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Refocusing the RS Forum in the Age of COVID-19

Hi everyone,

Thanks to all who have helped others as we collectively try to navigate the effects of the coronavirus on travel. International travel has come to a screeching halt, affecting all of us participating in this forum.

If you want the "too long; didn't read" version of this post, keep your replies hyper-focused on travel. We've allowed a breadth of conversation for awhile, and it's time to bring it back to what this forum is about. Threads going too far off topic will be deleted. It will be hard to understand where we are drawing the line, so this post is an attempt to explain that.

What we've seen is that travel conversations in our forum aren't being allowed to happen without debating the coronavirus. It's preventing people from getting the answers they seek. This is still a travel forum. People need to be able to ask travel questions without giving an endless list of caveats to avoid a host of off-topic discussions.

From here forward, when someone has a travel question, assume that they know...

  • The coronavirus is currently preventing travel and that they will reconsider their plans if the virus is still affecting travel at that time
  • The basics of limiting the spread of the virus via limiting unnecessary travel, social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, etc
  • There are greater concerns in the world and they aren't being dismissive of this by virtue of asking a travel question or lamenting lost (delayed?) travel plans
  • The virus has been politicized and they didn't come here for any such commentary or debate

We aren't banning mention of the coronavirus, but be mindful that this is a travel forum. What makes this forum valuable is travelers' advice and opinions based on their travel experiences, NOT opinions based on the latest coronavirus news. To clarify, this is not a limitation on sharing news that directly affects travel as long as the purpose is to further the on-topic travel-related discussion. The virus is the news of the day and will be for some time. We as moderators accept that. However, question the media being cited for its direct worth as it relates to travel, and question whether you should share it here at all.

Many conversations have shifted to when we can travel again. As a reminder, this forum is a place to share insight and opinions so that the OP and other readers can make the best decision for themselves. Debate is NOT what this forum is for. Share your opinion or insight once, then let it go.

Keep politics out of this. Seriously. It is acceptable to share what a government entity has done to manage the virus as this directly affects travel or the outlook on when we can travel again. Any other political commentary will be removed and risks warnings or banishment. Please avoid any exasperation with regard to any entity's response to the virus. This is difficult for all of us, and any such exasperation immediately takes a discussion off topic.

Thanks to everyone for doing what they can to keep our travel forum about travel. This will be hard given the current state of the world and we sincerely appreciate all your efforts and input.

Stay on topic (travel!). Do not respond to guideline violations or off-topic subjects. Report violations. Answer the question directly at hand. Strongly avoid politics. Be good to one another. Thank you! We will make it through this!!

Posted by
6375 posts

Hopefully everyone will take the time to read all the way. It really does not take that long.

Posted by
856 posts

Thank you.
I appreciate the reasonableness of the monitoring of this forum.

Posted by
5826 posts

Sorry but people also need to respond with some honesty to the situation that they find themselves in.
Yes keep it travel related but the positivity that some people on this site seem to insist on is hugely alienating to people who are struggling with the present situation.
It is not a sign of weakness or “anti-travel” spirit to say “ Actually no you shouldn’t be travelling now “ Or to say “you know what this is really hard” or “ no I don’t want you visiting my country in the next few months, my life is of more value than your holiday”.

Yes this is travel forum but it’s also a community, one that the Rick Steve organisation has benefited from over the years. In a world that is this “not normal” communities need support.

And to be brutally honest the use of the phrase “Please avoid any exasperation with regard to any entity’s response to the virus” makes me sick to my stomach.

Posted by
1551 posts

Appreciate the reminder! yes, too many posts getting on people if they dare to plan travel this year!!! If RS is going, then so are we!!

Posted by
2004 posts

There are greater concerns in the world and they aren't being dismissive of this by virtue of asking a travel question or lamenting lost (delayed?) travel plans

Amen!

Posted by
635 posts

I sincerely appreciate everything Emma has to say here. I'd like to take a moment to address those points.

Sorry but people also need to respond with some honesty to the situation that they find themselves in.
...
It is not a sign of weakness or “anti-travel” spirit to say “ Actually no you shouldn’t be travelling now “ Or to say “you know what this is really hard” or “ no I don’t want you visiting my country in the next few months, my life is of more value than your holiday”.

I think you're confusing my post to say that we expect pro-travel recommendations. That's not the case. We expect frank assessments as to whether travel is reasonable. We're on the same page here.

Yes keep it travel related but the positivity that some people on this site seem to insist on is hugely alienating to people who are struggling with the present situation.

This is the point of the third bullet in my list. I agree with you that a travel discussion can be off-putting in the context of the many people who are struggling. But should I and everyone else have to write out the caveat of "I agree with you that a travel discussion can be off-putting in the context of the many people who are struggling" before a travel question can be asked in a travel forum without sidetracking the proceeding discussion with defenses (like this one!) before someone can get their answer? Is the meta of this very post making my point clear? This is why from here forward, I'm asking that everyone assume people have good intentions and already genuinely feel these caveats -- as I hope you and others can trust that I do -- so that our community can function for its stated purpose. We're all feeling it.

And to be brutally honest the use of the phrase “Please avoid any exasperation with regard to any entity’s response to the virus” makes me sick to my stomach.

I'm not saying not to feel this way. Personally, I am extremely exasperated. My point is that this forum isn't the place for it. There are many other places on the internet to e.g. discuss political dissatisfaction. Every time it's mentioned here, the thread goes sideways. It's not keeping our forum on topic -- guideline #1.

Posted by
5540 posts

It’s a very hard thing to balance and manage (that is, how to run a travel forum during a global pandemic!), and I can respect that (while feeling like Emma).

Thank you for your note, Andrew. I will try to do my part!

Posted by
5826 posts

I'm asking that everyone assume people have good intentions

Perhaps we can also include the point that just because someone doesn't toe the "hey lets all be positive line" they also have good intentions.
I have mostly stayed away from this forum since the pandemic kicked off because I couldn't stick the deeply unpleasant attitude, in some circles, that not being hugely positive about travel was some kind of a crime. My intentions are definitely good when I suggest that planning a trip for this summer really isn't the best idea but it seems that many people on this site see that a heresy.
I struggle to see how this new guidance will help that situation.
And yes I have also stayed away because I know I can't be responsible for my actions when people complain about not getting refunds on non-refundable tickets. I'm funny like that...

My point is that this forum isn't the place for it. There are many
other places on the internet to e.g. discuss political
dissatisfaction. Every time it's mentioned here, the thread goes
sideways

The blatant hypocrisy of the Rick Steves organisation has always bemused me. Marketed as "Travel as a political act" but not really walking the walk when it matters. What line would have to be crossed for politics to be seen as an appropriate topic? You would think people being encouraged to travel through appalling statements from leaders of any shade(this is not actually a political point) leading to scores of other people dying "might" be the line but obviously not.

Posted by
635 posts

Emma, there is a huge difference between Rick's Travel as a Political Act (TAPA) -- informing your worldview through travel -- and the inherent wreckage left behind when politics goes unchecked in a forum setting. Understanding the points Rick makes behind TAPA has no relevance to a forum discussion format where people hide behind the anonymity of the internet to flame each other until the cows come home. I get it, TAPA is about politics and we ask you to avoid politics here, but that's where the similarities end. The forum's purpose -- as it relates to TAPA -- is to help people travel so that they can better understand the forces discussed in TAPA.

Posted by
635 posts

You would think people being encouraged to travel through appalling statements from leaders of any shade(this is not actually a political point) leading to scores of other people dying "might" be the line but obviously not.

Emma, at this point I'm not even sure you read my post. I said it is fine to mention a govt entity's actions. I have for years said it is fine to mention politics as long as it directly pertains to travel. How does this prevent you from recommending that someone not travel in the face of a govt entity saying X when considering Y? It doesn't.

What I'm asking is that you avoid saying "govt entity said X and screw that guy and his health advisers are clowns" which pulls the discussion into a political flame war. I don't think this is asking too much here. (For clarity, my "clowns" reference is not something that Emma said, but other removed posts have said such things in recent weeks)

Let it also be known that we've been pulling down posts on a daily basis for the last two months (actually more) that could lead to people making choices that could be detrimental to one's health.

If you have any other concerns, please contact me privately. The point of this thread is to get the forum back to giving useful travel advice which can include the advice not to travel. You seem to be interpreting this thread into meaning that you can't provide legitimate, useful advice.

Posted by
6881 posts

Some of us are closely affiliated with one particular country through constant travel to this country or through dual citizenship and we are up-to-date on the current plans for re-starting those societies via daily news casts and consulate dispaches.

Now, along comes a person who asks if they should reserve restaurants or buy tickets in advance for early July because they have plane tickets to France. I know that not only will restaurants not be open but also that borders probably won't be open to non-Europeans by then. So, do I simply tell them not to reserve, or do I let them know that currently neither borders nor restaurants will be open by that date, or do I just move on and not answer because they will find out this technical information elsewhere on their own but maybe only a few days before their flight?

Posted by
6375 posts

My sympathies to Webmaster--- proof again that no good deed goes unpunished.

Posted by
635 posts

I know that not only will restaurants not be open but also that borders probably won't be open to non-Europeans by then. So, do I simply tell them not to reserve, or do I let them know that currently neither borders nor restaurants will be open by that date...

Any of those options sound perfectly fine. It all sounds directly related to travel.

If you're asking this because I wrote not to give "opinions based on the latest coronavirus news," I'm talking more about posts like "the news said that a doctor in Korea thinks he found a treatment, so I expect you'll be able to travel by mid summer." There's been a ton of prognostication in the last several weeks -- and debates over that -- that hasn't been so helpful. I hope this explanation/example helps.

