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The best websites to help with safe travel planning in 2021

The best websites to help with your travel planning
The best websites to help with your travel planning   -   Copyright  Getty via Canva
By Shannon McDonagh

Most of us have gone over a year now without some form of travel to aspire towards or indulge in. The constantly changing international restrictions - and ongoing risk of COVID - has meant people have been staying at home more than ever.

With recent changes like the vaccine roll-out and the possibility of vaccine passports, people are now looking into their options as the world gradually becomes a safer place. For many that will be staycationing in some capacity - but for others, it means keenly looking further afield.

It has never been more important to be prepared, so we have come up with the best websites and resources to help you plan a trip worth waiting for.

Staying up to date on vaccinations

Visiting somewhere that has COVID under control is a priority for a lot of people. Many countries now have a growing and successful vaccination plan, and there are ample resources out there to assist you in deciding where you’ll feel most comfortable.

A number of organisations are running detailed graphics on each country’s vaccination process. It’s a useful insight for those with more flexible aspirations when it comes to your first holiday in over a year.

We like the Financial Times’ league table that covers 128 countries and what proportion of their population are vaccinated. For a more comprehensive outlook, Our World In Data offers daily updates on a number of different aspects - you can arrange the data as you see fit to plan for your next trip in the safest way possible.

Getty via Canva
Staying up to date with vaccination news is important when travellingGetty via Canva

Checking travel restrictions by destination

Understanding where each country stands with travel restrictions might seem like a minefield, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out our constantly updated guidance here.

This colour-coded map categorises each nation as having total, partial, or zero travel restrictions and is always up to date. It includes clear guidance for each place too, including guidance for travelling in and out of each country, domestic travel, any potential sightseeing closures, quarantine, and what to do if you’re travelling in a group.

Another map by The International Air Transport Association (IATA) usefully lays our travel regulations all over the world at present.

Unlocked Travel is a great new travel site allowing travellers to quickly find the up-to-date information on travel restrictions from and to any country in the world too. Users can check whether travel is permitted between any two global locations, find out the restrictions within their chosen destination including quarantine requirements, plus whether public transport, restaurants and bars are open.

Europe is now sharing its intentions to ease restrictions and introduce vaccine passports. At present, the following countries will allow entry with proof of vaccination: Greece, Poland, the Seychelles, Iceland, Cyprus and Estonia.

Figuring out your transport

When it comes to the actual in-transit part of your trip, different people are going to be happy with different things as we await the news of vaccinations and lifted restrictions.

For those keen to get back in the sky, ExpertFlyer is now offering a five day free trial of their premium service that finds the best discounts, checking data from hundreds of airlines.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is trialling a travel pass on several leading airlines in order to streamline the process for everyone, too.

Some might consider flying to be more of a risk - so why not merge your transport and accommodation together with a campervan?

IndieCampers are no stranger to 5-star reviews, offering rentals at over 40 locations across Europe.

The site makes excellent recommendations when it comes to where you start and end your holiday. Their vehicles are stylish, able to accommodate various group sizes, and often include 100km of petrol a day in the price. It also provides you with the perfect setup to self-cater.

Ian Usher / Unsplash
Campervan holidays are forecast to be a popular choiceIan Usher / Unsplash

Where to stay

A rental home is a great way to experience a change of scene. They can accommodate large groups more so than hotels and you can choose to venture beyond the confines of your home on your terms.

Airbnb isn’t always a hallmark of homestay quality, with prices inflated post-pandemic to make up for lost time. To ensure you get your money’s worth, we suggest taking a look at Plum Guide for the best of Europe’s rental homes. Originally conceived in London, the site has a growing portfolio of amazing destinations at a variety of price points.

They personally inspect each applicant to guarantee maximum quality and pride themselves on being upfront about the pros and cons of each location. From gorgeous Parisian wooden beamed apartments to bold and modern spaces in central Madrid, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

Alternatively, we’re also huge fans of Vrbo’s customisable approach to short term holidays. They have entire sections on their site dedicated to beaches, cottages, cabins - even barns get a look in.

Getting insured

The less exciting, but no less crucial part. Thankfully, most travel companies have been incredibly flexible in response to the pandemic, but that might not last. Be sure to read the fine print on whatever policy you sign up to, as some are starting to include disclaimers that do not cover cancellations due to 'known events'.

COVID has done everything in its power to make itself very known over the past year, so be careful! We recommend using insurance comparison sites such as CompareTheMarket and MoneySavingExpert, which both offer transparent advice to consumers.