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Trying to travel in Europe during COVID

View Italy on tatehomberg's travel map.

As you might imagine, traveling during the time of Covid is not easy. The places we are told to avoid to prevent the spread of covid are closed-in areas with lots of people. This sounds very much like a plane, train, bus, or ferry. Which of course, when traveling Europe, are all forms of transportation that you will take at some point. We are very careful, wearing our masks, and carrying wipes to sanitize the area we are sitting. Doing all this is a pain but it is not the hardest part.

When we went to Europe, we chose Croatia because we could get in without having to quarantine. As Americans, we were very limited on where we could go. To get into Croatia, we had to have a negative Covid test less than 48 hours old and we had to fill out some paperwork. The Covid test was a challenge, but we managed to pull that off. Once we had that, getting into the country went smoothly. However, crossing the border was the part that worried us the most. What happens if you fly 24 hours to get there and they say “No. You are not allowed to come into the country”. Do you get back on a plane and go home? Sleep in the airport? What? This was our nightmare but of course, what kind of adventure doesn’t have the possibility of some doom. So, we got in with no problem but now we are planning on going to another country - so now we have to do it all over again.

Croatia has been wonderful. I would not be surprised if it ends up being my favorite part of the whole trip, but it is time to move on. So where to next? Well, that is a harder question than you might think.

We are unable to plan ahead very much because the restrictions to get into other countries change almost daily. The plan was that we get into Croatia and then we figure it out from there. Well, we are at that point now and there are a lot of factors that we needed to take into consideration.

The questions for picking the next county include, among other things: Where can we go? Can we get there from here? Are Americans allowed to enter? Do we have to take Covid tests? Is it in the Shengen zone? Where can we go after we leave that country? Is this a bad time of year to go? What is their Covid situation right now? How expensive is it going to be? And lastly, of course, is this somewhere we want to go?

Lots and lots of factors. Now, I am not going to go over all of these but I am going to talk about a few. The first and hardest was “Where can we go?” To help answer that question we started with the website: reopen.europa.eu. It has a lot of good information, but it is also where we run into problems.

As you can imagine no one wants people coming from the United States (we suck when it comes to Covid). However, we are not coming from the US. We are coming from Croatia and have been here for almost a month. You would think this would make it easier but it doesn’t.

Some countries restrict travel based on the country you are traveling from and some countries based on the country that is listed on your passport. There are many other restrictions and each country is different. The hard part is getting the restrictions clearly defined. To make sure, we searched several websites such as EU websites, embassy sites and travel sites. However, this did not clear things up but made them more confusing. The different sites often had confusing or conflicting information. And of course, just like at the start of this trip, you don’t want to show up at a border and have them say, “Sorry, you can’t come in”.

Of course, you want clarification so we will just call or email someone. Well, that was the next problem. That is a lot harder than you might think. We called and emailed embassies and when we did get a response they just referred us back to the confusing websites we had already been looking at. So in the end, you have to make your best interpretation of the information and hope for the best, because there really is no one out there to help. And if there is, we never found them.

Next is the Covid test. Most countries, if they are going to let you in, require a Covid test that is less than 72 hours old. Most of the countries that don’t require a test either want you to quarantine for two weeks or they strongly suggest that you have a test -otherwise you might be required to quarantine.

Having to quarantine is the last thing we want to do because, besides the fact it would just suck to have to sit inside for a week or two, it would also be very expensive to rent a place for that amount of time.

Now when we left the States we needed Covid tests and it was a challenge to get one, despite the fact that we had a health provider that helped us. Now we are in another country and we have to find a place and pay for a test. After some internet searching, we found a place and found out the cost...3,000 kuna for two tests, which is about $470 for both me and Shelley. Savannah doesn't need one.

Of course it turns out that the town we are in right now (Dubrovnik), the Covid tests are twice as expensive as anywhere else in the country. But, we don’t have much of a choice unless we pick a country that doesn’t require a test and that just sounds risky.

The next challenge is: What countries can we travel to in Europe from Dubrovnik, Croatia? Of course we can get anywhere but some of the fights are very convoluted and require over 20 hours to get to your destination with long layovers.

In the end, we picked Italy as our next destination. Both France and Turkey made the final list, however we didn’t pick Turkey because it is on several other countries' red list, so that would limit where we could go after Turkey.

France was almost our next destination because there was a direct flight for cheap and they didn’t require a Covid test. However, a bunch of other smaller factors led us to feel that Italy was the better choice.

So, Monday morning we go get Covid tests and then later that day we will hop an overnight ferry to Italy. The plan is to be there about a month and then do this all again at the end of October.

We will see what is happening in a month but the hope is that after Italy we will go to Britain- leaving the Schengen Zone for a while. We will see what happens- it’s an adventure!

After writing this, we traveled to Italy and crossing the border was a bit bumpy and a little scary. More on that in the next entry. Thanks for reading.

Posted by tatehomberg 13:17

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