So, Can I Go to Europe? — How the Coronavirus Is Changing European Travel for Americans

Updated on July 1, 2020

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the theme of my 2020 as been “cancelled trips.” And it seems that won’t be changing soon: As of July 1, the European Union is open to international travelers from certain approved countries…but the United States isn’t on the list. While Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis, Koreans, Moroccans, and many others can start planning a European trip — and good for them! — Americans like me will have to wait.

Nobody can predict exactly what the coming months will bring. The one thing we can count on is uncertainty. That said, I’ve been closely following the coronavirus news from across the Atlantic, and I’ve kept in touch with friends all over Europe. And as I look into my crystal ball, here are some informed hunches about what might — might — happen next. My goal is not to give definitive answers, but to provide a midyear snapshot of European travel in the age of coronavirus. (I updated this post on July 1, just as the EU’s reopening policy went into effect.)

Tourism in Europe Is Restarting…

Before July 1, tourism in Europe had already restarted, but it was mostly domestic: British urbanites on holiday in the Lake District, Slovenes hiking in their lush mountains, and Norwegians basking in the late-night sunshine on their dreamy fjords.

The next step is that, gradually, we’ll see the rise of intra-European tourism. Even though the EU has called for the reopening of internal borders, travel within Europe is still not “back to normal.” As the countries within Europe open up to each other, we can expect plenty to change over time, especially in response to isolated outbreaks. Quarantine requirements may be in place, and testing negative for COVID-19 and downloading contact tracing apps may become a bigger part of the picture, as well.

Travel within Europe has already come a long way. Reading accounts of crossing European borders from just over a month ago feels like time-traveling back to the Middle Ages, when Europe was a patchwork of feisty, independent city-states, each with its own borders, arbitrary regulations, and paranoid diplomacy. The first step has been for countries to waive quarantine requirements for trusted other countries — creating “air bridges” and “corridor trains” between two places with existing ties and low infection rates, while avoiding riskier stops in between. For example, a “corona corridor” connects the Czech Republic and Croatia, so Czechs can more easily enjoy their favorite summer beach destination, and Croatians can recoup some much-needed income during their peak travel time. Britain and Portugal have discussed similar options.

Of course, the news on all of this is changing rapidly; Google the details for a country you’re interested in, or check out the “Re-Open EU” site, operated by the European Union.

One silver lining of the pandemic is that formerly tourist-clogged cities are reveling in the lack of crowds. There’s far less demand for major sights — and, for the first time in perhaps decades, that demand is mostly local. Europeans — especially in notoriously “overtouristed” cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Venice — are breathing easier and reclaiming their own spaces. And yet, they’re also aware of the importance of tourism in the local economy. My sense is that they’re looking forward to welcoming back visitors, but in the meantime, they’re making the most of having the place to themselves.

…But Americans Will Wait Our Turn

When hearing about European travel restarting, keep in mind this very important caveat: For now, it’s just for Europeans and residents of those approved countries (including Canadians) — Americans should not expect to easily enter Europe anytime soon.

Why? Because, by any reasonable assessment, the United States has done a rotten job of containing COVID-19. While certain cities and states have risen to the occasion, our haphazard and inept national response, reluctance (or inability) to increase testing and contact tracing, and mystifying tendency to confuse “personal freedom” with “public health protection” have put us embarrassingly far behind the European curve:

(And, just to clarify, this difference is not because of “more testing.”)

Through the lockdown of March and April, I was in steady contact with friends and colleagues all over Europe. What struck me the most was the rigidity of their quarantine. Most of them literally didn’t leave their homes — never even went outside — except for occasional runs for groceries or medicine, maybe once every two weeks. In much of Europe, the wearing of masks was embraced much earlier — and more enthusiastically — than in the US. (It’s becoming ever clearer that wearing masks is an easy and impactful weapon in the virus-fighting arsenal. Even many former mask critics now agree on this.) And by May, it became apparent that the US reopening strategy would prioritize economic recovery over human life.

Among European countries, Sweden famously took a more hands-off (read: “American”) approach, and stands alone among European countries in its high infection rates and lower-than-hoped-for immunity rates. (For this reason, Sweden also joins the US in being pointedly excluded from re-opening agreements with neighboring countries.)

As lockdown eases on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s becoming unmistakably clear that the European approach was more effective at containing the pandemic, while the American approach has left us highly vulnerable to further outbreaks. Talk of a “second wave” in the US is optimistic; we’re still riding the crest of the first wave.

For these reasons, Americans should be prepared to be treated as “second-class citizens” by the rest of the developed world, who might ask us to wait a little longer before we’re welcome for a visit. Frankly, we’ve earned that status. The EU has announced plans to re-evaluate their list of approved countries every two weeks. But the USA has a long way to go to reach the EU standard.

