With many Americans forced to enjoy Europe vicariously through Netflix shows like “Bridgerton” and “Emily in Paris,” it’s possible that more countries begin opening up to U.S. travelers by summer. (In fact, the U.K. is in the process of reopening its economy and fully reopened international travel could be on the table.)
Of course, there are many questions on when that will happen and what will be different, so here are some tips from members of Ensemble Travel Group:
Skip the Big Cities
Brian Chima of Chima Travel suggests that travelers consider destinations that offer natural social distancing, such as Ireland and Scotland or even Iceland. “We are working with several clients who still remain hopeful to go this summer and our recommendation is to skip the bigger cities, rent a car and enjoy the beauty of these countries that lies beyond their largest cities. It’s a great way to really experience these countries and is a perfect way to ease back into international travel.”
Diana Hechler, president of D. Tours Travel, agreed and has plans to travel to Switzerland herself this summer. “Switzerland is an ideal place to go in the early post-COVID travel days because most of what you do there is outdoors anyway. My plan is to spend my time in Zermatt, Lake Geneva and Interlaken and to enjoy the spectacular Alpine scenery. For clients, I’m recommending they do the same, whether they are in Italy or France. The museums and other indoor sightseeing attractions aren’t going anywhere—save those for your next trip and use this trip as a reason to get out into the countryside … This year, I recommend that people use Rome or Paris mainly as their point of entry and then get to Tuscany and Umbria in Italy or Provence in France.”
Viking Travel’s Avery Harris added that travelers won’t need to go far to find lots of national parks and open spaces near major European cities and referenced Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia as another example of getting beyond Dubrovnik to experience the beauty of the country. “That said, you don’t have to go far to get some natural social distancing. In Prague, you can enjoy one of the city’s parks right on the way to Lobkowicz Palace. I am also recommending clients visit places like Sweden, Norway and Finland where there is so much outdoor activity, and the Scandinavian culture is just naturally socially distant as people don’t really stand next to each other as a cultural norm.”
When Can Clients Expect to Go?
All three advisors agreed that we’ll know more by mid-March, but Harris said that while it may be a little uncertain to plan for May or June, he anticipated that by August or September that things will be back in full swing. At this time, however, major destinations like France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece and Iceland remain closed to Americans. Some countries, like the U.K. and Ireland are “open” but travel is strong advised against and a mandatory 10- or 14-day quarantine, respectively, is in place. The Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark are also closed to Americans.
Countries that are open to Americans include Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, Georgia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.