Italy was among the countries worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of 2020. Now, as the coronavirus case numbers become more manageable, Italy is paving the way by becoming the first European country to reopen to tourists. Italy plans to reopen slowly, starting on June 3, when they will allow the residents of select European countries and the United Kingdom into the country as tourists. The government has also not yet announced when the borders will open to visitors outside of Europe.
Other European countries are feeling the pressure to reopen their borders as well. Greece plans to reopen to tourists on June 15, but is only allowing in tourists from countries with “acceptably low” rates of infection. Spain has also announced its intention to open for tourism this summer, but has not committed to a date yet.
For Italy and other European countries, tourism is a vital part of the economy and reopening to tourists is an important part of recovery after the pandemic. However, visitors need to be sure that they will be safe at their destination and locals need to feel confident that they are not opening their communities to further infection.
So how can you, as a tourist stay safe when venturing out to travel after the pandemic?
Pick Your Destination Carefully
While coronavirus is still a global concern, you may want to pick travel destinations that are more remote or where people can more easily stay 6 feet (2 meters) or more apart.
In Italy, this means keeping stays short in major, crowded cities like Rome and Venice. Instead, consider exploring the countrysides and costs. Here are some of our top picks for places to visit in Italy while social distancing.
- Wine Regions: There are an abundance of great wineries and small wine towns around Italy. The Tuscany region is especially well known for delightful small towns like Tavernelle Val di Pesa where you can soak up the Italian sun and enjoy the local cuisine. You can also rent a car and explore the region at your own pace from the safety of your own vehicle.
- Cinque Terre: This collection of five beautiful towns on the Italian Riviera is picture-perfect in every way. You can take a fun hike between the towns or sit by the seaside and enjoy a plateful of local pesto pasta.
- Florence: If you find yourself longing for large cities and unforgettable art museums, but don’t want to risk the big-ticket destinations, Florence is the perfect place for you. The Ufitsi Gallery and Galleria dellAccademia house some of the most famous pieces of art in Italy and the town itself is small enough that you can walk the whole place on foot and do not need to risk crowded public transportation.
If you do decide to explore more crowded areas, try to focus on outdoor attractions and wear a face mask. In Rome, you can check out the Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain and the Roman Forum. Elsewhere, you can explore cultural touchstones like the leaning tower of Pisa, Lake Como and Pompeii or drive down the stunning Amalfi coastline.
For the next few years after the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be packing some new things in our suitcases. In case you end up in a crowded space, having face masks in your bags will be one of the most important things you can do to prevent the spread of the disease. Hand sanitizer and disposable gloves are also great prevention tools.
You can check out our full list of recommendations on what to pack for post-pandemic travel.
Trip and Travel Medical Insurance
During travel after the coronavirus pandemic, flights are going to be far more likely to be canceled than they were in the past. You may find yourself unable to fly to your intended destination, or unable to stay there when you arrive. Trip insurance protects you financially should you be unable to travel. This type of insurance can reimburse you for certain non-refundable investments like flight costs and hotel reservations should you need to cancel a previously booked trip.
Travel Medical Insurance is also going to be very important for future travel. If you find yourself with an illness while abroad, your normal health insurance is highly unlikely to cover the costs of treatment or a hospital stay. Travel medical insurance can be purchased to cover you while you are away from home.
The best thing you can do when traveling at any time is to plan ahead in case your travel does not go the way you expected. This is more important than ever when traveling in a world where your destination or home country may experience an outbreak of COVID-19 at any time.
Packing smart and investing in travel insurance are great first steps, but you can also save yourself a lot of stress simply by thinking about your trip and what you can do if your plans are abruptly changed by circumstances outside of your control.
Think about questions such as:
- What hospitals are in the area where you will be traveling?
- What would the other members of your group do if one of you were to get sick?
- Where you can travel where you will be away from crowds?
- Will you need to use public transportation during your stay? If so, do you have face masks and sanitizer in case you are in close proximity to people outside of your group?
- What alternate activities can you do if your plans are canceled last minute by the organizer or you no longer feel safe?
Planning ahead in this way can help you if you need to change your plans abruptly. Being prepared for the unknown will allow you much-needed peace of mind during this difficult time.
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