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How to plan a multi-country holiday during COVID-19

We know that travel is especially difficult right now. But alongside the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates, we want to continue to inspire you with new travel content so that when the world opens its doors again, you'll be ready.

Many of us haven’t managed to get away as much as we’d have liked in 2020, so if you’re planning a post-lockdown adventure, it makes total sense to want to maximize your time on the road. A multi-country holiday offers the perfect opportunity to make up for this summer’s lack of adventure, and tick a few places off your list in one go.

A multi-destination trip can also give great insight into local life. For example, you can travel to the Croatian capital, Dubrovnik, for beautiful 16th-century architecture, and then hop across the border into Slovenia to visit stunning Lake Bled.

Other benefits of a multi-country holiday? It can save time and be far more cost-effective than taking three separate trips. For example, if travelers from the US can take a flight to Aruba and then island-hop to the Dominican Republic (which are both open but have quarantine or negative COVID test requirements), they can make the most of their time instead of flying back to the continental United States between trips.

clear water and strand of beach

Planning a multi-country holiday

Wherever in the world, you’re planning on going, there’s a tick list of things to bear in mind. Read on, and visit our dedicated multi-city flights bookings page to learn how to use Skyscanner to book multi-country holidays.

1. What are the COVID-19 travel restrictions in each destination?

During the coronavirus pandemic, travel is a bit more complicated than usual. Some destinations require all US entrants to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival, like Ireland. Others, like Brazil, require proof of travel insurance with complete coverage from each visitor. Some countries, including Ecuador and Egypt, require arrivals to present a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19. At some borders, like on arrival in Mexico, everyone is subject to a temperature check. And many countries, like Australia and New Zealand, are generally closed to all arrivals except for residents. Flights are still disrupted globally and some countries, like India, have suspended almost all international inbound and outbound flights.

Before planning your trip, consult our regularly updated map of global travel restrictions for an easy-to-digest glance at which countries are open for business. Then, check with each country’s own government and local embassy pages for up-to-date news on entry requirements – there, you’ll be able to check whether quarantine on arrival is in place, and what documentation you might require upon arrival.

2. Do I need a visa for a multi-country holiday?

One of the most important considerations for a multi-country holiday, regardless of coronavirus, is whether or not you need a visa in each destination you go to. A quick way to check is via the website iVisa.com, which also provides a secure, visa application service.

Make sure all your visa documentation is in order before you depart, and bear in mind that any last-minute travel changes – for example, if COVID-19 travel restrictions change and you have to take a different route – might result in a new visa requirement.

If you’re one of the 26 countries in the Schengen Area, you don’t need a visa to visit other countries within that zone, but individual countries’ coronavirus restrictions will apply. However, US citizens are not so lucky and you might be wondering when you can travel to Europe again. Although Europe is not open to Americans technically, there are a few exceptions such as Croatia, Slovenia, Ireland and the UK (with quarantine restrictions).

3. Do I need to quarantine on arrival, or when I get home?

This entirely depends on your departure and arrival destinations. Keep an eye on government websites like the U.S. Department of State for entry requirements. Bear in mind that if you decide to cross borders on a road trip during your multi-country holiday, your chosen route might affect the quarantine rules. Additionally, you may not need to isolate arriving in one country — such as Belarus — but you will need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival back in the US.

road in the middle of a green space

Tips to reduce risk on your multi-country holiday

1. Be flexible and informed

Bookmark each destination’s government pages to check the restrictions for the countries you’re planning to visit, so you can check in regularly before your departure date. Bear in mind that travelling in the era of COVID-19 requires more flexibility than you may be used to. You might need to change your plans quickly if travel restrictions change, so always keep an eye on the relevant embassy and government information pages.

2. Invest in complete coverage travel insurance for a multi-country holiday

The only way to protect your multi-country holiday money from unexpected changes is to invest in complete coverage travel insurance. Check official insurance websites for policy changes due to coronavirus, as certain existing policies may now have stricter cut-off dates in which you can claim compensation for a canceled trip. Talk to your insurer, study policy fine prints, and consult our complete guide to flight travel insurance. Bear in mind that it can be difficult to be covered by travel insurance if you fly somewhere against your government’s advice.