Posted by
2015 posts

I think the Webmaster is just saying play nice.

There was a short-lived post this weekend from a couple who had significant ongoing COVID-19 exposure, wasn't "afraid of the virus," and asked about going to Europe in August or September.

I played nice by posting links to articles about an EU official saying "don't plan summer vacations in the EU" and about French President Macron reportedly wanting to keep Schengen Area external borders closed until September (with Macron identifying the US as one of the reasons).

I did not play nice when I added, "I think after reading the original post, Macron will want to make it October." I felt bad about 60 seconds after hitting the "Add Reply" button, realizing my editorializing was not useful at all. So, I edited the post and took out the line that I'm sad to admit attacked instead of being helpful.

Posted by
352 posts

That's all good, but what do you have against Roger Waters?!

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
2498 posts

Lots of food for thought from our Webmaster. It feels as though I, at least, will need a bit of practice in this tightrope walking we've been asked to undertake; but I'll do my best. Maybe I can get advice on the proper shoes for this in the walking shoes forum?? Just kidding.

Posted by
1964 posts

A timely reminder that this is a travel forum. I hope that people will also not post snarky "orange Satan" comments. I will report those.

I would ask that the Webmaster and the RS forum consider a Perm-post on current status conditions. When you arrive in GB, must you quarantine? For how long? In China right now, it is 14 days.

In addition, is Schengen back in force? What is that status?

Posted by
3428 posts

I will do my best to follow the guidelines set out.

However, even though most of us have never met in person and have no relationships other than through what we read and write on this forum, it is difficult not to commiserate with each other in this time. Sometimes that may take more than one comment.

Posted by
1607 posts

Thank you, Webmaster! You are a saint.

I’m with Diveloonie, if RS travels, I will travel. I’m booked on Rick’s inaugural Poland tour in September. I hope things improve by then, but if not, I’m saving even more money this year for the day when I can go to Europe again.

Posted by
317 posts

Thank you so very much for reining it all in! I had stopped looking here (a daily habit for me) because of how it was going. I'm looking forward to the great travel advice and memories people can share.

Posted by
145 posts

I quit posting here a week or so ago, and announced my leaving, but with these changes, I will likely return.

Please delete the offending posts and threads liberally. Some people just can't be helped and will never buy into the mission, but it is those posters, who honestly represent a minority of the people who post here, who drive away so many others.

Posted by
3340 posts

Travel Related: this forum is often A Trip !

Regarding Roger Waters, are we talking about Another Brick (delays), Pigs on the Wing (flying), or The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking (road travel) ?

Posted by
9449 posts

Thanks, Webmaster! I look forward to real travel discussions about “some day” trips we will all take!

Posted by
4029 posts

Emma. I have had my head bitten off, for posting on another non-travel related post (since this one was sent that) that it’s a travel forum.

Maybe all non Americans should just walk away from this forum and leave them to it!

Posted by
996 posts

Dear Webmaster -

First of all, I greatly appreciate that you took the time to write all of this out. I think it's hard for many of us - well, it's hard for me - to figure out how to discuss travel in our current world situation. Travel is a passion. This is the first time in years that I don't have multiple trips - foreign and/or domestic - to anticipate. I'm still sad that I finished cancelling all of my reservations. Of course, I know that these are privileged problems. But they're thoughts I feel I can share here, b/c we all love to travel.

I had one suggestion which probably won't work for this forum, but never hurts to ask, right? Could we possibly institute a temporary form of off-topic forum for our fellow travelers? I don't know that many other forums where I can find people like the ones here on the RS boards. It would be nice to have a conversation about - oh, things like recipes we're trying while staying at home that are based on trips we've taken or still plan to take in the future. It's kinda travel related, but I have no idea where you'd put something like that if it's even allowed.

Maybe a forum like that might help alleviate some of the stress on the purely destination forums? A place to blow off some steam & still think about going places. I realize it's a long shot, but thank you in advance for letting me make the suggestion.

Here's to future travels for us all!!!

Posted by
5540 posts

I do echo what Mark said — in a sense, lots of us come here during this time to find each other and commiserate. I understand that isn’t actually the purpose of the Forum, but that is a reality at least for some of us.

Posted by
6881 posts

emma and Jennifer have highlighted a reality: the way this virus is being handled in Europe, and most of the rest of the world as a deadly scourge that must be controlled to save people (Brazil being an exception), and the way it is being shaped by a US minority that has a lot of media coverage-- die the economy-- is different. This leads to a disconnect in travel hopes and expectations in the States, as well.

Posted by
699 posts

I know we all understand what we are reading based on our own knowledge and experience, but I admit I am at a loss to understand why Jennifer and Emma are so upset. I read the All Topics view and mostly read all replies (too much free time, I know.....sigh). I have not read anything at all said by either that seems to remotely be what the Webmaster is addressing. I have read intelligent replies from you both based on knowledge than those of us living in the U.S. don’t have right now. Admittedly most of your replies haven’t been “everyone pack your bag and hurry over” - but that doesn’t make them less valuable or less travel related. I really felt the Webmaster was addressing the endless “how is Coronavirus progressing” entries and the (generally U.S.) tendency to devolve into sarcasm or condescension or the politics of how our response here is being handled. At first it was “why would you even consider cancelling your trip” and then “why would you even consider going”.

It may not be fun to be the voice of reason but I personally had no sense that either of you, along with many other people, were among those being addressed by this post. Maybe there were deleted comments I missed that would change my understanding. But I doubt it.

Posted by
6216 posts

Dear Webmaster: I think the guidance for first time posters needs to be recalibrated as well - I mean the tip section for new posters should probably reflect the current reality. The way some questions are posed, as well as the content ("will it be "safe" to go to X at Y time"? or "when do you think X country will be open?") makes it very hard to stay within guidelines or to keep a straight face when replying. Bouncing off ideas seems innocuous enough, but I think some people are leaning too much on strangers to help them make practical and sometimes ethical choices (that could affect their health and safety) during a highly unusual circumstance that we cannot control or predict.

I think it's very tricky to keep a travel forum at a time when travel is essentially at a standstill and there are serious economic (and political) pressures/ overlaps that may make many people more sensitive than usual. Everyone is in a different place in their understanding and conception of their own risks, their livelihood in general, and their desire to travel right now or in the future. It's very hard to strike the right mood and avoid what someone will invariably perceive as tone-deaf or naive. With that said, I think it's a good idea to take a break from the forum if it causes bad feelings or doesn't benefit one and others in a positive way. I will seriously consider it myself. Lately, I can't really get in the mood for seriously thinking about travel or getting excited about it.

Posted by
1507 posts

There are still mAny good “travel” threads going on. I am especially thankful for the virtual tours info through Walks of Italy recently posted. I have signed up for two tours. Those of us who are lucky enough to still be working and getting paid can pay it forward wherever possible.

Posted by
363 posts

I see a few issues here. As a long time user of different forums and as a past moderator of some I understand this from both sides. The problems I see are as follows in no perticular order.

1). It is hard to give advise of recommendations at this point when no on on this earth TRULY knows what the end result of this pandemic will be in any form. Be it death totals, politics, economic, or as relates to this forum, airlines policies, airline survival, travel restriction, and a host of other topics. So it is truly impossible to give an answer without speculating on what will happen.

Example “Will Big Ben Tower be open to view (no scaffolding) by Jan 21?” How do you answer that, no one really knows as we have no idea about the delay Covid may cause.
2) Not having a clear honest answer (see point 1) will result in a lot of folks not responding at all.
3). Less folks are posting travel related questions as travel is obviously not high priority and at this point is subject to much guessing. So we have less topics.
4). Forums are a matter of habit. If you fall out of the habit of checking a forum then that increases the chance you will eventually stop reading it.
5). Decreasing participation in a form (point 2,3 &4) is a self reinforcing issues as less people participate less people find it interesting so they stop and so on and so forth,
6) less participation in a forum that you enjoy or that has “online friends” on it means that more off topic posts will happen as folks try to fill the silence with something to stay entertained and to stay interested and connected to online friends.
7) the most obvious topic of the day is the pandemic. And it is connected to travel as that is partly how it spreads (if no one ever traveled then it would stay in wherever it stared) and it will have an as yet unknown but probably significant effect on travel in the immediate future.

Add all this up and you get the result of the last few weeks. Let’s be honest here if you eliminate all off topic posts then we have just a handle of posts in the last month. Even my topic about your rememberable trips is arguably off topic and is a result of trying to fill the silence and stay enjoyable and positive.
As noted elsewhere perhaps a new Pandemic related section can be added. This would have a few advantages. It keeps posts not directly related to travel out of site a bit. But still gives folks on here a chance to talk. To share stories and concerns.
It is not just the less well traveled that have concerns. Any of us here must be concerned to one degree or another for our own health that of our friends and relatives and about the future and related to this site what the future will hold for travel. A subject that the more long term and active members here hold near and dear to their hearts.
So it is a natural tendency when worried about the future to discuss it with friends and like minded knowledgeable people.

Also by keeping an area to discuss otherwise off topic posts such as cooking or to speculate on the future of travel or what have you then we keep members active and decrease the likelihood that folks will leave the forum permanently.
If we only get one post a week how long will it be before folks stop checking in here and without the great friendly and knowledgeable members to answer questions this forum is of no practical use. For it is the unpaid folks that volunteer their time to answer people’s questions that is the core of this forum and if we lose them then this forum has to restart from scratch.
I have seen many forums die over the decades and it always starts with a slowdown in new posts So while I understand the reason behind the policy the danger is that it will decrease the number of subjects and posts at a time when the forum is already under stress.
So a lot of the points the Webmaster makes are valid (keep politics out of it ect) if you push the stay on topic (travel related) you may lose members

Posted by
5541 posts

Part of the joy of traveling to foreign lands is experiencing a foreign perspective. That said, I appreciate hearing local perspectives on this travel forum be it what to see and where to eat or how the different health systems and governments respond to this coronavirus crisis.

