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Covid + possible world war... cooooooool

Honest question... if things escalate with Russia and Ukraine, would the smartest thing be to just cancel? With COVID and now a possible war on the horizon, I'm just feeling completely defeated. So much planning and hope has gone into our France and Germany trip for February. COVID was the expected risk. Omecron numbers have risen which has already made things more stressful. But traveling in two weeks to put ourselves closer to a warzone... seems... reckless? Stupid? Who knows if it would actually happen or let alone effect anything to do with western Europe and tourism specifically. Feeling a little lost.

I did enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through the US embassy to receive important safety and security messages during your selected travel dates and make it easier for us to locate the embassy in an emergency. They also send out alerts for possible threats to help you avoid certain areas. They have already emailed me an alert for a potential riot on Champs Elysees for this afternoon. Seems like a great (free) program to stay informed and safe. Definitely going to do this for any future trips regardless of the outcome next month. Just thought I'd throw that out to any equally concerned travelers.

Posted by
4894 posts

I don't want to minimize your concerns, however, I would not let the possibility of unrest between Russia and Ukraine stop me from a trip to France and Germany. Take your trip and enjoy yourself. The only reason I can see for canceling is if your anxiety on this issue is so high that you can't enjoy what should be a very enjoyable and safe trip.

PS You will find the locations where you are going take Covid far more seriously in terms of protocols than Idaho does. This is a good thing for your health and safety on your trip.

Posted by
30 posts

Thank you Carol! Honestly, that was the main appeal of France. It will be nice to see some masks and vaccination requirements haha!

Posted by
2527 posts

It may lead to angst and sanctions, but it won't lead to war since so far as western Europe is concerned it will just be a "quarrel in a far away country, between people of whom we know nothing"

"Pourquoi mourir pour Danzig?"

Posted by
105 posts

Thanks for sharing Smart Traveler Enrollment Program - never heard of that before.

Posted by
5432 posts

I would absolutely cancel my trip -- today -- if my trip was to Ukraine, Russia, or maybe one of the other front-line former-Soviet states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan) that Russia threatens to overrun if Putin wakes up in a bad mood.

But for a trip to France and Germany? I'd be packing my bags, humming La Marseillaise and Deutschland über alles, smiling, and excitedly looking forward to my upcoming departure.

The events about to unfold in Ukraine are a tragedy. But there is NOT going to be a shooting war in France or Germany, it's hardly going to be "World War III." It'll be awful for the Ukrainians, maybe some others, but in France and Germany, it's going to be business as usual for residents and tourists alike. Really.

I'd cross "World War III" off you list of things to worry about, and focus on things that are more relevant to your trip. Have fun (and try not to watch TV).

Posted by
6544 posts

There's been a low intensity conflict between Russia and Ukraine thats been going on for years. Just faded from the headlines. If it escalates, it doesn't threaten to become a world war.

Posted by
9577 posts

I agree with the others and will add...being from Idaho you will probably be shocked and amazed at the way the French are compliant with masking, sanitizing and distancing when possible (not possible on public transport). So different than here in the Panhandle and I suspect the Boise area.

Go, have fun. Don't even concern yourselves with troubles with Ukraine (and I mean that from a vacation standpoint NOT a world view!).

BTW, don't even discuss this with people in your circle who are not international travelers. In my experience friends and former colleagues are shocked at my travels to Europe and come up with dozens of reasons why I should not travel.

I'll add that you also have to take the STEP program with a grain of salt. The "riot" they are predicting on the Champs Elysees is not anything to be concerned about. Here is what the FB page for the Department of State says:

"France: Demonstrations may occur following the Africa Cup of Nations soccer match between Algeria & Ivory Coast. Paris (Champs Elysees area), Marseille, and other major cities in France could experience similar disruptions. Avoid demonstration areas. http://ow.ly/IF8G50Hz7BJ"

Trust me, demonstrations in France are not what we in the US would call a "riot" where your life might be in danger. IF there is a demonstration it's easy to move over a block to avoid any crowds.

Posted by
2438 posts

You really have to make this decision for yourself, it's that personal. I think February will be quite unsettled in many ways, even down to airlines cutting flights because of the stupid way the 5G rollout is being handled in the US.

If you do go, you really need to stay on top of world events. In my Paris hotel room we had BBC news and France24 news and German and Italian news channels to monitor. Which is good because that's how we learned about the change in return testing from 3 days to 1, and they were just starting to talk about something called the Omicron virus.

