travel

Travelling during COVID-19

I have just returned from my first overseas trip in five months, and although I was so excited to finally get away (and back to my favourite city; Amsterdam), I was also a little apprehensive at how drastically different the travelling may be. While there were notable changes – mainly to facilitate social distancing – the whole process at both airports ran smoothly and efficiently and I felt safe.

I flew out from London Luton, and from the moment I entered the airport, there were clear signs to follow and plenty of hand sanitiser stations to use.

I’d already checked in online (which is encouraged by most airlines now) and so I proceeded straight to security with my mobile boarding pass. Security was very quiet – I assume due to the fact number of flights is currently reduced – and there were plastic screens up to keep passengers separate when putting your belongings into trays.

Once through into the departure lounge, there were lots of signs stating the rules to ‘help protect yourself and others’, along with plenty of hand sanitiser stations. The seating areas had also been marked, with seats ranging from empty single chairs, those reserved for family groups and those which could not be used at all. Some food and drink outlets were open and allowed you to remove your mask for eating and drinking, as long as it was replaced as soon as you were finished. Shops such as WHSmith and Boots were also open.

Boarding the aircraft wasn’t too different from pre-COVID times, apart from a few small changes, such as scanning your own boarding pass and holding your own passport open to show staff rather than handing them over.

Once on the aircraft itself, there were no ‘spare’ or empty seats left between parties as some people predicted there would be, and we were asked to take our seats quickly and avoid walking around the aircraft. The cabin crew asked us to make sure there were only ever two people in the queue for the toilet at any time, and the on board magazines and menus had been temporarily removed. A reduced service was offered in terms of food and drink, and they no longer accept cash as payment.

Upon landing, disembarking was done in a very orderly fashion, and this is one thing I’d be more than happy to see stay long term! We left the plane row by row, only standing and retrieving bags from the overhead lockers once the row in front had moved.

There are currently forms that need filling in depending on which country you’re visiting, and your airline should inform you of this before your flight. I was never asked to show my health declaration form at passport control in Amsterdam, but I saw some people who were randomly selected to do so, so make sure you’ve filled in everything you need before you fly, just incase. When returning to the UK, you must complete an online form which can be found here. This cannot be completed until 48 hours before your return.

The return journey from Schiphol followed a similar pattern to my outbound journey, although the rules in The Netherlands are more relaxed than the UK and so masks were only necessary at the airport when passing through security and boarding the plane. Again, there were plenty of hand sanitiser stations and signs telling you to keep 1.5 meters apart (the distance necessary in The Netherlands). Schiphol have also set up a dedicated webpage with all of the information you need regarding travelling to and from the airport, your time in the airport and the most frequently asked questions from travellers. It was super helpful and something that we could really do with from the major UK airports too!

Overall, my travelling experience felt safe and well organised, and I wouldn’t hesitate to travel again in the near future (as long as government advice permits!)

For a full list of countries that can currently be visited from the UK, see the government list here.

travel

London

London is my home city, so this post will be slightly different in terms of ‘exploring’ but I LOVE London and having lived here for years, am confident I can recommend amazing restaurants and fun things to do for your weekend stay in the city!


  • Currency: British Pound
  • Local time: GMT
  • Language: English

Stay: Shoreditch House

Even though I live in London, I’ve stayed in hotels multiple times in the city. Most recently, I stayed at Shoreditch House – which is part of the Soho House group – for the weekend. Although it’s a private members club, you can book to stay in the hotel as a non-member if they have availability, and as a hotel guest you get full access to the club facilities for the duration of your stay.

The room was tastefully decorated and the bed was extremely comfortable, and the bathroom fully stocked with Cowshed products added to the luxury! The club itself was amazing, and the rooftop pool was the perfect place to chill out with a cocktail at the end of the day.


Eat: Flour & Grape, M Victoria,  Le Mercury, London Steakhouse Co, Table Cafe, Gaucho, Rabot 1745

There are so many places I could list here, but these are a selection of my favourites and a brief reason why. Roll over the photos to see where each one was taken.

Flour & Grape, Bermondsey: A relaxed and informal pasta restaurant with a simple but excellent menu and an extensive wine list.

M Victoria: Victoria: There are also M restaurants in the City and Twickenham, but the classy dining room and wine store on the top floor make Victoria my favourite. The Wagyu beef here is exceptional.

Le Mercury, Islington: Amazing French bistro dining in a relaxed atmosphere, with extremely reasonable prices.

London Steakhouse Co, City: A Marco Pierre White steakhouse with locations in the City and Chelsea, the steak here is incredible and the service was also impeccable.

Table Cafe, Southwark: For one of the best brunches in London, head to Table, located near the Tate Modern if you feel like being cultured afterwards!

Gaucho, City wide: There are several Gaucho’s over the city, and all offer excellent quality food in modern and sophisticated dining areas.

The Lemon Tree, Covent Garden: Excellent Thai food served in a small but cute restaurant area above the pub. Booking essential to secure a table.

Rabot 1745, Borough Market: Located in the bustling Borough Market, this Hotel Chocolat owned restaurant manages to incorporate chocolate in every dish on the menu. Amazing!


Do: Borough Market, Thames Cruise, Kew Gardens, Bermondsey Beer Mile

Borough Market is located at the foot of London Bridge, and is an amazing food market selling local produce ranging from breads and cheeses to brownies and paella. Visit to pick up some fresh produce or stop for lunch at one of the many stalls selling hot food to takeaway. The full market is open Wednesday – Saturday, with limited traders on Mondays and Tuesdays. The market is closed on Sundays.

No trip to London is complete without taking a boat tour on the Thames. There are many options to choose from, whether you simply hop on a Thames Clipper boat that runs as public transport along the river, or book a spot on an official tour boat – some even serve afternoon tea for that traditional British experience! The Visit London website has a list of the top tours on offer.

Kew Gardens is located in South West London, and is a botanical garden that is home to “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”. Entry to the gardens starts from £16 for adults and £4 for children if you buy online.

For all the beer lovers out there, I highly recommend taking part in a Bermondsey Beer Mile tour. Located South of the river, this stretch of bars, pubs and breweries run for (you guessed it, a mile!) and on the tour you’re given the chance to not only sample the locally brewed beers, but also meet some of the brewers behind them!