Rick Steves describes a core mission as:
https://www.ricksteves.com/about-rick/social-activism-philanthropy

Social responsibility is not an add-on to our company's mission. It is
at the core:

"Our mission at Rick Steves' Europe is to inspire, inform, and equip
Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and
culturally broadening. We value travel as a powerful way to better
understand and contribute to the world in which we live. We strive to
keep our own travel style, our world outlook, and our business
practices consistent with these values."

And

Rick believes travel becomes a political act only if you do something
with your broadened perspective.

The challenge is to broaden our perspectives with civil and factual discourse with no name calling and personal insults. Be nice.

Posted by
3340 posts

Edgar’s last statement reinforces the other key point the webmaster was requesting. In addition to focusing on travel, please don’t lambast someone who’s just asking right now about travel. Indeed, please be nice - even if others aren’t.

May everyone get through these stressful and difficult times, controlling what we can control, our own actions. Stay safe!

Posted by
4245 posts

Thank you Webmaster,
I love this travel website and follow it for TRAVEL related issues and information.

I can see how some posters may have erred somewhat regarding future travel with the coronavirus likely to be without a vaccine for several months.

My wife and I had a great trip planned for England, then a safari in East Africa in July/August. We are working with the tour company to have the safari postponed until next year.

In dealing with the safari tour company, I have found some valuable information regarding the likelihood of such travel this Summer and used that in my message to the company. They have yet to make a decision, but expect they will allow us to postpone the safari with no or little penalty.

I appreciate it when someone responds to a post of mine with more accurate information or with another way of looking at the situation. It could be called debate, but probably not the way you are using that word.

I very much appreciate your calling out not to go political. That is not relevant to what this site is all about.

Posted by
2440 posts

We also need to be patient with the genuinely clueless(naive) newbies who really don't understand that European travel is likely to be shut down for the immediately foreseeable future. We all know and read about people who seem to have been under a rock for the last 2 months and don't know what's going on in this country.( Notice how I avoided a political statement?) Someone who doesn't travel much won't "get it" to the same extent as those of us who make a yearly trip.

Posted by
492 posts

Shamefully I’m now more in favor of a ...hmmm..more hardline approach. Using but NOT saying it: the famous Forest Gump quote “Stupid is as Stupid does”. To me this whole thing has been quite foreseeable, if one opened their eyes. I’ve warned many of travel and other issues as early as February. Some listen, some don’t.

To make the webmaster happy (RS forum, RS rules) I’m more then willing to advise on a town, museum and tourist opportunities there etc but staying silent on pandemic issues. If they are potentially losing thousands of dollars on non-refundable, so be it. Let them.

We are already seeing many ignore reality, almost bragging that since this is almost over and restrictions are easing they are off to Europe/Britain etc this summer. Let them, if they make it, great. If the trip falls apart- oh well, just say TO YOURSELF (fingers off the keyboard) Stupid is as Stupid does and let it go.

Posted by
635 posts

Thanks to everyone for your comments. A few replies here...

I really felt the Webmaster was addressing the endless “how is Coronavirus progressing” entries and the (generally U.S.) tendency to devolve into sarcasm or condescension or the politics of how our response here is being handled.

This. This is the majority of what I'm trying to get a handle on.

I think it's very tricky to keep a travel forum at a time when travel is essentially at a standstill

Yup!

I think the guidance for first time posters needs to be recalibrated as well

This is trickier. While I still maintain the expectation that new posters should read the guidelines before posting (after all, you're responsible for what you write), the reality is that many won't. It's tough to get across much more direction than "ask a travel question" to new members at first when they're already dealing with making an account, etc. I'm not sure I have a great answer for this other than to stress patience if getting jaded by this sort of question. I think we'll be seeing this question for some time, and the answer for each one will depend on the circumstances, timing, etc. That at least does allow for some variability in one's response.

If you push the stay on topic (travel related) you may lose members

Douglas presents a lot of good points and they're all things we've considered. The short of it is you also lose members if you don't keep the forum focused on its stated purpose and deliver on the reason they came in the first place. That isn't served by the types of posts cited at the top of this post. Creating a sense of community is important to us, and it's why we've allowed a wider latitude with discussion topics as everyone comes to grips with what covid means. The truth now is that the virus is here. A greater risk to our forum is any perceived loss of its identity and purpose. We aim to deliver on its stated purpose as a positive place where people want to come to discuss travel and share advice. We may even get a small boost with the ("temporary") closure of the Lonely Planet forum. We understand some will take time away. We are confident that the forum will be as vibrant as before when travel (planning) resumes. We're doing what we can to make sure that people can plan for when the time is right to travel again without getting drawn into side debates.

...but staying silent on pandemic issues.

As a reminder, I didn't say to not refer to the pandemic. It's obviously here. Just tie it directly to the travel question/topic at hand (without political swipes, waxing on about the latest virus news, questioning someone else's morality, or anything else that will lead the discussion sideways). And while I may not word it in the same way, yes, patience and choosing not to respond to some people during these difficult times -- with many at different levels of understanding of the situation -- may be an appropriate approach for some.

Posted by
1465 posts

Hopefully the international posters won’t desert us. I understand the webmaster’s post in the context of what we are seeing in the US, but I also find it hard to get real news of what is happening in the rest of the world as related to the subject. It sounds like Emma is very close to issues in the U.K., and the rest of the international posters are witnessing things that we don’t get to see or know about here in the U.S. For many of us, it’s not for lack of trying and I personally would love any hints on international news sites that would make me better informed. We have a disconnect in this country because those who are intimately dealing with this pandemic have a different perspective from those in a relatively untouched place and that influences the kind of questions that are asked.

Posted by
5540 posts

It seems to me that what the Webmaster and by implication the RS organization is asking is eminently reasonable.

Thanks for your patience and gracious way of addressing concerns.

Posted by
635 posts

After reading Patty's post, I've decided to add a line to my original post.

"What makes this forum valuable is travelers' advice and opinions based on their travel experiences, NOT opinions based on the latest coronavirus news. To clarify, this is not a limitation on sharing news that directly affects travel as long as the purpose is to further the on-topic travel-related discussion."

I hope that will help. The point is to change the focus of discussion from the virus back to travel, even if the advice is not to travel.

Some may be aware that, in the past, I have said to avoid giving "don't travel" advice. In case this is causing confusion, the context was pre-pandemic, and such "advice" was typically received as being rude. E.g. an OP states that they're going to Spain but they don't like the food or art, leading to a curt reply suggesting that they not go. We got reports from angry forum members almost every time that sort of comment happened. Even if it wasn't meant to be rude, it was received as such. Some have had trouble accepting this. Telling forum members to avoid "don't go" advice was about moderating a repeated behavioral issue. With the presence of the coronavirus, it is entirely different. I hope it's obvious that suggesting that one not travel in the face of a global health crisis is entirely acceptable.

Posted by
11000 posts

"What makes this forum valuable is travelers' advice and opinions based on their travel experiences, NOT opinions based on the latest coronavirus news. To clarify, this is not a limitation on sharing news that directly affects travel as long as the purpose is to further the on-topic travel-related discussion."

So, to say, you might want to be sure that your trip to the UK is refundable because the borders may not be open in June, is acceptable; although terribly redundant and just eats up posting space. But to say, "if you go to the UK, well, stupid is as stupid does," is not acceptable?

I'm good with that.

Posted by
4062 posts

Whoop! We have a winner!

Thank you, Webmaster, for what you do and for the obvious thought and labor you put into it. It may not always seem like it, but we do appreciate you and the rest of the RSE staff.

Posted by
8716 posts

Thank you, webmaster.

To our non-American friends, who look at the reaction of the federal government and are confused, please realize that the U.S. government is unlike any other in Europe. In Europe, you have your Presidents, Prime Ministers and parliaments who make the rules for the entire country.

In the U.S., we have our President and Congress who make some rules, but then we have 50 more governments that make other rules. The United States is made up of 51 governments each with their own responsibilities.

And don't let videos of protesters against lock downs and businesses being closed sway your beliefs of what is happening in the U.S. These are very small groups and are only getting media attension because it is sensationalistic. Most governors are doing the right thing. But sadly, some are not. Don't blame the entire nation for the actions of a few.

I also don't think there is anything wrong with discussing travel during these times. We are not brushing aside the intensity of the problem. We are giving ourselves hope that the future will be better. At least, that's what it does for me. I continue to plan for future trips, I just can't plug in the dates. Of course I hope it is sooner than later but I'm not going to go until the place I'm planning to visit wants me to visit.

Lastly, a new "Health" section could be added to the forum where discussions of the coronavirus not country specific coud be discussed.

Posted by
1224 posts

This seems like sensible, fairly easy to follow, advice. But it quickly becomes pointless if you're not planning to enforce it! Since posting your request, yet another thread has been started that contains little but a link to some local newspaper coronavirus story (post titled "Covid diagnostic alert"). The story linked makes no claim to be about travel and is just a medical report of the kind that the internet is currently awash with. It surely can't fit with your statement "we aren't banning mention of the coronavirus, but be mindful that this is a travel forum. What makes this forum valuable is travelers' [sic] advice and opinions based on their travel experiences, NOT opinions based on the latest coronavirus news".

