What are the holiday plans for expats for this autumn half-term break?

Published 2020-10-10 10:31:07
Designed by senivpetro / Freepik

With many countries taking precautions as they fear a second wave of Covid-19, most plans for the coming school half-term are likely to be disrupted. You could opt to stay at home and there are many activities you can organise to keep the kids happy. However, if you choose to travel, and even though you follow all coronavirus safety precautions, it may still have an impact when you come back home.

Covid-19 has placed great uncertainty on many expat families' half term school holiday plans. With almost every country changing their travel restrictions, quarantine rules, etc. in response to a very fluid situation, a lot of expats are confused about their autumn half term plans.

Many expat families use this break to visit family back home or take a much-needed holiday. Therefore, it is wise to keep in mind that, as some countries are warning about a second wave of coronavirus infections as they head into winter, this half term break may be very different from the previous ones.

So, what is the best course of action with the kids' half term school holidays looming and the world in travel turmoil?

Staycation: What can you do at home?

Staying home would be the safest option, if it is possible for your family to remain in your adopted country. For some parents, having to work from home while staying at home, and keeping the kids occupied away from crowds may be challenging but it will eliminate any added risks to contracting the coronavirus while travelling.

If you're lucky enough to have a house with outdoor space, try some backyard games to increase kids' physical activity and add some novel ways to burn off excess energy. Perhaps you can pitch a tent and have a backyard camping trip. Or you could set up a backyard movie theatre and enjoy all your favourite movies with all the snacks you can eat.

If the weather permits, host some backyard family barbecues. The novelty of eating outdoors will add to the excitement of the meal.

When you have to stay inside, dust off those board games and get those competitive muscles working.

While keeping safe social distancing, you could explore your town's hiking trails and local museums. View your town or city through new eyes and appreciate all the local attractions.

Take a local road trip and enjoy the scenery.  There may be many roadside attractions for some selfies.

Make use of online resources for some excitement. There are many websites that offer virtual tours to museums, some host exercise or dance classes on the Internet, others have live cooking classes for you to try new recipes. The list is endless so use your imagination to energise the kids.

Finding creative ways to keep the kids occupied during a staycation will also allow you to spend some quality time with them to foster stronger bonds.

	Little girl drawing, coloring - Freepik

If you have to travel

In some cases, you will prefer to travel either because you will leave the kids with their grandparents for example, or because staying in your everyday space is not convenient. In that case, below are some tips to keep the family safe:

  • Ensure you keep up to date with the rules of the destination country. Even within countries there are pockets of local lockdowns and curfews. Remember that rules can change overnight so be prepared to change your plans quickly.
  • Book your travel and accommodation in advance and keep confirming that details of your booking haven’t changed, even up to the last minute.
    Covid-19 has impacted many hotels, trains and airlines who have to constantly cancel or change bookings based on the maximum capacity of travellers they can accommodate at any one time.
    By now most businesses have added the pandemic clause to their contracts to protect them from cancellations and refunds. So, ensure you read all the fine print when you make a booking in case it gets cancelled.
  • Do your homework! Many cities have now embraced a cash-less system. Many places like restaurants, parks, etc may only accept credit and debit cards.

Apply the safety measures while travelling

The more exposure to the outside world, the more risk you get to contracting Covid-19. Therefore, you should make sure that you are covered by travel insurance (and double check that it covers the Covid-19 risks). You should also consider your options in case you contract the coronavirus disease while on holiday.

Don’t forget the safety precautions:

  • Keep a good supply of masks, gloves and hand sanitisers in your bags. Remember to keep some in your hand luggage, as well.
  • Mask-wearing is not mandatory in all places. However, you should wear a mask to decrease the likelihood of contacting the virus (and spreading to others in case you become contagious). Encourage the kids to do as well. There are many kid-friendly options available and kids learn by example. If you wear your mask, then so will they. For younger children there are plastic visors that can be worn on the head and they shield the face.
  • Continue to social distance from others when in a group of people that are not from your family bubble. Maintain the 1.5-2 metre distance from others to keep your family safe. If you're meeting up with elderly relatives, be mindful that you may be a risk to them and will have to follow the rules stringently to keep them safe.
  • Keep washing your hands as often as possible and where this is not possible, use hand sanitiser often.
  • Remind kids not to touch surfaces unnecessarily. Clean their hands regularly especially since younger kids tend to touch their mouth and eyes so often.
  • If any one of your party feels ill during the holiday, stay home to recover.
  • If you have to be tested for Covid-19 at your holiday destination, ensure you are familiar with the protocols, so you are prepared.

When the holiday is over and you return to your adopted country, be sure to know what the latest rules are with regard to testing, quarantine and self-isolation.
Will the kids be able to go straight back to school or will they have to stay at home to quarantine? In case of self-isolation, what are the consequences for them in terms of home-schooling? Will you have to make work arrangements?

Here are brief guidelines for some countries

  • UK: People entering the UK from almost all countries are required to quarantine for the required 14 days.
  • Italy and EU in general: if travelling from England to Italy you don’t have to quarantine provided you test negative when entering or on arrival into Italy. For the rest of Europe, rules vary widely so double check for the specific country you wish to travel to [see our previous article on rules in Europe].
  • UAE: residents returning to Dubai require an entry permit, a valid negative Covid-19 test before boarding the plane and on arrival, download the COVID-19 DXB Smart App and no quarantine required if they tested negative at the airport.
  • US: they have a list of countries that are prohibited from entering the US.

Keep in mind that these guidelines are constantly being amended in response to infection rates in each country so be sure to double check!

Remember when you travel on holiday with good coronavirus-safety habits you make your school holiday less risky for everyone and can enjoy a healthy and fun time.

Participate to the discussion and leave comments in our forum HERE.

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Author: KashGo
Expat Mum in the Desert...

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