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Coronavirus travel advice for campers

Thinking of going camping this spring? Or maybe a family glamping holiday? In the era of coronavirus (Covid-19) 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, 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 for further guidance.

This page was last updated on 5th January 2021.

Am I allowed to go camping in the UK at the moment?

ENGLAND: No. Camping and glamping is not currently permitted in England, following the government's announcement on 4th January. Holidays are not currently permitted in England and people are advised to stay at home except for essential purposes. More information on what you can and cannot do in England can be found here.

WALES: No. As of 20th December, Wales has moved to alert level four and all hospitality and accommodation businesses must close to holidaymakers. Further information on alert level four and what you can and cannot do can be found here.

SCOTLAND: No. Camping and glamping holidays, including wild camping, are not currently permitted in Scotland. As of 5th January, it is a legal requirement to stay at home except for essential reasons. Further information on what you can and cannot do are available here.

NORTHERN IRELAND: No. Camping and glamping holidays are not permitted in Northern Ireland at the moment. Most tourist accommodation will remain closed from 26th December for six weeks, with a review after four weeks. Accommodation can be provided for those already resident; for work-related purposes; for vulnerable people; for those in emergency situations; and people unable to return to their main address. More information can be found here.

What about wild camping?

Wild camping is not currently permitted in any part of the UK. By law, you should minimise the amount of time you spend outside your home and, while exercise is permitted, this should not include staying overnight outside of your primary residence. More information on wild camping during the pandemic can be found here.

I'm unable to go on the winter holiday I booked due to lockdown measures. What should I do?

If, due to new lockdown measures, you cannot take the holiday you planned, 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.

When will I be able to go camping again in the UK?

The simple answer is, we don't know. And it's too early to tell. Travel restrictions and stay at home policies now apply to the entire UK and going camping right now (even wild camping) is not permitted. Every nation is regularly reviewing their policies – in Wales every three weeks, in England the next review is on 15th February. Although the hope is to begin easing restrictions in England from February half term (mid February), this is an aim and not a certainty and things may still change.

However, most people thinking of camping and glamping holidays are not planning for these winter months but, instead, are thinking ahead to the late spring and summer camping season, the usual busy time in the UK. For these plans, things still look promising. Our expectation for domestic travel this summer is that camping and glamping holidays will be permitted, though group sizes may still be limited (see our question on camping with groups of friends).

The first coronavirus vaccines began being administered in the UK in December 2020 and expectations are that a combination of vaccinations and improved weather conditions will mean that, like in 2020, summer could still be a very busy time for camping holidays in the UK. To help you beat any last-minute rush, whilst still providing assurance against uncertainty, we have introduced our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, which lets you book early but maintain a degree of flexibility (see below).

What happens if I book a holiday for later this year, but, when the time comes, a lockdown prevents me from travelling?

The outlook for summer 2021 remains positive and the arrival of vaccines means that we are extremely hopeful holidaymakers in the UK will be able to go camping this summer. We appreciate, however, that there is still a degree of uncertainty and, as such, still a risk that holiday restrictions or local lockdowns may affect your plans at the last minute. 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.

View campsites with Coronavirus Booking Guarantee

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

It's uncertain what the rules will be by summer 2021, as policies continue to adapt as the pandemic develops. However, we can reflect on the rules from summer 2020 and it is likely that, in most cases, these may be the same or very similar this coming summer.

Based on those existing guidelines, you won't be expected to wear a face covering while camping, such as around your tent, around 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 will only be allowed to open if they comply with the ‘COVID-19 Secure’ guidelines published by the government in 2020. 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 put together a blog in July 2020, what are the new coronavirus guidelines? And what do they mean for campers?, though bear in mind that guidelines are regularly updated, so things may still have changed slightly by summer 2021.

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 really 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.

In summer, will I be able to go camping with a group of friends or only members of my own household?

The simple answer is, we don't know. It's extremely difficult to predict the rules and regulations that will be in place by the summer of 2021, which is, of course, the main camping season for most people. What we do know is that, so far during the coronavirus pandemic, limiting the number of social contacts we all have and the size of social gatherings has been a key part of regulations across the UK and around the world. With this in mind, when planning bookings for the short term – such as Easter and springtime – we recommend limiting your party to no more than six people in size (and, ideally, members of a single household) in order to minimise the risk of having to cancel or rearrange your holiday.

When planning further in advance, such as for summer holidays in 2021, it is also worth noting that very large group bookings, such as those of multiple households and big festival-style parties may still not be allowed. At this early stage it't not possible to say. Many campsites are limiting the number of people who can book together, in order to ensure they comply with any social distancing measures when the time comes and, though it might be possible to book lots of individual pitches to circumnavigate this, we urge people to respect campsite rules and avoid planning gatherings with lots of friends at this time. As soon as we have more information, this will be updated. Read our guidance on how to be a good camper in the coronavirus era for more suggestions and recommendations.

Will you be refunding the VAT on bookings?

From 15th July 2020, the government reduced the rate of VAT on the hospitality industry. 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?

Not right now. Travel advice in the UK is currently to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel. Campsites in France are currently closed and current restrictions mean that travelling to France will require you to self isolate for 14 days when you return to the UK.

The same applies to many countries in continental Europe, including Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Germany and many others. See the list of countries and British overseas territories that are exempt from the 14-day quarantine for exceptions.

It is not yet clear when these restrictions will change. With vaccines now being administered in the UK, the outlook for this coming summer remains positive, helped too by improved summer weather. We are currently taking bookings for summer holidays in France on coolcamping.com and many campsites choose to offer our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee to provided added security for campers.

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.