Plan a safe and successful trip during Covid times
It’s been a year of stressful lockdowns, a drastic reduction of social relationships and… of planning staycations. But with the vaccine arrival, things might start improving soon. Some countries are starting to relax their Covid restrictions and opening their borders. While not everyone will feel safe enough to border beyond their own country, for others it’s a rare opportunity to travel avoiding crowds and maybe even getting quite interesting deals for hotels and flights.
If that’s your idea, in this post you’ll find a few recommendations that will help making your experience smooth and easy.
Things to take into account when traveling in Covid times:
Do your research meticulously and periodically. Covid restrictions sometimes change from week to week. Or from city to city, even in the same country! Do not assume the same rules will apply at all the stops of your trip. Check the country government for restrictions that apply to entering the country, and don’t forget to check also the city council restrictions or regional restrictions for each area you are planning to visit.
Take Spain as an example: Barcelona has been much more restrictive with what can be done or not than say Madrid. While one city had all restaurants closed, the other had them packed with people for a while. Keep a list of links to the official websites of the restrictions affecting your trip, and check them every few days before your departure.
Check if there’s mobility restrictions between different cities or areas. In Catalonia, for instance, there’s been interdictions of traveling outside of your municipality area, and when there was a reason to travel, an online Certificate of Responsibility had to be sent to the Catalan government.
Figure out if you'll need a test
Some countries require a test to enter it, either for every foreign visitor or for visitors from selected countries. When you check the local restrictions, make sure to find out what type of test is required, and how many days in advance before your trip. It’s also worth asking your hotel if there’s any test requirements to check-in. There are hotels in Spain that won’t give you the room keys unless you provide a negative test, too.
Also consider getting a sworn translation of your results. Do not assume the border agents will understand English. And don’t assume a translation made by a friend will be enough. A sworn translation is done by certified professionals and their seal makes the document as legally valid as the original.
At the moment vaccine passports are not being implemented in Europe yet.
Get a COVID travel Insurance
While before COVID travel insurance was something you could risk skipping, in our days it’s become a must. Shop around or get an insurance broker find the right one for you. Find out what it covers: hotel, flight and tour cancellations if you or your travel mates get COVID and can’t travel, cancellations if there’s a change in your destination restrictions that prevent you from entering the area, sanitary coverage if you get sick of COVID during your trip and possible repatriation costs… Make sure to ask if there’s standstill or exclusion periods, excess or not, and the amounts you are insured for. And get a contact number for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Plan your Meals
Unless you are staying at an apartment and you are planning to cook every day, do plan your meals ahead of time. During lockdown sometimes restaurants are only allowed for a short set of hours. And if they also have had to reduce the number of tables available, that means that they fill up quickly.
When possible do your research and decide where you are going to eat each day beforehand, and book a table online to make sure you’ll have a place to eat. Alternatively, supermarkets and bakeries are likely to be open all day long (except dinner time, I mean), and you can get some food to go there. It might be a good idea to have your own set of travel cutlery, in case they don’t provide disposable ones.
Get a stock of face masks
Europe is getting serious about face masks. In most countries they are compulsory outdoors and inside most public venues. You risk being fined for not wearing one. Make sure to find out what’s the local regulations before you travel. Some countries are even strict about the type of masks that are allowed, either everywhere or in some specific facilities. Cloth masks might not be allowed in certain occasions, for instance.
And of course, sort out your COVID sightseeing...
What sites will you be able to visit?
Even when there’s no lockdown, many tourists sites in Europe continue to be open because it’s too costly to stay open with almost no visitors. Smaller venues and public museums might be open, but large must-see sites might not be open yet.
That’s a big con of traveling during Covid times… But maybe you are fine just seeing most of them from outside only (it’s cheaper too!).
Our recommendation is to plan your sightseeing ahead of time, and when possible, purchase the tickets of the sites you want to see from their official websites directly. If they ended up having to close during your trip, they’ll probably let you know – which is less likely to happen if you purchase from resellers.
Or even better, book a private tour, so your tour operator takes care of all the sightseeing logistics and keeps you posted about any possible changes!
Are you planning to travel despite the COVID pandemics?
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