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Travel to multiple European countries

Hello all, my family of four is planning to try again for a three-week trip spanning England, France, Switzerland and Italy. We had to cancel a planned trip in the spring of 2020. We are newbies to European travel. We are now fully vaccinated and starting to look at possibly traveling in May, June or July of this summer, 2022.

Does anyone have any advice or information on travel between countries for fully vaccinated Americans? I’m wondering how easy it is to enter/move between the different countries. Should we expect to travel as before, pre-pandemic, with just our vaccination cards shown along with our passports?


Posted by
1933 posts

No one has a crystal ball to predict the covid status in 5-6 months.

I believe most of the advice you will receive here is that multi-country trips will likely be just too difficult. You will have to constantly monitor changing covid mandates for each country, submit tracker paperwork, and most probably need to test each time you cross borders.

We did a Swiss trip Sept, 2021, and it was a great trip, but an incredible amount of work keeping up with the changing mandates. Our trip was complicated by the fact that our flight transited thru Heathrow , so some countries required quarantine if one transited thru specific countries, and some did not. We had to test before leaving the US, and before returning.

We hopefully will be traveling in late April, 2022, but are only planning on visiting two countries, staying flexible if we need to modify our itinerary to one country.

There is a wealth of info here on the Forum - so read earlier Trip Reports, and keep up to date with current posts. Don't book anything that isn't fully refundable- and just wait awhile.

Good luck!

Posted by
13431 posts

First, I will say it before someone else does; there may be very little in common between the rules today and the rules in May, June or July.

Second, the forum is great for learning from other peoples experiences, but you should start by finding the official location for COVID entry requirement for each country you plan to visit; then check back often to see how things are going. Anything short of that will put you at risk.

My "impression" has been that the past few months, anyone that wanted to travel to most any place in Europe has been able to if they were vaccinated and wanted to deal with the trouble of filing paperwork, submitting evidence and getting tests. You have chosen a few countries that for me seem to be the most unpredictable (I've been sticking to the easy ones).

Unless something else happens I suspect things will stay the same or get better; but just a hunch.

Posted by
5490 posts

If your three weeks is time actually on the ground and you lose the first day (at least) to jet lag, that gives you 20 days for 4 countries. You will lose a day switching countries, so that gives you 4 days in each country. Even before Covid, that was rushed, as it wouldn’t give you much time to see Paris or London never mind the rest of the country.

As others have said, pick ideally one or a maximum of two countries. Less is more.

Posted by
5549 posts

In addition to vaccination cards, bring a supply of masks. In Italy this past fall, restaurants, museums, and the fast trains (strangely, not the slower regional trains) required mask wearing. Many stores, restaurants, and even churches provided hand sanitizer at their entrances.

Posted by
7459 posts

Please note that Italy currently requires FFP2 (KN95) masks.

Posted by
7459 posts

Note that traveling to multiple countries while Covid travel rules are in place is challenging even for experienced travelers.

You can of course always figure these things out, but it adds several layers of complexity for your planning both before your travel and while you are on the ground.

Our general recommendation since travel started back up again to western Europe last year has been to limit travel to one country, so you only have one country's rules to worry about. That is plenty enough to stay on top of !!

Again, that is not to say that it can't be done, just that it takes additional energy and brain power to keep track of !

Posted by
27509 posts

One further thing to watch is that each country has a different definition of continuing vaccination - if you are boosted and your booster is coming up to 6 months ago at time of travel you may run into trouble going from some countries into others...

Best is to make up a spreadsheet or booklet and keep them updated frequently in the time prior to your trip so you have fewer surprises.

Posted by
1246 posts

"We are newbies to European travel."
First, congrats on your first trip to Europe.
Second, I suspect this will not be your last trip to Europe.
Third, COVID compliance is impacting travel in terms of expense, tracking changing policies and added stress.
Fourth, consider picking two countries to visit in order to provide a better opportunity to create wonderful memories.

A consistent comment form first time travelers to Europe is they were too ambitious with attempting to "see" so much.
Consider taking the time to "be there" instead of "seeing there".