How European Travel Will Be Affected

That said, the time will comeeventuallyfor Americans to head back to Europe. If we can get a handle on our uncontrolled virus spread, that may happen sooner; otherwise, it could take a while.

The first wave of Americans visiting Europe will, most likely, be hale-and-hearty independent travelers — either people who’ve already recovered from the virus, or those who are simply willing to assume the risk. I would guess that, initially, any American going to Europe will both be tested and be required to quarantine for 14 days. Two weeks takes a big bite out of a person’s vacation, so I imagine the first Americans on the Continent will be on long-term trips. (And Americans should also be prepared for quarantine and other requirements when returning to the US.)

And what will travelers find on the ground in Europe? They’ll find conditions that are similar to the policies dictating the US reopening. As European museums have begun to open, new guidelines are taking shape: Expect strict limits on how many visitors can enter at any one time, with staggered entrance windows. Temperature checks will be common. Also, expect social distancing and the wearing of masks to be enforced in museums and other indoor areas. Europeans aren’t the slightest bit interested in your “personal freedom,” and won’t be shy about barring entry for non-mask-wearers. Bring a supply of masks, carry one with you at all times, and expect to use it. (If that’s a deal-breaker, stay home.) As far as social distancing, while “six feet” is the standard requirement in much of the US, parts of Europe are currently waging a heated debate about whether one meter (just over three feet) is far enough.

For a sense of what things might look like, CNN recently reported on the reopening of Paris — offering a glimpse at the many ripples the coronavirus has sent through one city.

American travelers will also want to bring plenty of hand sanitizer and disposable wipes (or a bottle of disinfectant spray and paper towels). Disinfecting your hotel room will become, for cautious travelers, part of the standard checking-in ritual — not to mention wiping down your seat on a plane or train, and anywhere else that you’re settling in.

When traveling within Europe, don’t expect effortless Schengen-era “open borders.” With the pandemic, many long-gone border posts were hastily re-erected. Many of these have been tentatively re-opened, but they could slam shut at the slightest hint of an outbreak. Travelers in the age of coronavirus will need to remain more flexible than ever, and keep a close eye on local news for late-breaking changes.

Organized tourism — including bus tours — will need to wait its turn. An independent traveler is better able to control their own environment: choosing to settle in for a longer period in a space that they can personally disinfect; buying groceries and cooking for themselves or picnicking to avoid potential virus exposure in restaurants; renting their own car to move around in a safe “bubble”; and so on. A cautious independent traveler could enjoy some — if not all — aspects of Europe with some confidence.

But bus tours require a large group of travelers being together: together on the bus; together for at least some meals; all staying in the same hotel and having breakfast in the same breakfast room; and even doing much of their organized sightseeing as a group. While a few impatient tour companies may try to rush back into the market, Rick Steves’ Europe Tours is determined to wait until we’re confident that the infrastructure for tourism is reliably back up and running. We expect lots of false starts and disappointing cancellations before things are humming along smoothly…and we’d rather wait for those kinks to get out of the system before we take chances with the travel dreams of our tour members. In fact, the same day the EU announced their travel ban, we cancelled all of our remaining 2020 tours. We’re hopeful to resume our tour program in 2021.

Of course, the game-changing variable in all of this is a vaccine. Experts are divided on how quickly a safe and effective vaccine may be developed, or whether it’s even possible. If and when a vaccine becomes widely available, I expect an immediate and huge rebound in all kinds of tourism to Europe. In other frightening times (for example, post-9/11), the pent-up desire for travel never went away — and, in fact, it seemed to build the longer people stayed home. While some travelers face financial difficulties that may prevent them from going back to Europe right away, those who have the means will make up for lost time.

The Future of Travel

I’ve heard it said that travel will “never be the same” after the coronavirus. That’s true: In the wake of COVID-19, the world, and travel, will emerge as something different. But that’s OK. We will adjust. And we may find that the new reality has advantages over the old one.

In the weeks after 9/11, hunkered-down Americans wondered if we’d ever travel in Europe the same way again. (I remember that panicked morning in Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Center — standing by to answer phones that never rang — and wondering whether planes would even fly again.)

Sure enough, things were different. Airport security on both sides of the Atlantic became more stringent forever. The world rallied around Americans, who enjoyed a particularly warm welcome wherever they went. And for several years, many travelers were in a heightened state of anxiety, imagining a terrorist bomb hidden on every plane or bus. And yet, we persevered. As we adapted to “our new reality,” we went on to forge travel memories as beautiful as anything that came before 9/11. We may still grumble about taking off our shoes in the TSA line. But we’ve gotten used to it…it hasn’t “ruined” travel.

