When I booked flights to Spain in late June, just as the British Government was on the cusp of lifting travel restrictions, the future looked bright; fresh sea air and the sun warm on my back.
And still now, despite this week’s spanner in the works courtesy of Boris Johnson et al, adding both a travel ban and two weeks of quarantine to the mix, I refuse to allow my spirits to be dampened.
I’m still planning on spending two weeks at my family’s property on the Costa Del Sol – the Government’s response to a possible second wave has not put me off one bit.
Admittedly it adds a layer of complexity to the trip, but in a year when coronavirus has forced us all to adapt to a new normal at home the prospect of having to adopt a new normal on holiday is not a reason to remain within the four walls of my home office. Yes I’ll be going against Government advice in the search for a well-deserved break, but it’s not illegal.
I have had to do very little in order to proceed with my travel plans since Saturday’s announcement – my flights are still taking off and I have the luxury of having a private place to stay.
All that I needed to arrange was travel insurance, as the updated Foreign Office (FCO) advice automatically voids all usual policies, book a hire car (which are now incredibly cheap) and fasten my case. Granted, the only new item I’ve had to buy for my trip is a face mask – more important than a new pair of swimming shorts this year.
Finding insurance to cover my trip, including any impact coronavirus might have, was surprisingly easy, in fact it was undoubtedly easier than trawling through the usual comparison websites (my typical process when insuring for a holiday).
I booked directly with battleface – a company that develops policies to insure people and organisations that find it difficult to obtain cover when working outside their home country or travelling to difficult places, such as reporters, humanitarian aid groups and media production teams. War zones, for example.
Since the pandemic, it has found itself catering solely for travel-at-any-cost holidaymakers like myself. “The cover on offer is equally applicable for people travelling on holiday but we did not foresee the impact and the consequential effect that the Covid-19 pandemic would have had on FCO advice to holidaymakers,” Sasha Gainullin, CEO of battleface, told me.
In recent days it has seen enquiries and booking for policies to cover Spain skyrocket. “To be clear, we are not actively encouraging people to travel to places the FCO is advising against, we are simply offering them the possibility of being covered in these countries in the event of an emergency,” she said.
In short, I’ve taken out military-style insurance for my trip to Spain. My policy covers all the usuals; baggage, personal accidents and cancellation plus coronavirus medical expenses. It was easy to purchase online, with no complicated forms, just three simple questions (where, when and how old) to apply and a very efficient online chat service to answer any questions. The only caveat is that it is not available for over 59s, but luckily I’m a good few decades away.
Insurance taken care of, my family and friends are still intrigued why I still actually want to go, with so much uncertainty in the air. My answer is simple. Having worked tirelessly since March, while my colleagues have been furloughed, I want a break – in fact my employer is encouraging me to take one as the workforce begins to return. As much as a staycation would tick some boxes, the weather in Spain (worlds apart from the drab forecast in my native Lancashire) will make it feel like summer – a bit of vitamin sea will do wonders to treat the tolls of lockdown.
By no means do I expect my trip to be jam packed with the usual frivolity of a holiday though. The crowds of Marbella old town or Puerto Banús have no appeal to me this year. However the golf course, of which there are plenty on the Costa del Golf as it is nicknamed, private pool and quiet local bars are calling my name – drowning out the constant news alerts on my phone.
The Spanish government has made it very clear that the country is open to business and I welcome that approach – I’m willing to embrace their open borders, bars, restaurants and beaches at all costs. Despite my insurance Spain isn’t a warzone, and the only protective gear I need is my face mask.
My biggest fear is not quarantining on my return home, I can work remotely and flexibility for the foreseeable and in fact might consider riding out this storm from the Mediterranean. I’m not overly concerned about catching the virus either, thanks to Spain’s impressive Covid measures and the fact I’ll be spending much of my break in unintentional self isolation. What I do worry about is lockdown in Spain, but I’d hope we’d be given notice. In March the country entered one of the most draconian lockdowns in the world – it would be a culture shock to go from Boris Johnson’s approach to enforcing rules to those of the Spanish authorities, where leaving the house even for exercise was banned for weeks.
But as I pack my suitcase that’s my only concern, the world is reopening and no amount of Government advice will stop me from checking into the new normal of holidays.