Expert Q&A: Traveling During a Pandemic – Will Americans Be Able to Resume European Travel This Summer? by Warren Jaferian
As travel restrictions ease and lockdowns are ended in certain European countries, Americans are once again considering vacations and business trips overseas. Whether or not that's realistic depends on whom you ask.
There is much to consider and many preparations necessary before Americans should book their flights. The prospect of non-essential travel to Europe is exciting and may come as early as this summer for fully vaccinated Americans, according to EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen. What Americans will find there, however, is a region still hard hit by the pandemic. Tourism-dependent economies like France and Italy, while eager to welcome Americans back, have suffered from strict and persistent lockdowns. They will continue to face continued travel restrictions for the non-vaccinated within and between countries in the EU.
In addition, Europeans are more collectivist, culturally speaking, and more readily accept mandatory mask mandates and other restrictions associated with COVID-19 mitigation. American travelers should be prepared to show a negative PCR test entry into and departure from Europe and expect additional restrictions which may be stricter than they experienced in their own states.
Prospective travelers should do the research and remember that they are visiting a foreign country, not their own. Acceptance and compliance are essential.
At Endicott College, we maintained our study abroad programs in Ireland, Italy, Spain and Greece throughout the past year and a half, albeit with a lower participation rate than pre-pandemic. While some countries closed their borders outright, and various institutions switched to entirely remote learning, the academic and cultural experiences were maintained in-person but were different. We believed it important for our students to continue their global education and acquisition of 21st century skills, even in the throes of a global pandemic (executed with clear health and safety guidelines in collaboration with our European university partners).
Travelers should be sure to carry their CDC COVID-19 vaccination card with them, along with their passport. It would be wise to take photos and email yourself a copy of your vaccination record and passport, in the event either or both are lost while abroad. They should be sure their health insurance is valid and up to date and inquire whether their policies include global coverage.
If not, travelers should procure an international insurance policy as a rider to their existing U.S.-based policy. Such policies can be purchased for a few days or a few months and are worth every penny, though not expensive. Benefits include emergency hotlines that pinpoint one's location and direct travelers to hospitals, clinics and other health-care providers, including English-speaking practitioners.
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