Well, we made it. Having had just the one night away from home since the nightmare of Covid-19, we actually had a holiday abroad; two weeks in Croatia to be precise. It was an easyJet package holiday, which is to say you fly with them and via various agents you stay in what is often independent accommodation. It’s a bit of a Booking.com situation, but in my experience cheaper. So, what was it like?

You will not be surprised to learn that the new way of going on holiday is slightly more complex than the old way. To fly to Croatia, we needed a negative Covid test to go there, a negative one to come home again and in two days we need to do yet another test to prove we don’t have Covid. These tests were all at our expense and if you are flying on a low budget, as I know many do, it’s a big add-on. You also have to do what’s called a passenger locator form in both directions. And before all that, make sure you’re not caught out, as I was, by the changes to the validity of passports. Even though mine appeared to be valid until May 2022, it was no use for Croatia in September 2021.

Our experience was that there’s no way of avoiding this stuff. Everything was checked inbound and outbound and with it could bring stress. What if you are holidaying with children and one tests positive two days before you fly home? You are right up shit creek then. Make sure your insurance covers you.

Going through Bristol Airport was fine, although you need to answer loads of questions at check-in. You must wear the mask at all times in the airport terminal, unless you are enjoying the dawn pint of Thatchers Gold, which I know is compulsory for holidays. And on the plane, it’s the same. easyJet instruct people to wear their masks throughout the flight so you are wearing them for a bloody long time.

Masks were the rule on the transfer from Split to Brac and they are worn in indoor places like supermarkets, much more so than here (in my opinion). We did feel slightly safer abroad because we spent most of the time outdoors. And because Croatia, like most countries, has done a far better job over Covid than we have.

Coming home was probably even more complex. You check in and various documents are needed. Then you go through security. And then you go through passport control with more Covid questions. My phone is full of emails and QR codes and pretty well all of them were needed. My partner, who is effectively my carer at times like these, guided me through this stuff with the minimum of fuss but inwardly I fear maximum embarrassment.

Our outbound flight to Split was roughly half-empty and we had three seats each. It was about three-quarters full on the return trip but again we managed to do the same thing with entire rows of empty seats.

Travel can be boring so I enjoy myself with silly, trivial things like watching so called ‘speedy boarders’, who pay extra to get on the plane before you do, but don’t always get on the plane before you do. On the return flight, the speedy boarders were called before the inbound flight had disembarked so they ended up waiting on the tarmac in the hot sun. Then the riff-raff (us) were called and we joined the plane from the rear entrance at the same time they did. Tiny things please tiny minds.

easyJet isn’t up to speed yet. They ran out of hot food for today’s return flight, except for porridge and, if you can call it food, pot noodles. I can’t see how they are making money with half-empty planes and reduced food and drink services.

Now, passports. I’ve got the new shitty blue British passport, as opposed to my lovely old EU passport. And what fun we had with the Borders Agency. I went to one of the machines to scan my details and IT DIDN’T WORK. I tried numerous times and eventually an officer came over to do it for me. And it didn’t work. So, I was directed to another official who remarked that this was happening “all the time” with the new passports. “They’re made in France, you see,” he added, as if this explained everything. I was the very last person to clear Borders control, having been asked lots of questions about where I’d stayed and how long.

As for Brac, it’s lovely, like it was two years ago. Things run to time, people turn up when they’re supposed to, most places are spotlessly clean, you can put your used toilet paper in the toilet and you can drink the tap water. Whisper it: we think Croatia is a big step up from Greece in every single way, with the possible exception of the shingly, pebbly beaches.

The new holiday is a little more hard work than the old one, but if you’re vaxxed, tested and you’ve filled out all your forms the odds are you’ll be fine. My only advice is don’t get a positive Covid test abroad. That would bugger up everything. Hopefully, next year will be better again this year, which was better than last year. It couldn’t be much worse.