Are you planning a trip to Europe this year? Or maybe thinking about traveling to Europe (or anywhere)?
2022 looks like it’s going to be a huge year for international travel, and I awill be traveling a lot myself. There have been many uncertainties regarding international travel during the coronavirus pandemic, and plenty of intrepid travelers have lost money or run into problems with their international travel plans, so today I want to go over six things you need to prepare yourself for international travel in 2022.
1. What Is The Cancellation Policy?
There are a couple of things you need to do before you commit to putting down any deposits or buying any tickets. The first is to find out what this hotel/vacation rental/airline/event location’s cancellation policy is. Don’t commit to anything that doesn’t offer a full refund if there is a covid related cancellation.
Do Not accept a credit or a voucher. Only take a full refund. So many people were issued worthless vouchers or credits for travel that was cancelled in 2020, and are now finding that those credits or vouchers are worthless or have expired.
2. Choose Your Credit Card Wisely
The second thing to do before putting down any deposits or booking any flights is to find out what your credit card’s cancellation and refund policy is. If the tickets you booked for an event or the deposit you put down on an apartment were purchased with a credit card you might be able to have that card reverse the charges, especially if it is a travel card. There are several great credit cards for travel that don’t charge international transaction fees and that are more likely to help you get charges reversed. You can check out a list of the best credit cards for international travel, and their specific perks and fees here
Be careful using the credit card from the airline you are flying without checking the refund policy first. Their first loyalty will be to the airline, not to you. Weigh out the pros vs the cons on this one. The benefits of buying your flights with this card such as priority boarding, free checked bags and the miles you earn, may outweigh the risk of not getting a financial refund if the trip gets cancelled. (Also this may be offset by travel insurance)
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3. Pack A Mini Medical Kit
I learned this one the hard way, albeit thankfully not with covid.
Pack over the counter medical supplies to take should you contract covid while you are away. Yes, everywhere has pharmacies, but you may not be able to access them when you need. There may not be 24 hour pharmacies close to where you are staying (or in that city at all) and even when you do find open pharmacies you won’t necessarily find the medicines that work for you at home.
For example, I know that if I come down with a cold/flu/upper respiratory infection or any of those types of ailments at home I can treat them with DayQuil, NyQuil, Mucinex, Advil Cold and Sinus or any of a multitude of over the counter medicines available everywhere here in the U.S.
I have never seen any of those medications in Italy, France and Spain (the main places I travel to in Europe.) That doesn’t mean they don’t exist there or that there isn’t a local equivalent, but it pays to have what works for you with you. It can be really tricky trying to explain to a pharmacist in a foreign language what it is you are looking for, and more tricky trying to read the back of the box in a foreign language when you are sick.
I travel with the following items, linked here on Amazon: liquid capsules of DayQuil and NyQuil, Mucinex in capsule/tablet form, Motrin or Advil, normally in liquigel form, along with Zinc and also Liposomal Vitamin C. I take Zinc and Lipsomal Vitamin C every day when I’m traveling anyway, regardless of whether I’m feeling sick or healthy. And of course, the one time I did get sick while traveling was the one time I didn’t bother bringing any of my normal supplies with me. I was so annoyed with myself and have never made that mistake since! (I also have never fallen sick while traveling since.)
Your best bet is to consider what you would take if you were sick at home, and take those items with you, albeit in capsule form, not bottles. You can almost guarantee that if you bring a ziplock bag with your medical supplies you will never need them, and end up annoyed that you dragged them around with you, which in all honesty is the ideal outcome!
Last year I also brought a travel thermometer (that is still in its original packaging – I never needed to open it) and one of my travelers packed a little oxygen meter/pulse oximeter, that also never was unpackaged. It might feel like overkill now, but should you get sick while you’re away, or heaven forbid get covid, you’ll be glad to have both, even if just to show yourself you’re doing ok.
All of these items can pack down into a ziplock bag, and take up no space in your suitcase.
