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10 weeks, 5 countries, COVID free!

We returned on Saturday from our epic 2021 trip and self-tested today just to make sure: we are COVID free!

Many said don't go to multiple countries. We were locked into flights (into Germany and out of London) made in the halcyon days of February when the vaccine promised freedom, and we had a lot of time to make our trip work. I would never attempt so many locations unless we had a couple of months and flexibility.

We rearranged the final 3 weeks of travel on-the-fly, something I've never done before. That was a little stressful but not because of COVID. It was stressful just to do all the cancellations and rebooking very quickly where an error could be costly. As we had refundable train tickets and cancellable lodgings, we came out OK. I am glad we didn't go for the lowest price/non-ref tickets. I ended up rescheduling the EuroStar twice with only a slight uptick in fares and Trenitalia's online systems handled refunds and rebooking very nicely -- much better than in the past, IMO. Ditto TGV and TheTrainline. Very easy to redo.

Sorting through COVID policies wasn't too bad. I kept up thanks to a subscription to "The Local" which has editions for Switzerland, Italy, and France. "The Local" covered changes related to the pandemic very well. Great value for $34 a year. Also, Deutsche Welle has excellent coverage via a free daily newsletter Corona Compact which purports to cover Asia but in fact covers Europe very well. These sources helped us immeasurably.

The countries that required COVID passports for indoor dining, museums, public transportation made us feel more comfortable. The UK was rather like much of the US with little masking and we did have to eat at restaurants quite a bit there. While that lack of restrictions was in stark contrast to where we had been, "Trust the vaccine" was our mantra. Of course we wore masks all the time indoors in every country as we continue to do in the US.

We found the flights to and from Europe to be fine. They weren't very full, everyone was mask compliant, and we had to have proof of vaccination status and/or testing on each flight. There were no incidences of rage on the flights but an altercation about masks broke out between two elderly British gents on a train from Salisbury to London. I thought they were going to come to blows! The train guard was suspiciously absent on this very full train... Ultimately these two gents made their peace, bullied another passenger a bit, then shared some cookies. It was colorful.

Looking forward to next year's adventure already and hoping we won't have quite so many hoops to jump through but knowing we can keep on traveling!

Posted by
1121 posts

Congrats on all the negative tests. And 5 countries, wow!!! I thought you were just in Switzerland and Italy.

Thanks for the info. on the local. I didn’t realize a subscription covered multiple editions.

Posted by
1735 posts

I may have lost something along the way. Why did you end up rearranging your last three weeks?

Posted by
9993 posts

Janet, we decided a portion of our plan in Dorset was not going to work out as we had hoped (long story!) and we wanted more time in Italy. We diverted to Merano and Venice before Paris and England.

Posted by
2879 posts

Sounds like a wonderful trip. Thanks for posting. I would love to know about your packing items/system for this trip. I am traveling vicariously this year…

Posted by
2069 posts

Glad your trip went well and you are covid free. I believe covid is going to be around for a long time, so we need to be able to travel again, although it will be different. Envious of your long, slow travel…….longest trip we have done in Europe is 1 month, but I was not ready to come home!
So curious, after 10 weeks were you ready to go home? Did you like all your hotels/ bnb’s?

Posted by
4641 posts

Hi Laurel,

It’s great to hear that you’re back home and Covid free!

I’m not ready to travel yet, but do enjoy reading trip reports.

I envy you, my longest trip has been one month, but could easily have stayed in Italy longer!

Posted by
298 posts

Nice report. I am "planning" 5 weeks in Eastern Europe next Sept/Oct - but am reverting to my normal travel method: plan, have itinerary ideas, and places to see - but not booking accommodation or transport more than afew days in advance (except for long-haul flights)

Posted by
9993 posts

Wray, I packed in my trusty 22” rolling case and a daypack. Hubby has the same with a slightly larger backpack. We allow ourselves a holdall as well on these long trips what with hiking boots, hiking sticks, enough meds for hubby for 10 weeks. It’s not the clothes that take up all the space, it’s the other stuff.

This time I packed for both of us each time we transferred so I could balance where the dirty clothes went, weight into the rollers and lighter stuff in the holdall. We use packing cubes (actually the Eagle Creek nylon “sacks”) which really help.

Packing lessons learned (I learn more every trip): I am investing in wool tees for the next hiking trip. I think I can get by with 2 short sleeve and 2 long sleeve instead of 6 lightweight cotton that need to be laundered each wear. I shopped my closet this time instead of buying special items. After two years of not traveling I was a bit complacent. For long trips like this, I will go back to shopping for the trip.

We need to decide “city” or “hiking” and not do both in a trip, I felt really underdressed in Paris and London. I brought nicer blouses but felt kind of marginally put together. European washers are so small and take so little in a load I might as well take clothes for 3 or 4 days and wash every second day. I know I am going to hate all of my clothes by the end of the trip in any case.

Tammy, we were ready to be home. Normally we go for 6 to 8 weeks but we were indulging in longer travel having missed 2020. By the last three weeks, we had too many changes of location, too many hotels, too many restaurant meals. We were missing the mountains, the casual environment, the ease of staying one place and eating “at home” some meals. We had mostly good lodging experiences but disliked our last one, an “Aparthotel” that did not have quite the facilities we expected and had some service problems,

Posted by
9993 posts

Also meant to say we are contemplating 24” rollers so we can dump the holdall. Since we don’t change locations every few days but tend to have long stays, I think we can handle the size in and off trains. Plus, many more trains are now accessible and we climbed fewer steps than on past trips.