During any normal summer, millions of people flock to both Europe and the United Kingdom for their summer vacations. That wasn’t an option last summer. Now that the 15-month travel ban has been lifted, travelers are finally able to venture to European countries this summer, and flight estimates predict that a record number of travelers are planning to do just that. If you’re planning on traveling to Europe, here’s some useful information to make sure you’re as prepared as possible for your upcoming trip.
Confirm that your destination is open to your home country.
On June 18, 2021, the European Union added to their approved list of countries allowed to travel to the EU. One of the main additions was the United States. Now, as of July 2021, residents from Albania, Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Macao, New Zealand, Republic of North Macedonia, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity) are also allowed to travel freely to Europe for non-essential purposes (i.e. for tourism).
Though a number of countries had been open to American travelers prior to the June announcement, such as France, Greece, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, and Italy, Americans and many others are now allowed to tour all 27 countries within the Schengen zone.
Although the European Union made all countries on the list eligible for European travel, restrictions still vary by country, so it’s important to stay up-to-date and cognizant of the specific travel requirements that apply to you. For Americans, visiting the U.S. State department’s site with country-specific advisories, for example, can be a helpful resource to ensure that you meet all the requirements to enter Europe without any trouble. Here’s a rundown of some of the most important items to confirm before you travel to Europe.
Determine whether you need to be vaccinated.
Each European country can implement entry requirements as they see fit, meaning that although many of the countries aren’t requiring proof of COVID vaccination, that may not be the case for the entire Schengen area. The same is true of quarantine requirements.
For the most part, vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers from America are treated the same, meaning that each individual will need to produce a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding an international flight. However, some countries such as Greece and Croatia are now accepting vaccination certificates instead of negative COVID test results.
Similarly, each country has their own stipulations regarding a possible quarantine upon arrival. For most European countries, a quarantine can be bypassed if you provide proof of the COVID vaccination. Other than that, many countries have adopted a traffic-light or tier system, meaning that there are green, yellow, or red tiers. The tier you fall into (usually depending upon where you’re traveling from) dictates the necessary quarantine requirements, if any.
Many are wondering whether a digital certificate will become the way of the future in regards to international travel. As of now, the European Union has their own EU Digital COVID Certificate, which is a digital pass only available to EU residents. For Americans, providing the CDC slip of paper documenting proof of vacation can suffice. Regardless of the country requirements in Europe, U.S. travelers should note that every traveler aged 2 and above has to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days before boarding their flight back to the United States.
Likewise, travelers to Europe should be aware of the public health measures in place in their vacation destination. Businesses and services abroad may have more limited hours, curfews could potentially be enforced, and there could be additional regulations throughout the country. Because this information can change so quickly, make sure you’re keeping on top of any updates.
Check to see if you need health coverage.
Depending on what country you’re traveling from, you might need to purchase travel medical insurance in order to travel to a European country. If you’re a U.S. citizen, then short term medical insurance isn’t mandatory unless you’re going to be in Europe for more than 90 days. However, countries in the Schengen Area require a special visa. Qualifying for a Schengen visa requires a visa application form, proof of roundtrip itinerary and accommodation, proof of financial means, proof of paid visa fee, and proof of a travel insurance policy. If you require a Schengen visa to enter Europe, obtaining travel insurance isn’t a suggestion. Instead, it’s mandatory.
Even if you don’t come from a country that requires mandatory travel insurance, purchasing a travel medical policy is still a good idea. You should always expect the unexpected, and if you were to get sick or injured while you’re away from your home country and didn’t have proper coverage, you’d have to pay for those expenses out of pocket. Depending on where you’re traveling to, this could mean hundreds or thousands of dollars in medical expenses.
By purchasing travel insurance, not only will you be covered against medical expenses, you’ll also be covered for things like emergency evacuation, trip disruption due to a natural disaster, repatriation benefits, and many other potential risks that could spoil your trip.
Cover your trip by purchasing trip insurance.
Even in perfect travel conditions, you’re susceptible to a flight delay or cancellation, and there’s always the chance you might lose or damage your baggage. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-changing news and public health updates, you can’t bank on your trip going 100% as planned. Likewise, you can’t depend on airlines or accommodation providers to offer refunds in the event that your trip details change.
To protect your financial investments from any unexpected travel related issues, purchasing trip insurance is a smart idea. Although this insurance isn’t mandatory to travel anywhere, it’s a good idea to have in case any issue arises. Those taking expensive or international trips are especially encouraged to purchase this insurance in order to protect the large financial trip investment.
Because any sort of travel involves risk, trip insurance helps decrease that financial risk by insuring prepaid and non-refundable costs in case you’re not able to complete your original trip as planned.
Trip insurance protects you from the financial burden of:
- Travel delays
- Trip cancellation
- Trip interruption
- Lost or damaged baggage
Trip insurance also includes a helpful add-on benefit called Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage. Whereas most flight or accommodation providers will only offer reimbursement in the event of a couple of predetermined circumstances, this coverage allows you to cancel your trip for literally any reason and still receive reimbursement.
All in all, if you’re planning on traveling to Europe this summer, a little research will go a long way. Because of the quickly changing global climate, requirements and precautions are changing daily. Reading up on global news and purchasing travel insurance will help ensure that your trip to Europe is protected in the event of the unexpected. Safe travels!
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