Where can I travel right now under current restrictions?
The Holidays are coming – and where will you be going this year? Where can I travel right now? Until this year, millions of people left for the ski resorts or warm beaches over the holidays, and the holidays were high season for foreign travel. I’ve never been one to travel much except a day here and there with my family or to the freezing Baltic beaches, but this year, my answer is: work, to provide emergency services, and a vaccination centre. That’ll see me through the entire holidays until our normal work schedule starts again on 4 January.
Is it a good idea to travel now?
I believe the German Government has totally failed in the second wave of COVID-19 and I certainly do not agree with the current restrictions. Similarly, the vaccination schedule that the government is imposing makes little sense by vaccinating stationary people over 80 first instead of potential vectors and care and medical workers, teachers, police, supermarket staff who actually have to go out everyday and face the virus.
But I shall do my citizenly duty and stay at home and avoid all unnecessary contacts because I certainly do believe this virus is potentially deadly and responsible for our healthcare system being on the brink.
So, I am just indulging in a bit of a fantasy where I could reasonably travel should all this become too much 🙂 Just in case I feel the need to quit my job and grab my backpack and disappear for 2 months. Unlikely to happen but always good to know the options.
First port of call for me is the “risk area” list of the Robert-Koch-Institute, followed by our foreign ministry country information file, and I have used these as references for this post.
At present, if a country is classed as a risk area you have to quarantine for ten days upon return but may cut quarantine short from Day 5 by providing a negative COVID test.
Please note that I probably won’t and that I do not advise you to travel right now if public health recommendations do not advise you to travel. Also note recommendations change on an almost daily basis, so what I am writing can only be a snapshot of today.
Where can I travel right now in Europe?
Canary Islands, Spain
Yeah, the most accessible destinations for Germans now. With tourist stays banned all over Germany, people flock to the Canary Islands en masse. As I write this, you will need a negative COVID-Test, with a rapid antigen test apparantly sufficient. Flights are still limited, but the flights that leave are reported tobe full. Until very recently, they were not even a risk are, but they are now, which does not appear to stop most travellers, and given the average 7-day incidence at 192 (whole country, between 93 in Schleswig-Holstein state and 424 in Saxony) compared to 73 in the Canary Islands and 130 in Spain, it probably won’t stay low that long.
There is a travel warning for some parts of the country,including the capital Athens. At present a rapid antigen test will be done on arrival, followed by a three-day quarantine for all arrivals. This will change after the holiday season when a negative PCR test less than 72hours old will be required again. As the labs are currently up to the hilt with cases, it’s not exactly fair to bung up the lab with tests for travel, to be honest.
Also, Greece has a nationwide lockdown until 7th January so once you are there, you will not actually be able to do much.
France had some of the highest infections numbers since the pandemic started, but is easing its current lockdown restrictions before the holidays while many non-essential shops and tourist facilities remain closed. Only the Bretagne and Corsica have just been made exceptions of a country-wide travel warning. However, we are allowed to enter France. There will be a nightly curfew from 20.00 to 06.00 country-wide but restaurants and shops are set to open normally during the day.
And honestly, I am tempted, were it not for the quarantine when re-entering Germany. I would like to see some of my family, and this would be the only reason now to travel. I have asked my husband if he wants to see his father over the holidays, while I stay here – but they are well and have requested that we don’t visit, so France is postponed until restrictions are relaxed.
Italy, like France, is mostly open to visitors, with none of the regions now being a high-risk “Red” zone. In many areas, restaurants and shops are allowed to open during the day but must close at 18.00. There are no restrictions to enter Italy at most time BUT as Italy expects an influx of non-residents over the holidays, a mandatory 14-day quarantine will be in place between 21 December and 6. January.
On the whole, I would consider travelling to Italy in a flash. I thought they have acted quite sensibly over the summer and avoided a massive second wave. Also, they are sensible enough to really enforce mask and sanitation rules, and aren’t giving the Corona deniers any chance. Italy is another country I managed to visit this year and I felt safe in terms of protecting myself.
Its a bit cold round this time of the year but the other night I dreamt I was on a cruise to Svalbard, so maybe a trip I subconsciously want to do? They made headlines by offering a long stay visa to high earners the other day, but when I look at the country advice right now, you’ll have to go onto 14-day quarantine which can be shortened to 6 days by two negative COVID Tests. Okay, nice idea. Even the tests are free. But I found little information on quarantine, and given Iceland accommodation prices, this could be quite a pricey holiday.
Where can I travel right now in Asia?
