Hassle-free ways to book safe last-minute bargains to the sun

Hassle-free ways to book safe last-minute bargains to the sun, from a £19 flight to Milan to a £48 deal to Venice

  • There are lots of last-minute deals, but it’s important to pick a hassle-free spot
  • Check you won’t have to quarantine for 14 days after returning home 
  • Find out if different restrictions apply to England, Scotland, Wales and NI

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at an important holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: Safe ways to book last-minute breaks to the sun.

Ever-changing quarantine and ‘travel corridor’ rules mean it has been tricky to make travel plans this autumn. But if you’re happy to hop on a plane within days of making a booking, then last-minute bargains abound.

Book today and you could be in Milan on Saturday for a two-night Italian mini-break. The fare? It starts at a rock-bottom £19 return with Wizz Air from Luton Airport.

Get going: Enjoy hassle-free – and safe – trips to Venice. Ryanair has return flights from £48

Prefer to spend next weekend sitting in St Mark’s Square or strolling alongside the canals of a half-empty Venice? Ryanair has return flights from £48.

And while this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich has been cancelled due to coronavirus, you can still grab a (socially-distanced) stein of beer in the city next weekend after taking British Airways flights from £89 return – with dozens of hotels offering rooms from £50 a night.

Package holidays can also be picked up for a song. If you’re able to fly out next Saturday, then onthebeach.com has seven-night self-catering breaks on the Turkish Riviera from as little as £240 per person.

Airports and airlines are working hard to reassure nervous travellers that it’s safe to fly – British Airways gives each passenger hand sanitiser as they climb aboard.

Face coverings are compulsory both on the ground and in the air, while tourist sites across Europe now have one-way systems, staff behind plastic screens and reduced guest numbers. 

The only challenge for a last-minute mini-break is to pick a hassle-free destination. Here’s how.

Package holidays can be picked up for a song. Onthebeach.com has seven-night self-catering breaks on the Turkish Riviera (Bodrum, a city in the region, pictured) from £240 per person

ONE: Check you won’t have to quarantine for 14 days after returning home. The latest list of quarantine-free countries is published at gov.uk under ‘Travel Corridors’.

The plan is for the list to be updated every Thursday, though it can be changed at any time. At the moment there’s no place on it for tourist favourites such as France, Spain or Portugal. However, Italy, Turkey, Germany and some Nordic countries are on the list and are fantastic alternatives.

TWO: Find out if different restrictions apply to residents of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Start on the Travel Corridor list, click on the ‘Coronavirus’ section of the country you hope to visit and scroll down to the information on ‘Returning to the UK’. For example, Scots must self-isolate after returning from Athens, while Welsh residents must quarantine after visiting the Greek island of Paros.

THREE: Be ready for pre-departure complications by going back to the Travel Corridor list and clicking on ‘Entry Requirements’ for your chosen country. Cyprus, for example, says UK travellers must produce a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours of arrival. 

Similar negative Covid-19 tests are now required for Madeira, though you can take a test on arrival and self-quarantine in your hotel for 12 hours until your result comes through. (NHS tests are for people with symptoms, not holidaymakers, so you’ll probably have to find a postal test from a private provider (and pay about £150 for the service).

Countries such as Greece ask travellers to complete Passenger Locator Forms online at least 24 hours before arrival. Those who forget may be denied entry. So keep an eye on gov.uk and don’t ignore emails from your airline or travel company, as they may contain updated information.

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