The holiday roadmap: where you'll (probably) be able to go this year, and when

Chris Leadbeater
·9 min read
The Maldives is a possibility for a holiday in 2021 - Getty
The Maldives is a possibility for a holiday in 2021 - Getty

Is that something emerging from the suffocating murk of lockdown? Something more substantial than the tinny sound of one of your children playing a video game while pretending to do their homework, or the repetitive echo of your footsteps around that same stretch of the park? A plan for inching back into something wonderful? Normality?

Admittedly, for now, the route out of our stasis is more cryptic, crumpled treasure map than exact military strategy. And there are enough asterisks dotted around it to create a constellation. But it is a start.

The red-letter dates are April 12, when we may be allowed to take a break in the UK, and May 17, when we may be permitted to have a holiday overseas. You have probably noted the key word in the previous sentence; the “may” that promises nothing.

Every date in the plan is conditional, weighted with the caveat “no earlier than”. Still, we have cause for optimism – and can, with a reasonable amount of hope, begin dreaming of getting away later this year.

The following feature lays out a route-map of its own, for the remaining eight months of 2021 – a tentative trail through the gradual peeling-back of restrictions. If all goes well, we could be heading back to most of the globe (or intending to do so) before 2022 has checked in. Of course, there are still issues. Rules and regulations are still manifold – and will follow a different rhythm if you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, rather than England. But, with care, we can tiptoe across the inky parchment of this treasure map, to where X marks the beach. And a fresh start in the sun.

March

Do this now

March 29 is the date for two households to be able to mix outside. This offers scope for a walk at a beauty spot. The homepage for the National Trust for Scotland currently links to a list of sites in the group’s care where grounds are open, such as Culzean Country Park in Ayrshire and Pollok House in Glasgow. National Trust gardens in England and Northern Ireland are also accessible.

Culzean Castle, Ayrshire - Getty
Culzean Castle, Ayrshire - Getty

Think ahead

April 12 is the pencilled-in date for the resumption of self-catering breaks in the UK. Demand will be huge – April 12 falls in the second week of the Easter holidays for most schools – so early booking is key. Try the likes of One Off Places, Premier Cottages or Sykes Cottages.

April

Do this now

If that “no earlier than” caveat on April 12 worries you, it may be wise to wait to and see if the date is honoured. With the schools back on April 19, the end of the month will be more viable for late bookings. Try The Quiet Site, Independent Cottages or Vrbo. The latter offers Lighthouse View Cottage in Southwold, Suffolk, for £666 in the week beginning April 24.

Picturesque Southwold - Getty
Picturesque Southwold - Getty

Think ahead

May 17 – when foreign travel may be possible again – is the most scarlet of the red-letter dates in the roadmap. Whether it is too soon for half-term (May 29 to June 6 for most) depends on many variables. However, Telegraph Travel has created its own “green list” of countries that may welcome tourists sooner rather than later. Greece, which was open last summer, and is moving fast with its vaccination programme, is one of them. Sovereign, which offers a refund guarantee for Covid-related cancellations (01293 831653), asks £3,944 for a family of four, flying from Stansted on May 29 to the La Marquise hotel on Rhodes.

May

Do this now

If the May 17 marker is upheld, but you decide to wait for certainty before booking an international getaway, you will need a destination with lots of capacity for last-minute decisions. Spain is not on the "red" list – and Mallorca has hotels galore. A seven-night half-board stay for a family of four at the four-star Fergus Club Europa in Paguera, flying from Manchester on May 29, costs £3,214 via Jet2Holidays (0800 4080778).

Consider Paguera for a May getaway - Getty
Consider Paguera for a May getaway - Getty

Think ahead

A delay to the May 17 marker will put paid to half-term abroad – but if the beach is on your mind, it may be time to plan for summer. Tui (020 3451 2688) saw a 500 per cent overnight surge in interest in Turkey, Greece and Spain after the roadmap was revealed. A one-week half-board stay for a family of four at the four-star Hotel Golden Port Salou on the Costa Dorada, flying from Gatwick on July 24, starts at £3,830.

June

Do this now

With school in session, June will be the easiest month, this side of autumn, for those unencumbered with children to visit Cornwall or Devon. Luxury Coastal (0330 1137005) serves up both, and has 12 Trinity Mews – a two-bedroom apartment by the beach in Torquay – available for the week starting June 19, from £1,120.

Torquay: the English Riviera - Getty
Torquay: the English Riviera - Getty

Think ahead

June 21 is the provisional earliest date for the lifting of all restrictions, and may give travel its full freedom. If this proves so, it will spark a booking tsunami – and if you have beach dreams, it may be worth joining the rush. Perhaps to currently non-red-listed France. A week at the four-star Grand Tonic Hotel in Biarritz, flying from Gatwick on Aug 7, starts at £1,074 per person with Travelbag (020 3813 3537).