Humans are remarkably resilient creatures. We adapt to whatever we encounter. Sometimes change is sudden and dramatic (such as 9/11 or COVID-19). And sometimes it’s so gradual we barely notice until it’s already happened (such as the rise of “overtourism” that peaked just before the coronavirus arrived). But good travelers always figure out how to make the most of current circumstances.

Going forward, small behaviors will be different, maybe forever: Travelers will carry little bottles of hand sanitizers, masks, and instant-read thermometers tucked into their day packs. Prebooking tickets for the great sights will be more important than ever — not so much because of crowds, but because of limits on how many people can go inside at one time. And we may never quite go back to greeting new friends with vigorous handshakes or European cheek kisses.

And there will also be more sweeping, philosophical changes. My hunch is that, having survived an acute global crisis, we may begin paying more attention to a slow-motion one: Traveling in a way that’s environmentally responsible and sustainable will become more important than ever.

I also suspect that the age of “overtourism” — and of superficial, Instagram-driven, bucket-list travel — has come to an end. Our civilization briefly arrived at a point where, for a few hundred dollars, we could step onto a plane and step out anywhere on earth. Travel was easy — effortless, even — which was a boon for those of us who love to experience our world. But maybe it was too easy. And perhaps we took it for granted.

When people venture out once again, I suspect, it won’t be to collect staged-and-artificial impressions of Europe, but to connect with it more deeply. I hope that one silver lining of the pandemic is that it inspires us to pursue a more thoughtful, more mindful type of travel: Visit fewer places. Linger longer. Pause to savor a sunset or the sound of church bells. Notice and appreciate the little joys of life in another country, instead of just ticking off items on a to-do list. Skip the museum to people-watch at the market. Really get to know Europeans on a personal level. Marvel at the wonders of Europe, and fully appreciate the privilege of being able to experience them in person again.

But in the meantime, look out for yourselves and your loved ones. Socially distance and wear a mask. Wash your hands and don’t touch your face. Elect trustworthy leaders, then trust them; failing that, listen to scientists and experts, and follow their advice. Do what it takes to earn the right to head back to Europe and be reunited with dear friends and favorite places.

I, for one, can’t wait.

77 Replies to “So, Can I Go to Europe? — How the Coronavirus Is Changing European Travel for Americans”

  1. I am Canadian. I have a trip to London in late September, if the UK ends its 2 week quarantine period. As Canada has been much more successful than the US, I expect Europe will open sooner for us. I recently cancelled a trip to Vegas in July due to the border closure.

    1. In so many ways, I am jealous of you Canadians these days! (My grandfather was from the Toronto area.) Yep, this post is mainly for Americans…I expect Canadians will be welcome in Europe sooner, and with fewer restrictions, than Americans.

      1. Your post was only for U.S.
        Canada was completely ignored. I guess we’ll just have to make our own way.
        For a group who espouse a global viewpoint and encourage a global approach to travel, open mind etcetc, your post was narrow and US centric. Very disappointed.

        1. He’s from the US! Most of his travelers are from the US. Maybe he’ll have Canadian info soon, but doesn’t have all the info yet. This isn’t the only column he’ll write on the subject.

          1. Plus, the title clearly indictated he was addressing the question for Americans, specifically alerting us that we are going to face different restrictions than some other countries.. Complaining about not being included is like complaining that blueberry pie doesnt have blackberries in it.

        2. Gee Betty, Whatever Rick writes goes for Canadians too, we are both international countries. Our Dr. Henry, here in B.C. recommends travelling only around our province as our phase 3 opens. Don’t be so sensitive. There’s no airlines going to Europe from North America for non essential travel.

        3. I guess you missed the title “So, Can I Go to Europe? — How the Coronavirus Is Changing European Travel for Americans” which might explain why the article is US centric.

          1. The title says Americans. Canadianns are also Americans as are Mexicans and many others who live on one of the continents.

        4. He wrote his article regarding the US. That was his very point. This was not an article about Canada. How is that disappointing? Clearly every country is different. Maybe you could write an article about Canadians.

        5. I’m an American (I’m embarrassed to admit this out loud). The US has been utterly irresponsible during this outbreak, beginning with our administration and continuing with the people who support him. We deserve to have travel bans established against our entry and I’d applaud any country, continent, or region that decided to implement one. Our behavior has proven us to be unsafe until further notice. An “open mind” (as you put it) is inappropriate and irrelevant when Americans have proven themselves more than happy to be a petri dish. The only problem here is your unwillingness to see anything past your own nose. This is not about your precious feelings about our joke of a country. It’s about global safety – an issue most Americans and its “leader” seem wholly uninterested in contributing to a productive way.

