What you can do: Carefully research the latest requirements from the destination, as well as your airline, tour company and lodging (see links to individual countries’ websites below). Bring multiple sets of digital and hard copy documentation of your vaccination status and testing results. Some destinations require online entry of this information before arrival. France recently began requiring a Health Pass certifying vaccination or a negative coronavirus test for entry to indoor spaces, with a system for foreign tourists. European tour operator Intrepid Travel recently began requiring all their guests (and tour guides) to be fully vaccinated. Other countries, cities or attractions may follow suit with similar programs.
And given the variety of regulations, consider limiting the geographic scope of your trip. This will make planning and travel easier, as 2021 is probably not the time for an 8-countries-in-7-days Grand Tour. Explore “slow travel” vacation options based at a single location, like walking and biking day trips from a countryside home rental. “I would definitely limit travel to one or two countries at the most,” says Brigitte Armand, president of the Eurobound destination management company, “in case a country decides to impose new travel restrictions all of a sudden.”
3. Consider travel Insurance — but read the fine print
The Latest from Top European Destinations
The CDC's current COVID-19 risk assessments (with links to destination websites listing current rules) include:
Level 4 (very high risk; avoid travel): Britain, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland
Level 3 (high risk; make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel): Italy, Croatia, Germany
Level 2 (moderate risk; make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel): Czech Republic
Level 1 (low risk, make sure you are fully vaccinated): Slovakia, Hungary, Poland
Be sure to review the latest information before and even during travel.
Travel insurance can protect against trip cancellation, provide medical relief and cover potentially exorbitant costs in case you contract COVID-19 during your trip. But policies will only cover exactly what is mentioned in the fine print.
What you can do: Read carefully. “Go over details, like what qualifies as a covered event, before purchasing,” says Chris Carnicelli, CEO of Generali Global Assistance. “It’s important to remember that coverage related to the pandemic is only available if you, a traveling companion or family member get sick from COVID-19 or if you buy a Cancel for Any Reason plan.”
Lisa Cheng, spokesperson for World Nomads travel insurance, says to make sure you have “sufficient medical coverage under your chosen policy as well as coverage for emergency evacuation. Medical bills are going to be the biggest cost to you if you contract one of the variants when traveling.”
4. Costs may be high and availability low in Europe this fall
Europe’s recent reopening to U.S. travelers has led to a flood of eager tourists in prime tourist destinations in countries like France, Italy, Greece and Iceland. This increase in demand combined with COVID-related closures and lack of staffing means you may find limited availability and skyrocketing prices for lodging, transport and attractions in these popular spots.
What you can do: Consider lesser-trafficked destinations and visiting off-season, during non-holiday periods. Planning ahead can lock in savings and ensure access to museums and other popular attractions where capacity and hours may be restricted and reservations required. Be aware of cancellation costs in case plans change. The good news is that many hotels and ground operators have relaxed cancellation rules and introduced more flexible terms.