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Have Vaccine, Will Travel... Hopefully

I don't know if the tours will go on or not this fall, but I'm hoping with all my might that they do. Now that I've had the vaccine I feel less scared to go out in the world, but I also know we will be using masks, etc, for a long time. Anyone else feeling a tiny bit less scared?

Posted by
1013 posts

We have had our first shot and will be getting the second one in a couple of weeks. I am feeling a bit more relieved and confident that we will be able to travel again in 2022 albeit with masks and current protocol. If we need a booster shot, we will do it. We have a trip booked for January 2022 and hoping it happens. We have will have lost so many travel years by that point and aren’t getting any younger.

Posted by
1709 posts

I think there’s an upside also, Mary. As long as we’re healthy and alive we’re getting older. And that’s more than fine with me. We will travel again. Be safe and healthy all.

Posted by
20914 posts

Never felt particularly scared but was a little concerned and fairly cautious. Maybe that is the same as your being scared. Once we had the first jab -- second, still pending, we felt that a little bit of a weight, depression ???, was lifted. Perhaps a more optimistic outlook? Something felt better just not sure what. We are actively planning trips -- three now scheduled - with very good cancellation options. Each has a go/no-go date about four weeks prior to the trip. We will make our decision at that point. Mean time we keep doing all of those boring paper, photos sorting tasks and re organizing the storage room. Just completed a mass sorting of 50+ years of Christmas items. Gained two shelves of new storage space.

Posted by
1801 posts

Michelle, yes we are a lot less scared. For all the reasons we hear in the news, numbers down, less hospitalizations, more vaccines.

Frank, I hear you. I don’t think I can look at another piece of paper. We decided to upgrade our kitchen a little and I am going through the cabinets - oh boy did I open a Pandora’s box. Thank goodness we have a lovely second hand store here that takes donations. We haven’t even gotten to the actual work yet (don’t want people in the house yet). We’re not yet at the point where we, and by that I mean I, are doing any research or new reservations. We have two reservations from last September we pushed to this September. That’s it for now. We haven’t been lucky enough to get a vaccine yet, but are hopeful we will by April. With all the experience we have traveling and the help of people here, I know I could do a last minute trip no problem.

Posted by
826 posts

Just had my first dose yesterday, and in the last four days I've noticed increased progress in San Diego County- hope it continues. The big super sites are very well organized and I was impressed with the staff and volunteers. I also agree a little stress has been lifted from my shoulders. Sending good wishes for all of you getting the vaccine soon!

Posted by
69 posts

DH is fully vaccinated, and I'm scheduled to get my first dose next week. And YES, the sense of relief is palpable! We are looking forward to booking a few getaways, but we are going to stick to the US for all 2021 travel plans.

Posted by
11989 posts

We had our first Pfizer shot two days ago, and have appointments for the 2nd one 3 weeks from that date. While we're relieved to be moving forward, we're under no illusion that we'll be leaving the U.S. this year. That's OK. If fewer people die, and fewer are left with severe, long-term effects, we're willing to sit tight until we're not a potential asymptomatic threat to those who haven't yet had the jab.

It would be nice to be able to at least travel within the U.S. but the situation at our favorite locations remains to be seen. It's not about feeling "less scared" but what they continue to learn about the vaccine's effectiveness against several known variants + the potential of other mutants which could manifest within the coming year. The % of the population who do not intend on being vaccinated is concerning as well.

Posted by
11905 posts

What Kathy said. We will wait until we see the numbers; my husband is a retired physician and he wants to see the infection rate go down.

We should have our 2nd shot of the Moderna vaccine in mid-February and he says we should reach good immunity 2 weeks after that. So in March we will start letting repairpersons into our house to fix things that have been pending ( like our dryer!). And I hope to be able to plan a visit to our adult children and our grandchildren in April or May. But we aren’t considering any European travel until spring 2022 (Italy). And even then I wil book things that can be canceled.

