Thinking of going camping this autumn? 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 19th October 2020.
Am I allowed to go camping in the UK at the moment?
Camping is allowed in England and Scotland, but not in Northern Ireland and, though it is allowed in Wales right now, this will cease from this Friday until Monday 9th November. Even within England and Scotland, however, the rules do vary in different areas, so it's important that you check the government's Local COVID Alert Levels both for the area in which you live and the area you plan to visit. If you live in a Very High Risk area (tier three), for example, then you are not allowed to stay overnight in other parts of the UK (see our outline below).
What do the different Covid tiers mean for travel in the UK?
Advice and restrictions differ across various UK regions in line with the Local COVID Alert Level. In England, you can check local restrictions with the Government’s postcode checker and we have outlined a few of the critical points for travel below. There are different restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We would advise checking these before making a booking.
Tier One (Medium Risk):
- You can travel anywhere in the UK, apart from to tier three zones.
- You can socialise with other households indoors and outdoors in groups of up to six (provided you practice social distancing).
- Pubs and restaurants will be closed by 10pm.
Tier Two (High Risk):
- You can travel anywhere in the UK apart from tier three zones and Wales.
- You can only travel and socialise indoors with members of your own household. You can socialise outdoors with other members of other households so long as there are no more than six people and you continue to practice social distancing.
- Travel out of your tier two area should be reduced where possible.
- Pubs and restaurants will be closed by 10pm.
Tier Three (Very High Risk):
- You should avoid leaving the tier three zone and you must only socialise with members of your own household.
- You should avoid overnight stays in other parts of the UK, including camping and wild camping.
- Pubs and bars that do not serve food will be closed at all times, while those serving food will be closed by 10pm.
I'm unable to go on the holiday I booked due to local lockdown measures. What should I do?
If, due to local lockdown measures, you cannot take the holiday you planned (such as having to leave a tier three zone or travelling to Wales), then you will need to contact the campsite in order to rearrange your booking. Their contact details are provided in your booking confirmation email. If you booked with our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee you will be able to re-book your stay up until the end of 2021. If you did not book with our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, you should check the cancellation terms under which you booked (these will be displayed in your booking confirmation email) and discuss your arrangements with the campsite directly.
What happens if I book a holiday now but, later, a local lockdown prevents me from travelling?
While it’s lovely to plan a holiday, we appreciate that things are still uncertain at the moment and there is a still a risk that holiday restrictions or local lockdowns may affect your plans at the last minure. For this reason, we offer our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, which ensures you only have to pay a 30% deposit when you make your reservation. The remaining balance will not be due until 30 days before your holiday starts, ensuring you know the lay of the land before you spend the full amount of money. Every campsite and glamping site 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 camping holiday but, when the time comes, I’m ill or need to self isolate?
We understand that, even after a holiday is booked in good faith, 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 offer our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, which ensures you only pay a 30% deposit when you make a reservation and the remaining balance isn’t due until 30 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 until the end of 2021 to provide the maximum flexibility. Every campsite and glamping site 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.
How do I know if a campsite is part of the Cool Camping Coronavirus Booking Guarantee?
Any campsite or glamping site 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.
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.
At one of the regular Downing Street press briefings earlier this year, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said “it is absolutely a biological truism that outdoor environments are much less [of a] risk than indoor environments.”
Across the country, campsite owners and operators are working hard to ensure that, where any facilities are shared, everything possible is done to keep guests safe and operating in a Covid secure way is now a legal requirement. See the answer to our question, ‘what safety measures do campsites have in place?’ for more detailed information.
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. In particular, it is important to check the government's Local COVID Alert Levels both for the area in which you live and the area you plan to visit in order to check that your holiday can still go ahead.
Will I have to wear a face mask when I go camping?
Yes and no. You won't be expected to wear a face covering while camping, such as around your tent, the campfire or outdoors for example. But you should wear a face covering in indoor settings and in circumstances where it is difficult to easily social distance from others. This means that you should wear a face covering when inside washblock buildings, campsite shops, reception buildings and indoor communal areas. While outdoors, face coverings are not mandatory but if you find yourself in a situation where social distancing is difficult, we do recommend wearing one. It's also worth keeping a face covering in your pocket when leaving the campsite and heading out to explore – you never know if you'll want to pop into a shop or café to buy something.
Most campsites now sell face coverings and pocket-sized hand gels on site but it's worth bringing your own with you to be confident you'll have one to hand right from the off. Campsites have many other safety measures in place too (see below).
What safety measures do campsites have in place?
Campsites in the UK are only allowed to open if they comply with the ‘COVID-19 Secure’ guidelines published by the government. These have been published in all nations, including in England and comprehensive Tourism and Hospitality Guidance in Scotland, to which businesses should adhere.
To help you find out what these measures mean for you, we've put together our blog: What are the new coronavirus guidelines? And what do they mean for campers?
Even before these ‘COVID-19 Secure’ guidelines were released, many campsite owners were already looking at existing social-distancing and cleaning advice and working hard to prepare, so measures have been months in the making. Many campsites, for example, reduced the number of campers they accepted this summer, allowing for more space for all guests, and 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 when booking a holiday, too, that some shared facilities, such as cafés or swimming pools, might not be operating in the usual way or may be closed altogether. You can find a collection of campsites with specific social distancing measures in place here.
Am I able to go camping with a group of friends or only members of my own household?
There are different regulations in different parts of the UK, which can make things confusing. For this reason, it is important to check the government's Local COVID Alert Levels both for the area in which you live and the area you plan to visit in order to check who you can spend time with while on your holiday. We also have a brief summary of key points on this page in answer to the question What do the different Covid tiers mean for travel in the UK?
When planning in advance for holidays in 2021, it is also worth noting that very large group bookings of multiple households and big gatherings are unlikely to be allowed for a considerable time (on 22nd October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested it could be a further six months until the 'rule of six' changes). Many campsites are limiting the number of people who can book together, in order to ensure they comply with any social distancing measures and, though it might be possible to book lots of individual pitches to circumnavigate the rules, we urge people to respect the law and avoid gathering with lots of friends. Read our guidance on how to be a good camper in the coronavirus era and postpone your group holiday to later next year.
Will you be refunding the VAT on this summer's UK bookings?
At Cool Camping we recommend hundreds of independent camping and glamping sites, but each determine their own prices and discounts, as well as their refund policies. Any refunds given should be issued by the campsite. Many of the small, independent campsites we represent do not meet the threshold for VAT and are therefore not VAT registered. As a result, most bookings on coolcamping.com will not have had VAT added. For further information, you can read our full statement on VAT refunds here.
Can I go camping in France and Europe?
Yes, campsites in France have been open for a while but new quarantine restrictions do mean that travelling to France will require you to self isolate for 14 days when you return to the UK.
On 10th July, the UK government announced a list of countries and British overseas territories that would be exempt from the 14-day quarantine in England but some countries, notably France, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Portugal have been removed from the list. As a result, travellers to France will now have to quarantine for 14 days on their return to the UK (as of Saturday 15th August).
It is worth noting, therefore, that all travel plans are potentially open to disruption and you should bear this in mind when booking your holidays. Although the quarantine period has been introduced in France, this will not stop you from taking (and enjoying!) your holiday abroad (campsites will remain open for business) but it does mean you will have to self-isolate when you return to the UK, which may effect your work or daily life, so be sure to consider this when booking your trip.
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.