Posted by
40 posts

I thought that this was certainly a travel forum, of course with a commercial purpose, but, as Emma wrote, also a community.
From the standpoint of someone whose country was in the eye of the storm, with a string of days with 900+ deaths, where we were starting to be really (really) frightened, with many unbearable stories of people dying at home because of an unprepared and overwhelmed healthcare system, with 142 physicians who have died from coronavirus as of now, coming here and reading yet another thread with someone looking for advice for a nice hotel in Rome was, as Emma perfectly said, alienating to say the least. Emma understands maybe because in the United Kingdom they have been going through the same ordeal.
To me it was like listening to people talking with their friends about what they would do next with their girlfriend (Italy), as soon as their girlfriend would be ok, while at that very moment their girlfriend was in her deathbed struggling to survive.
I perfectly understand that if you’re not living in a country heavily hit by this disease you cannot fully grasp this. I wouldn’t be able to do it myself. But I am sure New Yorkers can fully understand what I’m trying to say.
I also understand this is a forum mainly for American people, so it has to choose, it cannot be too sensitive to what foreign posters are living, unless it wants to end in a paralysis.
But thank you Emma for your words. And I’m not sure if I like to be here anymore (I’m new I know, but I’ve been reading this forum for long before posting), if someone posting something informative about the main news in the world right now, is being told to back off and is being reported.
Maybe things can co-exist. For example, the lists of what people miss the most about my country are very heart-warming and so nice to read (why many of you find the Autogrill so interesting?).

Posted by
11669 posts

Webmaster, I'm thinking that this thread is visually sort of buried in the General Europe forum? While the lead topic of the 3 top-of-page stickies, it doesn't exactly jump out at you either. Once a topic is off the "front page", I'm not sure how many posters look for recently added stickies? For the same reason maybe that's why many new discussions are being started regarding COVID-19 rather than adding some of them to the "Coronavirus - what you need to know" stickie thread?

Maybe there's a way to highlight NEW stickies with information that HQ would like to bring to our attention?

IMHO, I'd hate to see our forums disintegrate into a lot of finger-pointing and shaming for overstepping HQ's desire to keep things travel focused. I see enough of that occurring on the community Nextdoor forums with people calling out neighborhood adults and children they feel are violating safe-distance guidelines. It can get REALLY nasty and I don't think we want that sort of thing here either? If in doubt about a topic, just hit the "report" button and let Webmaster sort it out?

Lastly, it's understandable that the perspective from the places in the world hardest hit by this virus may be very different than the view from places lightly touched (so far.) Same goes for the friends and families of victims and first responders, or those in real peril of losing their livelihoods. I can see why responses from those corners to some first-world leisure-travel dilemmas might be more terse/direct than from others. A similar level of sensitivity being requested of respondents is advised for topic posters as well?

Posted by
2015 posts

I like that

Be good to one another

guideline.

Posted by
4062 posts

Aless, we love the Autogrill because most travel stops in the US are, shall we say, not known for decent food. We love being able to buy wine, cheeses, salami, as well as typical tourist trinkets. And good coffee! And usually pretty good food. I've only ever had one meal at an Autogrill that was bad; we've had a few that were delicious; most range from not bad to pretty darned good.

In the U.S., we have our President and Congress who make some rules, but then we have 50 more governments that make other rules. The United States is made up of 51 governments each with their own responsibilities.

Frank II, as usual you did a great job explaining the situation here in the States. Yes, the rules we are to follow are different between Oklahoma and all of its neighboring states, and vastly different from those in New York and California.

Posted by
569 posts

To the webmaster, I do understand that you have a difficult job, and I do understand your points. And I will respect your guidelines. However, there is one thing I would like to say.

I do think that to a certain degree, politics and travel are related. People look to their political leaders for honesty and guidance. We were supposed to be in France now, first visiting our daughter and her family who live there, and then meeting up with friends who have never been to France and sightseeing with them. When I told our friends in mid-February that I was concerned we might not be able to visit France in April because of the coronavirus, they were shocked. They told us the coronavirus is just like the seasonal flu and would be gone by April. In fact, our friend continued to book sightseeing tours in Paris. They believed what our political leader told them. Whether it's a pandemic or civil unrest brewing in a country we are planning to visit, isn't it the responsibility of our political leaders to be honest with us? For this reason, I believe travel and politics are related.

I also understand why our European posters are upset by some Americans asking questions about the best hotel, etc. in their country when their country is being ravaged by this disease. Perhaps I had an advantage because our daughter lives in France, but OTOH, is that an excuse for some Americans hiding their head in the sand regarding this pandemic? It's important to read all news sources.

I respect you and I respect your guidelines. If I can't refrain from being political in a response, then I just won't respond.

I also want to add that the posters on this forum, whether from Europe or North America, are very helpful and informative when planning trips. I have found everyone to be respectful and kind. I am also on another forum where there are some snarky and sarcastic people, and sometimes I am afraid to ask certain questions for fear of receiving sarcastic comments. So I do appreciate this forum, and I hope we will be a robust and helpful travel forum when things return to normal or semi-normal.

Posted by
163 posts

Thank you for this! I have avoided asking questions in recent weeks for the fear that I would only receive replies that were focused on the Covid-19 situation.

Posted by
6375 posts

If I can't refrain from being political in a response, then I just won't respond.

PERFECT.

That philosophy is in compliance with both Rule 1 & 5, which state "STAY ON TOPIC"

Looks like Webmaster's message is being heard.

Posted by
1407 posts

I respect you and I respect your guidelines. If I can't refrain from
being political in a response, then I just won't respond.

The problem is, for a certain subset of people on this forum, "political" means simply acknowledging objective reality.

Posted by
5826 posts

I’m not one to post and run. Unfortunately life is simply work and sleep at the moment so I haven’t had a chance to respond to a couple of points that have been made.

There is not much point in discussing rights and wrongs of posting on this site. I stand by my opinion that I think the policies are more likely to be divisive than bring people together in these difficult times and I strongly disagree with them.

What I will comment on is the behaviour of some, and they are a minority, on this site.

I have stayed away recently because of the comments of people who insist on “positivity”, ironically in a very negative way. I get the impression they think they are being clever, unfortunately it can skirt very close to bullying (and I hate to use that word).

When I did express an “opinion” on travel at the moment it was very unpleasant to be criticised for replying because “no one knows anything”. Actually some of us really do “know” some stuff and if you choose to ignore comments because basically it isn’t what you want to hear, that really is you loss but maybe try and be a bit politer about it.

During a time when isolation, both physical and emotional, has become the norm, to respond to someone’s post with “if you don’t like it maybe you should just leave” is, I think, pretty unforgivable. Obviously some of you will disagree.

In my experience it is perfectly possible to have a polite and civilised conversation about politics and other “controversial” topics, it just seems that some people struggle with being kind.

Posted by
635 posts

Thank you for this! I have avoided asking questions in recent weeks for the fear that I would only receive replies that were focused on the Covid-19 situation.

This is why I am spending this much time on this.

I'd hate to see our forums disintegrate into a lot of finger-pointing and shaming for overstepping HQ's desire to keep things travel focused.

We have never accepted shaming or any forum member taking it upon themselves to police others here. We allow for some polite reminders, but it never works well when members take on moderation. Our moderators are here to take on this role so that you don't have to. Guidelines #3 and #4 are meant for exactly this.

Switching subjects...

For this reason, I believe travel and politics are related.

Of course it is related. The problem is that some forum members have not been directly relating their posts to travel (or if they do, they've been including politcal jabs, etc). Just keep the conversation about the travel aspects. "Isn't it the responsibility of our political leaders to be honest with us?" Of course it is. But that's not what this forum is for.

This seems like sensible, fairly easy to follow, advice. But it quickly becomes pointless if you're not planning to enforce it!

I have weighed in on that thread and locked it, leaving it up purely to make an example out of it.

I perfectly understand that if you’re not living in a country heavily hit by this disease you cannot fully grasp this. I wouldn’t be able to do it myself. But I am sure New Yorkers can fully understand what I’m trying to say.

Is there a sense from our friends across the Atlantic that the US is not being hit hard by this? We lead the world in covid cases and deaths by a wide margin now. I, for one, have been sequestered to my home since early March, thankfully in good health. This all speaks to my point in the OP that we all need to assume that this situation is hard on all of us. Many of us want to be able to dream about travel (for when that is possible), and that should be possible in a travel forum.

Posted by
635 posts

Emma has shared more here that, while realated, I'm concerned may be a set of separate unresolved issues. This may need to be taken privately, but as it may still relate, I'll respond here to try and address this.

I stand by my opinion that I think the policies are more likely to be divisive than bring people together in these difficult times and I strongly disagree with them.

I'm really not clear on why you think what I've said in the OP is divisive or otherwise inappropriate. Would you be willing to expand on this? Is it because you wish to discuss the general updates to the evolving coronavirus situation outside of how it affects travel? Is it because you wish to react to actions taken by government figures in a way that inserts political opinion or sidetracks the discussion? Is it because you find that people shouldn't be able to plan travel for when it's acceptable and need to be reminded of the coronavirus situation we're all living through? If your answer to these questions are "no", then these guidelines don't apply to you.

I have stayed away recently because of the comments of people who insist on “positivity”, ironically in a very negative way. I get the impression they think they are being clever, unfortunately it can skirt very close to bullying

Was this reported? I'd want the opportunity to review specifics of anything resembling bullying. We want to maintain a positive atmosphere here, but perhaps this bordered on the issue I brought up earlier in the thread regarding forum members taking it upon themselves to police things.

