Please sign in to post.

Anecdotes of U.S. travelers testing + before return?

I find it really hard to believe (yes I’m a cynic) that there aren’t a modest number of travelers to France who have tested positive before their return to U. S. But other than one story here a few weeks ago, I’m not seeing first-hand reports. There was a sort of annoying NYT article and a USA Today piece several months ago about travelers stuck at all-inclusive Mexican resorts.
I’d welcome hearing firsthand (or secondhand) reports — where did you end up quarantining? Was it hard to find a place? How did you get food? How did you do the follow up Covid testing? Any nuts and bolts details welcome.
Thanks!

Posted by
791 posts

Maybe travelers were super cautious when traveling. I am one who does not want to travel and go through all the hoops I read here at the present time. I have had many travels to Europe and hope again to go, but I'll be patient and wait it out some more.

I do agree with you though, I haven't read one post about a problem getting back or anyone becoming ill with covid while in Europe. Odds do seem illogical.

Posted by
1297 posts

My boss went to Tahiti (French-speaking) and tested positive the day before departure. He actually had it, too. They sent him to a quarantine hotel for 10 days which he described as ghetto-like. The authorities made no provisions for meals on that first day in quarantine, so he went 22 hours without food. He was also running low on meds since he didn't bring enough for his vacation + 10 days. And since he doesn't speak French, communicating all this to authorities was not easy. Finally, he contacted the American consulate which arranged a AirBB for him, got him extra meds, and did a grocery run. He felt better after a few days (he was vaxxed) and tested negative after 5 days, so he was able to return to the US early. All-in-all, a miserable, stressful experience for him.

Posted by
64 posts

Shelly, are you asking because you are planning a trip to France and trying to prepare for it?

Posted by
2929 posts

I find it really hard to believe (yes I’m a cynic) that there aren’t a
modest number of travelers to France who have tested positive before
their return to U. S.

I'm sure that some US travellers in France have tested positive while there. But as much as I like this site, and while it certainly has its devout followers, it's members are a mere drop in the ocean of total travellers. And many of the regulars here aren't even traveling abroad at this time. So, as compelling as such tales might be, I'm really not that surprised that we haven't seen reports here yet.

And I doubt there's any conspiracy amongst the media to suppress such stories. I'm sure, sooner or later there will be people who choose to put their story "out there". Or they may decide its nobody's business but their own.

Posted by
242 posts

Thanks for the replies. Yes, I am seriously thinking of going to France in 2 weeks - would spend whole time in Paris. I ask not so much because I’m super concerned, but I’m all about “being prepared.” I’m vaccinated, always mask, would likely eat lunches outside and cook suppers in apartment, etc. (and yes, I’d still have a great time).
As someone else said, I also think that those who have tested positive before returning to U.S. maybe aren’t too eager to acknowledge it.

Posted by
2466 posts

What frightens me more is getting Ill abroad, perhaps needing hospitalization. You can be cautious, mask up, try to diminish your exposure. But if you are dining out, even outdoors in a crowded cafe, visiting museums, shopping for food, you are risking exposure and the consequences. As someone in their 70’s I won’t risk it.

Posted by
64 posts

It's an interesting question- and super hard to get many answers on these days. I don't think many stats are released on this- at least not that I have seen. The only stats related to Covid and tourism I have ever seen was on Hawaii- they had said only 1% of their cases were attributed to tourism (indicating some tourists may be picking it up there). But even that is a bit nebulous.

Like other posters have mentioned, not that many people seem to be traveling internationally yet. I know for us, we were the first in our friend circle to go international (and we were in Portugal). The pool of folks seems to be somewhat small yet.

Agree with your plan to mask, use hand sanitizer, etc. Have you decided if you will be staying in a hotel, or doing something like an AirBnb? If it was a hotel, you could ask them. They might be able to help. I bet you could even mention you are thinking of booking but want to understand what would happen if you tested positive while staying there. It's the only other way I can think of to get a solid answer in case no one on the forums has run into this (or are not willing to talk about it).

Posted by
1419 posts

This question is asked a lot on this forum. You might want to check some of the other threads for answers, but I do not remember anyone offering a first-hand account.

If someone tested positive with an Antigen test, he might want to schedule a PCR test to confirm results. He might also want to check with a physician, cost is about 30€. If a recovery period is required, someone might arrange to stay in an apartment/hotel such as Citadine or Adagio with cooking facilities. Paris has plenty of businesses which deliver food/groceries and/or prepared meals.

Travel insurance might defray some of these unexpected expenses. Luckily, medical care in France costs a fraction of what it does in the USA.

Posted by
5979 posts

This is why I was suggesting that people take an at-home, not-for-the-record, rapid test sometime before leaving for the trip, whether or not they are vaccinated. You could already be positive before you leave and not know it, and then have consequences later.

