Everything you need to pack for your next trip abroad as travel restrictions lift

Get prepared ahead of 6 July, when international travel to Europe will be allowed, with our holiday packing guide: iStock/The Independent
Get prepared ahead of 6 July, when international travel to Europe will be allowed, with our holiday packing guide: iStock/The Independent

If you had grand plans for a sunny holiday this year that you’d given up on, a trip abroad may become a possibility sooner than you think.

From 6 July, British holidaymakers will once again be able to travel overseas in line with the easing of international travel restrictions across Europe, to nations where the risk of contracting coronavirus is regarded as low.

As part of a new traffic light system that will be imposed by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, if a country on the continent has low and declining rates of infection, it will receive an amber or green status. This will allow travellers to visit and return without needing to self-isolate for 14 days – a concept which has been named the “air bridges” scheme.

An amber status means that if there is a rise in Covid-19 cases, quarantining could be re-introduced.

Any “red” countries will be off the cards for holidaymakers, and the full list of places with a green or amber status is set to be revealed this week.

Spain and France are already qualified with Italy set to be on the list too. According to The Independent, the list is expected to include almost “every European Union nation, with Sweden a possible exception – along with Bulgaria and Romania.” The full list of countries is set to be announced later this week.

The Department for Transport has also confirmed that travellers from low-risk countries including Spain, France, Germany and Italy will not be required to quarantine for two weeks when they enter England, from 10 July. Further details of all the countries that will be exempt from quarantining will published on 3 July too.

Read our in-depth guide to overseas summer holidays in 2020 here for more details on your rights, travel insurance and what to do if quarantine is re-imposed while you’re abroad here.

As a summer holiday could be right around the corner, you’ll want to be prepared to jet off asap, so we’ve handpicked the essentials to pack that you can shop now.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Cabin bags

From city breaks to a week away in the sunshine, a cabin bag is ideal for keeping your airport experience as streamlined as possible. Get the right one and you’ll save yourself the panic of finding liquids in your bag at security, as it will keep everything compact and will save you the added cost of having to check a bag in.

Once your flight lands, there’s no waiting around at the baggage terminal and if you’re travelling with valuables, you’ll be able to keep an eye on it at all times.

In our guide to the best, we were most impressed with the Briggs & Riley sympatico 4-wheel expandable international cabin suitcase (John Lewis and Partners, £359.20), which while pricey, is worth the investment.

Keep your valuable safely stowed away in this sleek cabin bag (John Lewis & Partners)
Keep your valuable safely stowed away in this sleek cabin bag (John Lewis & Partners)

It has an expand-compression system, so if your style of packing is to throw it all in and pray it shuts, you can pop the clasps at the top and bottom of the bag to release an extra couple of inches of room. When you zip it closed and push down hard, it will compress again to cabin size.

Our reviewers overstuffed the case and it still worked like a charm. They said: “This is typical of a bag that’s so classy – from its soft, sand-coloured lining, to the padded internal coat-hanger – you feel like it should have its own butler to pack and unpack it. It glides like a dream, has timeless good looks, and comes with a lifetime guarantee.”

If you’re being extra careful, the exterior will also be easy to wipe-down with antibacterial wipes regularly thanks to its smooth polycarbonate shell.

Kids’ luggage

If you’re travelling with children, avoid being lumped with carrying their belongings with your own by purchasing a holdall they can look after themselves.

A bright, colourful piece of luggage will help them, and you, identify their belongings among a sea of dark-coloured suitcases, and as long as it’s easy to carry, roll, or lift, it will save you the backache.

The CarGoSeat (CarGoSeat, £49.99) topped our round-up of the best. It’s a genius hybrid of a booster car seat and carry-on trolley suitcase, which has been rigorously crash-tested.

This clever creation is a suitcase for kids and booster seat all in one (The Independent)
This clever creation is a suitcase for kids and booster seat all in one (The Independent)

It’s not just nice to look at either, with plenty of space for toys and books. It took our reviewer seconds to fit into the back seat and installation wasn’t the headache they were expecting.

It’s available in four bright colours, and according to our tester: “It’s not heavy at all, which you’d be forgiven for assuming given how much it does, but in fact, it feels extremely light.”

You’ll save a fortune on hiring boosters along with the hire car.

Travel wallets

There’s nothing worse than that sinking feeling when you don’t know where your passport is, so keep all your travel documents stored safely in a travel wallet.

It’ll also make it easier to access your documents at the numerous passport checks and boarding pass scans while at the airport.

We’d recommend the Lover of Luxe personalised leather travel wallet (Lover of Luxe, £49), as it has distinct compartments which mean you don’t need to be rooting around your bag for all your documentation.

Keep your travel documents organised in a travel wallet, divided by compartment for ease of access (The Independent)
Keep your travel documents organised in a travel wallet, divided by compartment for ease of access (The Independent)

We found it spacious enough to store change too, so it can easily double up as a clutch when you’re abroad if you don’t want to bring a larger bag out.

Face coverings

Due to the ongoing pandemic, face coverings have so far been made mandatory on public transport and in hospitals.

For travellers, the government has said: “All passengers will be required by law to wear face coverings on planes and ferries to protect others.”

Read our buying guide here on everything you need to know about the different types of face coverings available, covering what to consider before you buy, with a selection of independent businesses to shop from.

London-based fashion designer and label, Florence Bridge, creates contemporary womenswear pieces with a focus on sustainability. In light of the coronavirus outbreak, the brand has created unisex face masks (Florence Bridge, £12) in a myriad of colours, prints and fabrics, which are machine washable.

