SINCE lockdown was first announced back in March, making travel arrangements has been difficult and riddled with uncertainty.

Plans have had to be changed and flights cancelled as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the travel industry.

Even now, England is still in lockdown and Brits are desperate to go on holiday and jet off to an exotic location for a while.

However, it’s not too late to start planning your dream trip, especially as local travel experts think the industry is about to pick up and become more reliable.

Here is everything you need to know about travelling abroad if you are from County Durham, including when it’s thought we can go on holiday.

You will also find expert travel advice from a County Durham travel agent who has some expert advice about where locals should visit.

When can I go on holiday?

Currently, the rules state: “From 5 November to 2 December 2020, travelling away from home, including internationally, is restricted from England except in limited circumstances such as for work or for education.”

Travelling to take a holiday can be punished by a fine, with penalties starting at £200 and going up to £6,400.

However, England's national lockdown will end on the 2nd December and a new tiered system will be put in place for winter.

Every area in the North East is in tier 3 and have been told to “avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities”.

While travel abroad is not prohibited in tier three, it is discouraged.

However, where you can go is still subject to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice for your destination and the travel corridors list.

Boris Johnson said the plan is to get the country back on the path of “normality” by Easter, thanks to the Covid-19 vaccination developments, which could mean that we could start booking holidays with confidence after this time.

However, as with everything during the pandemic these rules could change at any time and nothing is set in stone.

Where is the nearest airport to County Durham?

Teesside International is the most convenient airport for the people of County Durham to get to as it is only around seven miles from Darlington.

Newcastle Airport is also an option for holidaymakers; it’s around 35 miles from Darlington.

If you want to start planning your exotic trip abroad, you better start looking at flights from

Where can I go on holiday?

Even when travel restrictions lift, some countries require you to quarantine for 14 days when you get there; you may also have to quarantine when you arrive back in the UK.

The government has posted a list of 'travel corridors', which currently includes countries such as Bahrain, Cuba, The Greek Islands and many more. 

You do not need to self-isolate if you’re travelling to England from one of the countries, territories or regions listed on th e page. You also must have spent the last 14 days in one of these places, or in the UK.

However, people arriving in England from ‘high risk’ areas will soon be able to reduce their quarantine time by more than half if they pay to have a Covid test.  

These rules come into force on 15 December.

You can view the restrictions and requirements of your specific holiday destination by visiting the website.

Jon Thorne, Traveller Expert at Skyscanner (metasearch engine and travel agency)  commented: “Over the last few months, our data has shown that UK travellers have been extremely reactive to news around travel corridors and have adapted their search and booking behaviour to be able to get away within the rules. 

“However, for those looking to book in the coming weeks, booking a ‘flexible’ ticket with a provider could mean that you’re entitled to a free date or destination change if you should need it.”

Which countries and territories shall I visit?

Teresa Kingston is a Travel Counsellor based in Darlington.

She has plenty of experience in the travel industry and has worked as a sales director for the hotel industry for over 20 years.

Teresa warned that now is the best time to start planning a holiday- if you don’t there might not be any availability later in the year.

She adds: “90% of my customers who had their travel plans cancelled this year have already rebooked for 2021.

“Many airlines and accommodation providers have some enticing fares and rates available, even I’ve got two holidays booked for next year- plus,we all need something to look forward to.”

In Teresa’s experience, some of the most popular holiday destinations for the people of County Durham and Darlington include The Maldives.

She said the destination tends to be on many locals’ bucket list adding that it is both a “romantic place” but it is also “family friendly” too.

She adds: “Croatia has been an upcoming European destination since last year plus it’s one of my favourite destinations too.”

Best of all, this is only a 2.5 hour flight from the UK.

Teresa adds: “Croatia is a hotspot for diving, hiking and of course just relaxing alongside the turquoise waters.

“My favourite part of Croatia is Island hopping but if you are a Game of a Thrones fan Dubrovnik is the place to visit.”

Teresa stresses that it is more important than ever to book your next holiday through a trusted travel agent who can change and amend your holiday plans for you if another lockdown should occur.

Teresa added: “I have worked for free since April, putting my customers at the forefront of everything that I do and ensuring full refunds were received and rebooking for 2021.”

If you want Teresa to be in charge of your next holiday, contact her via her Travel Counsellor page.

How can I book an affordable holiday?
(Prices and information correct at the time of writing)

If you want to book an affordable holiday, then consider using SkyScanner.

The online metasearch engine and travel agency pride themselves on finding you the cheapest flights and best deals.

They also have a handy tool which allows you to see which countries have travel restrictions in place.

Skyscanner’s Consumer Travel Expert, Jon Thorne, said you can sign up for price alerts and newsletters in order to get the cheapest flight price possible.

Right now, there are some great flights and deals from Teesside International Airport.

Here is a break down of the cheapest flights currently available early in 2021:

In January, the cheapest places to fly to from Teesside International Airport is The Netherlands; prices to fly here currently start from £109.

Other affordable places include Ireland (prices start from £113) and Italy (prices start from £120).

In February, it looks like you can get some cheap deals to  Spain where flight prices start from £126.

The UK government predicts that April is the month when life will begin to return to normality.

According to SkyScanner, there are some affordable flights from Teesside International to the Netherlands (from £110) and Spain (£123).

Research by the ABTA suggest that Spain is the most popular holiday destination and 41% of people from the North East are planning to travel here in the next 12 months.

If you are looking for the cheapest month to fly to Spain from Teesside International, flight prices are currently priced at £125 each in March.

Flights to Spain are also affordable in the summer months; right now, prices start at around £124 if you are travelling in July.  

Are you planning to travel abroad next year? Let us know in the comments.