Europe is a continent of many faces, and it is no surprise that many of us want to make multiple stops when we go abroad. After all, who would want to miss the chance to see the sights in London, Paris or Rome? But before you start dreaming of your European vacation, it is important to understand that there are a lot of factors to consider when planning a trip, such as your budget, your interests and your available time.
If you’re planning to head to Europe this summer, you’re not alone. In fact, millions of Americans will be heading to Europe this summer. But they won’t be heading everywhere. So, where should you go? There’s no one right answer to this question, of course, but there are some things you should keep in mind when deciding where to head when you make the big trip across the pond.
Iceland and Greece are open. France has said it will open this summer, with the support of the European Union. Spain says it is conducting tests in May and hopes to welcome visitors in June.
Your options are no longer limited to nearby domestic and international destinations like Mexico and parts of Central and South America. Much of Asia is likely to remain off-limits, although Thailand will welcome vaccinated visitors to Phuket in July and other destinations in October, subject to change.
Where to go, how to book your room and what to expect?
Where should I go first?
I think the starting point is what kind of trip you want to take. Explore the cities in a new or different place, or relax at the beach, or a combination (do both)?
Most places that are generally open to vaccinated Americans will not be particularly bizarre or dystopian. Maldives is like Seychelles, everything still happens outside (Maldives even offers vaccinations on arrival, they have already vaccinated 90% of tourism workers).
Greece and Iceland are already open. I bet even France will be as good as normal in three months, but I made predictions during the pandemic that didn’t come true. For example, I thought Australia would open this fall, but the odds are now less than 50% that it will in 2021.
If you wait until you can travel long distances until you no longer need to wear a mask, you will have to wait a while. I have to think that the Biden administration will extend the mask mandate until they are ready to scrap the policy as a symbol of victory over Covid-19. I don’t know when that will happen, except that it will happen sometime between now and the 2022 midterm elections.
Be eligible to participate in Connecting Cities
If you need to connect to reach your destination, it’s important where you connect.
- You want to have access to the country you are travelling to in case your flight is delayed or cancelled.
- You don’t want to be stuck at the airport all night in a city where you can’t leave.
Be prepared for travel disruption
If you are traveling this year, please note that local conditions may change and it may be difficult to leave your residence or you may need to take the mandatory Covid test to re-enter the United States.
The US accepts any antigen test from anywhere in the world (false positives!), excludes people who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past three months, but still demands a test for vaccinated people. It seems strange to prefer immunity from natural infection to immunity from vaccination.
I think any booking should be able to be cancelled in full – and by that I mean unpaid travel on airlines that offer tickets with no change fee. I don’t like giving them my money because I can use it later.
For example, American AAdvantage no longer charges for canceling or refilling miles. You can cancel a journey booked with your miles at any time without penalty. And book a hotel room with a cancellation option. Then you can wait and see how it all goes, there will be something to see, and circumstances will determine whether you go or not, rather than putting it off until next year.
It always has to be better
To be clear, many of you would not be able to enjoy Greece today, the country remains under a kind of isolation even though it welcomes tourists. That’s about to change. The tourist season starts around January 1. Around June. During this time, tourists from most countries of the world are welcomed here.
The restrictions on locals simply cannot be maintained if foreigners can essentially come and go. As with all these predictions, I bet Greece will be a pretty normal place this summer, but that’s assuming things don’t get worse because of the pandemic. But by summer they will have received more vaccinations and will spend most of their lives outside. Athens is worth spending a few days on if you haven’t already, and the islands are great.
In Europe, however, things will be mixed. I don’t know if we can expect complete normality in the UK. Her politics are far from my area of expertise, but if she is the 21st President of the United States, I don’t think she is. I don’t know if all the restrictions (up to and including masks on public transport) will be lifted by then.
I think you should decide on your minimum standard and book your tickets flexibly so you can cancel if conditions change locally. Although I think Greece is active enough to be the best European summer option for a normal mix of beaches, bars and history.
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