July

Do this now

With so much pent-up travel demand, there may be merit to picking a more niche summer location. Telegraph Travel’s “green list” makes a case for Iceland, which is already allowing quarantine-free entry for returning residents with proof of vaccination (a policy that may be extended to tourists). Discover The World (01737 214250) offers a “Wonders of the South-West” fly-drive from £1,124, with flights.

Iceland is a possibility for the 'green list' this summer - Getty
Iceland is a possibility for the 'green list' this summer - Getty

Think ahead

Our “green list” also features the Seychelles. Alas, so, at present, does the Government’s “red list”. However, the Indian Ocean nation has made an impressive start to its vaccination process, opened its borders last summer, and is a realistic candidate for trips later this year. Autumn is the prime season. A week at the Six Senses Zil Pasyon resort starts at £5,500 per person, with flights – via Scott Dunn (020 3733 5870).

August

Do this now

July’s dash to the shore should have thinned a little, and the end of August – merging with shoulder-month September – should mean possibilities for getaways with minimal planning. Though go as far south as you can for certain sunshine. Crete will do. A seven-night stay at the Aeolos Apartments, near north-coast Almyrida, flying from Gatwick Airport on Aug 24, starts at £941 a head, with Sunvil (020 8568 4499).

Consider Crete for August - Getty
Consider Crete for August - Getty

Think ahead

The pressure on UK accommodation is unlikely to have eased, as those of us still nervous of overseas travel keep to home soil. This pinch-point may even be felt in the autumn school half-term, but you can get ahead while others are still on the beach. This may mean four-bedroom Riverside Farm Cottage – which is available for the week starting Oct 23 from £1,442 – through Yorkshire Hideaways (01969 600 600).

September

Do this now

Turkey – which has the weather and range of hotels to cope with an influx of late-arriving tourists – is a solid choice for those looking to get away in September. Direct flights to Turkey from the UK are currently suspended, but the country is keen to maximise the 2021 season, after seeing a 72 per cent fall in visitor numbers and a 65 per cent drop in revenue in 2020. A week’s all-inclusive stay at the five-star Gloria Serenity Resort in Belek, flying from Cardiff on Sept 9, costs £1,646 a head, via Love Holidays (020 3897 1173).

Belek in Turkey could be a bet for August - Getty
Belek in Turkey could be a bet for August - Getty

Think ahead

September is not a month for the Caribbean. Hurricane season is in full gust. However, the likes of Barbados and St Lucia opened up for British tourists last autumn, via a diligent Covid-19 testing system, and should welcome us back this year. A seven-night all-inclusive holiday to the five-star Sandals Barbados hotel, flying from Gatwick Airport on Dec 11, starts at £1,940 a head, with British Airways Holidays (0344 493 0787).

October

Do this now

The Maldives has kept its tourist industry spinning during the pandemic - its borders have been open since July to travellers with negative Covid tests. Vaccinations should further ease the process. October is a good month to visit, while the skies over the Caribbean are still cloudy. A week at the five-star Velassaru resort, flying from Heathrow on October 9, starts at £1,439 a head via Destinology (01204 684 886).

The Maldives is our pick for October - Getty
The Maldives is our pick for October - Getty

Think ahead

Ocean cruising has arguably been the travel sector worst hit by Covid; ships halting in multiple countries is impossible in such times. But the situation should be clearer by autumn. Indeed, Royal Caribbean (0344 4934005) already has eight sailings (out of Tampa) of a seven-night “Western Caribbean” cruise to Grand Cayman and Belize scheduled for the first third of 2022. From £549 a head, flights extra.

November

Do this now

November is a month for chasing the sun to child-free beaches. A week at the five-star GF Gran Costa Adeje, flying from Gatwick to Tenerife on November 13, costs from £644 per person, via easyJet Holidays (0330 365 5005).

Consider Tenerife for a late autumn escape - Getty
Consider Tenerife for a late autumn escape - Getty

Think ahead

Skiing - a sociable pursuit - has also suffered in the Covid era. The 2021-2022 season will be a game of catch-up after a season lost to the pandemic; buy some extra weeks of confidence by booking for after Christmas. A week’s Swiss escape to the Hotel Bernerhof in Wengen, flying from Newcastle on January 29, costs from £789 a head (020 8610 3123).

December

Think ahead

Australia and New Zealand have both stated an intention to stay closed for most of 2021 (although Qantas has announced the resumption of international flights from October, and progress towards reopening should be visible by December. For now, consider the likes of “Australia & New Zealand Uncovered” - a 23-day tour offered by Audley Travel (01993 662 418). From £8,125 per person, with flights.

New Zealand – a possibility by the end of the year - Getty
New Zealand – a possibility by the end of the year - Getty

Do this now

South-East Asia has also been careful. In Thailand, arrivals must complete 14 days in a quarantine facility. The year’s end may be more inviting on Phuket – where a week at the four-star Vijitt Resort, flying from Birmingham on December 4, costs from £1,347 per person, via Virgin Holidays (0344 472 9646).

Read more: The best hotels in Australia