Irish people are rising, rising and moving away in large numbers this summer as overseas travel is close to pre-pandemic levels.
The exodus to sunnier climes is already well underway, with the Bank of Ireland last month reporting a huge increase in credit card spending in Greece, Spain and Portugal.
The daa said: “We expect passenger numbers this summer to reach 90% of the levels seen in 2019, when we averaged around 110,000 passengers per day.
“In 2022, Dublin Airport will serve 185 destinations worldwide and this number equates to 98% of the 2019 destination figures.”
But for many airport-bound travelers, this summer will be their first overseas flight since Covid-19 hit.
Here’s what you need to know before you go.
Check your passport
Passports have not been used much in the past two years. Some will be expired or almost expired – which also causes problems.
For example, most EU countries (like France and Spain) require your passport to be valid for at least three months from the date of your return flight.
Outside the EU, a minimum validity of six months beyond your departure date is normal (for example, this is a requirement to enter the US) while Turkey requires a validity of six months from your date of arrival in the country.
As has been reported in recent days, there is currently a huge backlog of 195,000 passport applications.
If you need to renew your passport urgently, the only way to guarantee one within a week is to request an emergency appointment in person at the Dublin or Cork passport offices.
Same-day turnaround for passport renewal is only available in Dublin and costs €150.
There are hundreds of appointments available each week. However, this service is NOT available for early applications.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said the Passport Service’s customer service center was dealing with “an unprecedented volume of calls and online chats”.
New office workers have been recruited and “staff in this area will increase in the coming weeks…this will help meet the current challenges [people have] contact the Passport Department.
No one lies on a beach without protecting their skin from the sun – and it’s just as important to cover up with the right insurance before setting off.
You should take out travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday, so that you are covered if something happens and you cannot travel.
Most policies now also offer protection if you test positive for Covid-19 before departure and need to cancel/delay the holiday. Always read the fine print.
Although booking a travel package offers consumers better protection in the event of a problem, many people prefer to shop around and book flights, hotels and car rental separately.
Don’t forget to also take out travel insurance. If you’re going on more than one holiday in the coming year, it might be cheaper to consider a multi-trip policy, so shop around.
You generally need specialist insurance for holidays that involve activities such as skiing or diving.
The European Health Insurance Card grants you healthcare in another EU or European Economic Area state free of charge or at a reduced cost. Find out how to apply here.
Before you leave
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission advises holidaymakers to inform their bank of their departure abroad. Otherwise, it may cancel their cards due to unusual transactions on their account.
Likewise, you can check with your mobile operator that roaming is set up for the country you are traveling to (if it is outside the EU). You can buy special data plans abroad.
CCPC also suggests bringing photocopies of important documents such as passport, driver’s license and travel insurance policy with you in case the originals are lost or stolen.
At the airport
The recent long security queues at Dublin Airport have been well documented.
The daa currently recommends that travelers arrive at the airport 2.5 hours before their short-haul flight departs and 3.5 hours before their long-haul flight.
Fast-track security lane passes are not currently on sale on Dublin Airport’s website and their “return is under constant review” according to the daa.
All existing bookings continue to be honored and you can still purchase fast-track passes from some airlines (such as Ryanair).
Liquids in your hand luggage, such as toiletries, are always capped at 100ml and must be placed in a clear plastic bag (unless you are flying from Shannon, which has screening technology more advanced).
Masks are advised – but no longer required – at Dublin Airport and on many flights in Europe.
However, masks remain compulsory for flights from Ireland to Austria (FFP2 mask compulsory), Germany, Italy (FFP2 mask compulsory until June 15), Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Turkey and Canada.
Traveling with children
Most airlines allow you to bring a stroller and one other item (e.g. a car seat) for free – they will go into the hold just before you board the plane.
If you want your child to sit in a car seat during the flight, check your airline’s policy.
Ryanair, for example, says parents should contact its call center after booking flights because only certain assigned rows can fit child car seats.
Aer Lingus offers a limited number of bassinet seats on long-haul flights for infants under two years old, but you must call the airline to request one of these seats after making your reservation.
Renting a car in Europe is not as expensive as here in Ireland, but it is still advisable to book as early as possible due to high demand.
Comparison websites such as skyscanner.ie allow you to see prices from multiple car hire companies at a glance.
Check all terms and conditions before you book – some companies require you to take out additional insurance or will deduct a large sum of money from your credit card as a guarantee.
The cheapest way to purchase collision damage waiver is to purchase annual car rental excess insurance. Search online for the best deals.
Several popular holiday destinations, including Spain and Portugal, still require all arrivals to show the Digital Covid Cert.
If more than 270 days have passed since your last dose of vaccine, you should receive a booster before you fly.
Alternatively, obtain a negative PCR test result no more than 72 hours before travel or a negative rapid antigen test no more than 24 hours before travel.
A certificate of reinstatement indicating that no more than 180 days have passed since the date of your first positive PCR test result is another option.
Countries with Covid restrictions still in place include:
Cyprus – face masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces and a Covid Pass (proof of vaccination or negative test result) is required for restaurants, cinemas, some sports facilities. This applies to anyone aged six and over.
Greece – Passenger locator form is now optional. The Foreign Office website warns that travelers may need to undergo a rapid antigen test upon arrival, but Greek authorities no longer mention this as a possibility. Masks are compulsory on public transport.
Italy – FFP2 masks must be worn until June 15 in all public transport as well as in cinemas, theaters and indoor concerts.
Portugal – Mandatory masks in public transport. Madeira Island specifies that a Covid pass is required to access restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Spain – Mandatory masks in public transport.
Turkey – All incoming passengers over the age of six must complete a Traveler Entry Form at least four days prior to arrival. Passengers can undergo a temperature check on arrival and “people who show no symptoms can continue their journey”. Masks are still compulsory on public transport.
UNITED STATES – In addition to proof of vaccination, you must produce a negative Covid-19 test result (PCR or antigen) taken no later than one day before travel to the United States. Self-administered tests are not accepted.
Last minute offers
The good news is that those dreaming of a trip abroad this summer haven’t waited too late to book a vacation.
So says Paul Hackett, President of the Irish Travel Agents Association and CEO of Click&Go.
“There is still plenty of capacity both for flights and accommodation across Europe,” he said.
“There’s great value there too – especially if you’re willing to be flexible, like flying mid-week and being open to different destinations.”
And finally ….
The Health Service Executive advises people traveling to hot countries to seek advice from a pharmacy on the use of high factor lotions, creams and sunscreens.
Take extra care with children (especially infants) who may be very sensitive to the sun. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
The Foreign Office is warning holidaymakers to watch their belongings closely in public places and not to use ATMs after dark, especially if they are alone.
It states: “If you are the victim of a crime abroad, report it immediately to the local police. To make a claim on your travel insurance or replace a stolen passport, you will need a police report.
“You can contact the nearest Irish embassy, consulate or honorary consul if you need help, but we cannot report a crime on your behalf.”