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It’s the topic with overwhelming questions and so few answers. With uncertainty looming in the sky, tourism dreams have been put on an indefinite pause. No matter how you phrase it, future TravItaly trips will be affected by the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2020. Let’s put the COVID and political discourse aside to untangle the jargon of the new travel order.

In the near future, yours truly will be returning to Rome. I can not tell you enough how stressful the preparation process has been. I’m a dual-citizen, and travel is plastered with red tape even for me.

Let’s start with some of the new regulations.

To state the obvious, the quash has been put on non-essential travel. Certain countries, like Croatia and the Maldives, are still open to Americans despite the U.S. governmental mandate. Each country that is accepting Americans has their own requirements, i.e. 14-day self-isolation or a negative COVID test. If you want to travel, I would seriously advise that you make sure everything is refundable; restrictions change every week with little notice. In short, PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!

This is TravItaly with Sydni, so let’s talk Italian restrictions. Il Bel Paese (the beautiful country) is currently open to EU member states along with a few others like Canada and Australia. They’ve given the no-go signal to places like Brazil and Kosovo. In general, Americans are not allowed into the EU right now. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule.

First, any citizen or resident of an EU member state is allowed to pass through and return to their country of residence. Second, third-country nationals with prior long-term residence visas may return to their country of residence. These first two exemptions allow family members, i.e. spouses, children, elderly parents, to travel as well. Thirdly, there are smaller categories of persons able to travel like healthcare professionals, agricultural workers, and transiting passengers.

All of this to say, a 14-day self-isolation is still necessary if you’ve been in a “non-safe country” (the U.S.) within the prior 14 days to arrival. Yes, I will have to quarantine upon arrival in Rome. I currently have a connecting flight in Lisbon, Portugal. Portuguese lawmakers recently decided that a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test — not a rapid test — will be required to fly, arrive, and enter the country. Yes, I will also be getting a COVID test. To learn more about COVID-19 testing, click here. Travelers from the non-safe country list must carry a self-declaration for justification of travel with them. Yes, I’ve filled out the form in both English and Italian. This was the tip of the iceberg.

To give a realistic idea of the effort put into this, I’ve complied a list of all the agencies and people I’ve had to contact through the process:

  • 25 B&B hosts (for quarantine)
  • 10 COVID testing centers
  • 3 consulates
  • 3 Facebook travel groups
  • 3 airlines
  • 2 airports
  • 2 credit card companies
  • 2 Italian current events groups
  • 1 border security agent
♫ and a cannoli in my belly ♫

The first flight I booked was cancelled 20 days after I purchased the ticket. Dealing with my credit card company and the airline has been a nightmare. While I have yet to obtain my Italian passport, I do have the ID. Fifteen hours of correspondence and research later, I’m assured this should be enough to show my residence status and allow me to return to my apartment. If travel has taught me anything though, it’s that the unexpected will happen. If you think I printed 15 pages of law, guidelines, and email conversations to ensure my entry would be permitted, you’d be right! Like I said, plan, plan, plan. The execution of this plan may be a different animal and for that, I will keep my TravItalians updated. Click here to see when trips will resume.

So where’s the good part?

Well, it’s soon! All this research has shown me a glimmer of hope! Before travel gets expensive, air travel and hotels are going to try to recoup all their losses through the pandemic. Significant price reductions will occur; I paid less than $200 for my ticket to Rome. Even when restrictions are lifted, people will still be hesitant to travel and airlines will start their enticements via price! Once travel picks up just enough, the price will increase to more than what it was pre-COVID. The long-term effects of COVID (less passengers) will rear it’s ugly head in the price. To keep it simple, prices will bottom out then sky-rocket.

This all seems rather grim I know, but don’t lose hope! TravItaly trips will resume as soon as I feel it’s feasible. Let’s take notes from the Italians as they made it through their own unstable period early on with the simple phrase, “Andrà tutto bene (Everything will be fine).”

Sydni J

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