Posted by
770 posts

The Washington Post has a Q&A on the situation in the Ukraine and Russia. Here's the first (and comforting) part written by Isabelle Khurshudyan, the Post's Moscow correspondent:

"Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reiterated on Wednesday that Russia doesn't intend to attack or invade Ukraine. And he's not the only Russian official who's said that definitively. At this moment, starting a war wouldn't be a popular move with the Russian public. It would also be costly, triggering punitive sanctions and potentially dooming Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline before it even starts pumping gas into Europe.

All of that is to say that there a bunch of good reasons for Russia not to invade. As long as Moscow keeps its forces posted around Ukraine, it has the world's attention. The Kremlin has already scored a big win just by getting the U.S. and NATO to seriously engage on its demands that the military alliance not expand or cooperate with former Soviet states, particularly Ukraine and Georgia. Perhaps this was all a bluff to get Washington to agree to other concessions."

The full Q&A is here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/18/russia-ukraine-live-chat/ (sorry, it's behind a paywall)

Posted by
9577 posts

Trotter, thank you for the informative post and for the short quote with the pertinent information. So helpful when it's behind a paywall.

Posted by
1101 posts

Keep in mind, most European countries warn against travelling to the USA because of gun violence. To many people in the US that might seem silly, but since one's chances of being gunned down here goes up dramatically just by stepping into the country it is looked at differently.

Posted by
30 posts

I can't tell you how much I appreciate all of your feedback. Having a sounding board of experienced travelers is just so reassuring compared to news/media and concern from our friends and family. It is definitely a new experience traveling to a country that is in the red zone. Pre-2020 travels seemed so carefree in comparison these days. I think mentally, we need to get out of here and see something beautiful for a reset. Staying informed, being smart and aware of your surroundings is really the best we can hope for. Thank you again!

Posted by
754 posts

Honestly, that thought never even crossed my mind. Go have fun.

Posted by
6449 posts

"Pourquoi mourir pour Danzig?"

Carlos, that was my first thought when I read Nick's post. We can only hope that that's not the way the majority feels. If it is, we are in trouble.

Normally I would say this is just Putin's saber rattling, but something does feel different about this. Hoping I'm wrong.

In answer to the OP's concerns, I agree that I wouldn't cancel a trip to France or Germany because of this, but as another poster said I might consider canceling a trip to certain parts of Ukraine. I do know someone who just returned from a month in Dnipro, Ukraine (her family lives there) and she said they weren't particularly concerned having had to deal with this since 2014.

Posted by
8441 posts

And Germany needs Russia's gas, so cannot get too uppity about what Putin does anyway.

Heard some discussion by the 'talking heads', and the view was Russia needs the hard cash, as much as Germany needs the gas.
The phrase used had to do with cutting off one's nose.........

The consensus seemed to be that the West could put so much financial hurt on Russia that military involvement was unnecessary.

Visting France and Germany just has the hazards of the ever changing covid policy hoops and hurdles

Just bring a warm coat in case the gas is shut off :-)

Posted by
497 posts

My husband and I left for a trip to France right after 9-11. In fact, we were on the 1st flight (Lufthansa) to Europe leaving from San Francisco after 9/11. I had friends who were astonished that I was still going. I've yet to understand why. They just said "because you don't know what's going to happen". Well, one never knows what's going to happen and when we were in the countryside of France we saw the very reassuring site of French fighter planes exercising directly above us. I felt much safer there than in the US. I think people who do not travel internationally may be afraid because it is simply foreign, no pun intended, to them. Go! Have a good time!

Posted by
2527 posts

Carlos, that was my first thought when I read Nick's post. We can only hope that that's not the way the majority feels. If it is, we are in trouble. Normally I would say this is just Putin's saber rattling, but something does feel different about this. Hoping I'm wrong.

That's what I was thinking too, let us hope history does not repeat itself.

Posted by
142 posts

For myself and many, many others in Canada and the US who have family and friends in Ukraine, this will not be just a "quarrel in a far away country, between people of whom we know nothing".

Posted by
9577 posts

"I think mentally, we need to get out of here and see something beautiful for a reset."

Yes, this. Particularly forwe folks who live in a part of the US where there are Covid-deniers, mask refusers and all sorts of other nonsense.

Plus Paris??? Nothing better for relaxing the knots in my brain, lol!!

Have a wonderful time and let us know how it was when you get back!