The adjustable ties mean you can keep it securely covering your nose and mouth (Florence Bridge)
The adjustable ties mean you can keep it securely covering your nose and mouth (Florence Bridge)

Each one has a 100 per cent cotton lining for maximum comfort against your skin and a portion of profits from the sale of the masks will be going to Fuel Our Frontline, a charity which have been delivering groceries to hospital workers around the UK.

In-flight accessories

Once you’re in the air, there’s a few handy products that can help you get enough rest, switch off with some music or a podcast and make the overall flying experience more pleasant.

We put a range to the test in our round-up of in-flight accessories, with the number one spot going to the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones (Centres Direct, £249), a pair of noise-cancelling cans we cannot do without.

Drown out the noise of the plane engines and other passengers with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones (The Independent)
Drown out the noise of the plane engines and other passengers with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones (The Independent)

Whether it’s the rattle of the snack trolley going up and down the aisles, other passengers, young children or the engines on takeoff, planes are always noisy, so shut out the world and plug into a meditation app, new album or selection of movies available on the flight.

They’re also wireless, with a battery life of 30 hours, and take just three hours to fully charge, but a speedy 10-minute charge will give you a lengthy five hours of use.

Splashing out on this Belkin valet charger (Amazon, £74.43) will serve you well too, particularly if you have an Apple Watch that will need charging alongside your phone and tablets.

You'll never need to worry about your phone dying thanks to this portable charger (Belkin)
You’ll never need to worry about your phone dying thanks to this portable charger (Belkin)

Along with the USB socket, there’s an Apple Watch charging puck built-in, which senses automatically when you put the watch in place. Your watch can be charged at the same time as another device.

Our reviewer said: “It’s a reasonably small size and the aluminium case looks classy and feels good to the touch.”

Travel pillows

For most of us, the luxury of travelling in any class above economy is a distant dream, and sleeping in a standard seat can be uncomfortable. This is where a travel pillow comes in extremely handy.

Gone are the days where your only options were between a flimsy square or overpriced horse-shoe shaped cushion, instead a plethora of newer choices have arrived.

A good one should last you past a flight too, and come in handy on uncomfortable car and boat rides, not to mention accommodation where pillows aren’t up to scratch.

Our favourite is the Huzi Design Infinity travel pillow (Amazon, £34.99), a squishy, blanket-in-a-scarf made from a bamboo fabric that you may have overlooked, but its uses are endless.

This versatile pillow will ensure you actually get some rest on your next flight (Amazon)
This versatile pillow will ensure you actually get some rest on your next flight (Amazon)

You can fold it up into a ball to sleep on like a pillow, or loop it around your neck for a luxurious neck-pillow. Our reviewer even bundled it onto a seat-back table and face planted it.

We found it to be helpful for longer flights where you have to shift constantly to find a comfortable position and for long layovers when a nap on the floor is the most rest you can get.

Travel skincare

An upcoming trip is a perfect time to treat yourself to your favourite skincare products in miniature form. You can even use it as an excuse to try a new brand you’ve had your eye on.

It also helps avoid the dreaded security rules which don’t allow you any liquids bigger than 100ml, as there’s nothing worse than having to throw away expensive products at the airport.

The Drunk Elephant the littles (Cult Beauty, £76) is a brilliant introductory set into the brand’s hero products.

Explore a skincare brand's best products in travel sizes with a set like this one (Cult Beauty)
Explore a skincare brand’s best products in travel sizes with a set like this one (Cult Beauty)

We’d be hard-pushed to choose our favourites out of the line-up, but B-Hydra intensive hydration serum and C-Firma day cream are both up there.

It goes without saying that you should be packing sunscreen to protect skin from overexposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun.

Our review of the best facial sunscreens found the SkinCeuticals advanced brightening UV defense sunscreen SPF50 (SkinCeuticals, £45) to be one of the best.

Wearing SPF is vital in protecting your skin from UV rays and preventing hyperpigmentation (SkinCeuticals)
Wearing SPF is vital in protecting your skin from UV rays and preventing hyperpigmentation (SkinCeuticals)

It not only protects against sun damage – it will also help to reverse it. Pigmentation goes far further than freckles: the discolouration caused by sun damage makes the skin tone and texture uneven. With regular use, this removes dark spots and brightens the skin.

Holiday wardrobe must-haves

If you’re heading somewhere sunny, make sure a pair of these trek rounded sunglasses (Weekday, £12) are nearby. Not only will they keep the sun rays out your eyes when you’re exploring a new country, but will hide tired eyes from a 6am flight too.

Keep the sun out of your eyes with a pair of stylish shades (Weekday)
Keep the sun out of your eyes with a pair of stylish shades (Weekday)

With so many high street brands offering a myriad of sunglasses designs, you don’t need to spend a fortune to find a pair to suit you, and if looked after, i.e. not accidentally sat on, they can last years.

Don’t forget how useful a pair of summer sandals will be either, not just for beachy resorts but for getting through security swiftly without painstakingly undoing laces and walking barefoot on a busy airport floor.

Arguably nothing in our wardrobe has seen less of the outdoors recently like footwear either. Having spent the past three months in slippers and socks, get your toes out in the fresh air with this pair of flat leather sandal with quilted criss-cross straps (Zara, £29.99).

These pastel coloured sandals are perfect for a summer getaway (Zara)
These pastel coloured sandals are perfect for a summer getaway (Zara)

The slider style isn’t too much of a stretch from what you’ve probably been used to wearing, but the leather sole lining and lilac hue make it the perfect summer shoe.

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