Posted by
7590 posts

That’s true Stan. I did wonder if in the one case that was reported to the Forum if the two family members had been exposed before even arriving in Provence.

Posted by
5 posts

I had the same concern so we purchased travel insurance (less than $100) that covers my wife and I for trip delay (including quarantine hotel and meals) for up to $2000 or $150/day for 10 days. Make sure plan specifically covers trip delay due to COVID quarantine. You can choose hotel to "quarantine" in until you test negative. Coverage includes both of us even if only onw tests positive. We would then just work/relax (or recover if there are symptoms) form a paris hotel room until we can fly back!

Posted by
6717 posts

Have you considered there may be a variety of ramifications for reporting something like that over social media? Even though there is certainly oversharing (and TMI) in general, this is something that may be more sensitive for someone to want to deal with or expose freely (may not want an employer, friends, family, insurer, etc knowing or tracing back to that individual). Some people simply may want to avoid potential public shaming, even by strangers they don't know. So my guess is that there is some underreporting going on, but hard to prove. I'm surprised that some people want to talk to the press about their experience unless they are venting or complaining and want the attention.

The sample size of this forum is too small, and the sample size of people on this forum who are actively traveling is even smaller - so tough to draw conclusions.

Posted by
8248 posts

This has been on my mind as well. Leaving next Tuesday for Paris and will be with a friend part of the time, with a tour group part of the time and on my own part of the time. I did find some of the BinaxNOW home tests (not the proctored ones) and will take 2 of those with me. I'll self-test the night before I go for my return back home test so I can decide if I want to go for the Antigen or straight for the PCR test.

I'm also doing some things to keep myself healthy in addition to planning to wear N95s.

IF I test positive, I plan to see if I can stay at my hotel for the quarantine period. It will be late October and it looks like so far they have availability. I know I can get food delivery and my friends will be back in Paris for a few days so can pick some stuff up for me.

I'd also not feel bad about reaching out here as there will be a number of forum participants in Paris over the next month who might pick up food for you!

Oh, cash...yes, mental note to self. I think having cash might be a good idea toward the end of the trip.

Posted by
122 posts

If you are stuck in metropolitan France due to covid, at least you can choose your own hotel for the quarantine period. That is much better than the countries that place you somewhere against your will for a rate that they have decided. And when you are quarantined in France, you can still go out between 10-11am to go for provisions or medical supplies.

(Not to mention being able to order all of the Uber Eats or Deliveroo type stuff that you can stuff in your face.)

Posted by
8248 posts

"And when you are quarantined in France, you can still go out between 10-11am to go for provisions or medical supplies."

I did not know that! So, OK to go to the grocery store! That is a relief. I'd tried to get thru the rules on quarantine but was trying to figure it out in French which is a challenge for my mono-lingual brain.

Posted by
967 posts

I don't fully understand this fear of being quarantined in France. I can see where Tahiti might be a harder place to be quarantined, but France- je crois pas. Food is so easy to get delivered (deliveroo, ubereats, etc). The biggest pain in the fesses would be having to miss work - but you'd still have to miss work in the USA as well if you caught covid here.

The biggest key is making sure you can arrange a place to stay and quarantine in France. To me it sounds like a dream having room service delivered to my beautiful hotel room with all French channels and a balcony. Would it be costly ? You bet! So do your research before hand to make as affordable as possible.

Posted by
1291 posts

I certainly would not want to be quarantined in France (or anywhere) with a balcony and all French TV. Sounds like a nightmare to me.

Posted by
967 posts

I am a French teacher...so all French prorgramming is right up my alley

Posted by
463 posts

US based streaming services all work for me in the US (or via VPN). (For us, there was little issue as we have our own apartment and good fiber/WiFi for work)

I don't think you are seeing too many anecdotes from France because not only are travellers are careful, the community transmission in many areas has dropped tremendously (as well as the rate of positive tests). Add to that the high vaccination rates, 100% compliance with indoor masking and the pass sanitaire and my risk in France was lower than back in the US.

Posted by
7590 posts

I agree with Gooster. It's just not happening.

The case rate is less than half of what it was, the economy is booming, everything is open, if a restaurant is closed part time it's because they lack personnel, the hospitals have plenty of room, and all my activities are back in person. I haven't heard of one positive test yet among family, friends, neighbors, people at the market, grocery store, etc. Oh yes, the delivery company was backed up with deliveries in July because they had some drivers get C-19 but I don't know if they were vaccinated. It's very different here.

Posted by
7921 posts

I’m with you Alexander, I can think of far worse things than being quarantined in Paris in a lovely hotel room.