          Stay safe, and wear your mask. I, personally, am tired of risking my life every time I go grocery shopping. I applaud the Europeans who refuse to deal with us and the mess we’ve made of this nation.

          1. J. Reese, I couldn’t agree more. Our present president and administration due to their self-serving “needs” have harmed many Americans in many ways. Rick Steves’ article points out one which will hurt us when wanting to travel to Europe. When we have a sane president, we will no longer be held at the whims of those who are uncaring and irresponsible. In my last travels (to France) I was besieged by those hearing my American accent about President Trump–they are angry at his hubris and ability to nuke them off the map.

          2. Spot on! I, too, am embarrassed by our country at the moment. It’s a disgrace and a joke on so many levels. Sadly, so many just don’t get it, and seem to think that mask-wearing is a political/personal freedom statement.

          3. THe administration has done a good job Managing this outbreak. The initial response was good. But, New York is different from Wyoming. So it is up to the states to manage their outbreak, not Washington.

            I have seen many people not wearing masks or practicing social distancing. Are we nothing but a heard of cattle that needs to be attended to? People gathering in bars or the people packing the beaches are just stupid.

          4. I agree! That said, I will be off to my annual trip to Ireland as soon as possible!!!

          5. Geez, some people are so quick to politicize everything. And I’m just feeling the “love” for your country! If it bothers you that badly, you can move somewhere else as soon as possible. I’m sure the US won’t wither up and die without you. And don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out.

        6. As a Canadian I find your post oddly eccentric at best. If you thought this site or post “narrow” and “US centric” why do you even bother reading it? Maybe you just enjoy nitpicking. Reserve that for your social circle rather than showering your fussy fault finding behind a veil of anonymity.

        7. Nor did he include South Americans. He was writing about US travelers not the entire Western Hemisphere!

    2. I live in Vegas. Canadians are actually allowed to fly to the USA without any issues. The borders aren’t actually closed if you fly. But you have your 2 weeks quarantine when you return to Canada.

  2. Really great perspective, Cameron. Tough to hear but so necessary. I’m Canadian also, but I am in no hurry to travel anywhere anytime soon, if that becomes an option for us. I hope everyone just stays the course and we find a vaccine down the road. And I also hope that your new vision of post-COVID travel comes to pass so that we don’t lapse back into the crazy whirlwind of checking off the sites and actually slow down and savour the precious moments. Thanks for this article!

  3. I so appreciate your candid assessment of the situation, Cameron! We, as a country, have shown how spectacularly we can fail. Let’s hope we can truly appreciate our eventual wanderings to Europe. We can all strive to be better global citizens.

  4. Well said. I only wish our government had risen to the occasion, rather than the inept leader in place, and “personal freedom “ that cost lives, and has European countries wondering in disbelief. I believe that I would be willing to quarantine, just to again enjoy all and any parts of Europe I’m allowed to visit.

    1. Nancy, I see it as a terrible missed opportunity. Americans were game to quarantine for a while, as Europeans were. The problem was that we never took advantage of that time we’d bought ourselves to prepare for the next step to real recovery, which would require more robust testing and contact tracing. The uniquely American reluctance to take small but meaningful measures (such as wearing masks in public) to protect others has also set us back significantly. Europe and many other places (New Zealand comes to mind) closed down for a quarantine of similar duration, but they used that time constructively and have earned the right to reopen. Even they will face flare-ups and outbreaks, but they (unlike us) are ready to react to them, and at least they can begin to go back to a normal life. The current administration’s approach, it seems, has been to pretend the pandemic isn’t happening and hope that it goes away. We’re seeing this week what any scientist could have told you months ago: That will never work, and it simply set us (and our economic recovery) back many months.

  5. I live in Vancouver where thanks to enlightened leadership we have been spared most of the worst of the pandemic. I have started to foray a bit from home taking day trips to Victoria and Nanaimo. Anything longer or farther has been put off until the new year. Until then I will continue to plan and research. My last European trip was Portugal and I just may reprise that because I completely fell in love with the country. Of course a Rick Steves guidebook is an essential as well info from various websites.

    1. Our trip to Spain, end of Sept, was just cancelled by our travel agency. We live in Arizona, we are stuck.

  6. I’ve already canceled my October trip to Russia. Waiting for my August trip to Slovenia to be rescheduled till August 2021. It’s really not right for Americans to travel and bring the virus to countries that have worked so hard to contain it.

    1. I agree. I’m fine waiting for Europe to decide when they’re ready for us, rather than rushing over prematurely.

  7. Our July 10 cruise from Amsterdam to Barcelona has been canceled by the cruise line and they said we will get our refund. We booked 3 night hotel room before the cruise in Amsterdam with no cancellation allowed, do we American tourists have any options to get refund or credit due to Covid19 travel restrictions?

