Thinking of going camping this summer? 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 you're confident 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 26th April 2021.
When do campsites in the UK reopen?
As of 12th April, many campsites in the UK are now permitted to open for bookings by single households (or support bubbles). Self-contained holiday accommodation is now open. So, too, are campsites, provided that the only shared facilities used by guests at the campsite or caravan park are washing facilities, toilets, water points and waste disposal points. While shared public toilets can open since 12 April, showers must be either private or reserved by each household and then cleaned. More information can be found here.
From 17th May, remaining holiday accommodation can reopen, including things like on-site cafés, bars and restaurants. However, bear in mind that, at this stage, wider limits on social contact still exist (e.g. limited to a group of six people or two households indoors; or in a group of no more than 30 people outdoors).
It is not until 21st June, at the earliest, that limits on wider social contact are removed. You can see the full COVID-19 Response For Spring 2021 here.
As of 27th March, self-contained holiday accommodation is now open in Wales and (since 12th April) people from outside of Wales are now allowed to travel into the nation. According to the Welsh government, self-contained accommodation includes "any accommodation which does not require guests to share washing facilities, toilets or kitchens". Such accommodation is open to single households (or support bubbles) only.
Plans for reopening campsites and accommodation with shared facilities are expected to be confirmed soon but for accommodation requiring wash-blocks (e.g. tent pitches), it is expected that reopening will begin from 17th May.
As of 26th April, all tourist accommodation, including campsites and glamping sites, can reopen in Scotland. Unrestricted travel within Scotland, England and Wales (subject to other local restrictions in place) is now permitted, so you are welcome to enter Scotland from England. More information on what you can and cannot do in Scotland can be found here.
Depending on the state of the pandemic at the time, self-contained tourist accommodation will be permitted to reopen from 30th April for the use of one household only. The remainder of tourist accommodation will not be permitted to open until at least 24th May. Cool Camping does not currently process bookings for campsites in Northern Ireland.
What about wild camping?
Unrestricted travel in Scotland is now permitted, staying overnight away from your primary residence in Scotland is now permitted and holiday accommodation is now reopening (see above). In line with these guidelines, it is our understanding that responsible wild camping is now able to resume in Scotland, with the usual respect required and wild camping code followed.
In England and Wales you are now allowed to spend nights away from your primary residence, though certain types of accommodation and the use of certain facilities is limited (see full details above). It is not entirely clear how this applies to wild camping. Particular guidance for wild camping has not been issued, largely due to the fact that wild camping is not seen as a legal right in England and Wales (in fact, granted you have the land-owners permission and behave responsibly, wild camping is fine). We urge all campers to consider very carefully their impact on others, their impact on the perception of wild camping as a practice and their overall need to go wild camping given the current circumstances.
I'm unable to go on the April holiday I booked due to lockdown measures. What should I do?
If, due to current 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.
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 roll out 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.
Will I have to wear a face mask when I go camping?
It's uncertain what the rules will be by later in the summer this year (in July and August, for example), as policies continue to adapt as the pandemic develops. However, based on the 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 might be required to 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 wash-block buildings, campsite shops, reception buildings and indoor communal areas. 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 and you might need to wear face coverings in those settings this summer too.
What safety measures do campsites have in place?
Every campsite will have an NHS QR code poster and will collect NHS Track & Trace information (this is now a legal requirement) and the government is encouraging employers to implement workplace testing, to ensure campsite staff self-isolate if they need to, even if they are not displaying symptoms of the virus.
To help you find out what these measures mean for you, we put together a blog back 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, however, many campsite owners were already looking at existing social-distancing and cleaning advice and implementing the latest measures, so, by now, some of the changes you will see at the campsite you visit have been over a year in the making. Many campsites, for example, reduced the number of campers they accept, 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.
While all campsites are working to ensure they follow the governments COVID-19 Secure guidelines, the huge variety of camping experiences on offer means there is no one-size fits all approach to how things will be. One campsite, for example, might have outdoor showers, so additional ventilation isn’t needed, while other campsites might have modern, purpose-built wash-blocks, where a one-way system will need to be implemented and extra ventilation provided. Whatever the case, you can be confident that every campsite open is currently operating with the latest guidelines in mind and is working to ensure that campers are safe and well informed this summer.
For additional assurance, last year VisitEngland partnered with the national tourist boards of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to launch We're Good to Go for businesses to demonstrate they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked that they have the required processes in place. You can view all campsites on the Cool Camping website that are Good to Go accredited here.
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 on a camping holiday in France and Europe?
Not right now, no. Travelling abroad for leisure reasons (i.e. going on holiday) is currently illegal in the UK and you will be asked at ports and airports why you are travelling. Those without a valid reason will be turned away. Campsites in France are currently closed and current restrictions mean that, if you travel to France, you will be required to quarantine for 10 days on your return. In the case of some countries, this quarantine must take place in government-approved accommodation.
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 relatively 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.