‘I feel sorry for large families’: Travel expert on expensive PCR testing for holidays

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International travel has been simply off the cards for many since the coronavirus pandemic began. For many, the strict rules surrounding holidays have meant they are not possible.

Another roadblock for families is the cost of PCR testing.

Travel expert and host of Off The Grid and Backpack on Travelxp, Alex Outhwaite, recently travelled to Thailand as part of the Sandbox Scheme.

The traveller, who documents her travels on her Youtube and Instagram accounts, where she boasts 156k subscribers and 59k followers respectively, shared her thoughts on overseas travel amid the pandemic.

“There are certain hoops to jump through, obviously, testing before you go and on arrival,” Alex said.

“There is a lot more paperwork, but I’m not complaining at all.

“I’m happy to do that, I’m happy to be able to travel as long as it’s done safely and following the rules of a country.

“A lot of countries that I’ve visited in the past, for example, Pakistan, there is always going to be a lot of paperwork – so nothing new really.”

She went on: “With the PCR testing and things I do feel sorry for large families because it becomes expensive.

“If you’re going abroad to Spain it’s suddenly going to cost a lot more isn’t it, for a family of four to go away? It’s a bit of a tough one.”

The Government mandates taking a PCR test before travelling back to the UK from amber list countries, currently including popular holiday destination Spain.

Failure to do this will result in a £500 fine, even if you are double vaccinated.

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You must also “take a COVID-19 test on or before the day to after you arrive in England”.

You are also likely to be mandated to take a test before you leave the UK if the country you are travelling to requires it.

The cost of tests varies. Airlines and holiday operators do provide them, as do some airports. There are then other private test providers.

Tests in the UK can cost up to £99 at the airport and £79 for a home kit. According to the Spanish consumer association OCU, the average price of a PCR test in Spain is €120, or around £103.

This means a family of five could pay in the region of £1,400 for testing alone.

Speaking on the result of the pandemic on the travel industry at large, Alex said: “It’s been tough for everybody but it has certainly been a change of pace working in the travel industry.

“Normally, in 2019, I was away half the year or more, so it’s certainly a change of pace.

“A lot of the tourist boards I work with have had to be quite inventive and imaginative over the past year.”

Alex also shared her cheap travel tricks with Express.co.uk. 

They include booking elements of the trip separately.

She said avoiding package deals is key to keep costs low.

“I generally always book everything separately, I never book packages,” she explains.

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