street chemist but I was advised that the costs are due to drop anytime. My results came back via email 30 hours after my test. I ordered my Day -2 and Day-8 tests for £86 for both tests. I also ordered the Day-5 test to release at a cost of £43. The Day-2 and -8 tests arrived before I left but don’t worry if the tests don’t arrive before you go, the reference numbers are sent on email too.
I am staying at Tivoli Marina Vilamoura, which is fully booked. Mask wearing is mandatory but not required by the pool or when sitting down, just when walking around indoors.
There are several testing places on the Algarve, most charge €100 for PCR but lateral flow is permitted for return to the UK.
For travelling back three things are needed: a negative PCR (or lateral flow), UK Passenger Locator Form and proof of purchase of your day-2 test. A list of approved day-2 test providers can be found on the gov.uk website. Day-2 tests can be done any time from when you land (day zero) until the end of day 2. Some airports offer testing on-site.
All in all, this has been a breeze and the vibe out here is sensational.
Whilst plenty of times I have written down the requirements for clients to travel and realised how daunting it can look on paper, with the NHS Covid Pass, Passenger Locator Forms, Lateral Flow tests, and Day 2 tests all needed for a Green-listed country, this was my first time experiencing it for myself.
I can honestly say though, once you are organised, which is made easy with the links we have, it really was straightforward and painless.
If I felt any hassle from these differences to my travelling, it was quickly dispersed by the wonders that the islands of Malta offered us. The weather was glorious, sunny, and hot but with a good breeze. With only three full days to explore and with Covid restrictions in place, I had booked restaurants in advance. I would definitely advise booking excursions in advance as well if you can, to be sure of availability.
Our hotel, Patio Suite, was quiet. They did have a self-serve buffet service but they supplied disposable gloves for when you use the utensils. There was definitely no rush for a sun bed and the staff were very attentive.
Whilst we were there, we visited Albufeira and Vilamoura. Albufeira was very quiet with almost deserted beaches! Vilamoura was more bustling but we always felt very safe in terms of COVID. In taxis, restaurants and bars all restrictions were adhered to. Menus were also in the form of QR codes to minimise contact.
For our return to the UK Antigen test, we took a taxi to Albufeira. We had pre-booked this before we went ensuring the service was Government approved. There is a really comprehensive list on the Visit Portugal Website. We had our results emailed to us just one hour after the test! The email included a certificate for travel and a QR code. You must take your passport for this.
Our Day-2 Test was completed on Wednesday, taken to a Drop box and we received the results on the Thursday. You receive the Day-5 test on Day-4 of isolation. I dropped my Day-5 test off on the Saturday afternoon and I was free from isolation by Sunday lunchtime.
All very easy and straightforward, I am so glad I have experienced travelling to an Amber destination as it has given me confidence in what I advise my clients should they wish to do this. I have a family holiday booked to St Lucia in August and we will certainly be going if it’s Amber or Green.
From the moment we arrived back in Madeira I knew we had made the right decision to come on holiday.
The airports at both ends were really quiet and the checks on the test info and forms were quick and easy. We had to show our test results on check in and also upload them on our Passenger Locator Forms, before we left. We were through the airport within 45 mins, at both Funchal and Birmingham.
The hotel check in was smooth. They took our temperature on arrival. The hotel was about 50% occupancy and it was so nice and easy to get a sunbed, but still busy enough to have a great atmosphere. The service was wonderful and apart from wearing masks in the restaurant, when not seated at your table and in the reception, it wasn’t required around the pool area, in the gardens or down by the sea front.
We booked a few restaurants before we went in case it was busy, but apart from the Saturday night, we could have got into any of them without a reservation. At the buffet, the food was screened off and served to you as you chose it.
To find out more about what you can expect from your upcoming travel experience, contact your Travel Counsellor today and they’ll be happy to share either their first-hand experience or that of the Travel Counsellors Community.