Thinking About Traveling to Europe This Summer?

May 13, 2021
 

I know travelers are excited to see the positive news that the European Union (EU) is going to accept US vaccinated travelers for this summer!  Read this for additional information related to airfare, hotels, COVID testing, and travel insurance.

PLEASE NOTE- Travel information is changing frequently, hence please note the date of this content being published and ensure to check for recent updates.

What is Europe like in the summer? 

  • When I lived in Europe 15 years ago, I traveled all around. And it’s lovely- the weather, the coastal cities, the easy accessibility from one country to the next, etc! 
  • All the countries are flooded with travelers and prices for the major tourist cities are generally higher.
  • While EU is not all of Europe, it covers majority of the countries.
  • Europeans LOVE their holidays— they travel for weeks during the summer!  

While we are waiting to learn more about the EU details (all the countries have different opening dates), here are some important considerations before you plan your trips. (This includes insights from our recent family international travel).

For all families, what about kids who are not vaccinated? 

  • From the information that is currently available, this is still TBD.  In the United States, the COVID vaccine is approved for ages 12 and older (recent change). 
  • The information thus far has been focused on "vaccinated people"- the EU has not yet specified IF kids who are not vaccinated will be able to enter the EU countries. 
  • Also note that there are still rules in these countries (e.g. must wear masks) and the locals in these EU countries are not all vaccinated. 

For some expenses- supply and demand theories apply. 

  • Airfare
    • People have asked me regarding 2021 summer trips: Is airfare going to be affordable or expensive?   This is a multifaceted question dependent on:
      • Where you live +
      • Where you want to go
      • Timing of travel (things are changing daily) + if that destination is tourist heavy during the summer months
    • There have been some cheap fares to certain destinations if the airline has a hub in your local airport. For example:
      • If you live in Miami (American Airlines hub)- they offer a significant amount of flights to Central/South America and the Caribbean.
      • But if I wanted to go to Greece- the better options are nonstop flights from New York or Atlanta on Delta.  There are more flights and cheaper versus American Airlines with a layover in London.
    • If you are considering Europe, South America, Asia, or Africa- airlines have either canceled their routes and/or minimized the frequency of flights.  So unless that changes- you may not have a lot of options and / or layovers. Hence the theory of supply and demand kicks in.  The airfare may not be that cheap based on the demand. For example:
      • Miami to Cairo- we only had one logical choice of air travel - that was Turkish Airlines. Overall- flight frequency was limited and it was more expensive than normal with a high “fuel surcharge”. I have not seen a fuel charge this expensive- wow! But again, there were no other options.
      • Why were there very limited choices? Emirates temporarily paused their flights to Fort Lauderdale. Qatar Airways frequency of daily flights has significantly minimized.  Note- American Airlines (code share British Airways) was not going to Egypt. Other airlines like Lufthansa were triple the price and amount of flying time with multiple layovers across various cities in the US and around Europe.
    • If you are booking tickets- make sure your tickets are either “refundable or changes allowed with no penalty”— so that you can alter your plans if needed. (Many airlines are offering that now).

  • Securing a places to Stay:
    • If you plan to stay in a hotel… Keep in mind that many of the large hotel brands have a capacity on their occupancy rates and less staff (e.g our Marriott hotels in Cairo were both capped at 50% occupancy).  Again, this will evolve in the next few months. 
    • Of course local style living (e.g. AirBnB and VRBO) are options as well.  
    • Normally, we mix up our options with hotel and local style living. However, for our recent Egypt trip, it was an easier option to just stay in a hotel especially related to overall COVID regulation/safety, our short duration of the trip, and nonstop activities.  
  • COVID testing to return to the US (based on experiences with our recent travel to Central America, Caribbean islands, and Egypt)
    • While this has been offered in various hotels (onsite for free or a fee) in Central American and the Caribbean, not all countries or hotels offer this as a service and/or for free!
    • For example, in Egypt- we coordinated the family’s COVID testing through our tour guide as this was not offered by the hotel.  Keep in mind, countries like Mexico whose tourists at this time are majority from the United States have created more US based testing accommodations.  At this moment, countries like Egypt have mainly non-US based tourists.  While hotel concierge can coordinate things as you need them, it was not a service offered at the hotel.  
    • Note- every country has different rules of exit and re-entry (e.g. US has their specific rules which are not necessarily the same around the world). Egypt did require all passengers boarding an intentional flight to have a negative COVID PCR test and it must also be a printed copy sealed by the health ministry (digital copies were not accepted- see image below).
    • Overall, COVID testing can be added expenses- for example, $200 per person. 

     

Some European countries are currently accepting US + other tourists- vaccination is not required but all people need a negative COVID PCR test to enter, including children.  Here are some of those countries (note- this information changes  frequently).

  • Turkey, Albania, Greece, Croatia, Ireland, etc. 
  • For all countries, you must check the local country tourism board regarding any other rules (e.g curfews, online health assessments, quarantine, etc.) 
  • Also, do not interpret this as "those countries do not care about COVID"- that is not an accurate assumption.  Every country has their requirements and rules to keep their residents and tourists safe.

What are some additional considerations for Europe? (and relevant to other parts of the world)

  • If you want to travel from country to country (air or rail)- still some unanswered questions such as will negative COVID tests be required?  Euro Rail routes and ports (for cruise ships) are not all operating yet.. stay tuned. 
  • Your “hand written CVS vaccination card” will not be accepted as proof. It will be some type of “certificate” - still TBD. 
  • Various tourist sites have been temporary closed- assume they will open up for the surge in visitors. 
    • Just consider what you are comfortable with- crowds? Will you wear your masks? Social distance? 
    • Also remember- US travelers are required to be vaccinated to enter EU.  However, will all the locals be vaccinated?  With a variant across countries in Asia, ask yourself, what is your comfort level?
  • As seen in the video above in Egypt, we wore masks in all public places that were crowded, indoor venues, inside the hotel (as required).  We did wear masks in the middle of the Pyramids of Giza (it was an open outdoor non crowded space) and we felt safe with the camels.  This was our way to enjoy all the tourist heavy crowded sites while being safe.

My advice to everyone is:  

  • Before you finalize your travel plans, please do your all your research from various resources, travel influencers, and also seek advice from people who have actually traveled internationally during COVID. 
  • Although travel has increased a lot compared to last year, as mentioned rules and regulations can change from one day to the next, depending on the country you’re going to and their circumstances related to COVID-19.  Thus, travel insurance has been an option for many when dealing with baggage issues, trip cancellation/interruption, and in some cases emergency medical expenses. This money.com in-depth resource about the best travel insurance provides you information so you can compare and see what is the best option for your future travel plans. 
  • Here are some tips to find affordable air travel.  Sign up and/or download the app for the following:
    • Kayak- they will send you alerts on flights and recommended flexible date options at better rates. 
    • Skyscanner - they give you the option to shop for the cheapest place to fly to in the world from your home airport. This is great if have not selected a destination yet. 
    • The Points Guy newsletters - they frequently share flight and points deals.
    • CNN Travel has been a great resource for the latest and greatest country level information. 

Your travel experience will be awesome but you need to be well aware of some of the unique nuances.

 

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