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Where, when and how to travel in December 2020

Looking to squeeze in a getaway before the end of the year? We’ve rounded up the best, safest and most solid options ahead of Christmas

If you’re still hopeful about the prospect of travel in 2020, we applaud you. That’s some top-drawer, high-grade, first-rate optimism you’ve managed to maintain during a pretty horrible year. Us? We’re taking a more pragmatic approach to packing up and jetting off. But that doesn’t mean we’re out of options…

With travel corridors springing up across the globe, the second UK lockdown projected to lift by December 2nd and many hotels and businesses catching up with and outsmarting COVID-19, the last month of the year looks to be a fairly safe bet for some types of travel. So, while you may not need to pack your sun cream and swim shorts just yet, here are the best destinations to travel to in December 2020 — and how to get there…

When can I travel in December?

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As with any travel announcements, nothing is hard-and-fast these days. But, should the second lockdown go as planned, we’ll taste freedom once more on December 2nd. Until then, travelling away from home, including internationally, is restricted from England except in limited circumstances (sadly, getting a tan doesn’t qualify).

These rules slightly differ across other UK countries, but you get the gist. Until December; it’s a no-go. After that, it’s a similar picture. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), which provides guidance on COVID and non-COVID risks overseas, is currently advising against all but essential travel to many countries and territories on the basis of coronavirus risks — and this will continue well into December.

With border closures, movement restrictions or quarantine rules, travelling abroad is still not a sensible thing to do. The FCDO are keen to remind prospective travellers that, due to frequently-changing guidelines, anybody who leaves the country should be prepared to stay overseas longer than they planned.

So where should I travel in December?

It’s a good question. With a question mark hanging ominously over most of the world, your choices are fairly limited. But that may not necessarily be a bad thing. In the UK, staycations have been booming this year — and served to open our eyes to the landscapes and locales on our very own doorsteps. How many London-dwellers, for example, had spent years jetting off to continental Europe on city breaks — but had never once visited the Scottish Highlands, Lake District or the Brecon Beacons?

For a December getaway, we’d recommend staying put. There’s something calm and reassuring about a British inn, a pint of ale and a roaring fire during uncertain times like these — especially now winter is rolling frostily in. So unfurl your map of Britain, pinpoint the greenest region of this green and pleasant land — and plan for that.

Because, clearly, cities are to be avoided until further notice. Despite cultural capitals including Liverpool, Birmingham and Edinburgh all being flush with attractive attractions, the risk remains too high to enjoy them at the moment. Instead, make a note of them for the future, and stick to the rural escapes for now. You could probably use the peace and quiet anyway…

Where should I stay in December?

Some of the finest hotels you’ll find in Britain are holed up in the countryside. From Lime Wood Hotel to Cliveden House, you can sample everything from on-site Indian Ayurvedic spa treatments to award-winning Italian restaurants in these UK five-star institutions. So who even needs to jet off abroad — when you can travel the world from inside a British country house hotel?

Of course, some of us like our escapes a little more homely — and that means propping up the bar at a countryside inn before checking into your room upstairs. There are some pearlers of pubs to be discovered in rural Britain — with our favourites being The Wild Rabbit in Kingham, The Rose & Crown in Romaldkirk, The Cricket Inn in Beesands and The Brisley Bell in Norfolk.

Even for those of us unlucky enough to have been stuck in a city all year — whether due to restrictions or fear of travelling — there are options for a break. London is perhaps the best British Isles capital for a city staycation, with a number of hotels even offering ‘pandemic packages’. The Sofitel at London Heathrow is selling a ‘test and rest’ stay, comprising a night at the hotel, breakfast and overnight PCR test — the ideal option for any hotel-loving hypochondriacs.

How should I travel in December?

How to get there; that’s the big question. Trains and planes, for their swift speed, are no fun at the moment. First-class food services have been suspended. Masks are imperative at all times. Even Britain’s celebrated night-trains are all running reduced services. So where does that leave you? Easy. Behind the wheel of a car.

Car rental companies are still plugging away — some of them literally. With a rise in electric motors, you can now ensure that your seasonal getaway is both clean of COVID-19 and of carbon footprint. Look to boutique luxury rental services such as Range Rover-stocked THE OUT, or brands offering contactless pick-up, such as app-enabled Virtuo.

Alternatively, if you’ve really saved a lot of money on your commute this year, you could also charter your own private jet through companies like Victor. Did you know; Victor jets can land a 153 different airports and airfields across the UK? The staycation possibilities are endless…

Where might we be allowed to travel in December?

Of course, optimism has got us through the rest of the year — so why stop now? If you’ve had your heart set on a far-flung adventure all year, December will be your last chance to jet off. But where? With so many guidelines and lockdowns, pickings are admittedly slim. But there are still some diamonds in the rough.

These should be taken with a Himalayan pinch of salt, but we’re hearing good things about Mexico — and several nearby Caribbean countries. Look for nations that have been on the safe travel corridor list since summer, such as St. Lucia or Barbados. They’re unlikely to fall onto any blacklist with mere weeks of 2020 to go.

Alternatively, there’s chatter around South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that: “We are also opening up international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative COVID-19 certificate.”

That means, as with many other countries, you’ll be free to travel — but only with negative tests, the right paperwork and a valid reason. Some will say that takes the fun out of holidaying. But, if it’ll take more than a little red tape to unstick your plans, the world will soon be yours to explore once more…

Still want to stay put? We asked the experts for their perfect winter staycations…

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