    1. I had the same situation with a non-refundable hotel booking in London was able to get a credit ‘on account’ for a later date. Check with the hotel or the agency you booked through & see if something ca be worked out

  8. Very encouraging article, Cameron. I live on beautiful Vancouver Island and my husband and I have enjoyed many years of travelling throughout America and Europe (independently but always with a Rick Steve’s book). We are very sad for our neighbours below our border and hope it wont be too long before we can , once again, travel together!

  9. Here in Connecticut we have had success. We are wearing masks and most of us follow the rules. It’s especially hard to wait as I am paying rent on my apartment in Tuscany with no end date in sight. Unfortunately this virus became politicized and we Americans are paying the price.

    1. Beth, I feel fortunate to live in Seattle, with a governor and local leadership that was quick to act on this. We’re seeing flare-ups in Eastern Washington, but Seattle is doing OK. I am also very proud of the state I grew up in, Ohio, which has done an admirable job of containing the virus (despite a political environment more resistant to the kinds of behavior changes we’re asking our fellow citizens to make). And let me stress that Ohio’s governor is a Republican. The coronavirus is not a partisan issue: It’s about science and compassion. But it’s a sad statement when a person’s odds of contracting a potentially disabling or fatal disease come down to whether the local leaders who happen to be in power are willing and able to take this seriously.

      1. Yes, sadly we are paying the price of those Who decided it was about Their rights to not wear a mask. What bs. I am also upset that the airlines have backed away from flying with middle section seats empty, etc. It’s too bad.

    2. Yes, sadly we are paying the price of those Who decided it was about Their rights to not wear a mask. What bs. I am also upset that the airlines have backed away from flying with middle section seats empty, etc. It’s too bad.

  10. I have a daughter living in Europe. It has been extremely difficult for my husband and I to not see her when we are used to going as often as possible.
    I really appreciated this unbiased article . Thank you.
    I read everything I can , but this explained it better than anything I have seen.

  11. I am an American living in London right now and wonder if maybe you might have a good recommendation on where to look to see if I would be able to travel to Europe since I have not been in the states since February 2020. Great article and I see the Forbes article mentions that it is residence not nationality, but things seem to be changing every day. Cheers

    1. Yes, things are changing every day. I have an (American) friend who’s currently in Europe, but outside the EU, waiting to see if he’ll be allowed to enter the EU when things open up in a week or two. As far as I am aware, it is unclear whether the restriction is nationality or residence-based. (This friend has been abroad since January, so he’s hoping he will be allowed in.) I wish I could tell you more, but keep an eye on the official EU website about these matters: Good Luck!

  12. Thank you, Cameron. This was a terrific article. We have all Rick’s DVDs, his other books (except the new one – waiting for our independent bookstore to re-open), and one of his guide books each time we head to Europe. We love the freedom and adventure of independent travel. Our 2020 trips to Ireland and Quebec were cancelled; hoping that our 2021 Italy and France trip with our family will be a “go.” Thanks again for this great article… we’ll stay tuned for updates.

  13. I have become a traveler in the last 5 years. 46 countries. Missed Antarctica but visited the other continents. I did not travel really until I was 60. Always travel independently, love planning my trips with the Rick Steves guides. So helpful. I love connecting with people- have been invited to shuck fave beans in Florence and many other encounters. I’ve missed3 trips so far. Have switched a July trip to the Baltics to revisit Portugal if allowed. Two more trips planned for August. I am so fortunate to see the world and it’s people- who have been wonderful! Hope to get out there soon. We need to wear our masks!!! Yes

    1. Your point being…? Check the chart in the post, Vic. When it comes to the question of the US versus the EU in containing the coronavirus, the case is closed. Your line of reasoning is similar to saying, “The US outbreak would not have been so bad if you leave out New York City!” When you resort to cherry-picking exceptions, your argument is falling apart.

      1. Very good point. Citizens from other countries do not seem to have a problem with masks. Americans accepted “stupid” years ago. Now we see science rejected too. Even the science of wearing a mask. When any person or country accepts stupid as a way of life it will rise endlessly as we know.

  14. Thank you so much for this beautifully written and well thought out essay. It’s so refreshing, and encouraging, to read something that is neither fear-based, nor misinformed, but looking at the true situation on the ground. I’ll be sharing this with my tour guests, since it answers so many of their questions.

