Can I book a staycation for summer? Rules for booking holidays in the UK - and your rights explained
The recent news of quarantine hotels for arrivals in the UK has sparked a surge in bookings for domestic ‘staycations’ this summer.
Cottages, campsites and other accommodation providers have reported a surge in bookings for popular UK destinations like Devon and Cornwall, with UK residents hedging their bets on a staycation summer holiday, rather than a trip abroad.
Will staycations go ahead this summer?
A number of ministers - including Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi - have warned against booking holidays abroad for summer 2021, saying it is far too early to tell whether foreign travel will be able to go ahead.
Guidance on booking domestic holidays, however, has been more unclear, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock indicating that he himself was planning on going to Cornwall this summer, but cautioning that the Government “have got a lot of work between now and then”.
What’s more, The Telegraph recently reported that the Government has extended the legal powers of local authorities, allowing them to close bars, restaurants and other public places until 17 July, indicating that some form of restrictions may be in place well into the summer across the UK.
Currently, all four nations of the UK are under ‘stay at home’ orders which restrict travel to within local areas, meaning holidays are not currently possible.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated that the Government would be revealing a “road map” out of lockdown in February, at which time the probability of being able to go on a staycation may be clearer.
Should I book a staycation regardless of current rules?
Though it is unclear how restrictions will change in the coming months, there is nothing to stop members of the public from booking a holiday in the UK currently.
However, if you do book, it’s crucial that you check cancellation policies very carefully before you go ahead. Many accommodation providers are now offering much more flexible options given the possibility that restrictions could prevent you from going on holiday.
If you are planning to travel via public transport, you should similarly check the cancellation and refund policies on your tickets. Some types of train ticket, for instance, are non-refundable regardless of coronavirus restrictions.
Will I get my money back if the holiday is cancelled?
Your ability to get a refund on a booked holiday depends on a number of factors.
If your accommodation provider cancels your holiday, you should be entitled to a full refund from them.
If travel is illegal in law at the time you’re supposed to be going on holiday, you should also be entitled to a full refund from the provider.
Your rights are slightly less clear, however, if travel is simply advised against rather than banned in law. Your best bet in this situation is to speak to your holiday or accommodation provider to see what they can offer you.
They may, for instance, offer you the ability to re-book your holiday for dates later in the year.
You won’t always be guaranteed a refund in this situation, which is why it’s best to try and make a holiday purchase with a high degree of flexibility given restrictions are relatively unpredictable at this stage.
Money Saving Expert has some good advice on your rights in the event of coronavirus-related issues with a holiday on this page.