When I did express an “opinion” on travel at the moment it was very unpleasant to be criticised for replying because “no one knows anything”. Actually some of us really do “know” some stuff and if you choose to ignore comments because basically it isn’t what you want to hear, that really is you loss but maybe try and be a bit politer about it.

I think this is in reference to some moderation earlier on as the virus was beginning to hit. I'm not sure if the "no one knows anything" citation is a reference to us or if someone else parroted that and missed part of the point. We were trying to dispel a wider issue in which there was frankly a lot of conjecture in the forum about what will happen. In response to that, our approach was to take the evolving situation day by day, react to what we know today, and we did say things like "no one knows what will happen in the future" to try and keep the forum focused on the present-day information that can directly help with making decisions about their travel.

To respond to someone’s post with “if you don’t like it maybe you should just leave” is, I think, pretty unforgivable.

Was this reported? Something so rudely dismissive is something we'd want to remove and address. It actually hits the same tone as the "don't travel"/"maybe you shouldn't go" comments I mentioned upthread that were so rude pre-coronavirus. It's also another forum-members-policing issue.

Posted by
1090 posts

I want "to be good to one another " by honoring the pain behind the words shared by Emma and Aless. And Brava for the word picture comparing Italy to a sick girlfriend who might not be ready to travel. May I add to the image by saying an insensitive conversation about traveling instead to the next country over could be perceived as leering at the cute younger sister and saying "hey, if she dies, wanna go with me to Switzerland?"

Aless, for me part of the alure around Autogrill is the sparkling clean restrooms, and the good coffee.

Posted by
363 posts

I still don’t see how any relies can be posted as we have literally no idea what we will find when we come out the other side of this tunnel.
“What is the best hotel in Rome to see X from}”. This can’t be answered in truth because we don’t know what hotels may go out of business or otherwise change.
“What are the documents and other requirements to visit location Y”. Once again we can tell you what it was a month ago. But who knows what it may be. It is not unreasonable to expect that governments may change requirements for travelers. On the other hand nothing may change. But who knows?
The same holds true for pretty much all questions that can be asked.
The reality is we just don’t know because we still don’t really know what is going to happing with the virus. The first wave go go away, it could stick around this could be as bad as it gets or could get worse. We just don’t know. Will we have a 2nd wave or a 3rd? Good questions but we have 0 information to base an answer on.
And if we can’t predict the way the virus will turn out next week we sure can’t predict next month or next year.
So any info we give is pure speculation.
Now I will make a prediction. By this time next year this site will be a pale sad imitation of its current level.
I base this on a quick check. In the general Europe section from April 1 to the date I type this we have had (as far as I can. tell by scanning the list) 93 posts of new topics.
You know how many are not directly or indirectly Covid 19 related?
5
Just 5
Everything else is posts about Covid, what is closed because of Covid, how to get refunds, when can we travel again, when will you travel or a handful of post such as what do you miss in Europe or what did you do a year ago or what are the things you remember from trips to Europe. All post directly or indirectly related yo Covid and all but a handful now no longer welcome
So what will this forum get in the immediate future?
5 travel posts, a handful of posts about what Government X has done today (opens something closed something or whatever).
So maybe 10 posts about Covid 19s effects on the rules of travel and a half dozen posts on travel itself.
And yes I know we have had posts in the other areas but you see the point from these numbers
You can pretend that this is a short term hiccup in travel but this is going to last months.
The likelihood of travel to Europe before next winter is looking more and more doubtful. They didn’t cancel Octoberfest because they expect. Things to be back to normal in Sept.
So we are looking at the distinct possibility of travel restrictions for the next 5 or more months. And we are going to cut 80% of the topics. And hope that those few people posting questions about potential future travel that we really can’t accurately answer will keep the interest of the members.
Well I have played online for over 30 years (can you say dial in BBS) and in my experience that kind of hit to new topics is almost always crippling for any forum.
Heck I have already cut down the frequency that I check in here and I doubt I am the only one.
And if things don’t pick up /get better you will see even less people asking questions. Right now in the US we can pretend that everything is normal and will return to normal “soon” with “minimal “ disruptions but the longer this goes on the harder it is to pretend we are just taking a week or two off and things will pop back to normal.
Well I will live with this rule and if the forum is not adversely effected by this then just ask me on April 21 2021 and I Will humbly admit I was wrong (and I truly hope I am ) but if I am right have a Rick contact me and we can talk about why I thought this was a bad idea.
The best idea iwas the suggest to give members a place outside the regular areas to talk about off topic posts and speculation and such. It would be relatively easy to do cost next to nothing and can give members a place to stay active.

Posted by
5826 posts

I'm really not clear on why you think what I've said in the OP is
divisive or otherwise inappropriate. Would you be willing to expand on
this? Is it because you wish to discuss the general updates to the
evolving coronavirus situation outside of how it affects travel? Is it
because you wish to react to actions taken by government figures in a
way that inserts political opinion or sidetracks the discussion? Is it
because you find that people shouldn't be able to plan travel for when
it's acceptable and need to be reminded of the coronavirus situation
we're all living through? If your answer to these questions are "no",
then these guidelines don't apply to you

Discussing travel in a time of pandemic and all that entails is inherently political. The fact that decisions are being made in some political regimes related to the pandemic and yes travel, that are hugely dangerous to others is something that should be discussed and if that involves some criticism that should not be seen as "side tracking a discussion". This is not about slanging matches or insults just a sensible conversation that might actually be useful to some. To avoid the conversation is hugely unhealthy sticking your head in the sand ESPECIALLY in relation to the issues we face today.
I certainly don't have a problem with people planning travel at the moment. I don't necessarily understand why you would want to do it at the moment but if that's how a person wants to spend there time why not. I certainly haven't criticised people for planning. But 'm not sure what is wrong with reminding someone of the coronavirus situation if its relevant. I'm also not sure what is wrong with pointing out to people when they are being crass in their questions around this topic.

Just to be clear I certainly don't think that the US is in someway getting away lightly with the virus compared to other countries but I do think that some posters have demonstrated quite frightening levels of ignorance in relation to the virus and its implications, and that "ignorance" is at least in part politically driven.

I am obviously in the minority in my opinion, but based on other posts some other people feel something similar. so the audience is divided. People have a right to their opinions but an atmosphere where people are encouraged to report transgressions can only be divisive.

Was this reported?

No, as I said it skirted close to bullying. Nothing concrete in any one post but a general tone in discussion and response to other people posts, including my own. . As I said I chose to stay away but it was a choice that I made because I felt uncomfortable. And as I have previously said the whole reporting thing also makes me uncomfortable.

The point around "no one knows anything" was nothing to do with formal moderation. It related to the response from (some) other posters that seemed to slam down any opinions about future situations. There is value in conjecture and speculation if it comes from an informed position. Most decisions and opinion in life are based on incomplete information. In this forum's case it did appear that some people were taking an offence to the expression of any opinion about future events that didn't match their own. Heaven forbid you said that travel in the autumn might not be a good idea!

“if you don’t like it maybe you should just leave”

This particular post I did think of saying something about, but it eventually disappeared. I presume the poster chose to remove it?

It goes back to the divisive point. Everyone has the right to their own opinions and the right to politely state them but this discussions seems to have given some people the opinion that they can say who is or isn't welcome.

I

Posted by
3428 posts

I do think that some posters have demonstrated quite frightening levels of ignorance in relation to the virus and its implications, and that "ignorance" is at least in part politically driven.

Couldn't agree with you more. I have held back on comments when I have seen these postings because what good would it do.

Posted by
4062 posts

Douglas, I'm going to respectfully and hopefully - literally, full of hope - disagree with you about the future of the Forum. We're already seeing posts about travel tips for next year. There are also posts praising this years scrapbooks, and some of us are posting retrospective trip reports. There's even one worrying about the possibility of sharing a bathroom on a tour!

I don't see these posts as burying our heads in the sand (as someone else suggested upthread,) I see them as people looking forward to a better time, when we can once again argue about what shoes are the best, and bring back the backpack vs roller bag wars.

Nor does it make us insensitive. Even in the darkest times, people cling to the things that bring them pleasure, hope, and joy. We ache and fear for our country and our world, but we also reach for that glimmer of light up ahead...

Posted by
11000 posts

Mark, we actually agree! But the Webmaster has asked us to keep it to ourselves.

Personally I would rather use my time and the forum to get ideas for my summer trip to Europe.

Posted by
1551 posts

Jane, I could not agree with you more! Cheers to future travel, hopefully sooner rather than later!

Posted by
1551 posts

Emma, just curious, you state that you have “stayed away” from this forum. But, when was this? I look at your posting history and you have been a regular poster during this whole pandemic.

Posted by
4637 posts

To answer the question from Paul from Sioux Falls about Schengen. Right now I live in the Czech Rep. All borders closed. I mean closed - not like before Schengen when you could cross with the passport in your hand. Now you cannot (there are only few exceptions. Everybody has to wear a muzzle (facemask) in public. Everything is closed - with few exceptions. Restaurants, pubs, stores (exception-groceries), theaters, sporting events etc. No international trains or buses going which makes sense - where would they go if nobody can travel abroad. Very draconic restrictions. On the other hand C.R. has a very low morbidity and especially mortality comparing to other countries, not only US and China but also other European countries like Italy, Spain, France, Germany, BelgIum (in population very similar in Czech 10 resp. 11 million inhabitants but many more people died from this disease in Belgium than in C.R. We can only guess why is that: maybe because of stricter restrictions in C.R. or because they were implemented sooner. Every country is on its own. It seems that EU and Schengen died because of corona virus. I hope they will be resuscitated once the pandemic is over but when this will happen nobody knows that's why I am not planning any travel abroad this year.

