Navigating the New Reality of European Travel Amid the Spread of the Delta Variant
When the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines arrived this Spring, wanderlust took hold of many of us as we emerged hopeful—looking forward to hopping on flights to Europe, exploring ancient ruins, visiting museums, and island hopping with late night beach parties. We were eager to drown all the discomforts of the winter’s dark isolation with warm cappuccinos in a Parisian bistro. For a short period of time, it all seemed possible. Now, as the Delta variant spreads, the process of international travel now seems as complex as those chemistry equations you once hated back in high school.
The Bygone Days of Pre-COVID Travel
My old memories of European travel seem a distant dream. Grabbing a last-minute special airfare, packing my TravelPro carryon with just enough essentials to insure I would shop for a stylish European outfit, checking my passport expiration date, reconfirming the flight, scribbling down a few sightseeing notes and essential contact numbers, and heading off to the airport—it all seems like a lifetime ago. A small notebook used to be sufficient to keep track of everything with space left over to write notes on my experiences and adventures.
Travel with the Delta Variant
It’s a nice memory, but travel during COVID-dominated 2021 as the Delta variant spreads is a whole other ballgame. Adequate travel planning now takes an excel spreadsheet to keep track of rules and regulations as well as forms and certificates needed before you can take to the skies. In one week, the Delta variant has changed border openings, and in the next week the situation could be completely different.
Knowing and understanding that change is and will remain a part of travel in 2021, there are important preparations that can make travel easier.
Secure Your Vaccination & Test Records
First, make sure copies of your vaccination certificate are accessible. Keep a copy on your phone and treat the paper copy as precious as your passport. Ditto for that Covid test you had before travel. And the one you will have to get before coming home. You need the negative results printed out as well as the online confirmation. While waiting for your results, download the appropriate forms for the country you are visiting.
Stay Current on Each Country’s Ever-Changing COVID Travel Regulations
Every country has different forms—do not assume that flying into one European country and hopping a train to another excuses you from additional scrutiny. Entry usually means filling out the proper forms, uploading your vaccination and/or negative Covid test results, and obtaining that welcome QR code that allows entry. You might also need to show the printed copies and vaccination card. Crossing borders may mean doing that all over again. Even some hotels require advance certification and proof of vaccination. (Or when boarding a cruise ship, but that’s another story.)
If you’re feeling confused by these ever-changing travel regulations, you’re not alone. Even experienced travelers can get caught in the revolving lazy-susan of travel regulations. Sometimes, as for Greece, you will not be able to board your flight unless all the information is submitted well in advance. Or you may discover that pre-booked dinner/theater reservation is useless due to a new curfew, as happens periodically in parts of Spain. Or you are denied entry to the Louvre because the vaccination card is sitting in the hotel room.
Even amidst all the chaos, I’m still planning my next trip to Europe. I’m still planning on leaving enough room in my suitcase for that beautiful new scarf or classy sweater. I’m also packing an extra dose of patience, and the understanding that regardless of well-researched plans, something will change, something may “go wrong”. That’s OK—it will be another travel story to tell.
For help planning your next trip and navigating all the potential pitfalls of travel during COVID, contact DreamMaker Destinations. We’re here to make your travel dreams a reality, working together with you to create a travel experience of a lifetime. Contact us to plan your next adventure!