Corona Virus important information
Travelling In The Time Of Coronavirus | Insight Guides

Travelling in the time of coronavirus

With the COVID-19 outbreak confirmed as a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020 and much of the world on lockdown, travel plans around the globe have been thrown into disarray. Here, we address some of the most pressing concerns affecting travellers today.
travelling-in-the-time-of-corona
Female traveller during the corona outbreak. Photo: Shutterstock


Since the outbreak of coronavirus in late 2019, COVID-19 has spread across the world. For travellers, it’s a particularly unsettling time. Coronavirus travel bans and lockdowns have been enforced around the globe, while holidaymakers have scrambled to return home or cancelled their trips. 

Here at Insight Guides, our priority is the safety and well being of our travellers and local travel partners. With more and more countries restricting entry and enforcing lockdowns – including a UK-wide lockdown starting on 24 March 2020 – we strongly advise that people postpone their travels until at least May (and probably beyond). Our immediate priority is that you stay safe and healthy, which means sticking to government guidelines and regulations. In the UK, this means staying inside your house except for essential trips (including work if you can't work from home, exercise and shopping for food and medicine).  

If you are booking a trip beyond May, we strongly encourage travellers to purchase insurance: the coronavirus travel situation is constantly evolving, so it’s important to be protected. If you have to travel for ‘essential’ reasons (and it isn't against government lockdown restrictions), make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance, with no COVID-19 exclusions. Travelex is one of the few insurance companies still offering compensation for disruption caused by coronavirus, including Emergency Medical/Evacuation Coverage and Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Coverage. 

Be sure to take recommended safety precautions during the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: Shutterstock

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19, caused by the coronavirus, is a flu-like disease affecting the lungs and airways. Symptoms include a new and continuous cough, and a high temperature. If you experience any of these symptoms, while you’re at home or away, you should self-isolate immediately (if not already doing so) and seek medical advice. See the NHS website for details.

What should I do if I’ve booked a trip through Insight Guides?

We are in constant communication with all of our local tour operators, and are closely monitoring the situation ‘on-the-ground’ in all the destinations we cover. If you’ve booked a trip through Insight Guides, contact your local expert or our customer support team via email or through our messaging platform. Given the current scale of coronavirus travel restrictions and lockdowns, it’s also a good idea to contact your airline and insurance provider to understand what they’ll cover if your trip doesn’t go ahead. 

Should I book a new holiday now? 

Given the severity of the coronavirus outbreak and the unpredictability of the situation going forwards, we would advise travellers to hold off booking new holidays, including through our tailor-made trips service, with travel dates between now and at least June 2020. Stay in touch with our local experts, who will be able to give you up-to-date information on the situation in your chosen destination. In the meantime, it’s worth checking the details of your existing travel insurance; if you don’t have insurance, consider booking some through Travelex.

Most people are being advised to stay at home. Photo: Shutterstock

What are the current travel restrictions?

Coronavirus travel restrictions are becoming more stringent by the day, and the situation can change quickly. At present, around one third of the world is under lockdown, including the UK, where the same came into effect on 24 March 2020. The UK's Foreign Office has urged all its residents to return to the country before it becomes unfeasible to do so. Many countries are also advising their citizens against ‘all but essential international travel’. In addition, the EU – as the ‘epicentre’ of the pandemic – has closed its borders to most outside visitors until at least mid-April 2020. In the current climate, you should only travel for essential reasons, and ensure that travelling doesn't contravene your nation's potential lockdown.

To keep abreast of the situation in specific destinations, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention is an invaluable resource. The IATA Travel Centre is also monitoring the situation country-by-country, with up-to-date information on travel restrictions. 

Mother and child wearing face masks at the airport. Photo: Shutterstock

What should I do if I have a holiday planned (not with Insight Guides)?

If you have a trip planned in the coming weeks (or months), you should be prepared to cancel your holiday. Check your travel insurance to ensure you’ll be compensated in the event. If you have to cancel your trip because your government advises against ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’, you should be covered by your insurance, but it’s best to double check your individual policy. If you travel against government advice, you will likely invalidate your insurance – not to mention possibly putting yourself outside the law.   

Flight cancellations are coming in thick and fast. Most companies are offering customers the option to change or refund their flights if these are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Useful links

UK travel advice

UK travel health advice

US travel advice

This page isn’t being updated daily. Check the NHS website for UK health advice relating to COVID-19, and follow the links above for up-to-date information.

This web page contains affiliate links; all recommendations are editorially independent.