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Frustration & Anxiety - International travel during the Covid era

I am signed up to go to on the Istanbul trip that starts on 3/20/22. I am going by myself. This evening, I started researching what exact Covid regulations I need to follow for entry to each country on my trip. I feel like you need a Master's degree to decipher it all. And will it change within the next 4 weeks? How are you supposed to plan ahead?

I booked my flight early, and since then it has been changed by the airline multiple times. I now have 3 long layovers that I'm scared to leave the airport for due to restrictions (Frankfurt, London & Toronto). One I have to leave the airport because it's now been increased to 20 hours. Just my luck it's in Toronto, and Canada seems to have the worst restrictions right now. Although, their website states they'll be updating soon - hopefully for the better.

Here's what I've found:
Layover in Frankfurt - only proof of vaccination needed if not leaving airport
Arrival in Istanbul - proof of vaccination and travel entry form
Rick Steves Tour - proof of negative Covid test within 72 hours
Layover in London - only proof of vaccination needed if not leaving the airport
Layover in Toronto - leaving airport so need proof of vaccination, travel entry form and negative test result within 72 hours
Re-entry into US - negative test result within 24 hours

This has been a big learning experience for me as I have not traveled internationally in over 15 years. I will not book a flight so far in advance again. I will not get a non-refundable flight again. I will not be traveling internationally unless it's a non-stop flight and I'll only be going to 1 country. Heck, I may not be traveling internationally at all anymore depending how this all works out.

Anyways, I just needed to vent my frustration and anxiety. When I booked this trip in July I didn't anticipate it being this crazy. I don't want Covid to rule my life, so I decided I'm going as long as I am able. But it just seems like the universe is trying to break me.

Anybody else have a trip coming up and feel this way?

Posted by
6113 posts

Travelling at present is easier than a few months ago, but not straightforward, hence the oft repeated message on this forum to only visit one country and take direct flights where possible to avoid having to check Covid requirements for so many countries. Where direct flights aren’t available, try to change planes in the USA if possible.

Hopefully things will relax before your trip.

Posted by
7578 posts

First of all, if you have had such a major change to your airline schedule (20 hour layover) you may be able to get a full refund by not accepting this change and you could start over on the flights since this does seem to be an unusual routing. This is where I would start.

Secondly, the times you list don’t seem to be completely accurate.

Canada is changing its protocols as of Feb. 28th.
UK is not requiring arrival testing for vaccinated passengers.
Rick Steves Tours currently requires a Covid test within 48 hours of your first tour date.

I can tell you are frustrated. First, follow up on seeing if you can get a refund because of an unacceptable flight schedule change. Then, make sure you have accurate information. Come back here if you are still confused and we will try to help.

I encourage you to go to your online tour account and read the tour FAQs about tour protocols.

Posted by
797 posts

Curious, when the airline extended the layover time, did you accept the change? When these changes happen, it opens up the ability to pick a different flight for no cost. Also makes a non refundable ticket refundable. I figure at this time close to the tour you don't want a refund, but perhaps you can get better routing? That is if you didn't accept the change they offered.

And I completely understand the not wanting Covid to rule my life. Last year I also booked a ticket early and had it change multiple times. But not nearly as much as what you have had to go thru. Here's hoping you have a wonderful trip once you get there.

Edit: to add link regarding schedule changes

Posted by
2422 posts

It sounds like you have everything all figured out. I’d suggest making copies/bookmarking all the official gov. sites so you can keep track of any changes while you travel.

I traveled this past Sept. to Switzerland with day trips to France and Germany. While it was a lot of work and stress ahead of time, once we were there all that stress and worry melted away and we ended up having a fabulous trip. So, I think you will end up having a great time.