  15. Excellant article—clear, rational and well thought out analysis. And I agree completely with all that you wrote. I am more than upset with so many spoiled and self-centered people who refuse to wear a mask and thus refuse to consider thinking of anyone but themselves. We travel to Europe a lot and I miss seeing my close friends and living a European lifestyle so I hope that there will come a time in the near future that I will be able to once again get on a plane and go there but in the meantime, everyone needs to hear your advice and listen to the experts, none of whom are in the White House. Thanks for the article

  16. My husband and I took four trips to Spain between November 2018 and February 2020. We thought we were being extravagant and foolish (even though we used FF miles and stayed at very modest hotels), but now we are so happy we went.

    I hope we can go again soon, but in the meantime, we are using our free time to make sure that our next president isn’t an idiot by volunteering to register voters and get out the vote.

  17. Thank you for this. I have been heartbroken as I have watched the chances of my September trip to France actually happening slip away. But I am now encouraged at the thought of fewer Instagram travelers and the chance to take things a little slower and relish the experience a little more when travel to Europe does resume.

    1. I agree Tara. Heartbroken but I think this will slow down some travelers who only wanted to add to their Facebook accounts and not learn about a location.

  18. We happen to live in France and have been here all through lockdown. This article glorifies the response in Europe and puts the US in a poor light. I can attest to the fact that VERY FEW people are wearing masks. I’m waiting for the rebound of this virus to hit again. The US has done far more testing than France by far. I wouldn’t have any idea where testing is actually going on. France actually has more deaths than the US per 100, 000 people per John Hopkins Study. You don’t need to be glorifying Europe. It’s only a matter of time.

    1. France is one country of many in Europe and perhaps cannot be used to generalize how the continent has dealt with Covid 19 so far. Most of Scandinavia along with other smaller countries in central and eastern Europe have done reasonably well, all things considered. Several countries have had hotspots to deal with such as Lombardy in Italy and Quebec in Canada. The difficulty in the US is that gradually every area is being significantly impacted…some states were not proactive enough to learn from the early experiences of NY and Washington.

  19. I’m American and I’m in Europe right now. I spent the quarantine in Bosnia starting in late February and crossed the border into Croatia at Metkovic on June 18th. The only requirement was filling out an online border patrol form and printing out your hotel reservation. The problem for me now is this…. even though I haven’t been living in the US since 2013… I cannot cross the border out of Croatia (except Serbia) because I have an American passport. So as long as America (and that incompetent idiot liar Donald Trump) can’t get their act together, I am stuck!!! Although there are worst places in the world to be stuck than Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast and Islands. ;-)

  20. In my business, I work with many, many people in the U.S. and not one of them has the coronavirus. So where are these “patients?” The majority of deaths occur in nursing homes of the elderly, already compromised with other ailments. People that come to the hospital for a bone fracture are now labeled as coronavirus patients (it happened to an associate). Makes me wonder if these trumped-up statistics are all a lie. In the meantime, the whole economy has been destroyed over what is essentially the flu.

  21. I own vacation rentals. As you can guess, covid 19 has hit my business as hard as Rick Steves. I could not afford to do an RS tour anytime soon, so the idea of independent travel works for my little family. I have been on five RS tours and enjoyed them all. I worry about the local guides. I hope they and their families are healthy and all doing okay financially. Every guide on a RS tour is exceptional, the lead guide and all the local guides. RS knocks it out of the park for quality of experience. I use his guidebooks when I can not afford a tour, to try and get a bit of the RS without the tour cost.

    In regard to Trump, I find it sad how Trump supporters can twist the numbers, make up whatever stories they want, to defend that buffoon. Our country has suffered so much due to his colossal lapses in judgement. I sincerely hope anybody thinking of staying home on election day, because Biden is not their first choice, takes a long hard look at our economy and how many Americans covid 19 has emptied out their bank account and understands why Trump has to go. Make America a place we are proud to call home again should be Biden’s slogan. Everything Cameron said was spot on.

    Last thought, I really wish RS would offer more myway best of Europe tours. I hope to take my two children ages 8 and 10 next year on a Europe trip. The myway is perfect for us.

  22. I particularly liked the comment about confusing personal freedom with public health protection. Regardless of what the Administration has or has not done, the biggest problem right now is the individual decision to not wear a mask and maintain social distance. Until we are all willing to make a choice for the public good, the US will have a difficult time containing let alone eradicating COVID. So if we aren’t welcome in other countries, we did it to ourselves.

  23. Such an informative article, Cameron. I too am glad to live in Western Washington where our governor has wisdom and courage to take the necessary steps to slow this virus down. Most places I go I see people wearing masks but I know that isn’t the case in many places. I wish people would stop being so stubborn, insisting on their personal freedoms and remember we are all humans inhabiting this earth together. Let’s help each other make it a safe journey.

