The reports coming from Aussies on holiday in Europe are that COVID-19 hasn’t sapped any of the magic out the streets.
And with the Northern Hemisphere summer coming closer, many of us are gearing up for our first European break in two years.
It’s going to be great, for sure. But by travelling a bit smarter, you can reduce the chance of running into any pandemic confusion, keep safe, be prepared if anything goes wrong – and, most of all, ensure a spectacular vacation that makes up for lost time.
Here are five tips for travelling to Europe in 2022.
Add to your packing list
While no one likes a stuffed suitcase, there are a few extra items you’ll need on hand for your international travels.
Knowing that you could contract Covid and end up in quarantine, pack yourself a first aid kit and have your own sanitiser, spare masks, Panadol and Nurofen, cold and flu medicine, hydrolytes and throat lozenges at the ready.
It’s also worth packing some items that could keep you busy or entertained in a sudden quarantine, whether that’s a few extra books, some puzzles or games, or pre-downloaded movies on your phone. It’s best to be ready for the possibility of getting trapped inside.
You’ll also want physical copies of all your documentation on hand, so make sure your vaccine certificate, travel insurance and any visa documents are all printed out.
Given how critical a smartphone is to modern travel, if you have any spares among family or friends, it’s a good idea to take a back-up with you – also with your documentation downloaded.
What you shouldn’t worry too much about packing are rapid antigen tests, as they are fairly priced and easy to find in Europe.
The documents you’ll need
To enter any museum, restaurant or pub in the European Union, you’ll need an EU Digital COVID certificate.
Australia didn’t participate in the certificate program, so the necessary procedure will depend on exactly where you’re heading.
In France, it’s as simple as heading to a pharmacy where you can get a certificate for about $60. However, if you’re travelling on an EU passport, France will make you obtain your certificate from your home country.
Another country with an easy system is Switzerland, where anyone with a hotel booking can simply apply online for approximately $45.
If you are planning on travelling around multiple countries, you might want to arrange your trip to start in a country with a simple system to attain your EU certificate.
The Australian COVID certificate alone will not suffice as proof of vaccination.
Beat the crowds
Obviously, high up on the list of the most daunting things to grapple with about heading overseas is the thought of catching COVID-19 itself. One of the easiest ways to reduce this risk is simply to tread off the beaten path and find destinations that aren’t overcrowded with tourists.
There has never been a better time to get away from the Eiffel Tower and Tower Bridge and into hidden alleyways and remote beaches.
Think about changing the type of holiday you have planned, and perhaps move towards being out in nature – whether that’s road tripping through the geological wonders of Iceland or Norway or checking out the highlands and mountain regions of Spain and Italy. Or you can visit smaller towns and villages outside of the capital cities, to enjoy the food and culture of Europe free from the long lines and lingering crowds.
Where to head
With travellers heading back to Europe and weighing up whether to stick to what they know or delve into new destinations, travel organisation European Best Destinations released a list of the best 20 destinations for 2022.
Coming in as the number-one destination is Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, with its colourful streets and green backdrop.
Rounding out the top three are the postcard-perfect Marbella in Spain and the romantic canals of Amiens in France.
Of the best-known locations on the list, London ranked at number seven, Istanbul at ten, Italy’s sparkling Amalfi Coast at 11, Prague at 12, Rome at 13 and Athens at 15.
In addition, Vienna in Austria stands out as a LGBTQ+ friendly city, Plovdiv in Bulgaria is perfect for lovers of history and culture, and Clonakilty in Ireland is noted for its sustainable tourism practices, as well as great food, beaches and festivals.
If you’re particularly worried about contracting COVID-19, you might want to look at leaving a little extra in your budget for private transport or Ubers and taxis.
If you’re travelling between countries, many airlines will require you take a PCR test, which costs you time and money, so you may prefer to look into car hire or train travel as an alternative.
If you opt for the train, the best way to keep prices down is to book well ahead, as last-minute seats can cost considerably more than a pre-booked ticket. Taking overnight trains can help you save on accommodation.