It is not about being “scared” but cautious. As for depression, FWIW, that lifted on January 20. It is nice to be free of that.

Posted by
4174 posts

Michelle, have you gotten both of your doses? Getting the shot(s) is definitely a bit of a relief, one small step in a long journey of getting thru the pandemic, with being able to travel the ultimate goal.

Posted by
11989 posts

It wouldn't surprise me if there's a COVID booster recommendation by this fall, much like annual flu vaccinations. It's possible that a booster might be necessary for any number of years to manage any emerging mutant strains? Just noodling here based on some reading, and it would be interesting to hear from any of you who know much, much more about epidemiology than I do.

Editing to add: Lola, I know exactly what you mean. 👍

Posted by
283 posts

I too really like Lola's post. My husband got his first Pfizer vaccine a few days ago. He has to travel in a few weeks, right as he is due for the 2nd jab, so I am really hoping I can get him in before that as he will be in hospitals for several weeks. Where he got his vaccine, they do not schedule you at the time for the 2nd vaccination, which makes it a bit frustrating. Except for him traveling for work, which I am not thrilled about, we are not going anywhere just yet. I am not eligible for the vaccine yet, but even if I were, we want to wait and see how it all plays out for a bit. I am optimistic, but also very cautious.

Posted by
38 posts

Thanks for the replies, everyone. I'm glad to hear that others were not scared. I was. Afraid to leave my house in the early days. But I am due for my 2nd shot soon, and as one person put it, (I'm sorry, can't remember who as I type) the feeling of relief is definitely "palpable!"

Posted by
37 posts

I am looking forward to traveling too but I still will have a LONG wait for the vaccine. Travel for me is still way in the future.

Posted by
279 posts

Kathy and Lola expressed some of my thoughts. We are waiting for our county in CA to start vaccinating 65+, then will consider very small family get-togethers and domestic travel first depending on what the data tell us about infection rates and new strains.

Posted by
106 posts

This topic is the most popular on our Zoom calls with friends. Well actually, they are wine zoom calls but I digress. Our final vaccine shot is next Friday and we will start traveling somewhat.
-Domestic only for 2021
-Still wear masks (The flu numbers are dramatically down this year)
-Be vigilant but loosen up a bit.
By next year, there will be more data and IMHO, the covid numbers will be considerably be less

Posted by
283 posts

steveh3011--I have a Zoom happy hour call with sorority sisters tonight. We all love to travel and our last Zoom call we were talking about it. I too think it'll be a while, but one of the ladies wants to go to Scotland and Ireland and asked if anyone else wanted to go. Ummm, yes!!!! HAHA! Not sure when we will be able to go, but it is something fun to look forward to. I love traveling with my husband and yes even our grown adult kids, but also love girls trips!

Posted by
205 posts

Another forum member who’s had the first vaccine and in 10 days the 2nd. Palpable relief and looking forward to having other vaccinated friends and family over for dinner and/or drinks. Hugging. Alll the things. Travel in the US this year but only if museums and attractions are open. Not nearly as fun to visit National Parks when the visitor centers are closed. Patience and perseverance. Not my strong points but definitely better at them than I used to be!

Posted by
348 posts

+1 on Lola's post

I am so happy for everyone getting vaccines. It will be life-changing for some, a lifting of fear. My daughter and her boyfriend are doing injections at vaccine clinics, and the workers say it is one of the most rewarding things they have ever done. Many, many tears of happiness at seeing the individuals who are so absolutely thrilled to be getting shots.

Personally, I can relate because we have a high-risk, special needs 15-year-old who cannot get a shot yet because of his age. It has been a year of focusing on risk mitigation -- not only worrying about my son getting sick, but what if both my husband and I were sick or, heaven forbid, hospitalized at the same time? Who would take care of my son?