  24. My issue is a little different. I’m an American living in Thailand. Except for two weeks in Vietnam (if anything, more safe than Thailand) from Feb. 26 to March 11, I’ve been in Bangkok since Dec. 6 last year, almost 7 months. Thailand has had no domestically generated cases for about 40 days. But if I try to go to Europe from here, only my US passport will be relevant. And to return is almost impossible right now. But there are worse places to be stuck, for sure.

  25. Interesting read…As Aussies, the borders may be open, however, it’s a long way to swim, as there are no flights to get us over there atm. So in fact we may as well be locked down!

  26. As an expat and now a UK citizen, this has been a humbling experience for all of us human beings. We did not know how lucky we were in travel prior to Covid. I was used to hopping over to France via the Channel Tunnel which was 7 minutes from my home on the UK coast. And used to hopping on a plane to go anywhere in the EU. All the memories are precious and I cannot wait to make more, however I am so happy to live in beautiful Hythe Kent until then. I am embarrassed to be American at the moment due to the Trump issues and am happy to be mistaken for a Canadian most days. For anyone not sure about the seriousness of Covid, just spend some time in the ICU. Globally, there are many people who are not taking this seriously, possibly because no one close to them has suffered or died. So, globally we all need to be better humans. Hopefully the fewer who cannot contain their own risky behaviours won’t annihilate us all in the long run. Cameron, thank you for this article. I hope I can see all my American friends and family some day soon and not lose too many of them. They all have enjoyed the thrills of discovering the less beaten paths on their adventures over here and I cannot wait to continue those experiences together. Everyone be safe, be well, be kind.

  27. This is a great article. I am an expat living in London, and I wish more attention was paid to families separated. My parents will not see my children for a year or longer. That is time that cannot be returned and I cry thinking about it. They’re missing this most adorable time, and they’re perfectly healthy, as are we. I do wonder if the response is proportional, this sweeping removal of our right to travel. (I’m an urban liberal, by the way – who hates Trump.) After all, we know much more and the CDC even has the infection fatality rate at .26% which will likely turn out to be lower. I don’t know everything, but I wonder if this incredible fear/schools closing/whiplash is worth it for the actual threat of the virus.

  28. Very useful and informative post, Cameron. Thank you. My wife and I had a 10 week vacation planned starting a week after my retirement in April. Instead of flying to Barcelona, we spent hours trying to get refunds for thousands of dollars in reservations. While generally successful, we still have only vouchers for over $4,500, which may ultimately be worthless with the EU embargo on American tourists.

    I am alternately furious, disgusted, or dejected that a small, vocal subset of Americans can treat a public health emergency as a political act. My wife and I stayed home, went out as little as possible, and only with a mask. It is a sad irony that those who complain that their rights are being violated have no compunction about violating the rights of those of us following the rules. It is even more aggravating that the acts of these people, few of whom have ever been to Europe, or care to, have created a situation where the rest of us have to live with the results of their bad behavior.

    I will be 70 this month and don’t know how many years I have left to see the Sagrada Familia, the Vatican, Pompeii, Rhodes. To see those years bleeding away as I sit at home makes me angry. I have only one way to fight back, and that is to vote. Otherwise, I fear for this country

  29. Our daughter married a German man 10 yrs ago, and they and our two darling young grandchildren live there. We have been coping over the years by going over 3x a year, and they come to the US once a year. They were supposed to be there now. We are absolutely heartsick at not being able to visit. I don’t know why they don’t have different rules for close family as opposed to tourists. It is especially heartbreaking because my husband is battling cancer and may not be well enough to go by the time we are allowed. I am so disgusted with our government and with our unruly selfish stupid population who will not follow the rules. Germany has one of the lowest death rates from Covid-19 in the world. I never would have believed this could happen.

  30. Cameron, thanks for this article, which brings a question to mind: Do you expect the Rick Steves company might begin broadening the Europe My Way independent tour offerings? I can see where having someone else plan the details of one-country trips — especially choosing trustworthy lodging, car rental, perhaps access to local guides, etc. — might be worth paying somewhat more than what I have normally been able to spend on international travel planned solely on my own (well, not on my own if you count the Rick Steves guidebooks, of course!).

  31. Our multi-variegated US response and often-times mindset of rights over the community result from a number of factors:
    1. America was founded on freedom in all its aspects.
    2. Our freedom was won through many acts of rebellion.
    3. US citizens will only be complacent only so long before these elements surface.
    4. The states have tremendous autonomy to make reopening decisions.
    5. We received confusing and changing information on the efficacy of masks.
    6. It’s hard to focus on the longterm goal when immediate joys call out.
    7. The economy needed to open up, but personal responsibility is still critical.

