Will strikes ruin our rail trip to Vesuvius? What are the Covid vaccination rules for Brazil? The Holiday Guru tackles travellers’ questions
The Holiday Guru is here to answer travellers’ questions.
This week he tackles queries around the upcoming train strikes in Europe, the legal requirements for taking prescription drugs into the US, the changes to EHIC cards, and more…
Q. We are heading on a long Interrail trip, aiming to reach Naples to see Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii. We are travelling through France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland – but we’re worried about train strike disruptions. Can we know in advance what might happen?
Mr and Mrs Davies, Peterborough
A. This is tricky as strikes can be called at short notice – as they were a week last Sunday when many Eurostar trains were cancelled. But most are announced weeks ahead: for example, a nationwide strike in Italy is due on May 26, while there’s a rail disruption planned in France on June 6. Search ‘bulletin board’ at raileurope.co.uk and ‘strike dates’ at which.co.uk. Also check foreign rail operators’ websites.
Frozen in time: A reader asks the Guru if strikes will impact their rail trip to Naples to see Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius (pictured)
Q. Last summer our Ryanair flights were cancelled and a customer assistant on its web chat told me to buy tickets on another airline and I’d be refunded. They cost £1,412, but Ryanair won’t pay. Can you help?
Name and address supplied
A. The Civil Aviation Authority says that if a flight is cancelled and you still want to travel, the original airline should find another flight – on their airline or another – but Ryanair is not accepting that you were told on the web chat to buy alternative flights and expense them back. In such a stalemate you can go to Aviation ADR (aviationadr.org.uk) or take Ryanair to the small claims court.
Q. I want to go to Toronto to visit the grave of one of the First World War men commemorated on our village memorial. Can you recommend the best-value flights and accommodation at an off-peak time of year?
Jonty Wild, Pirton, Hertfordshire
A. Prices drop to £399 return from Gatwick to Toronto with Air Transat in September (airtransat.com) – half the summer rates. So go around then and compare hotel prices at booking.com and hotels.com. Then check to see if rooms are cheaper booked directly from hotels.
Q. I am going to Amsterdam for three days and I have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) that has expired. Can I get a new one?
Rene van Creveld, via email
EHIC cards (above) are being phased out and replaced with new GHIC cards, reveals the Guru
A. EHIC cards, which provide health cover in the European Union, are being phased out – although those still within their expiry dates remain valid. Post Brexit, EHICs have been replaced by GHICs (Global Health Insurance Cards), which provide the same cover. Scroll to the bottom of the page at nhs.uk and click on ‘Healthcare abroad’.
Q. We are about to travel to the US. I have been prescribed several pills for my health. What are the legal requirements?
P. G. Guest, Dudley
A. You should have a copy of your prescription or a doctor’s note and the pills should be in their original packaging, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, and take no more than 90 days worth. Search ‘tips for travelling to the US with medications’ (make sure to use the US spelling) at fda.gov for five useful tips. There’s also an email for queries.
Q. Could you confirm what vaccinations are necessary for a trip to Rio de Janeiro? I am taking eight youngsters on a sports trip in August.
Gail Johns, via email
A. Those aged over 12 will need proof of vaccination against Covid at least 14 days before travel. Anyone unvaccinated must take a test with a negative result within 24 hours of travel or have proof of having recovered from Covid within 90 days – and if under 12 they’ll need one of these unless travelling with a parent or legal guardian. See Brazil’s ‘entry requirements’ at gov.uk.
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If you need advice, the Holiday Guru is here to answer your questions. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org