4. KN95 Masks
Masks are probably going to be a thing for a while yet. Where I live in the U.S no one wears a mask, but in Italy while I was there in 2021 they were required indoors, everywhere. Be it on a train, in a shop, in a museum – anytime you went indoors you were required to wear a mask.
International flights required masks to be worn at all times too, and many airlines only accepted surgical masks and N95/KN95 masks. When I was in Italy in June of 2021 masks were required at all times both indoors and outdoors.
I advise my Glam Italia Tour travelers not to plan on wearing fabric masks in case they are not accepted. Also with the (current) Omicron variant doctors are saying fabric masks don’t provide sufficient protection. As surges spike masks go out of stock or have long wait times for delivery, so I order mine well ahead of time. While traveling in 2021 for three months total, I wore these masks and these masks. What I found most helpful with the KN95s was the nose clip stopped my glasses from fogging up, and the extra pouch in front of the mouth and nose stopped me from breathing the mask in, which tend to be the two things that drive me crazy with masks.
5. Buy Travel Insurance With Covid Cover
This is the most important thing on the list.
You should be buying travel insurance for all international trips anyway, to cover you for lost baggage, interrupted flights and most importantly major medical. Should you have something massive go wrong, such as a heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, break your leg, get in a bad car crash – any of the multitude of things that could potentially go wrong, you need a good comprehensive medical insurance cover. In regular times the big thing to look for with the medical portion of travel insurance is how much cover they provide to repatriate you if you are unable to fly home alone. For example if you had a bad stroke and were incapable of navigating an international airport alone, the insurance would provide a nurse to travel home with you.
Don’t buy the insurance the airline offers – that protects the airline first, not you.
Not all travel insurance policies have covid cover. Here is Forbes Magazine’s Top 10 Travel Insurance Policies With Covid Cover.
The things to look for with covid cover are as follows:
- Does it cover you if the country closes to international travel?
- Does it cover you if you test positive and are unable to fly?
- Does it cover you for hospital treatment should you contract covid while overseas?
- Does it provide quarantine coverage should you test positive while away and not be allowed to fly home?
At this time you are required to provide proof of a negative test before being allowed to board a flight to the U.S, as well as most other home countries. Should you test positive you will be required to stay in the country you have traveled to until you test negative. This can mean at best days, at worst weeks, of paying for accommodation or guarded quarantine (depending on which country you are in) until you test negative. This can run into thousands of dollars. You will also need food and drink during this time, and chances are you may not have budgeted for it.
6. What Is Your Vaccination Status?
Most countries will no longer allow entry to unvaccinated travelers. Before traveling make sure you know what your destination country considers fully vaccinated.
- Do they mean 2 shots of an approved vaccine? (Different countries acknowledge different vaccines)
- Do they require you to have had a booster shot?
- Is there a time frame for when you have to have your most recent shot? One of my tour guides in Rome had a group turned away from the Vatican because although fully vaccinated (2 shots) their 2nd shot was more than 9 months prior. They were able to get a rapid test at a nearby pharmacy and come back an hour later, but it would have been good to know ahead of time.
In all likelihood covid will be around for a while. At the time of writing this Omicron is the variant du jour, but you can guarantee there will be more variants coming down the line. No doubt some will be mild and others will be bad. As such each country’s regulations and requirements regarding covid, testing, and vaccinations will keep changing and evolving. Personally I think this will just be part of travel from here on out. I wouldn’t cancel travel plans, or stop traveling until you think there might be a time of no masks or no covid. Instead, be prepared, get good insurance, and explore small group travel options instead of mass tourism travel.
New Untold Italy Podcast Episode!
I was super excited to be the guest for the December 31st episode of the Untold Italy Podcast. (Episode #104)
In this episode I talk about how I craft experiences for my travelers on my Glam Italia Tours and also for myself when I am traveling. By making a few tiny adjustments you can turn a good experience into a once in a lifetime, absolutely amazing experience, and in this episode I tell you exactly how I do it. It’s fabulous! I hope you will give it a listen!