Turkey was one of my favourites for travel this autumn, as their numbers stayed relatively low and honestly, I like Turkey, despite the state’s terrible politics. Turns out they ony repoertted thos e whoa ctually got sick until well into autumn, and only now switched to actually reporting positive tests like most of the world, which explained the sudden spike in cases and hasty local lockdowns. It all of a sudden looks a lot less attractive with a 7-day incidence rate of about 1200
However – it is easy to enter Turkey, just some temperature screens and a test if the temperature is high. Before returning to Germany, a negative test will be required and can be done at the airport. I have lots of international patients who transited in Istanbul int he past few months who told me everyone leaving Turkey on an airplane must do a test which will take a few hours. However… while toursit accommodations will be open, restaurants not belonging to accommodations are closed and so are many touristic attractions.
I went there in January and loved it. It has sort of come on my radar to visit again soon. It is still classed as a risk country by German government. You will need a negativ PCR less than 120 hours old and quarantine for seven days. The Jordanian Tourism ministry also says that there are testing facilities at the international airports where they will test you at cost price. At least hotels are very reasonably priced in Jordan! After that, you must wear as mask and not go out at night and on Fridays, but as far as I can see from looking at their website, all tourist attractions have reopened.
Where can I travel right now long haul?
Interestingly, this came up in many searches, and it is not on the list of risk areas right now. They have tightened their rules somewhat now. You have to do a PCR test on arrival, which will be about 30 USD, then wait in the hotel until the negative result arrives. Some restaurants and tourist attractions may be closed and there may be a shortage of essential supplies, but from what I understand is that most tourist resports are operating and if you;re the type who doesn’t leave the resort, it should be okay.
Other Caribbean states apply similar policies so those just seeking a secluded beach and resort holiday should be okay.
Yes, its classified as a risk area too, but relatively easy to travel to, no test, no quarantine. You have to filling a form and have your temperature checked. They may ask you to test of the temperature is raised. Infection numbers remain high, especially in large urban areas.
Mexico has been on my “would love to visit” list for many years now. Actually, I have technically been to Mexico although I guess walking across the borders to Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana doesn’t fully count as a visit. I am not sure I would tackle a country where I cannot really speak the language with a health system I do not know well in the middle of a pandemic, though.
They report almost no cases, but Tanzania has remained a risk area since 15 June for the German government, probably something to do with reliability of reporting – see Turkey.
It appears to be incredibly easy to travel and enter Turkey – there is mandatory temperature screening, but no general testing and no quarantine. The country is beautiful, and tourist attractions like Zanzibar are open. I visited there briefly in 2015 and visited Stone Town in Zanzibar on a day trip. The prospect of sun, sea and little caution seems too appealing right now! However… having visited a couple of Tanzanian hospitals, I don’t think I would like to be a patient there. Also, there are no direct flights from where I live, so, that’s a no for me right now.
Actually, it is possible again to visit Thailand. Thailand is one of my favourite countries to visit! Except, whereas in the old days, a visa on arrival was easily obtained you now need to apply and pay 35 Euro for a touristic visa in advance. Then you can enter but must quarantine for 14 days in a state-mandated facility, usually a hotel, as well as several tests, at your own cost.
Case numbers remain low so for a longer trip, this would be one of my top countries to travel to, especially since they do have strict quarantine rules and have managed to maintain very low case numbers throughout the pandemic. lso, they have good healthcare resources and should one get sick, there will be medical care of a high standard available in most cities.
Where can I travel right now or what will I do instead?
So, this was my roundup of places where you could actually travel right now from Germany/Central Europe if you really, really wanted. Admittedly, it is a bit of a personal choice. I shall add that you can currently also travel to some African countries with few restrictions, like Namibia, Botswana or Uganda. It is also possible to have a nice beach holiday on Mauritius or the Seychelles if you have the time and money to quarantine first, but with these islands/archipelagos appealing to the moneyed tourist, I am not gonna queue up to go there. where can I travel right now
With some leave but no travel on the horizon, I will join the German vaccination campaign as soon as it rolls out on 27th December. If and when further dates are available during my holiday in January, I might do more vaccinations or surrender the leave should the situation in our hospital become overly critical.
I fully appreciate having a relatively stable income right now and that we can work, but I would be lying would I say it had not been an immensely challenging year, living in fear to get infected, dealing with lots of infection and non compliant people while battling a government-imposed bureaucracy to first get appropriate protective equipment and then to get paid for the extra testing and treating of COVID-19 patients.
So I will use the extra income to save for my next trip. And if that isn’t happening, I will invest it. And once when there is no imminent danger, go back to my nice part-time job and travel then.
Disclaimer and Sources
This post on “where can I travel right now” is written from the perspective of a German resident in Germany and provides a snapshot of the situation on the day of publication. I personally would advise against all leisure travel right now. I do draw the line at visiting family and friends who are poorly and might need your help,and I would absolutely ravel then, but not for my own pleasure.
I used the Robert Koch Institute reported German case numbers and risk areas. Additional sources are Statista and the Corona Virus Resource Center of Johns Hopkins University.