I admire Rick Steves and his employees including Webmaster for their positive attitude despite the fact that travel businesses are those which are the most affected. Thank you Webmaster for keeping this site going.

Posted by
5826 posts

Tammy, I have not been commenting on the forum anywhere near as much as I have previously. In “normal circumstances”
I have stayed away from topics because either I really couldn’t be bothered, not enough brain space for recommending hotels at the moment or because I knew I would have to bite my tongue in my response, I simply don’t have the energy for that at the moment.

So yes I have stayed away

Posted by
40 posts

To the Webmaster:
of course I’m aware of the situation in the US. I was referring to the time when this was starting to worsen in some countries earlier than in others. The forum itself was very different just 2-3 weeks ago.
And of course I’m not referring to the webmaster, but being in lockdown and being aware of what is happening elsewhere (in the US and the world), reading news from different outlets, is not the same thing. I added that in my opinion New Yorkers could understand better (than other states, at that time, and maybe also today, since the state of New York has one third of the deaths of all the US).

Posted by
23748 posts

It is also the case that posting history does not tell the whole story. Nor does it necessarily portray somebody’s activity in an accurate way.

What it does show is when threads which were commented on one or more times by the individual have been active, most often by other posters. That individual may have posted it the beginning of a thread and two or three months later if the thread is still going it shows that that poster has been active when in fact they haven’t been.

There was a time not very long ago when I didn’t contribute a single post for two months here because of my frustrations with the way people are taking it upon themselves and the fact that we were down to 3 topics all to do with the virus. And yet only one person mentioned that I had been missing. When I looked back at my posting history I could see that I had been busy almost every day when in fact I had not been.

So if you’re looking to see if somebody’s gone away or to see if somebody has recently been active don’t take the post history as gospel.

Posted by
2015 posts

I added that in my opinion New Yorkers could understand better (than
other states, at that time, and maybe also today, since the state of
New York has one third of the deaths of all the US

This! I, for example, do not personally know a single person who has been infected with Coronavirus, which I understand would be unfathomable in New York. There were 220 cases in my county of 320,000 as of yesterday, and the daily number of new cases is falling. So the experience of people here (and in many other parts of the US) leads them to ask, "What's the big deal?" (and to look at me like I'm crazy when I wear a mask in public [due to be in a high-risk occupation and not wanting to spread the virus if unknowingly infected]).

Posted by
60 posts

RS European tours are essentially over for 2020 and RS has said publicly that he will issue refunds. So what are we supposed to talk about on the RS "travel" forums? Covid 19 is the big elephant in the room regardless of the topic. Personally I enjoy a lot of the comments even though they aren't alway apropos but I feel most people play nice. Once all refunds are distributed and everybody realizes that 2020 is over, the forum will slowly lose it's audience until 2021.

Posted by
6216 posts

I added that in my opinion New Yorkers could understand better (than
other states, at that time, and maybe also today, since the state of
New York has one third of the deaths of all the US).

What about Washington State and California? The first cluster came from the Seattle area in a Kirkland nursing home. Both states took distancing measures and instituted a lockdown way before NY, so their residents would understand perfectly.

Once all refunds are distributed and everybody realizes that 2020 is
over, the forum will slowly lose it's audience until 2021.

I don't think it will lose everyone (as there are diehards here, some of whom threaten repeatedly to leave and yet here they are...) but it's not a bad thing that it gets a needed "refresh" and maybe even totally new blood in the long-term. The forum ultimately has to be relevant, and the ground has shifted a lot. It seems reasonable that travel-related postings will decrease and/or change over time in response to current circumstances.

Posted by
5121 posts

For many of the regular participants like me, the forum is a place to come for the entertainment of sharing intelligent conversation, ideas and opinions, from a broad spectrum of people, on a favorite hobby - travel. But I see the problem is that heated discussion, dismissal of ideas, and especially political arguments, drives away the RSE target audience of new travelers, or people new to RSE, who just want some information. Some of that comes from familiarity that maybe off-putting to new people. Yes, there's less to talk about with the current situation, but its still a fun distraction to talk travel. I know that I've learned more about the international situation that is of interest to me, from this forum and want to keep that going by having more participants, not less.

Posted by
2462 posts

Thank you Webmaster. I think the forum is losing a lot of regulars by having all the Covid 19 postings and/or opinions on politics/who should and shouldn't travel, etc. First you were nuts if you cancelled, now you're nuts if you think you are going to travel, etc.. I come to this community to talk or read about actual travel plans or packing (lol). I still check it every few days, but that is becoming less and less a thing for me. I'll get my news from news sources or my doctor. All the virus opinions make me less and less interested in this forum, and will ultimately drive a lot of regulars away as well as newbies. If you feel you are losing your community due to being "friends" with people here, use the PM function and have a conversation on the side, don't involve the rest of us.

Posted by
40 posts

@Agnes
My city is in a lockdown, but it’s relatively safe, and I’m not surrounded by deaths.
I wrote about New York because they’re not only in a lockdown, but they’ve been dying by the dozens (sorry, my posts are always gloomy), and people were reporting that the only noises they had been hearing were the ambulances’ sirens. That’s the same thing I’ve been reading (social media) from the people in the Italian cities of Lombardy, which counts thousands of deaths. That’s why I wrote about New York. And I’ve listened to Cuomo’s speeches, which, and I don’t want this to be about politics, since I’m not American, are good speeches, and you could feel he was trying to do his best in the face of fear and of an unknown outcome.

Posted by
953 posts

Emma - Im popping in to say that I always enjoy your posts and I agree with what you've said here

I will respect and follow guidelines. For me this will mean even less participation on the forum. I am one who sees TAPA being not only about opening oneself to others and increasing understanding, empathy, and respect, but about the hunger to understand different ways of living and viewing the world that cannot be satisfied with a textbook and is certainly political. How countries and people respond to a mortal threat gets to the heart of how they view the world and thus how they create and respond to public policy, including travel decisions. Do I judge some here for their views, sure, just as I judge some of my family members for theirs, but I am also driven to understand. Thats my nature, and why I enjoy this forum, because people talk about more than restaurants and hotels, but even when they do talk about these, I enjoy understanding what they like about a place and enjoy considering why I dont.

Ironically, it is Emma who has scoffed at the idea of travel philosophy and championed the idea that "its just a holiday!", even as I love discussing travel philosophies, and yet it is that comment of hers I hear in my mind when I realize I am taking it all too seriously (as I tend to do). I have learned to pause and think about many of my ideas of travel because of the hard discussions that have taken place here, including when people should start traveling and what we owe to others when we do.

Alas, how to take the train from point A to point B, while certainly valuable and fun, is also not so interesting right now. That said, I think people are already coming around to the idea of postponing travel until 2021 and the forum is starting to reflect more conversations aimed at planning, so the turn away from Covid talk may also happen as a function of where we are in our processing of world events

Posted by
11000 posts

A significant number of people here plan their trips 6mo., 9mo., even 12 mo. in advance. So while COVID may have some impact on forum participation I would think it will remain viable and we dont have to make today's COVID the primary topic. Maybe, post COVID changes are useful, once we have a clue what they will be; and I dont think we are there yet.

Posted by
23748 posts

What is TAPA - it is an acronym I don’t know

Posted by
300 posts

What Jessica said. Thumbs up.

ETA: and my thanks as well to the folks all over the world who have contributed their experiences on this forum, especially during these past few months. It has helped to inform and broaden my reality. I hope you all stay around and keep posting.

Posted by
569 posts

IMO, no one in the U.S. should be thinking “what’s the big deal” about the Coronavirus if they are reading and watching the news, even if their state hasn’t been terribly affected yet. Obviously, New York has suffered the most, but there are other states who are high on the list, such as California, Washington, Michigan, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. If I have omitted a state with a high Coronavirus count, I apologize. The U.S. has almost 47,000 deaths in 2 months. That’s a big deal, regardless of where you live.

Posted by
363 posts

The problem is what we don’t know is so great that we can’t predict the future based on the recent past. But that is in a large part what this forum is about. I predict your future (travel) based on my recent (travel) past. I can tell you if a hotel is nice or open or if you need reservations or how Long to allow to clear immigration/customs/security at Airport X. All based on previous experience with the stuff in question.

Today however all bets are off. We don’t know what will change because we don’t know what the results of Covid will be or when it will stop being an issue. As such we can’t honestly answer the questions most often asked because our past experiences may very well be irrelevant now.
As for people asking questions, yes we have a few but if you look at it you will find a small trickle of posts that are not related to Covid. And I doubt that will keep people checking n on a regular basis. Traditionally forums need a certain level to sustain the. Interest if members.

Also I suspect we will see less post as this situation drags on.

As for anyone that thinks this will be back to normal by the fall. Well it is not looking good. They didn’t cancel Octoberfest because it starts in June. So someone sees a problem with large tourist/event gathering as far out as the fall.
And that assumes wave 1 dies out but until we open up again we really won’t know if wave 1 has passed or not. Yes the number in many locations are not as bad as they were feared to become but we have been isolating. What happens after we stop isolating? Who knows. The only country to get that far is China and you can exactly trust them..
But keep in mind it is going to take a long time to figure out what is happening after we open up. A couple weeks to open up. A couple weeks to expose folks and a couple weeks for folks to get sick. So we are looking at probably 6 weeks after we open up before we have a clue if it is safe or a horrible mistake.

