France, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, a tour of the Mediterranean coast…our dreams of family campervan travels are currently on hold and for lots of reasons.
What a year! It started on New Years Eve of 2019 with us finding out the amazing news that we were pregnant. This was closely followed by the devastating floods in South Wales (see our video about that here). Then Coronavirus hit, and this changed life as we know it.
In May we found out that Ali’s career break had been approved and we started to plan for future travels. Fast forward a few months of lockdown, social distancing and different ways of working to the best thing that happened for us this year. Ollie was born in September (cute video here) and changed our lives for the better. For the past 3 months we’ve been learning how to be parents, changing lots of nappies and wiping up lots of baby sick.
Now we find ourselves in January 2021 with time ticking on, and our travel plans on the back burner. The pandemic is raging on despite tough measures. However, we’re still dreaming about getting away to Europe this year. Unfortunately there are now a LOT of hurdles in our way; some that we didn’t foresee.
Ollie has had two of his vaccinations already. His next one is mid-January so we wouldn’t be able to practically go away until after that. In the meantime we’ve been doing some family adventures and sharing them on our little YouTube channel.
Even if we do plan to go away mid January, it still might not be possible. Why? There’s the pandemic, Brexit and doggo to consider.
At the time of this blog post (Jan 2021), the majority of Europe is currently in a lockdown of some sort. What this means is that we’re going nowhere fast. Even if restrictions were relaxed in Wales and England by the end of January / early February there’s no guarantee that we’ll be able to travel into Europe! We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
We’re keeping a regular eye on the Gov.uk website to check for travel updates. Plus we keep adding to our packing list so that we’re ready to go when it’s safe to do so.
From 1st January 2021 we are no longer a part of the EU. New travel rules means that we will only be able travel to the EU (Schengen countries) for a maximum of 90 days. This isn’t what we had in mind. We wanted to be away for longer to maximise our travel experience and the time off we have together.
To add to this, we can only have 90 days in the EU within a 180 day period. That means that on our return to the UK we’d have to wait another 90 days before going away to the EU again. That sucks.
But…there might be a way around this by entering non-EU countries on our travels and exploring those. This wouldn’t affect our 90-day limit but it would definitely make our travel plans more complex. Plus, we do have the option of applying for a long term travel visa to one of the EU countries (e.g. France) which might help. This would cost about £100 each.
Unfortunately Brexit also means that Dizzy’s pet passport is no longer valid. Now she’ll need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) from our vet to be able to travel into the EU and this is only valid for 4 months. Our vet thinks that this will cost about £100. Great.
So, even if we could extend our travel to visit non-EU countries there’s a good chance that we could only be away for 4 months! Plus, each time we travel to the EU we need a new AHC. This isn’t a huge issue in the big scheme of things but it’s more money to shell out each time.
How long is a piece of string?
With all this in mind, we’re going nowhere fast but staying patient. We’ve already started planning a family tour of Mont Blanc in the French Alps. We’re also researching some long distance family walks / cycling in the UK incase European travel is off the cards for a while.
This hasn’t been the best introduction to taking a year out for travelling but at least we are all safe and well. That’s the main thing.