So having shot #1 going into one parent (me) a couple of weeks ago was one of the happiest days I've ever had, and my husband is scheduled for next week. While it won't change any of our behaviors, having 2 parents vaccinated will be an enormous relief just from the care perspective.

Keep those shots coming!! Every single one is a victory, for that one person and for all of us.

Posted by
12 posts

If they go this year I am going! We have both had our vaccines and are ready to travel, even with restrictions. If Rick Steves doesn't do them, I am open to other tour companies. We are specifically look at the GAS tour. Does anyone have any other companies that they have used and loved?

Posted by
9082 posts

Does anyone have any other companies that they have used and loved?

https://odysseys-unlimited.com/

Small groups, great guides, excellent customer service. (The prices you see on the website includes airfare. You can go land only but have to get in touch for prices.)

Posted by
28 posts

+1 for Lola

My wife and I get out second Pfizer injection this week. We scheduled a three day trip to Palm Springs two weeks after that when our immunization is at full strength. We live in San Diego so Palm Springs is a relatively short drive. We did a Google search of the hotels and found that certain hotel chains that I will not name do a pretty good job of COVID hygiene. Lots of outdoor dining in the desert. Lots of hiking opportunities. We will continue to be cautious as we understand that we can be infected and infect others even though we are immunized. However, the chances are low. It will be our first travel experience in a year and we are excited.

We have asked to be informed about Fall tours with RS. However, we are doubtful that European group travel will occur that soon. Like others on this thread, we are seniors and our travel years are passing us by so we are hopeful but adapting to circumstances. We live in Southern California so have the opportunity to take wonderful road trips throughout the Southwest and up the West Coast. We will probably restrict our travel to that for the next year or two.

Posted by
10 posts

Just received my first COVID-vaccine shot last Wednesday (Moderna) and am scheduled to get my second shot on 3/4/2021, but due to being a teacher (and the timing of Rick's earliest upcoming departure-dates in 2021), it looks like I won't be able to take my next Rick Steves-trip until the summer of 2022...so, about a year-and-a-half from now (or thereabouts).

But especially by then, nearly all of the lockdown-restrictions should be fully lifted and life returned to (relatively) "back to normal," as far as airline flights, tour groups, social distancing, etc., are concerned (I contracted COVID-19 last April, and it was one of the absolute-worst experiences of my entire life), and I can't wait to finally get back to traveling again.

Posted by
14 posts

Travel for those 65 and older will have to wait until at least 2026 as this virus is not going anywhere soon. Travel and tourism will be enjoyed by the younger generation (Gen X, Y & Z) starting this summer 2021. Hopefully younger tourism dollars are enough to keep the industry alive until Boomers can travel in again in 5 years.

Posted by
2146 posts

"Travel for those 65 and older will have to wait until at least 2026..."

Anybody have an idea what this is trying to say and why those older than 65, who will surely be vaccinated by this spring, will be made to stay at home until 2026?

Posted by
24655 posts

I think I understand what is being said but don't agree

Posted by
24655 posts

he or she says that only young people will be able to travel but retired people won't. Why? Only she or he knows. But I disagree.

She or he also says young people will be able to travel to most of Europe and elsewhere this summer.

I also disagree with that.

He or she is setting up friends in another thread to go this summer and is looking for other tour groups because of Rick Steves not going.

Posted by
20914 posts

That is kind of bold statement to make without any context. Needing to wait 5 years makes little sense. Might make an argument for 22 when more of the world has been vaccinated. I with Nigel on this one. At 78 I cannot wait five more years, we have a trip schedule for Sep, Nov, and working on our winter Caribbean cruises.

Posted by
17896 posts

Dr. Fauci has updated his estimate of when vaccines will be offered to the general public in the US (now mid-May to early June rather than April). The difference is due to a lower quantity of J & J vaccine to be available initially than was anticipated originally. The article also clarifies that the cited time period represents the point at which individuals can seek vaccination, not when everyone will actually be able to get vaccinated.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/16/health/us-coronavirus-tuesday/index.html

I know most of the people hoping to travel early anticipate (probably accurately) being vaccinated before things open up to the general public, but I think all Americans may be more welcome in western Europe when a lot of our fellow countrymen have been vaccinated and (one hopes) the US infection rate drops significantly. Therefore, I think it's helpful to have this more realistic estimate of the vaccination-rollout timing.