Basically we are driving a car with the windows painted. We stick Polaroid camera out the skylight and take a photo then steer based on that photo as our passenger takes the next photo.
And that is not even considering a 2nd or 3rd wave. And as a history buff I would say pretending we won’t see more waves is a dangerous assumption. Historically pandemics tend to have 3 waves.
Will this one? Who knows. As I said we don’t know when this wave will end.
Right now we are in the middle of a tsunami trying to stay afloat and pretending we know what the shoreline and low country will look like after the wave rolls out. When we are not even sure how big the wave will get of if we will be able to stay afloat.
But we are not supposed to talk about the wave .

Frankly at this point anything we say about what travel will be like in the future is pure fantasy. As ANYTHING could happen. Heck it is still possible that vacation travel could be outlawed (not likely but we don’t know). So all ANYONE can do is take a best guess at what the future will bring.

However the forum owner (via the webmaster). Has basically dictated that the speculation on this forums is to be such as to present a rosie picture of the future of travel and to pretend that the way things were in 2019 will be the way they will be in 2021. When in fact that is as much (or probably more) speculation then saying that travel in 2020 is over. And it is definitely wishful thinking in the extreme.
Of course this site is paid for by a company that makes its money based on selling travel and travel related merchandise so..
And it is a pure coincidence that this policy cam down at a time when more and more folks on the forum were getting to the point that they advising against trying to travel this year and were starting to speculate that next year may not be any better. Examples of this being topics such as how soon will you travel again and what will you change in the future topics to name but two.

Posted by
343 posts

I predict your future (travel) based on my recent (travel) past.

Well, that is a fallacy, and apart from the Coronavirus it illustrates a problem with many posts on this forum.

In most cases, your past experiences traveling do not predict my future experience. Your likes may be diametrically opposed to mine, or they may be almost the same. You may have traveled in July, while I'm going in October. You went on a Saturday, I am going on a Tuesday. You went as a side trip from a cruise, while I'm traveling by car. You love bustling cities; they give me sensory overload. Etc. So how can your experience predict mine?

It's best when answering a question to provide as much context as possible so readers can judge whether or not your comments have any applicability to them. Not to simply assume that your experience predicts theirs.

Posted by
6216 posts

Well, that is a fallacy, and apart from the Coronavirus it illustrates
a problem with many posts on this forum.

I think you may have misread what Douglas wrote or took it too literally. I interpreted what he said was that any kind of advice that someone here could give to a new posting would be based on his or her experience in the "pre-Covid" travel landscape, which is all we have to guide us. None of us know what the post-Covid travel landscape will look like, so we can't really give great advice about the future (as an example, a recommendation for their favorite small hotel which was a great choice in the past, but which may go under after this is all over so it would be a moot point). He wasn't saying that he could extrapolate his past experience to your unique situation, or to read your mind. All of us use heuristics here to give advice because we don't know every little detail about the other person and what their assumptions are.

Posted by
11000 posts

However the forum owner (via the webmaster). Has basically dictated
that the speculation on this forums is to be such as to present a
rosie picture of the future of travel and to pretend that the way
things were in 2019 will be the way they will be in 2021. When in fact
that is as much (or probably more) speculation then saying that travel
in 2020 is over. And it is definitely wishful thinking in the extreme.
Of course this site is paid for by a company that makes its money
based on selling travel and travel related merchandise so..

Then don't contribute to greedy capitalism. But, since none of us pay for the right to be here, we are guests and it would be nice to at least try and act accordingly.

As for what the future has to bring? Who knows. My guess and hope is that at worst we go through 9 months of paranoia which slowly diminishes as human nature to get on with life begins to beat back the daemons. Then with the advent of a vaccine, boom! we are back to very near normal. What isn't "normal" will be like that shooting pain you get from time to time in your elbow. Just enough to remind you of the stupid things you did as a kid that wrecked that elbow, but not enough to dictate your life.

Again, more wild guessing but I bet I am back in Budapest before the end off September.... maybe a lot sooner.

Posted by
5540 posts

However the forum owner (via the webmaster). Has basically dictated that the speculation on this forums is to be such as to present a rosie picture of the future of travel and to pretend that the way things were in 2019 will be the way they will be in 2021.

That is not at all how I have read the request from the webmaster.

Posted by
11669 posts

However the forum owner (via the webmaster). Has basically dictated
that the speculation on this forums is to be such as to present a
rosie picture of the future of travel and to pretend that the way
things were in 2019 will be the way they will be in 2021.

It's not how I read the request from the Webmaster either. At this point, no one knows what the picture of future travel will look like, and I've never seen anything from RS promising anything to the contrary.

Posted by
6375 posts

However the forum owner (via the webmaster). Has basically dictated
that the speculation on this forums is to be such as to present a
rosie (sic) picture of the future of travel and to pretend that the way
things were in 2019 will be the way they will be in 2021.

Besides being an inaccurate interpretation of the intent, the word that should have been used is "rosy"

Posted by
635 posts

I hate to pile on, but I think it's important to drive home the point...

However the forum owner (via the webmaster). Has basically dictated
that the speculation on this forums is to be such as to present a
rosie (sic) picture of the future of travel and to pretend that the way
things were in 2019 will be the way they will be in 2021.

I've never said that, nor do we expect that. As always, our forum is a place for legitimate advice as it pertains to travel. To try and say it again, the problem we're trying to control for is off-topic conversations. We need to allow for those who want to discuss travel (for when that will be possible) to be able to do so -- which wasn't always happening -- hence what I listed in the bullet points in the OP.

There is a lot that we don't know, and navigating that will be tricky. I'd bet that our forum will be great at providing advice to guide people in the best way. Plus, I think we can do that without drawing the direction of the conversation into purely discussing the latest advancements in virus news.

Posted by
1854 posts

What you said: "There is a lot that we don't know, and navigating that will be tricky. I'd bet that our forum will be great at providing advice to guide people in the best way. Plus, I think we can do that without drawing the direction of the conversation into purely discussing the latest advancements in virus news."

None, and I mean none of us know what will happen for the future of traveling to Europe, or anywhere else for that matter. Personally, I have received a whole lot of good advice (Travel Guard refund/voucher for future travel for one) from various forum posters and a lot of "we're feeling the same things as you are" that make me feel more positive about our traveling future, whether that's next year...or the following year......or........

Posted by
3340 posts

Rosie? Well . . . envision the iconic Rosie the Riveter image from WW II, a determined woman with rolled-up sleeves, grasping an assembly-line wrench. Spanner for the Brit-speakers here. 🔧

Her can-do, getting-through-difficult-times, survivor attitude is what Rick/The Webmaster IS advocating. But that requires focus, and for this forum, the focus is travel information. And while physically distancing at home, don’t philosophically and intellectually distance ourselves from someone asking a travel question, however naive or uninformed it may seem. If a poster knew the answer, they wouldn’t have to ask.

When we Rosies put down our wrenches and pick up our suitcases - whenever that can really happen - we will have gotten thru this. And some folks will have been strengthened by info they got in this helpful forum.

Posted by
1090 posts

Cyn, very nice. Rosie riveter is one of my spirit animals. She never picked up a suitcase but did have a very nice lunch pail, which should hold enuff crucial items for our light packing friends 👜😷

Posted by
2010 posts

Cyn,
Thanks for the reference to "Rosie." Coincidently, I saw a news clip yesterday that featured Rosie. New Orleans artist Terrance Osborne honored medical workers with "Front Line" homage to Rosie the Riveter. Grateful for all our front line workers.

Posted by
4 posts

I just returned to this forum after a long absence of over a year. I had to move house
I am a speed reader but became so exhausted after reading all the debates about the guidelines.
In my opinion, if you don’t like the guidelines lines then start your own website or find another or stay on the website but respect the guidelines.
I wanted to talk travel and/ or ask some simple questions but now I am afraid I’ll be made fun of or have someone write a lecture to me why I shouldn’t even think even of travelling.

By the way, I’m not a new traveler but have lived and worked overseas in the past and keep in contact with people in several countries.

Posted by
23748 posts

Welcome back Emilia, I won’t make fun of you.

Most people here won’t either!

Please ask your questions and I and most here will do our best to help.

Posted by
11669 posts

Another welcome back, Emilia. I won't make fun of you either, and MOST posters here will follow suit. Post to your heart's desire!

(A lot of us are really bored so any travel-focused topic to chat about is very welcome!)

Posted by
3991 posts

Is there a sense from our friends across the Atlantic that the US is not being hit hard by this? We lead the world in covid cases and deaths by a wide margin now.

It's difficult to answer that question without breaking the rule of not discussing politics but I'll go ahead anyway and leave it up to the webmaster to decide if my reply to his question warrants deletion or not.

I don't think it's the case that us Europeans view the US as not being badly hit by the virus, it is and I'm sure most of us know that it is currently suffering the highest number of (recorded) infections. It is the behaviour and attitudes of a significant number of Americans that causes us to believe that some Americans are not taking the pandemic seriously. We've all seen the footage of people cramming onto the beaches in Florida and elsewhere, we've all seen the footage of demonstrations by people demanding an end to lockdown and banging on about their freedoms and the Constitution which has been actively encouraged by Trump. For those living in countries where extremely stringent restrictions have been put in place it is easy to look over at America in increduility at the behaviour and attitudes of many people there and the fact that in some cases the pandemic is being used as a political football, the state of Virginia being a prime example.

I hope that answers the webmasters question and I acknowledge that it is wholly political but as Emma has stated, you can't hide your head in the sand and if you want an answer to such a question then inevitably politics is going to come into play.

My tuppence worth.