As a travel incentive, some airlines are offering free COVID-19 insurance cover. For example, Emirates has a free global coronavirus coverage that’s valid for 31 days from the time that you take your first flight.

3. If you’re on a multi-destination road trip, take precautions every time you stop

This includes wearing a mask (especially in countries where masks are mandatory in public), paired with frequent hand washing, and using hand sanitizer whenever a sink is not available. Check the World Health Organisation (WHO) website for tips on hygienic best practices when traveling – and our own guide to taking a safe road trip during COVID-19.

girl hanging outside the window

4. Book hotels with free cancellation

This summer, many travelers were caught out by last-minute changes in government travel policies. Inconvenient as it is, this is an occupational hazard for travel during coronavirus. To protect yourself financially in case this happens, book hotels that have free cancellation as an option.

We’ve compiled a list of hotels in the US that offer free cancellation and there are others internationally – including the romantic Minsk Marriott Hotel in Minsk, Belarus; family-friendly Sheraton Santo Domingo; and the design-centric Market Street Hotel in Edinburgh, UK.

If your hotel booking is cancelled, read our guide on what to do next.

5. Book free cancellation throughout your multi-country holiday

For the same reasons as above, it’s imperative to book car hire with free cancellation when taking a multi-country road trip during coronavirus.

If you book a package multi-destination holiday, it might be easier to claim a refund if circumstances change. If you book flights plus car rental or a hotel via the same booking agent, they may have a free cancellation policy. It’s important to check this with your agent or package provider if they offer this.

6. Research a back-up plan

Multi-country holidays during coronavirus must be flexible, in case travel restrictions change while you’re away. For example, you might want to travel from Albania to Serbia, but you’d have to drive through Kosovo which is open to US travelers under a Level 4 Health Advisory – Do Not Travel by the State Department. Instead, consider changing your route to fly instead of drive. Ideally, you can book flexible car rentals, hotels, and flights, so you can cancel or rearrange plans as needed.

road through the redwoods

Multi-country holiday FAQs

1. What if I’m driving through a country with travel restriction but I’m not going on holiday there?

If you do this, bear in mind that as soon as you step outside of the car, you have to abide by the restrictions in place. For example, (while this is not as common for US visitors at the moment) British road trippers in Germany or Italy can’t exit the car in France on the way home, without incurring the mandatory 14-day self-isolation rule when they get back to the UK. Whenever possible, it’s best to avoid this situation, perhaps by flying and then hiring a car on arrival. Opt for flexible booking policies where you can.

2. What if my multi-stop flight has a stopover in a country with restrictions but I don’t leave the airport?

Each country and airport has its own transit rules, which vary for travelers according to where they’re coming from. For example, travelers from these destinations are allowed to transit through Singapore Changi Airport, but only residents are allowed to enter Singapore itself, who will also be issued a 14-day Stay at Home Notice (SNH). Research the guidelines for every airport you’re traveling through, as well as its country’s government advice, and keep those pages bookmarked so you can check for changes while you’re away.

3. What if the travel advice for a country changes while I’m there?

If your government travel advice changes to negative advice for a country that you’re already in, your travel insurance should cover you until you return home. You don’t necessarily have to come home early, as long as you follow the advice of the local public health authorities – but of course, if an impending quarantine measure will affect your ability to work or take your children to school, then you’ll probably want to get home in advance of the new policy.

On multi-country holidays, new travel restrictions might mean it’s time to head to your next destination early – meaning that it’ll be a huge help if you’ve got flexible hotel, train, flight, and car rental bookings. Get in touch with your holiday provider, rental company, or hotel booking platform to make the necessary changes.

4. What if the travel advice for a country changes to negative travel advice before I’m supposed to leave?

If you travel somewhere against your government’s advice, it will most likely invalidate your travel insurance – and if you go and get sick, you could incur some serious fees in medical bills. On multi-country holidays, swap out the affected destination for a back-up, and avoid it entirely.

red train at the station

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