Posted by
626 posts

Round and round the silliness goes......
NO ONE has a clue as to reopening dates. Estimates are just that- estimates. Otherwise known as educated guesses. Everything is subject to change (amounts of vaccines being available and when). Dr. Fauci, the CDC and others are trying hard to provide information as they have it but it is still very much a fluid situation and always subject to change- the one true ‘constant’.

Even if a country is “open” to visitors that doesn’t mean street side cafes or museums etc are open. The number of variables is just insane.

So please don’t sweat guesses....if someone thinks that the World won’t open until 2025 that is fine and holds as much reality as someone who thinks the world will open on July 17, 2021 at 2:32 in the morning. NO ONE knows.

If you have money to burn- book now. If losing a few thousand dollars hurts your budget then wait until governments actually announce open protocols.

And let’s not forget the impact (UNKNOWN) of the Covid variants. May become an issue, may require a 3rd injection as a booster (2nd for J & J) .....or maybe not......

Western Europe will open in time- just chill folks. I state Western Europe as James E will quickly post that parts of Europe are open now (sorry but I can careless about fishing in eastern outer Albania- Albanians and James E may differ from my opinion).

Posted by
12155 posts

(sorry but I can careless about fishing in eastern outer Albania-
Albanians

First, "careless" should be "care less". Second, it is simply "Albania" unless you are attempting some sort of slur, or just bad typing with Albania-Albanians? Finally, the fishing is good throughout the country, but my preference is fly fishing in the north. Spectacular place.

RS should do a podcast on how to make travel plans that can be changed or canceled at no cost. Too many here don't know how easy it is.

Posted by
124 posts

Covid will become like the flu, the WHO estimates on average 20-40k Americans die annually from the flu and 290-650k globally and no one cares. We will need booster shots and the same people who died from the flu pre covid can die from covid. The UK doesn't anticipate having a vaccine in every adult until September and they are leading the way in Europe. I don't see Europe opening up this year. The vaccine is only 60-70% against these new variants, life will not be "normal" and I do think the 2025 estimate is fairly accurate.

Posted by
12155 posts

I'm not qualified for an educated guess. But I love to gamble.. Right now, and for the last 6 months, 10 European countries have been open for tourism. I would wager $20 that by September 1st, no less than 14 countries are open. That is 25% to 30% of Europe (depending on how you define Europe). I'm not betting on the EU as a whole; way to unpredictable.

Posted by
24655 posts

quoting James E.:

"careless" should be "care less".

hoist with your own petard?

quoting James E.:

I'm not betting on the EU as a whole; way to unpredictable.

"way to unpredictable" should be "way too unpredictable"

(unless you are speaking about a road to a place called Unpredictable, like *Do You Know the Way to San Jose?)

Posted by
4174 posts

Got my second shot today, and I’m definitely feeling much more confident. I’m even considering going next week to a masked, distanced Pilates class in 2 weeks, after nothing but Zoom classes at home for months!

My husband’s not yet qualified for even a first dose, and we’re still hoping the late September 2021 trip to Italy/London can happen.

Posted by
11450 posts

Being vaccinated doesn’t mean you can ( or should ) go maskless as they haven’t been able to show a vaccinated person can’t carry the virus .

Posted by
12155 posts

Georgia will now let you in without PCR test or quarantine if you have been vaccinated.

Posted by
38 posts

Well I don't know how this post went so far off the rails... I was just curious to know if others were feeling a bit less scared about things, and hoping for a return to travel.