Posted by
412 posts

I feel your pain. My husband and I are scheduled for the March 30th tour of Belgium and Holland. We are leaving our home on March 21 and driving 3 hours and will spend the night before flying out the next day. We will be in Belgium for a week before our tour starts. In that time period we will have to take multiple covid tests as we travel. Then last week we had the plane change on our return flight from Amsterdam. We have been trying different masks to find one that will be comfortable for long periods of time. We looked at each other and said … do we really want to go through all of this? That evening we looked at the recordings on our DVR and saw a Rick Steves show on “Places outside of Amsterdam”. We watched it and then we found a YouTube video of Bruges, Belgium and watched it. We fell in love with those pictures. We said…Yes! We want to go see that.
So, I would advise you to find a Rick Steves video or something on YouTube about Istanbul. You will remember why you wanted to go here in the first place. You will get excited again and tell yourself that you really want to do this. Yes, it will be harder than in past years, but you might find out that there are fewer tourists around and will have less stress from that. I hope things clear up for you and you have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
1176 posts

Think about the upside:

There are fewer tourists coming from many countries that still are sealing their borders. Hence, hotels will still be cheap. Bookings at top restaurants are easier and cable cars/trains are less crowded.

Hang in there...

Posted by
7791 posts

We went to Berlin & Dresden the end of October--a year later than the trip was planned. After all the Covid testing going and on our return, no one even checked our documentation. But they always checked when we went into a sit down restaurant.

I'd check with the airline to see if there's some way you can change your flight legs--without so many long layovers.. When making reservations, I avoid short and long layovers. And I try to make'em non-stop when possible. Price is not always the best value

The regulations on Covid right now are up in the air--a moving target. I'd not worry about them, but come back a couple of weeks and where things stand.

And despite a little confusion, things will work out for you. We've been to Turkey, and it's an incredible country.

Posted by
415 posts

My husband and I made plans last October for travel in early January of '22. Seemed like a great idea...until Omicron. So, yes, I understand your frustration:). All of those Covid "extras" can seem overwhelming; you are wise to start early and familiarize yourself with current requirements (just keep an eye open for changes). Something I found helpful is that the airlines (in my case United, Lufthansa, and BA) sent frequent reminders, starting about two weeks prior to travel, regarding Covid travel requirements. They also provided directions to assist customers in uploading documents and completing forms. I won't say it was a breeze...but I am SO glad that we went ahead with our plans!

As others have said, do see if the airline will re-route you. Keep thinking about the tour that awaits you, and enjoy every moment!

Posted by
2766 posts

It changes all the time, and is a ton to keep up with.

For me, I’m minimizing it by reducing countries per trip. I have Portugal coming up soon, then a separate trip to Greece 3 months later. In both cases I am flying from the US to the country in question, then back to the US. No layovers in 3rd countries, no moving between countries on the trip. Each country has enough to see and I only travel for a few weeks each, so I see no need to complicate matters. One country (plus the US for returning home concerns) is a lot to keep up with.

For you, can you change your flights to fly direct from the US (if you are American) to Turkey? That would save a ton of trouble. Turkish Air has lots of reasonably priced flights. You might need a layover in NY or Chicago or somewhere, but that’s a lot easier than dealing with additional countries.

I do think things will loosen up a bit, fairly soon. But that’s a guess, not worth basing any decisions on.

Posted by
1427 posts

As a Canadian, I think of them as the best "restrictions", but most of the public health measures are set by each provincial government with the exception of border crossing. In that regard, Canada is going to be dropping its requirement for a PCR test, meaning you can choose an antigen test, instead. We will also no longer be requiring people to isolate while awaiting test results if they are randomly selected for arrival testing.

Any other public health measures are set by the provinces, and I believe that Ontario has recently relaxed many of those. Here is the current information: Of course, those could change by the time you travel, depending on what is happening with the virus and case numbers.

Hope that helps!

Posted by
3995 posts

I agree with Mira. Make those layovers at US airports.

Posted by
22 posts

My fear, is testing before coming back to the US, and being positive. Exactly how does quarantining work at that point? Will I be taken to a hotel room, never to get out till I test negative? Rebook flights, at my cost?

Posted by
2075 posts

And for those of us that like to plan ahead and have everything in order, this uncertainty is stressful. Weekly or daily, I have to remind myself to take a deep breath and not stress about what I can’t control. Having reassuring posts from others about how easy things are once they get there keeps me motivated. I know that many countries are re-evaluating their policies frequently. So, while I know where to get a PCR before we leave, I am hopeful it won’t be necessary. So many people have reassured us that testing is so much easier and cheaper in Europe, I’m feeling more confident about that. But, you are not alone.