The ability to travel this summer will depend on where you live. Although tourist attractions are opening up across Europe and border restrictions are slowly easing, it is unlikely that we can go on international vacations in 2020. In fact, we have no clue how the world will look like in this crazy year of COVID-19.
Although we do not exactly know how traveling looks like during the remainder of the year, we do know some things. For example, you will have to wear face masks on vacation. Within Europe, we have witnessed more and more countries making covering up your mouth and nose mandatory. For example in Austria. When you use public transportation in Europe, you often have to wear a face mask.
1. Crossing borders will not be easy
It is now half May, which used to be the pre-summer shoulder season, but while most destinations should be getting busier now, they remain empty. That is because borders across the European continent are shut. Without good reasons, such as urgent family situations or business trips, it is currently not possible to cross borders within Europe and most other parts of the world. The situation is also unpredictable. When the virus retracts in some countries, it is likely that other countries will open their borders as the associated risk is low. Tourism is non-essential and therefore low on the priority list for many countries.
The European Union is trying to ensure common policy across the Union. Different policies from country to country seemingly make that single policy unlikely. We will therefore see what is called bilateral agreements within the Union. That means that a country might open its border to some countries but not to all. Citizens from the most severely hit countries are likely last to be allowed to travel to lesser affected countries.
Despite these restrictions, many travel organizations are now trying to sell vacations across borders. Dutch vacation companies are planning to sell beach vacations to Greece and Turkey. During these vacations, vacationers are tested on the COVID-19 virus while people cannot leave the resorts they stay in. Governments are eager to start-up the economically important tourism industry again but are focusing on domestic tourism. Campaigns have been launched in many countries to promote vacations within country borders.
2. Social distancing during your vacation
Keeping distance from others is something we have become used to during the spring of 2020. Social distancing is the most import strategy to prevent the virus from spreading is by keeping distance from each other. Social distancing will be enforced during your 2020 summer vacation. No matter where you go, you will have to keep distance from others.
Hotels and resorts that are allowed to reopen will enforce social distancing rules. That means there will not be big parties, clubbing or even late night conversation with other hotel guests at the hotel bar. Hotel facilities will also operate differently as it can no longer service as many people in the past. That also means that your planned vacation might be more expensive than before COVID-19 as there will be less supply and large hotels can no longer benefit from the economics of scale.
3. Mandatory face masks
Face masks are mandatory in lots of European countries. In some countries, like the Netherlands, face masks are only mandatory in public transport. Other countries, like Austria, demand face masks in most public spaces as well as supermarkets and stores. Wearing face masks will be standard. It does not matter whether your vacation is domestic or international, prepare to be wearing mouth and nose protection.
So what kind of face mask is good enough? Important to understand is that you are asked to wear to face mask to protect others: not to prevent you from getting the virus. Face masks are mandatory so you do not infect others when you are a silent carrier of the coronavirus. In other words: face masks are mandatory to prevent you from spreading droplets and not to protect you. That is why there are no quality standards in place and a scarf that covers your face is often good enough.
We recommend buying multiple cotton face masks that you can wash and re-use. For example this mask available on Amazon (affiliate link). Medical face masks are discouraged and in some countries wearing medical masks might be illegal or formally discouraged due to medical shortages. The good thing about wearing cotton washable face masks is that you can even make your own or buy a mask that looks nice or fun!
4. Buying tickets in advance
We are currently tracking all museums and other tourist attractions that are reopening. While tracking all these attractions, we have noticed that more attractions than before make it mandatory to buy tickets in advance. You have to go online before you can visit the museum. That measure has been put in place to make sure the flow of visitors is controlled and that the number of sold entrance tickets does not exceed a safe maximum that is COVID-19 proof.
That means that it is no longer possible to buy tickets at the box office. You need to buy tickets online and before you go. Our affiliate partner GetYourGuide lists most tourist destinations and is the official reseller of many of them.
5. Making reservations is smart
Similar to tourist destinations, restaurants and bars will have limited capacity and might not be accessible if you have not made a reservation. Some (local) governments have made reservations mandatory to control the flow of people.