My pre-holiday diary from hell

July 17

A blow nobody was expecting hit – the Government announced that France was to be added to a new ‘amber plus’ list, forcing all travellers, including those who are immunised, into isolation on their arrival in the UK, due to concerns over the Beta variant, from July 19. 

Was the Government trying to punish both holidaymakers, and travel journalists working the weekend shift? How dare we hope that foreign holidays would be able to take off this summer? I began to feel foolish for even thinking it was possible. 

July 19

As the UK celebrated Freedom Day, I found myself searching for the definition of ‘holiday’– the result from the Cambridge Dictionary: a time when someone does not go to work or school but is free to do what they want, such as travel or relax. 

Relax? I should be so lucky. 

Instead, as the claxon sounded for the start of double-jabbed travel, I realised I’d most probably be spending my week in the sun constantly checking the news, reading case reports and refreshing Grant Shapps’ Twitter feed – would it feel like a holiday? No, it sounds worryingly like a normal day at my desk.

July 20

I woke up feeling sick with nerves, worried about what other bad news the morning’s headlines would bring. I was greeted by further reports that Spain would be next in line to be added to the ‘amber plus’ list,  as cases of the Beta variant surge. The million dollar question: when? 

My mind raced through every possible scenario: ‘What if we hold out we might get lucky?’ ‘What if we rearrange then find out we could have gone?’ ‘What if we go and the rules change while we’re there’ ‘What if the rules change before we go, but we’ve missed the deadline to change our flights?’ 

Booking a holiday in 2021 requires nerves of steel and I started to realise I’m just not cut out for it. I spent my lunch break in a hunch of panic and despair. Dan, seeing my anxiety, even suggested he might be able to isolate – but in reality that’s not worth the burden on his newly reopened business

Should we look to change our destination? I scoured the Government’s advice pages and realised we have the entire green and amber list to choose from, but we need to find a destination where there’s  a low risk of ‘amber plus’ status or closed borders.

“Could Malta be an option?” I asked my scramble brain. It’s green, it’s open to vaccinated travellers and it wouldn’t cost us to change our flights – but we’d have to move quickly, we have less than 48 hours to make the most of Ryanair’s ‘zero flight change fee’ promotion.

With the clock ticking considering the hassle of switching to a totally different holiday, to a destination I’ve never visited before, is totally out of character. The admin race would begin again – contacting insurers to check we’re still covered, test providers to make sure they’re still valid and hunting for an Airbnb or hotel with a flexible cancellation policy, all whilst trying to explain to my dog sitter that our holiday plans are changing again – is it worth the headache? 

At this rate, a stay at the local pampered-pooch kennels, with three meals a day, plenty of exercise and a spa treatment looks inviting.

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