Have you watched Call My Agent? 🤣

Posted by
91 posts

I find this topic almost entertaining! I travel there in a couple weeks. Being quarantined in France or nearby European countries maybe not the worst thing ever!? We are retired. But….We’d rather Not! However if we can get food and drink and can breath fresh air…. get WiFi and some more fresh air again….it’s survivable. The biggest concern I guess is how symptomatic are you? I feel fairly confident with our Moderna vax. Was hoping for maybe the booster…unlikely now before we go with ongoing FDA studies.( I tried with my county health dept…not yet!…even with oncologist suggestion) Thankful we don’t fall into the most seriously compromised group to get one!! Then we would not be traveling!
And yes doubtful how much quarantining with positive cases will be easy to become published… anywhere!?

Posted by
630 posts

And when you are quarantined in France, you can still go out between 10-11am to go for provisions or medical supplies.

Kerouac2, is this allowed for Covid positive people who must isolate? I’ve seen a provision for medical visits and tests, but not for shopping for food and provisions. Do you have the source for this 10-11 am authorization in case I need to refer to it? Thanks!

Posted by
5979 posts

I cant imagine being stuck in any hotel room 24/7 indefinitely would be considered fun. You'd run out of good selfie shots pretty quickly, for one thing.

Posted by
242 posts

Thanks everyone for the helpful, respectful discussion. I’m leaning toward pulling the trigger and booking a place, especially after my doctor told me yesterday he supports me going. (And if I were to test positive before my return, I promise I would post details here!)

Posted by
39 posts

This has been an interesting and respectful thread. Thank you for that! My husband and I have been in France since the start of August, nearly always in gites, and in villages, not cities. Now, towards the end of our trip, we are starting the portion where we are getting together with (European) friends and although everyone is vaccinated, it certainly is on my mind. I want to add, though, that things are so much more buttoned down here than in the USA that I do feel safer than at home. Mask compliance indoors everywhere; checking for a passe sanitaire at every restaurant/bar, even for outdoor dining. But now we are nearing the end of the trip, and we will soon be in hotels rather than gites, tand his question about "how to quarantine" has been on my mind. These responses have been helpful. I am a guest in this country and I don't want to burden their healthcare system. We did spring for travel insurance which includes Covid, which was a chunk of change for two people in their late 60s for ten weeks. But gives us some peace of mind. I admit I was nervous about this trip for all of the reasons mentioned by other folks, but so far, we've been really happy. Have not seen one single tour bus, although that could change once we get to Paris. We are people who enjoy travel by walking and hiking, getting to know smaller towns and villages - we are mostly done with visits to museum after museum. In Paris we will sign up for some walking tours, for instance, and will eat outdoors whenever possible. And will walk and walk and walk!

Posted by
29 posts

Regarding the OP question, I think there would be plenty of coverage in the media if Americans were stranded in Europe due to positive tests taken before their return to the US. Reporters would jump on this topic if there were 100s of cases. Airlines would be cancelling more flights to the US if their passengers were testing positive. To me, the silence signifies that this just isn't happening. To add a personal note, I just returned from France a few weeks ago. Yes, I was mildly concerned that I might test positive when I took the test three days before my flight, but there was no problem. As other posters have noted, it's safer traveling in France right now than it is in certain parts of the US.

Posted by
6041 posts

generally you have to cancel an airline flight 72 hours or so in advance -- I am wondering how the airlines will handle a positive test cancel which will come later than that.

Posted by
7590 posts

I read that article a month ago. Nothing since.

Posted by
5979 posts

Stories are likely not reaching the media, because no gov't agency is tracking this, nor is any American news media reaching out to identify such situations, other than anecdotally. In the case in the article (paywall), it appears the couple was positive for COVID (with symptoms, even) before they left on their trip to Greece. So a test before they left could have prevented being "blind-sided". But like most people it seems, they assumed that being vaccinated meant they couldn't get infected. Even though, since the beginning vaccine effectiveness was measured by preventing serious illness, not infection. That message just keep getting lost in the shuffle.

Posted by
791 posts

I think the OP wanted stories from Forum Followers more than news stories. So far, it doesn't seem like any Forum folks have tested positive and had to stay in Europe.

Posted by
7921 posts

Thos, I agree with you. If it were happening often we’d hear about it.

Posted by
53 posts

Promised myself I wouldn't peruse this thread until AFTER I had received my negative PCR test results before leaving France to return home on Monday. Just received the results this morning! Phew! What a sigh of relief! Now to enjoy my last 2 days.

Posted by
195 posts

We are in Normandy (Honfleur) with return flight to US on Monday - so we had a COVID test done on a Saturday (18 Sept) in Honfleur.

The process was very simple. Pharmacie de la Republique tested us immediately when we walked in at about 10am on a Saturday (with our passports, though they didn't examine them). Ten minutes after filling out a simple form and undergoing the test, we had our (negative) results; they were also emailed to us. The whole process took only about 20 minutes.