October half term holiday deals, with Covid rules for kids and teens explained
After lockdown and a complicated summer, October half-term is the first opportunity that many families have had for a trip abroad this year.
With pre-departure tests being scrapped from Monday and the traffic light system simplified, foreign travel is looking more practical.
By the end of this month, it is anticipated that more expensive PCR tests will be replaced by cheaper antigen (lateral flow) tests for the required test two days after arriving back into the UK for fully vaccinated travellers and their unvaccinated children.
However, single-jabbed teenagers will still find themselves barred from some countries.
For young families
St Paul’s Bay, Malta
October highs 25C
Families with under-12s are welcome in Malta, where a classic Mediterranean break is bolstered by medieval history and dive-friendly waters. St Paul’s Bay, on the north coast, is particularly family-friendly. From the free Bugibba Water Park to Malta Chocolate Factory and the Malta National Aquarium with its shark tunnel, there is plenty to keep visitors busy for a week. Recently refurbished Seashells Resort at Suncrest comes with a sea-view terrace overlooking St Paul’s bay and three pools.
Seven nights’ B&B is £915pp, based on two adults and two children sharing, including Manchester flights on 23 October and transfers, tui.com.
Covid: No entry for unvaccinated 12- to 15-year-olds. Under-12s must enter with vaccinated adult and take PCR test (72 hours). Under-fives exempt.
Rocky Mountains, Canada
October highs 13C
The quiet autumn months are a great time to spot wildlife in the Canadian Rockies. Purely Canada offers a fly-drive package to Alberta that includes dining at the Sky Bistro atop the 7,500ft summit of Sulphur Mountain that can be reached by the Banff Gondola.
A six-night Alberta fly-dry is £825pp, based on two adults and two children under 12 sharing, including Heathrow flights departing on 24 October, room-only accommodation (one night in Calgary at Sandman Signature Hotel Downtown, three nights at Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge and two nights at Banff Caribou Lodge), Banff Gondola Ride, Sulphur Mountain entry and Banff Wildlife Tour, purelycanada.co.uk.
Covid: No entry for unvaccinated 12- to 15-year-olds. Under-12s must enter with vaccinated adult, take PCR test (72 hours), plus arrival and day-eight tests provided by Canadian government. For 14 days, child must not travel on crowded transportation or attend large crowded settings. Under-fours exempt.
For families with unvaccinated teens
Costa del Sol, Spain
October highs 22C
Fuengirola’s bustling Los Boliches promenade, facing a sandy, Blue Flag beach offers well-priced family- friendly restaurants and bars. The Moorish battlements and gardens of Sohail Castle have panoramic views over the town and glittering coastline. Older children will get a kick out of nearby Caminito del Rey, a palm-sweatingly precarious walkway nailed to the steep walls of a narrow gorge. caminitodelrey.info
Seven nights’ self-catering at Fuengirola Beach costs £1,680 for two adults and two children sharing, including East Midlands flights with hand and hold luggage departing on 16 October, jet2holidays.com.
Covid: Over-12s must present proof of vaccination or PCR test (72 hours).
October highs 23C
One big outdoor museum, a weekend in Rome will bring history to life for young adults, from the amphitheatre of the Colosseum to the glamorous Trevi Fountain. The recently opened DoubleTree by Hilton Rome Monti, a 15-minute stroll from the Colosseum, has sleek interiors and a rooftop bar with views over the Eternal City.
Three nights’ room-only is £454pp, based on five sharing two connecting family rooms, including BA flights departing Heathrow on 18 October, expedia.com.
Covid: PCR or antigen (48 hours) and accompanied by fully vaccinated adult. Under-fives exempt.
October highs 21C
Perfect for a multi-generation or two-family trip is Oasi Vera villa, with infinity pool and sea views on the southern tip of this Mediterranean island. In October, nearby Vendicari Nature Reserve is home to thousands of flamingos and aquatic birds on a layover to Africa. The nearest beach is 200m away and the baroque town of Noto is close by. The rest of the peninsula is miles of unspoilt beaches and fascinating Unesco World Heritage Sites.
One week’s self-catering from 18 October is £313.20pp, based on 10 sharing, wishsicily.com. Return Stansted flights are £156pp, returning a day early on Sunday 24 October (in time for school), ryanair.com.
Covid: See Rome, above.
October highs 24C
Greece’s largest island is a good October option. Amoudara Beach is prime watersports territory, thanks to the sea breezes that cool the northern coast. Book a family windsurfing or kitesurfing lesson from Surf in Crete (surfincrete.com). There are a good number of bars in Amoudara, but for trendier drinking holes and retail therapy, visit island capital Heraklion, where Liberty Square houses designer boutiques and the market has souvenir bargains.
Seven nights’ all-inclusive at the Atlantica Akti Zeus Hotel in Amoudara is £589pp, based on two adults and two children sharing, East Midlands flights departing 24 October and transfers. Price includes £100 discount with code SUNSHINE, tui.co.uk.
Covid All arrivals PCR (72 hours) or antigen (48 hours), proof of vaccination or proof of recovery. Under-13s exempt.
October highs 35C
Dubai offers a combination of glamour and outdoor fun. Aquaventure Waterpark has some of the world’s best waterslides, including the nine-storey Leap of Faith that fires guests through a shark-filled lagoon (atlantis.com). The Bubbalicious Brunch every Friday at Mina’s Kitchen has 10 live cooking stations, mixologists and live entertainment (£60pp, minaskitchendubai.com). Or ride the dunes on a desert 4×4 safari (thedesertsafaridubai.com). The Habtoor Grand Beach Resort by Marriott near Dubai Marina has three pools, including one with water slides.
Five nights’ half-board is £1,019pp, based on a family of four sharing two rooms, including Heathrow flights departing 10 October, travelbag.co.uk.
Covid: PCR test (72 hours). Under-12s exempt.
October highs 21C
The weather in Languedoc on France’s Mediterranean coast is still balmy in autumn, when there is plenty of availability at camp sites. Domaine de Massereau, just outside Montpellier, is a luxury glampsite with restaurant and a spa with hammam, Jacuzzi and sauna.
The pretty town of Sommières is less than 10 minutes away and beaches around Sète and the Camargue are also easily accessible. Older children will love next-door adventure park Roc de Massereau for tree-climbing and zip-line adventures.
Seven nights’ self-catering in a three-bedroom Massereau Lodge is £106pp, based on four sharing, eurocamp.com. Return Dover to Calais ferry sailings with one car from £62, irishferries.com.
Covid: PCR or antigen (24 hours) and accompanied by fully vaccinated adult. Under-12s exempt.
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