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Traveling in the ‘Let’s Just Get On With Life’ stage of the pandemic. (AKA the ‘f**k it' stage)

My partner and I were sitting on the couch in early November 2021 when a cheap flight alert for Athens pinged into my junkmail inbox. This was the catalyst that crystalised our travel dreams from ‘we should go’ to ‘f**k it, let’s just book the flights and see what happens’. At that point, international travel in and out of Australia was nearly non-existent and the little travel there was, was still heavily regulated.


In November 2021, there were no signs anything would be changing, therefore, booking two one-way tickets to Athens for a 6-month European adventure seemed reckless at best and highly improbable at worst. Yet here I am, in a hotel in Austria, just over one-month into the trip and I have never been more grateful for the glorious spam-email from skyscanner.com.

Traveling, whilst still not exactly back to normal pre-covid times, is still as wondrous, exhausting and exhilarating as I remembered.

One of the biggest barriers to following that call of adventure is the fear of the unknown. What does the rest of the world look like? Do they have regulations? What happens if I test positive overseas? Can I get travel insurance? All these and a hundred more considerations are enough to exhaust an already burnt-out mind, and extinguish that fire for adventure.


So, to alleviate some of those fears, here are a few things you might like to know before setting off on a European adventure:


Being fully vaxxed is a requirement in some countries.

Not all countries require proof of vaccination or proof of recovery, but many do and some in countries you wouldn’t necessarily think of as being strict – Greece for example. Also, if you want to book a cruise just about anywhere in Europe, it’s a requirement - and some cruises require a negative covid test before boarding the boat. All major tourist attractions in Athens required proof of vaccination or proof of recovery. This included the Acropolis, all museums and any nice restaurants.



There are different mask rules in different countries.

In Greece there is still a requirement to wear a mask in all indoor spaces. This includes grocery shops, souvenir shops, entering and exiting restaurants (you can take off you masks while eating and drinking of course) and any form of indoor transport (public transport, taxis Ubers etc). Croatia, on the other hand has no mask regulations anywhere – and it was here that we contracted covid relatively quickly. I know correlation doesn’t equal causation, however, I felt much safer in places where masks were encouraged.


The type of mask matters.

In some countries we have been to (Germany and Austria), you have to have a FFP2 grade mask or higher (a picture is below). They do not allow you to wear surgical or fabric masks. This restriction also applies to certain airlines who will not let you board a flight with the incorrect face-covering. I recommend stocking up on a few of them before coming over here, as you will be charged up to 10 euro per mask if you are forced to buy one at an airport. Always bring more than you think you’ll need.



Contracting covid overseas.

As just mentioned, my partner and I both got covid in Croatia. Unluckily for us, we discovered we were positive a few days into an 8-day island-hopping cruise. Surprisingly, there was no mention of covid in our pre-departure briefing, nor, if we had not tested ourselves and reported the positive results, would anyone have known (or cared) we were positive. Indeed, our host seemed surprised we volunteered the information, especially as we then had to spend the next 4 days isolating in our cabin. In most countries there is an unspoken rule that if you test positive you will rest and isolate as much as possible whilst symptomatic and contagious. However, I have witnessed some very ill people getting around the cities and catching public transport (one man was visibly sweating and shaking with a horrific fever, yet still boarded the bus for a 4-hour journey with no mask).

Bottom line: If you haven’t had covid before you leave, there is a high chance you will get it – especially if you are traveling in a country without mask-mandates. It’s just one of those ‘f**k it’ risks you have to take.


Drugs (specifically Panadol) are your best friend – so bring lots of them.

Bring enough over-the-counter medication to cover you on the presumption you’ll get sick. Obviously, people have widely varying symptoms and experiences with Covid, but I like to say: hope for the best and plan for the worst. We went through Panadol like they were going out of fashion, so make sure you stock up before leaving and of course, make sure you have any prescription medication with you as well.


Can I get travel insurance that will cover me for Covid?

Yes you absolutely can. There are now a number of policies which cover you for a range of covid related mishaps. From medical assistance (including hospitalisation) to the cancelation of flights or other travel arrangements, there are not a number of insurance providers you can use. We chose 1Cover and have a fairly comprehensive policy, however I know that Medibank also offers policies – again, these policies rely on you being vaccinated and won’t cover some high-risk countries, so make sure you check before signing anything.


Always read the entry conditions to the country (and the re-entry conditions to your own country).

Most places in Europe no longer have entry requirements for incoming Australians. Our government has also scrapped pre-departure PCR tests prior to re-entering Australia, so if you are planning a trip to Europe (at least western Europe) this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. However, if you are planning on going to the USA, they still have PCR tests requirements before entering the country, so make sure you read the travel info before leaving, otherwise you will find yourself stranded at the airport unable to check-in for your flight.


 

I know we are not alone in our ‘f**k it’ attitude. After 2 years of being confined to our homes, suburbs, states and country, I felt my sense of restless uneasiness mirrored in my friends and colleagues.

The staleness of routine was becoming stifling and the cool, tantalising breeze of adventure is once again wafting down to Australia. One by one, people are lifting up their heads from their zoom meetings and turning their face to the breeze. Letting it ripple through their hair and whisper quietly to their hearts.


I know I am in an incredibly privileged position; I am young, have the means, the lack of responsibility and do not suffer from any underlying health conditions which makes Covid a real threat to my health and wellbeing. So, I do understand, travel is not something everyone can contemplate or aspire to. But I also hope, those of you who can, that you will listen to the call and be emboldened to book, or at least consider, traveling again soon. If you do, look me up, I’ve still got 5 months to go!



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2 Comments


james-sweet
Feb 25, 2023

When it comes to playing online pokies, I always make sure to set a budget for myself and stick to it blueleo . This helps me avoid overspending and ensures that I'm only playing with money that I can afford to lose.

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verram98
May 11, 2022

What a wonderful article Cate! I booked a trip to Greece in September so I’m feeing your example .. just have a question, did you need to download a special international vaccine certificate to enter Greece or do they just accept the Aussie ones we download through myGov website? Cheers for your travel advice especially to Greece

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