Posted by
11000 posts

My friends in Europe have the opposite idea, they have the impression that we are being hit harder. So I guess its all perspective. I direct them to the website that shows deaths per million population. From that perspective we are better off than Belgium, France, UK, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland and a few others. Eliminate NY and we are in better shape than most industrialized countries in Europe. My state is larger in size and population than half of the countries in Europe and if you looked at my state like a country, it has had less death than 90% of the countries in Europe. If we could have locked down the borders like they have the done in Europe we might have been the lowest; but unfortunately the suggestion that some states be quarantined did not go over well with those states and the idea was scrapped as fast as it was mentioned. So politics aside, just looking at the science (as people like to say); as a whole the US has done better than many; with out NY, better than most.

Posted by
1224 posts

"just looking at the science..."

My post has nothing to do with travel and might well not survive the traditional Monday cull, but -

I just want to point out that nothing in Mr E's post is about science in any true sense of that word. Picking a few examples of data at one point in time (e.g. different countries are in different place on the curve), and manipulating data to exclude some numbers that don't fit the message (e.g. exlude NYC but not Paris), may provide the answer which makes one happy but is not scientific. It's more akin to astrology.

If anyone really wants to know which approaches worked best, then you'll need to wait - probably for a year at least - until some studies with real & comparable numbers start appearing

Posted by
40 posts

@Nick
Exactly. If you exclude Lombardy then Italy could say it did better than most big European countries, except Germany of course.

Posted by
11000 posts

e.g. exlude NYC but not Paris

Paris and the surrounding the best as I can tell makes up about 25% of the French deaths vs NY being close to 50% of ours. But okay, so leave NY in and we still look a little better and certainly a no worse than the average equivalent in Europe. I guess, without going into some long drawn out subjective analysis it's safe to say that the US currently has lower risk than some countries, higher than others; and like all countries and regions some places are safer than others.

Its interesting that anything the slightest bit positive gets hammered.

Ahhhhh, but my state beat Germany..... Its all how you cut the pie. I suggest that while you might very well find error in my thinking it does demonstrate the same error in the contrary thinking.....

Posted by
1224 posts

Mr E

You have missed the point. My objection isn't that what you wrote was tosh. My objection was to you claiming it was based somehow in "science" when, clearly, it was anything but scientific. You can write whatever you wish, as far as I'm concerned; just don't pretend it is "science", please.

Kind regards.

Posted by
40 posts

Nobody until now has been better than Germany in the handling of this. Germany has a huge number of ICUs (per number of citizens) compared to Italy and other European countries (and US too) for example. Germany after a while has taken dozens of Italian and French patients in its ICUs.
May I say than one key point is the population density? The US are a huge country, for the most part not as densely populated as Europe.

Posted by
40 posts

I didn’t want to be negative, I’m relieved that the US are not doing so bad except the New York area. One of the saddest thing for me almost two months ago when we were the first to be hit was seeing Spain following our steps and starting struggling as well.

Posted by
11000 posts

Aless, you aren't negative. And you are correct, there are thousands of factors that have affected this.

Posted by
5541 posts

RE: Nobody until now has been better than Germany in the handling of this.

I don't know who is number one in terms of better outcomes, but the South Korean, Taiwan and New Zealand leadership has been effective so far in containing the coronavirus.

Posted by
1407 posts

James - nobody knows who is better off and who isn't until the history of this is written. I don't know why you feel the need to cheer-lead, I guess you think it helps "your team" or something. I am kind of losing interest in being "that guy." I was that guy in February and March when people on this site simply couldn't wrap their head around the scale of what was coming. Now I have to be that guy again when I see you saying how we are better off than X, Y and Z country.

So I hope everybody enjoyed their sunny weekend, their maskless forays onto the beach and down to the store and the boutique, and their sense of "having won their freedom back" by refusing to wear a mask or stay home. Savor that feeling that things are getting better. Maybe we can even have another 30 percent stock market rally this week on those "feelings," push them to a record high. Because the administration's own models from three days ago based on what has already happened - not even including last weekend's Murcan Freedom Show- show that because we decided to not lock down and lift lock down early we will likely be at 3000/dead a day by June. Hope they are wrong.

Posted by
40 posts

@Edgar
You are right. I was thinking about countries historically (very recent history) not afflicted by epidemics, and also similarly hit. Because otherwise (and luckily) many countries did better than us, like Greece, that went into lockdown seriously and very early. I don’t mean this as if it were a competition, but to give Germany (for example) its due.

Posted by
11000 posts

Edgar, maybe they have been. This thing has so many factors that affect it that I don't see how we can blame or party until all the data is in and there is full understanding. That's why I cheer lead; because I don't know who isn't trying their best given their circumstances. But it would be hard not to look to Germany and try and translate their accomplishments into something everyone can use. I would guess that if we had closed all of our state borders much in the way the EU and Hawaii did, we might have seen better results in some places. I'll continue cheer leading for "my side" (the human race). Positive outlook and marking up success when it occurs, no matter how small, keeps the spirits of many up when they need it most.

Posted by
6881 posts

But everyone here is talking in the past tense. It's almost comical.

As a headline in today's NY Times on line says
"3,000 deaths per day are forecast as some states reopen".
Forecast by whom? The administration in an internal document obtained by the Times. I can't link on my phone, but you can look it up

So no fat lady has sung yet. The US has a rough, rough ride coming up. We're only at the beginning. Some countries have learned their strengths and weaknesses, but others haven't. Leadership or lack thereof is what this challenge is exposing more than anything.

Posted by
11000 posts

Who said its over? We got a long way to go.....

As I remember, the lockdown was to flatten the curve, not reduce numbers? Did that change?

Posted by
766 posts

I don't know if the Webmaster appreciates the irony when this thread about staying on the topic of travel and not non-travel related Covid news veers once again into non-travel Covid news...but I sorta do :-)

Posted by
2240 posts

It would appear to be a dominant theme in our lives now...along with ...travel!

Travel, travel, travel, ahhhh, travel.

Posted by
5541 posts

Coronavirus news is travel news. Coronavirus driven shutdowns, lockdowns and quarantines drive travel and travel plans. What kind of tourist flies to countries or states with mandatory coronavirus 14 day quaranteens. Norway had been quarantining returning resident for 14 days and would not let in in if you are not a legal resident of Norway, Coronavirus news is on topic to the extent that it affects travel and travel planning.

Posted by
10300 posts

I've been on this forum for about twenty years. During that period this forum has been a friendly little corner of the internet where travel dreams could be nurtured.
With the pandemic, none of us knows what will happen to Europe travel. For many of us there will be continuing frustration, even sadness.

But hopefully we can preserve this forum as a place where future travel dreams are nurtured.

Posted by
3991 posts

There is at least 30 million infections in this country. Most have been resolved with little or no symptoms.

What's the provenance of your claim?

Posted by
492 posts

post edited by Author
Offending post reported for WebMaster to deal with on Monday.

Posted by
3340 posts

Edited by Author the next day - the following was originally a response to another apparent Coloradan, from Greeley, but his post disappeared:

I’m not traveling to Weld County, Colorado, or its Seat, Greeley, any time soon. The Colorado governor clarified the somewhat confusing isolate-yet-get-out-and-about messages by saying to not go more than 10 miles from home, for now. Greeley, way more than 10 miles from the Denver area, is also where the JBS meat plant had a huge outbreak 3 weeks ago. I bet they didn’t have unexpected deaths last year or the year before, but suddenly have now.

Safe to visit is, as safe to travel does.

Posted by
6375 posts

keep your replies hyper-focused on travel. (Webmaster)

Some of the response can be deemed 'travel' related only in the sense they are so far off the rails, the distance qualifies as a trip of some sort.

Posted by
3340 posts

Note that my earlier post, and joe32F’s, were posted at the exact same time yesterday. I believe he was also reacting to the now-deleted post from the Greeley Guy, unless he reads and types really, really fast. And today, our lodging reservations for both Scotland and Denmark have been officially cancelled, so my travel is being refocused farther into the uncertain future.

Posted by
6375 posts

I do not type fast, quite the opposite.

Cyn, your post(s) were not what I was alluding to.

Appears one or more of the 'offenders' have vanished.

Posted by
109 posts

Well said, Kent.

I would love to see this forum get back to "nurturing travel dreams". We all understand that the future of travel is uncertain but that doesn't mean you can't start planning your next trip, you just can't pinpoint a date yet.

I've seen many questions posted that ask about itineraries and the like with automatic responses "not until there is a vaccine" "you do understand xzy is closed to tourist" "why are you evening considering travel at a time like this, how selfish". For myself and I'm sure many others, dreaming of our next trip gets us through this trying time and gives us hope that there will be better times to come. If that is selfish, then I'll gladly call myself selfish. Does it mean we are naive, absolutely not. Some of us just prefer not to live in a "doom and gloom" state of mind.

So maybe, just maybe when you see a question about a travel itinerary or recommendations on hotels, restaurants, etc, answer the question with a hope that life will return to normal, if it bothers you that someone is passing their time with trip planning, don't answer. It's that simple.

I know for myself, I'm tired of having to scroll 2 pages to get back to itineraries and trip planning because of the same COVID remarks, posts and updates. If I want a COVID update, I'll watch the news, not read a travel forum. (sorry if that comes off rude).

Happy Travels,
Amanda

Posted by
248 posts

Thank you for the reminders to keep things on topic.

Posted by
118 posts

The European Union has just created a secure website called reopen.europa.eu.
This lists exactly which nationals can enter or exit which countries, and what rules, forms, apply. It is changing daily.
Note that if you fill out the Croatian advance entry form online, for example, you have to arrive at the border with that same passport.

Posted by
17009 posts

The best I can tell, the reopen.europa.eu website only covers the rules that apply to people traveling from members of the EU or certain other European countries. It doesn't at this time address the situation of folks from the US, Canada, etc.