  32. Well done, Cameron, another incisive post full of facts. As your neighbour just north in BC, I share your approval of smart public health doctors and local politicians. Only a common approach which puts the community ahead of ‘personal privilege’ will get us through. It was Croatia that imposed clear restrictions on all its citizens, who complied, and now it is one of the first countries to re-open its essential tourism sector. Their latest Covid case was an American citizen, which shows why the EU has closed access to USA residents. Dubrovnik invented Quarantine to block plague from returning trade galleys. It is still the only thing that works. Until a vaccine. Let’s stay safe, scientific and look forward, voyagers.

  33. I think this was a really interesting essay!

    But the comment about Sweden was a bit unfair. The Swedish authorities took the virus very seriously, and have made this seriousness clear in countless press conferences. Just because Sweden didn’t ’lockdown’ doesn’t mean it was a hands-off approach. A main reason why Sweden didn’t ’lockdown’ was because most types of lockdown measures aren’t legal under Swedish law.

    The number of cases per 100 000 is hard to compare across countries because it relies a lot on testing rates and patterns. In any case, I wouldn’t say that Sweden ’stands alone in high infection rates.’ Luxembourg is higher, and Belgium, Spain, Ireland and Iceland are above 500 per 100 000 (Statista, 2 July). Besides, the virus is not evenly spread across the country. Incidence is significantly higher in Stockholm than it is in Malmö, for example.

  34. “I also suspect that the age of “overtourism” — and of superficial, Instagram-driven, bucket-list travel — has come to an end.” I was on board until Cameron threw this in and concluded his article with an unfounded Utopian vision of enlightened mass travel post-virus. Wow, talk about being optimistic. There’s no rational basis to support the notion that this plague of overtourism won’t be back to to pre-virus levels once travel is perceived to be safer and becomes permitted without quarantine. I’d love to be wrong…but the notion that people are going to stop riding 5,000 visitors at a time on some cruise ship to flood Venice and a handful of other hot spots day in and day out just doesn’t seem likely.

  35. As evidenced by the comments, we all have biases that influence our perspectives on COVID responses, travel restrictions, etc. As humans, we also want/need to blame someone for our frustrations. However, as a few have posted above contrary to the majority here – we can all choose to interpret statistics to support our biases. I am sad for families and/or seniors who are missing out as noted. For those raging against Governments, leaders, societal profiles, etc., can we make a little space in our thought processes for the idea that in July, 2020 this COVID issue is far from over and it will be years before we can look back and draw final conclusions about how politics, politicians, healthcare experts, nations, continents and citizens impacted health, travel, and the rest for better or worse? Only time will tell if Sweden and the US method worked better than The EU. Or if the exalted vaccine proves to be effective against a potentially mutating Coronavirus by the time it arrives. Or whether herd immunity will have been better than “flattening (delaying/stretching) the curve, and whether the EU will really be “over it” – or may instead be subject to one or multiple future waves of infection in months or years to come. Let’s not all be so sure we have all the answers yet – or who is at fault. Only time will tell.

  36. Thanks for the great blog. We are hoping it will be safe to have a family trip to France and Italy in August 2021 (curious if anyone else is making any plans for 12 months out?). My in-laws will join us (having never been), and we are hoping to experience a long-wished-for journey to Normandy with my father-in-law. After a week in France, we’ll join my mother and my brother’s family in Italy for a small barge trip centered around Venice. We have loved traveling in Europe, and while not as seasoned as some RS travelers, we have done everything from the backpacking/Eurail adventure in our young twenties, to a cottage rental in the Loire with our children when they were young, to a 20th anniversary dream trip on a French barge. It’s like day-dreaming right now to even think about. We are starting to make reservations (with lots of guaranteed cancellation options and trip insurance). We are so hopeful that the U.S. will get it’s act together and actually accept what’s happening here so that we can get this under some semblance of control. That, and of course hoping for a vaccine. I join others in applauding Europe for keeping us out for the time being. We have not earned the right to freely roam the globe.

  37. COVID = Certificate of Vaccination ID

    Stop bashing the US.. it’s the only country that is standing up to global communism which is what this “pandemic” is ushering in while you cheer it on… police state, surveillance, lockdowns, brow-beating, mask bullying, etc.

    Maybe you should try some investigative journalism instead of being a useless repeater like so many writers have become. Question nothing.. stand for nothing and fall for everything.

    I’m awaiting your programmed, predictable, CNN/CDC/WHO/NWO George Soros/Bill Gates approved response.

  38. I am glad Europe has closed its borders to US citizens until further notice. It maybe we’ll into 2021, 2022 or 2023 when all of Europe will feel safe to allow US citizens back on their shores. Also, US travelers must apply for a visa to enter the EU starting January 1, 2021.

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