Posted by
12155 posts

I don't know if the tours will go on or not this fall, but I'm hoping
with all my might that they do. Now that I've had the vaccine I feel
less scared to go out in the world, but I also know we will be using
masks, etc, for a long time. Anyone else feeling a tiny bit less
scared?

The Romanians and the Georgians are feeling less scared of you, so maybe that will help to reinforce your feelings:

US citizens are welcome to Romania 10 days after receiving their second dose of vaccine. http://washington.mae.ro/en/local-news/2180

Posted by
12155 posts

Michelle, I got my second dose today. My trip to Europe is planned for mid-April, after a quick trip to Miami in about 2 weeks. I feel good about both.

People are quick to point out the variants and if you can continue to carry the disease. Life has risk and the vaccine brings those risks into a very reasonable realm for me at least. Vaccine or not, I just assume everyone continues to follow the protocols established by the jurisdiction in which they live and travel; as it should be.

Posted by
308 posts

The latest edition of the Post Corona broadcast has brought up an interesting idea regarding travel in the next year or two. Since the guest is from Israel most of the discussion involves that country. But, many of the ideas and concepts will apply to any country opening itself up to those outside of its borders.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/vaccination-nation-is-our-post-corona-future-unfolding/id1539292794?i=1000511737687

They were discussing how various countries will govern things like travel to and from their country. One of the guests mentioned that the UK and Israel (two countries with a more successful vaccination program) are discussing the idea of a 'Vaccination Corridor' between nations that have achieved a certain high level of vaccinations. My impression is that a properly vaccinated person from the UK can have a relatively normal visit to Israel and visa-versa if the Vaccination Corridor idea comes to fruition. Assuming the USA keeps up the improvement in vaccinations, we could be part of the Vaccination Corridor at some point.

This is being discussed and there are no firm plans to implement the VC at this time. But, given the big contribution of tourism to the national economies of various countries there is a great incentive to get people vaccinated and work some kind of a deal with other countries.

Time will tell what, if anything, happens.

Posted by
14211 posts

Well, right now Israel isn't rushing to let in anyone except Israeli citizens in an attempt to keep virus variants out (except the British variant is already far and away the dominant virus here, there are quite a few South African cases and a handful of the New York one as well). The airport only reopened a couple days ago so Israelis who live abroad can come to vote in the March 23 election. If there's a spike in severe cases or the R-nought or who-knows-what-else, the airport might be shut down again right after the 23rd. In the meantime a whole lot of Israelis are hoping that they can go to Greece at the end of the month, when schools are closed for the week of Passover (grades 5 through 10 just resumed classes this week for the first time since June). I've got my fingers crossed for a 7-10 trip to Greece in late April or early May, but not making any plans yet.

James - so glad to hear you're vaccinated 😎😊 Happy ✈

Posted by
38 posts

@James E, if I may ask, where are you traveling to in Europe? I am going crazy waiting to see if the tours resume in the fall. :-)

Posted by
12155 posts

Sure.... I am going to Bosnia & Herzegovina and Ukraine ..... and maybe Montenegro if a few things change in the next couple of weeks.

I bought a Turkish Air Open Jaw ticket from Houston to Istanbul to Sarajevo to Istanbul to Kyiv. Then from Odesa to Istanbul to Houston. About $1100. Anyone really concerned about closures might just want to do the RT to Istanbul then buy the connections later. That would add about $200 to the ticket. All of the hotels are pay at the door reservations with cancelations up to 48 hours prior.

I'm not spending any time in Istanbul (done that plenty in the past), but thats where Turkish Air changes flights and thats were the airport rapid COVID testing facility is located to clear to go on to Ukraine and to clear to return to the US. Maybe by late April the vaccine will be more widely accepted.

There are a few other options. All not just open in that you can get in, but open in the sense that they want your tourism. For me this isnt a COVID compromise. These have been among my favorite destinations for years. So far I have made it to Turkey, Ukraine, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo. All except Albania and Kosovo pre COVID.

