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Coronavirus travel advice for campers

Thinking of going camping this summer? Or maybe a family glamping holiday? In the era of coronavirus it's important to plan your holiday accordingly and consider your safety before you book a trip. To help you find the information you need, we’ve put together this comprehensive travel advice for campers during 2020, so that you can plan with confidence and return to the world of camping as soon as it's safe to do so.

Our absolute priority at Cool Camping is the health of campers, campsite owners and society as a whole. It’s important that we all work together to keep everyone safe and well. We’re doing our utmost to ensure the information below is as up-to-date as possible but do refer to the UK government website if you need further guidance. This page was last updated on 22nd May 2020.

Can I go camping now?

No. Under the UK’s government guidelines all campsites are currently closed to holiday makers. While you and your household can head outdoors for your physical and mental wellbeing, you must then return to your primary home – overnight stays, including in second homes and holiday homes, are not permitted. This also extends to wild camping. You can, of course, still pitch your tent inside your home or in your garden if you have one.

When can I go camping again?

There's no definitive way of knowing right now, as measures and guidelines could change, but there are potential dates to consider.

The UK government's COVID-19 recovery strategy outlines a phased re-opening of businesses. Providing certain conditions are met, this recovery strategy projects the re-opening of some accommodation businesses in England, including campsites and caravan parks, from 4th July 2020 at the earliest.

The Scottish government has published its own route map through and out of the crisis. Provided conditions are met, this projects the re-opening of some accommodation business in Scotland from no earlier than 9th July 2020.

While there has been some divergence on policy between the home nations, devolved governments in Northern Ireland and Wales have not yet proposed possible dates for re-opening campsites in their nations. At the current time, we are only accepting bookings via Cool Camping for holidays after 4th July 2020.

I’ve booked a camping holiday before 4th July 2020, what should I do?

If you’ve already booked a stay before 4th July 2020 it is extremely unlikely you will be able to take this holiday. If you booked your holiday with a campsite directly, you should contact them for further information. If you booked your holiday with Cool Camping, your trip will need to be rescheduled. You can find out more about how to do this here.

What happens if I book a holiday for summer but then the lockdown is extended?

While it’s lovely to plan a summer holiday, we appreciate that things are still uncertain at the moment and there is a risk that holiday restrictions may be extended or reimposed. For this reason, we’ve launched our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, which ensures you only have to pay a 20% deposit when you make your reservation. The remaining balance will not be due until 10 days before your holiday starts, ensuring you know the lay of the land before you spend the full amount of money. Every campsite offering this policy is very clearly marked on our website, so you can book with total confidence. If a campsite does not offer our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, you will need to read their independent cancellation policy, which will be displayed when you start to make a booking.

What happens if I’ve booked a summer holiday but, when the time comes, I’m ill or need to self isolate?

We understand that, even when holiday travel resumes, you may still find you are unable to take your holiday due to the coronavirus – for example, if you fall ill or if a member of your household falls ill and you have to self isolate. For this reason, we launched our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, which ensures you only pay a 20% deposit when you make a reservation and the remaining balance isn’t due until 10 days before your holiday starts. If you find that you’re unable to take your holiday due to coronavirus, you’ll be able to move your holiday by up to 18 months to provide the maximum flexibility. Every campsite offering this guarantee is very clearly marked on our website, so you can book with total confidence. If a campsite does not offer our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, you will need to read their independent cancellation policy, which will be displayed when you start to make a booking.

Is it safe to go camping while Coronavirus is still in the UK?

There’s no doubt that camping is fantastic for finding space and being outdoors, making it an attractive way to go on holiday whilst practicing social distancing. Campsite owners and operators are working hard to ensure that, where any facilities are shared, everything possible is done to keep guests safe.

Many sites have reduced the number of campers they are accepting this summer, allowing for more space for all guests, and have invested in new facilities to minimise the amount of sharing. Some campsites have introduced booked time slots for using the showers, whilst many are offering contactless check in when you arrive in order to maintain social distancing. Do bear in mind, too, that some shared facilities, such as cafés or swimming pools, might not be operating in the usual way or may be closed altogether.

Where campsites have new social distancing measures in place, this has been outlined on their webpage on coolcamping.com. Just scroll down to the “Social Distancing Measures” heading on each page for more information. You can also find a collection of all campsites with social distancing measures in place here.

Ultimately, campers should follow the government’s guidance in deciding whether it is safe for them to go camping and in determining how best to practice social distancing. Currently, campsites are closed and travelling to take holidays is not permitted, so it is important you abide by these regulations.

Will I have to wear a face mask when I go camping?

It’s very unlikely. There are different rules and advice in different countries but at the moment the World Health Organization and the UK government both say that masks are not recommended for everyone to wear.

