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As France goes 'amber plus' and the Balearics amber, 18 UPDATED summer holiday need-to-knows

Numerous big changes to overseas travel restrictions came into force this week. As expected, rules for 'amber' destinations were overhauled, so fully vaccinated adults or any under-18s no longer need to quarantine on return. But as announced last week, the exception is that returners from amber-listed France must still quarantine, and the Balearic Islands moved from green to amber.

Below we explain all the foreign holiday need-to-knows, including the latest restrictions, how to find cheap deals, the best way to cut the cost of Covid travel tests and much more. 

This article was originally written for our weekly email on Wednesday 14 July. We updated it with all the latest info – including the latest announcements on travel to France and the Balearics – on Tuesday 20 July.

Step One: Where can you go and what tests will you need?

This week's big change to the amber list rules applies across the UK. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all say that those returning from amber destinations no longer have to quarantine if they are UK residents who were fully vaccinated in the UK at least 14 days before their return, or are under 18.

However, France – which is officially on the amber list – essentially sits in a separate 'amber plus' category, as everyone returning from there to England, Scotland or Northern Ireland must quarantine, even if they are fully vaccinated or under 18 (Wales is expected to follow suit). Remember the rules are changing fast, so for the latest see our Coronavirus Travel guide.

Step Two: Not booked? How to find cheap, protected holidays

Travel firms have reported resurgent interest since the change in amber list rules was first announced, with Skyscanner saying it had an immediate 53% traffic spike and Easyjet a fourfold bookings increase to amber list destinations.

Usually that'd create price hikes, but firms are also putting on extra capacity to meet demand – for example, Virgin Atlantic is increasing flight capacity to some destinations by 300%. So there should still be bargains.

Step Three: Once booked... tricks to slash holiday costs

And breathe. Now we're back to our familiar summer MoneySaving territory, with the key info to cut costs once you've booked. In normal years, this is where we'd start our travel tips – but hey, who knows what 'normal' is any more...

For lots more help and info, see our 65+ Overseas Travel Tips.

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