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!