However, the UK government does want people in England to wear 'face coverings' in places where social distancing isn't possible, such as on public transport or when visiting a supermarket.

Whether or not you wear a face mask is your own decision and, at the present time, we are not aware of any campsites or caravan parks that are asking their guests to wear them as a matter of course. In enclosed spaces, such as washblocks and shared facilities, you may feel more comfortable using a mask, however there is no obligation and there are no industry-wide policies in place.

How do I know if a campsite is part of the Cool Camping Coronavirus Booking Guarantee?

Any campsite that offers our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee will be clearly marked in searches with a red tick icon. On our campsite review pages, sites with the guarantee are clearly marked with a red banner. You will also be shown the guarantee when you begin to finalise your booking details. Please note, while we recommend hundreds of campsites on coolcamping.com, not all of them offer our guarantee so do look out for these icons for our safest booking recommendations. For a comprehensive collection, you can find all of the campsites that offer the guarantee here.

Will I be able to go camping with friends or will I only be allowed to camp with members of my own household?

In all likelihood, hospitality businesses, including camping and glamping sites, will not be able to re-open until a time when people are already permitted to meet with others outside of their own households. So, if camping is permitted, then meeting with friends is likely to be as well – though this may be in very limited numbers.

The UK government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy is conditional on a number of factors and takes place in a number of stages. The re-opening of camping and glamping sites is Stage Three of this phased process in England (from 4th July at the very earliest). Before this stage is reached, earlier stages will begin allowing for some small gatherings and social engagements.

It is worth noting, however, that many campsites are limiting the number of people who can book together, in order to ensure they comply with any social distancing measures. So, if you plan to go camping with a large group of friends, this may not be possible at some campsites.

I work for the NHS and need to stay in my motorhome as I can’t be with my family. Can NHS employees stay at your campsites?

Yes, if you are unable to return home then some campsites can accommodate you. While campsites have been ordered to close, this excludes instances where someone permanently lives on the site or needs to stay there because they are unable to return home. You’ll need to contact any campsites directly, however, to ask for more information. Since we generally recommend smaller, independent campsites on coolcamping.com, many of the locations we list don’t have facilities for larger motorhomes or facilities suitable for long-term stays – we recommend contacting groups like The Caravan & Camping Club or The Caravan & Motorhome Club for more information.

If I live in England, will I be able to go camping in Wales and Scotland?

Right now camping is not permitted anywhere in the UK. While there is some divergence in policy between the different home nations, there is currently no clear guidance for when hospitality businesses will be able to open in Wales and Northern Ireland.

In England, 4th July is a mooted date, though this is conditional on many factors, and in Scotland the proposed date for reopening is 9th July. If these plans do successfully go ahead, it will mean there is a five day period where residents in England can go camping in England but may not go camping (including wild camping) in Scotland. A similar situation may apply if Northern Ireland and Wales reopen hospitality businesses at different times. Even if you are a resident from another nation, you must follow the regulations of the nation you are in.

If you book a stay with our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee then you'll be able to rearrange your holiday for free if you are unable to visit due to coronavirus regulations. This includes if you live in one nation and are unable to take your holiday in another due to restrictions. You can find out more about our guarantee here.

When will I be able to go on a camping holiday in France and Europe?

The simple answer is, we don’t know. Countries across Europe have different rules and regulations, with severe travel restrictions in some countries and more relaxed measures in others. The French government’s recovery strategy does not currently outline clear dates for when camping and glamping operators will be able to reopen for business, though it is clear, from other measures, that it will not be any earlier than 2nd June 2020.

The EU has insisted there will be a summer season this year and the European Commission has proposed a gradual lifting of travel restrictions throughout the EU. However, precise dates are still not available.

Regardless of when campsites and glamping sites reopen, however, the accessibility of foreign holidays may be limited for other reasons, such as flight capacity and quarantine restrictions. The UK government has already announced a quarantine period for all air passengers coming into the UK, though this excludes those entering from Ireland and discussions are reportedly underway to make separate arrangements with France. So, even if a campsite or glamping site is open for business, consider carefully the ease of travel to and from that country and plan your holiday accordingly.

The UK government's Foreign Travel Advice pages are the most reliable source of information regarding whether or not you should travel to other countries. In particular, their travel advice for France can be found here.

Should I buy travel insurance?

Yes. We always recommend that you have comprehensive travel insurance for any holiday you take. We recommend you take out a policy which covers you in the event of cancellation, even if you book a holiday with our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee. This will provide extra cover in circumstances where you have to cancel due to reasons not related to Coronavirus too. For foreign holidays, we recommend you take out a policy that has good medical coverage for international trips. Please contact your insurer directly if you have questions about what they cover.