Luxury Escapes writer Emily Jacobs discovers the thrill of travel once more on a long-awaited holiday from London to Southern France.
Once upon a time, you could hop on the train in central London and be in Paris a couple of hours later, ready to eat your body weight in croissants and cheese, while reaching new heights at the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Cœur.
However, with the global pandemic effectively closing off most countries, I’ve spent the last 18 months reading, watching and listening as travel restrictions have eased, tightened, eased again, gotten very complicated and then simplified, all while tentatively looking to book an escape to Europe.
After 11 months in not-so-sunny London, I managed to sneak away for a week to the south of France in August, signing up for 30-degree days, a chance to dive into the sea and more European food than I could possibly consume. I kept an eye on government guidelines up until the day of departure, until finally, I was on my way to London Heathrow, passport in hand.
Here are four things I discovered about travelling post-pandemic.
Before I begin, it’s worth noting: conditions change rapidly, so the information that was relevant to me may not still be accurate. Always check with the relevant local authority (usually a government website). I am also fully vaccinated and have been since June, making movement significantly easier.
Gone are the days of choosing a destination on a whim. Every country has restrictions, so make sure you check what they are before you book anything.
Thanks to my vaccination status, I was allowed into France without any issues or needing to do any tests. I could also return without having to quarantine at home.
Testing is a key part of travel these days. As mentioned, I could enter France without doing a test, but as I was returning to the UK, I had to take two tests: an antigen test within 72 hours of returning and a PCR test within two days of arriving back.
Masks and social distancing
Expect to wear a mask from the moment you enter the airport to the point you leave at the other end. Most countries are still enforcing that masks be worn while travelling – whether this is in an airport, on a plane, train or bus.
Of course, it’s advisable to adhere to social distancing guidelines wherever you go throughout your journey.
There was little social distancing on my adventure – all seats on the plane were occupied; the restaurants didn’t have density limits and the beach was always full.
Read more: 8 Travel Bubbles We Can’t Wait to Pop
Being vaccinated quite literally made this trip possible – I couldn’t have visited without it, as France wouldn’t have let us into the country
It also proved valuable on the ground – France requires locals and tourists to demonstrate their COVID-19 status before entering; places like bars, restaurants, museums and cinemas
All I had to do was download the government-produced app, TousAntiCovid. I could then upload proof of vaccination and the app produced a ‘pass sanitaire’ (health pass) that I had to show when requested.
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