Many Americans have long been hoping that the cold wave would fade out this winter and that travel to Europe would once again be open to them. However, the recent outbreak of the seasonal flu has thrown a monkey wrench into the plans, with more stringent travel restrictions and cautions everywhere you turn. So now, although many hotels, flights and trains are operating as usual, the picture is not so rosy. So what to do? How can I go about traveling to Europe?
There are several things that we can do to attempt to stifle the seasonal flu and limit our exposure, while still allowing us to visit some of the most beautiful places on earth. First, we can limit our travels to those countries with fewer than 10 day flights from the United States. It’s not enough, of course, but a portion of our visit to Europe can be cut short by stopping or postponed just a few days if the location is affected by the pandemic. In many of the more crowded European cities, public transportation is often unreliable or non-existent.
This is not so much of a problem for those of us who live here in America, but for those of us who have seen the devastation that Europe can bring to its own people. Many of the cities in northern europe are packed, overflowing with visitors looking for a quick vacation or a respite from the chaos and traffic of daily life back home. When travelling to Europe, it’s important to consider how you will get around, whether by car, bus, train or tram. If you plan to walk, you need to make sure that you’re prepared for snowy or icy patches along the way. It’s also a good idea to pack comfortable shoes and some layers, just in case. Tourists in Europe are advised to invest in a little extra health insurance because, sadly, medical care is rarely available when experiencing a medical emergency abroad.
By Plane, Bus or Train – We’ve all been to Europe at some point and enjoyed the ride. Some people prefer flying, while others opt for the intercity bus system that crisscross most parts of Europe. If you’re not planning on travelling that far, you can also enjoy intercity bus travel in many cities throughout the continent. Tourists usually encounter fewer issues with queues and delays during these modes of transportation. It’s important, however, to ensure that you can afford to hire a ticket, as there can be expensive charges depending on the destination and time of day.
By Sea, Air or Rail – The last option for crossing Europe is by sea, air or rail. In many cases, this will be the most economical and quickest way to travel between countries, although security and customs issues may affect travel into some countries. For those of us coming from the US or Canada, security concerns are usually minimal compared to those in other parts of the world. Air travel is the most secure means of reaching the EU, but passengers from Europe traveling via air should be aware that US citizens are barred from air travel to certain countries due to fears of terror attacks. Depending on the routes you choose, your journey can take several days or take even longer, depending on the weather, customs and timing of your arrival date.
Arrivals Departures – There are many reasons why foreigners choose to enter the EU. For many, they are making a visit to europe to attend an important conference or to do research on specific subject areas. Other visitors may be coming to visit friends or family who already live in the area. Still others may be making their way into the area to visit relatives or to start a business in the many european countries. Whatever the reasoning, most of us arrive in europe either by plane, train or bus, and we should expect to encounter many customs and immigration issues.
Visas & Passports – Many international airports offer free or low cost entry for travelers coming to the EU. There are also several organizations offering Passport services for all foreign visitors, including visa applications and application confirmation. While these organizations do charge fees, it is often much cheaper for an american traveler entering the EU via these methods than it is for a european traveler originating from within the EU.
Import and Export Regulations – Most international airports have customs and immigration officers that require proof that a person entering the EU has passed the necessary vaccinations. In addition, some EU countries require that travellers provide proof of registration (including a passport) and proof of identity before they can pass through any country’s airports. For travellers, a fully vaccinated US citizen is required to have an approved international travel vaccination upon arrival in order to avoid the possibility of being denied entry to the EU because of un vaccinated against diseases.