Sharing our European Travel Experience
Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 11 Feb 2022
Following our recent trip to Europe when we spent time in Italy, France, the UK and Austria, we are very encouraged that the world of travel really will open up this year. So many of us are excited to start re-discovering parts of the globe, and we know how many of our friends in hotels and restaurants are keen to welcome back guests once again. There is no substitute for genuine experience so, if you are still a little unsure about venturing overseas in 2022, here is what we learnt from our journey:
There is obviously more documentation required than in previous years so we discovered that it is important to be super-organised and prepared before you leave home. We allowed extra time at check-in and found that documents were checked more thoroughly on departure than on arrival on both the outward and return legs of our journey. We had them all to hand on our smart phones but carried a hard copy too. We wore our masks in the airports and throughout the flights, only removing them for moments when we were eating or drinking.
Before leaving home we completed the three requirements for entry to Italy. We downloaded onto our phones our Vaccination Certificates, had taken a PCR test so we had full documentation of the result, and filled in the EU Passenger Locator Form. The important thing to stress is that rules in different countries are still changing. You must be responsible for finding out what applies in your own country and your destination country, as there is not one set of rules which apply globally. A useful website to help with this ever-changing situation is Sherpa.
Before returning to Australia, we booked a private clinic in our local town of Poggibonsi, paid €65 and fixed a time for our PCR test which only took around 15 minutes. The result came within 24 hours by text and email so it was easy to show at the airport. This is another important point to stress however with regard to a tour. You need to allow time to have all tests completed with results returned before flying on to your next destination, so avoid booking an onward flight too close to the end of the tour. There are testing centres at all major airports and private tests can be carried out in labs, testing centres, or even at your accommodation via private doctors such as Med in Action or Medelit and prices vary from €20 to €100.
Useful information can be found on your own government websites, eg:
In Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/europe/italy
In the UK: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy/entry-requirements
In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html
Life on the Street
Whilst we were in Italy it was mandatory to wear face coverings in public places indoors, and outdoors where social distancing was not possible, and the Italian authorities specified the FFP2 as a minimum requirement in many places such as museums or on public transport, although we noticed that most people wore them anyway. These are designed to fit closer to the face than other disposable masks to give greater protection to the wearer. They are the European equivalent of N95 respirator masks sold in the US. Whilst they are widely available, we recommend travelling with a good supply of these.
In hotels, restaurants and museums it was necessary in Italy to show what they call the Super Green Pass, which is essentially a proof of full vaccination (not just a negative test result). We found that the QR code on our Australian Medicare app was not recognised by the Italians, but our vaccination certificate was accepted. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation advises that any traveller with a foreign vaccination certificate must ensure it contains the following information: the personal details of the holder, the details of the vaccine, the date(s) of administration of the vaccine and the identity of the certificate issuer. This is a useful website about the Green Pass.
The vaccination certificate is valid in Italy indefinitely for those with a third dose booster, following a meeting of the Italian cabinet on February 2. The government decided on new measures including an extension of vaccination certificates beyond six months for those who have completed their booster dose (or have recovered from Covid after completing their initial vaccination cycle). A valid vaccination or recovery certificate is what is required for the Super Green Pass mentioned above.
We were impressed by how uncomplaining the Italians were in wearing their masks and how willingly they showed their Green Passes at venues we visited. There was a genuine sense of pulling together in the face of the virus and an acceptance that these rules and regulations are in place for the greater good of the population as a whole.
Another very positive aspect of our travels was the incredible welcome we received not only from friends, but from so many of the hotels and restaurants we work with. Everyone is pleased to be getting back to welcoming guests and keen to make the experience as safe but enjoyable as possible.
We were also extremely lucky to be able to visit Florence and Venice at a time when there were fewer tourists than normal, which made entry to major attractions easier than in previous years. But we feel this will be an advantage for travel in 2022 in general, because visitor numbers are not expected to quite reach pre-pandemic levels this year so the experience of visiting Europe will be calm and comfortable and guests will be warmly welcomed by all in the hospitality industries.
The rules for travel are constantly being reviewed around the globe and March 31st is a key date in Italy when changes may come into play. However, we wanted to get across the message that travel is possible in 2022, albeit with a few more administrative hoops to jump through than previously, and also enjoyable as the world is happy to open up once again. Here are our top tips:
• Be responsible for thoroughly researching regulations in your own country/state and your destination countries
• Carry vaccination certificates in hard copy and on smart phones
• Allow time for testing and receiving results on all legs of the journey
• Carry your own supply of RAT tests and masks. They are readily available but it is convenient to have your own to hand
• Have a comprehensive travel insurance policy covering COVID issues. This is a useful website if you are in Australia.
• Use a Travel Agent if you can, as they will help with policy updates, changing flights or chasing refunds if necessary
As a final point, if you are joining us on a tour this year, we would like to reiterate that it is mandatory for you to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with a vaccine approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. We will ask you to provide us with evidence of vaccination (or exemption) at least 30 days prior to the start of the tour. As a further important step to protect the health and wellbeing of all involved, we will ask all guests to have had a negative Rapid Antigen Test result within 48 hours of tour departure.