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all for the information and advice! I feel overwhelmed now, as I'm beginning to grasp the scope of the question I asked! I was very ignorant about the testing requirements and rules that may (or may not) be in place for each country. We knew that our original plan was probably too much, but we had limited our stays in each country to one place/region so that we would be in the sam accommodations for at least four nights in each country, instead of trying to hop around and see various regions. I think we had a pretty smart plan originally, but this Covid wrench might actually be a blessing in disguise, as far as travel goes, though I hesitate to use "blessing" and "Covid" together. What I am coming around to, after reading your replies and diving into more research, is that we ought to choose one country as many of you have suggested. For us, that would be Italy....and 3 weeks in any one of these countries would only be a start. But Italy has a wish list item for each family member and offers a great variety of terrain (some of us wanted to hike in the mountains, while others of us want to see the coast). We might still be able to slip into Switzerland, but I might save that for the very end of the trip and only do it if testing restrictions have eased up so we would not potentially get stuck/quarantined somewhere. Also, from where we are in the US, its easy to book flights into/out of Rome. We will adapt and move forward! Thanks again!

Posted by
3067 posts

Also, from where we are in the US, its easy to book flights into/out
of Rome.

You don't mention where you live, but an open jaw ticket to Rome/from Milan or v.v. might be worth considering.

Posted by
21671 posts

A couple of general comments in addition to the move specific statements above. I would consider an open jaw/multi city flight schedule. Fly into London and home from Rome or any other major city in Europe. You can waste a lot of time and money returning to your starting point if you did a RT to Rome or any other city. Get a good map and put some pins in so you can visualize your travel route. Generally train is a good way to get around unless you doing a jump of maybe 5, 6 hours or more. Then one of the discount airlines may provide an advantage.

Finally -- Since most of Europe (England is not) is part of the Schengen zone your travel between countries is not much different than traveling between states in the US. Border checks and crossing are non-existent for the most part. That statement was extremely true prior to the pandemic but now it is possible that you might encounter some border checks because of checks on your vaccination status, etc. But, in general, moving between countries within the Schengen zone is pretty easy.

Because of the unknowns related to the pandemic, it could be easier to limit your travel to with a couple of countries. Spend some time with travel DVDs -- local library is a good source. Watch the Rick Steves' shows on your local PBS. Gives you some over views. Another big key -- that is hard to get across to newbies -- travel light. If you can get everyone limited to one carry on size bag, your life will be so much better. But -- traveling light is more learned behavior. We can tell you how to do it but till your experience it you will not appreciate the wisdom of our advice.

Posted by
3146 posts

No one knows what the rules will be this summer, but if you look at the Switzerland part of this forum, I think they are lowering their Covid restrictions, so it could be a good second country. I would try to avoid transiting through a 3rd country, such as Heathrow in UK. For what it's worth, if I could only go to one country, it would definitely be Italy. You do need to be aware that Italy currently requires a booster within 6 months of traveling there.

Posted by
3 posts

More good info, so thanks!

We had actually been in a good place, planning wise. We bought Rick Steves luggage (or similar types) and even did a 5-day "shake-down" trip - taking trains planes and Metro - all while carrying our backpack-luggage, in Washington DC. We have watched a TON of Rick Steves episodes, bought a plenty of travel guides, and did a bunch of research online. We limited our overnight accommodation changes, and we had a ticket into Rome and out of London for Sept. '20. Alas, we had to cancel it all in May of '20.

I didn't realize that Switzerland had a reputation for fewer Covid restrictions. That would be good - if we could plan most of our travel in Italy, and then reserve the last bit of the trip for Switzerland, it would be more exciting for us than being restricted to just one country. I had planned a day trip into Austria to visit a site near the border that is part of our family history, but I don't know if we could still rent a car and drive across borders with the Covid restrictions. We will start researching it, and we'll definitely start reading posts here to see what other folks are experiencing. And of course, all the while, knowing things could change suddenly down the road.

Posted by
20872 posts

I think it's likely you wouldn't have problems driving across the border from Italy into Austria, but I think there's a highway vignette you need to buy at or near the border and stick on the car. It would probably be enormously expensive if you wanted drop off an Italian rental car in Austria, though. Austria, incidentally, is much, much cheaper than Switzerland.

Posted by
6855 posts

Traveling to England, France, Switzerland and Italy would be extremely difficult in any times. All of these countries just have so much to see, and it'd be better if you chose two and visited them slower. Italy is a trip to itself with 3 or more must see cities that can overdose you on art, food, culture, music, etc.

You can go online to find out the current governmental travel restrictions. The U.S. government often suggests you not travel to places, and often they're being too conservative.

Posted by
218 posts

You can still find French and German culture and language in extreme northern Italy. Valle D'Aosta gives you a nice taste of the Alps and some French language and influence. You can find German language and culture in the area around Bolzano.

It's not the same as actually visiting France and Switzerland, but still a great way to experience multiple languages and cultures without leaving Italy.