When I suggested on another thread that these places open to tourism, I got a response that refereed to those places in a somewhat ignorant and derogatory sense. This from a RS Forum regular. So I posted some videos of the countries. The ones in bold will let you in with out a test or with a Vaccine. The others all require a PCR test. Montenegro and Turkey are the only two that I am aware of having significant closures due to COVID. Oh, and maybe Ukraine to a lesser degree. Enjoy

Albania https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7tg80Fc6DM
Armenia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ-dm9YFy9w
Bosnia & Herzegovina https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teyVUYpva9k
Georgia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXszgrp4YMc
Kosovo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EloVulrUFL8
Montenegro https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksRoiNKNMFM
North Macedonia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99S-msXlIrY
Serbia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDHpcAFSMr0
Turkey https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKQdVm5MLWU
Ukraine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jufiUKMP_bY
New to the list is Romania where you can enter based on your vaccine.

Some more information including links to updates is here: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/what-is-open-in-europe-and-beyond

Posted by
12155 posts

Nick,

While there are a quite a few interesting cities and towns in the region this is a great region for sport and nature tourism which is little impacted. The videos I posted sort of make that point as well. Freaking stunning environments, rafting, zip lining, fishing, hunting, hiking and climbing; mountains, lakes and rivers. Then there is the whole East meets West vibe. A mosque, an Orthodox church, Catholic church, a synagogue; all within a bock of two. Sarajevo old town with sidewalk tea/coffee shops full of Muslim tourists next to a sidewalk cafe/bar. All having fun. My hotel room had a prayer rug and Koran in the room. These are the experiences I travel for. Im burned out on Paris, London, Rome..... But each to their own.

But you did make a good point. Everyone needs to check the current situations before you book. This list had been open for tourists for the last 6 months on average so I suspect it is a fairly good bet to remain so. But who really knows?

Posted by
12155 posts

Here nick, a summary. But get updates at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html

Albania: curfew from 8:00pm to 6:00am. Masks, etc….

Armenia: Face masks are required in public spaces.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH): Restaurants, and cafes are open, along with most other businesses, yet must observe a curfew from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Masks, etc.

Georgia: 21 PM-5 AM curfew remains in force and a few other restrictions with little impact on tourism.

Montenegro: They have cracked down on everything right now. Best to wait.

North Macedonia: Bars and restaurants permitted to serve customers until 9 p.m.

indoor capacity limited to 30 percent of the total capacity, masks, etc. A comprehensive list of measures may be found at https://www.vlada.mk/node/23565.

Ukraine: Wearing masks is mandatory

Kosovo: Masks, etc

Serbia: Restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, shopping malls, betting shops, stores and services will close at 8:00 p.m. every day, including weekends. Supermarkets and grocery stores can remain open until 9:00 p.m. every day, Mandatory use of face coverings indoors, as well as outdoors if contact with other people cannot be avoided.

Turkey: The nationwide curfew between 9PM and 5AM. Monday through Friday, will continue throughout Turkey.
Weekend daytime curfews have been lifted for regions in the “low” and “middle” category (https://covid19.saglik.gov.tr/), however, there will be a curfew between 9PM and 5AM on Saturdays and Sundays, the same as the weekday curfew listed above. For regions in the “high” and “very high” category, Sunday curfews remain in effect starting from 9 p.m. on Saturday through 5 a.m. Monday. Dining establishments (restaurants, patisseries, cafes, and cafeterias) will be open for in-person dining at half capacity nationwide between 7AM and 7PM, excluding “very high” risk regions. A HES code is required to enter these dining establishments.

Posted by
826 posts

My step-son-in law said Italy is regionally "locking down" again, meaning that he and his family are not allowed to travel outside of their area. He is in the Air Force; the Aviano base is 45 minutes north of Venice. They are allowed to go to work.
Anyone else on the ground in Italy reporting?