Official UK partner to the Paradors, Pousadas, Pestana Hotels & Resorts, Les Collectionneurs (Chateaux), and European Hotels Collection. Keytours International, formerly Keytel International, your agent in the UK.

The thrill of being abroad again, are these really testing times?

Gary, our director, shares his experience of travelling to and from France when the country was on an ‘amber plus’ list. Find out more about what you can expect when you travel and why he has absolutely no regrets about his choice to travel this summer.

Having just come back from France on a family holiday and undergone 5 days of testing and self-isolation, I have found it useful to have a clear personal experience of travelling to an amber ‘plus’ destination, (immediately before it was relaxed to an amber destination with less stringent rules to follow!).

As we are starting to see new demand for holiday bookings coming in, it is very comforting at last to see that people are keen to rediscover the pleasure of an overseas holiday experience again, the feeling of doing something unusual in a different location with a more diverse range of foods and wines, unfamiliar and attractive landscapes and a more relaxed approach to life.

I must admit I did not enjoy having to undergo the three necessary tests upon my return to Britain especially because almost immediately the rules were relaxed and suddenly only one test was required shortly after. And, frankly, I found the declaration to enter France and depart from France to be a silly bureaucratic hurdle. However the test process and paperwork only took concentration and a little effort for a short while. It wasn’t excessively demanding but I almost baulked at the cost of the excessive number of tests required at that time.  Thankfully, the number of tests has been reduced now to one (both for France, Spain and Portugal) making the cost more palatable.

Given the chance of dipping my toes in a warm swimming pool and and enjoying delicious bistro food with the wonderful Gallic nonchalance that French waiting staff often exude, I have to say that it was a remarkably enjoyable experience to be abroad again. My family seemed to barely notice the difference after 2 years but children have short memories about these experiences. For us grown ups, often the most humdrum new experiences are taking on a particularly heightened sense of enjoyment after 18 months of lockdown and the “same old”.

Some clients are in two minds as to whether they want to fill out paperwork and pay for tests. I can understand that. Some clients are keen to take on the modest challenge of setting up tests, completing passenger locator forms, and enjoying the pleasure of travelling southwards again to somewhere hotter to be able to explore and sit out on a warm evening.

From my experience I have no regrets about 5 days of quarantine, (when else was I going to get all the long-overdue decoration done at home?) And I certainly took great pleasure from being able to relax abroad and soak up a different ambience.

Is it time to travel now? Well the infection rates on the continent are lower than in the UK with the measures being relaxed here as well as abroad. We are seeing frustrated British people starting to relent and book a trip away. Some will enjoy a warmer late summer break and head into winter feeling fortified by that experience. Some have the enjoyment of a holiday next spring or summer to focus on.

If you are in two minds, why not make a provisional plan for next year to give yourself something inspiring on the horizon to enjoy, with no risk of financial loss for now? Almost all all our reservations can be cancelled without charge until 14 days prior to arrival, giving you increased flexibility with no financial risk to you. Why not call us to see what flexibility you can enjoy?

And if you really need to get away from it all sooner, you won’t be alone, and we can help you make it easy enough to achieve?

These are testing times (in both senses of the words), but we are told that this is what we are going to have to get used to and eventually much of the bureaucracy and additional expense will be done away with. For now we have to pay for some tests in exchange for the privilege of travelling off our island but hopefully the upside of travelling abroad is well worth a little paperwork and the ignominy of having a cotton bud inserted into the throat and nasal cavities? It makes my eyes water just mentioning that, but a bit like learning to wash up for the first time, it gives no pleasure but it quickly becomes second nature. Or do the hardy travellers who are heading off now, just have bucket loads of gumption?

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