By Phyllis Stoller, NABBW’s Group Travel Associate

For us Boomers, the time to travel is now. We can leave the United States and travel much of the world without anxiety. The Euro is close to $1 and the UK Pound, Mexican Peso, etc are very low; travel costs are way down to compensate for airfares which are up.

Why should we feel safe now? Below I answer with facts and my personal feelings:

Here’s a group pic of a recent WTG group, at England’s Downton Abbey.

Most of Europe is more vaccinated than we Americans are.

  • Portugal is the outstanding example with 98% fully vaccinated. 
  • Much of Europe has socialized medicine. What does that mean for Covid safety? It means vaccinations were done by governments. You would get your automatic text message for vaccination appointments, you go to your appointment and done. You were then able to get an electronic Green Pass as proof you were fully vaccinated.
  • Unlike here until recently, most major cities still required proof before entering museums, airports etc. Europeans use the Green Pass, but our paper CDC card is accepted (in its original).

Masking is semi gone; currently, only twelve European countries still require masks on airplanes.

  • US experts suggest you wear a mask while the plane is loading and until it reaches 10,000 feet, when the filters are at full blast. Put your mask back on for descending and leaving the plane.
  • An exception is some US airports like those in New York State, still require masking.  Do I still wear a mask on planes? I follow the advice about protection until HEPA filers are at maximum.
  • And money wise, if you do need to be tested, there is a Covid test site on every corner in major European cities. (In Paris, when I needed a test, pharmacies were everywhere, with easy to understand signage. The pharmacist did the test for half the US price and within an hour I had results by email. Some airports now have test sites; they tend to be more expensive.)

Safety and crime in Europe and UK.

  • So you read about crime in New York, for instance? I live in Manhattan so can speak from personal experience; yes we have petty street crime, an increase actually due to new, laxer, misdemeanor rules.
  • European cities differ from ours. The European Union statistics on assaults, robberies, have all declined since 2020. Guns are rare. Even British police do not carry a gun.
  • So you still don’t want to flash money, or fancy jewelry or load yourself unduly while walking city streets.
  • As far as security goes, I love and recommend the new larger shoulder bags by Longchamps and Muji. They are fashionable and hold everything. Your passport, cash, a bit of make up, credit cards, and hotel key and are securely over your shoulder/chest and in front of your body. Remember to carry your important things on the non-street side of the sidewalk; or leave most in the hotel safe.

The potential for flight cancellations.

  • Flight cancellations are up to 3% from 1-2%. in the past. Take 3% cancellations, mix in cancellations notified then satisfactorily substituted by your airline.
  • Stop worrying and feel good to go. Airlines were pressured to offer credits for cancelled/changed lights, extend validity of the credits and even refund in cash in many cases. This is much better for us Boomers since we might have health or other personal reasons to change/cancel.
  • When my British Airways flight was cancelled, BA gave a credit voucher. I never used it. Months later I resent my request for cash with the voucher number. Since European laws are more consumer friendly, I received my credit card refund within a week.

More facts to ease your mind

  • Tours for US  seniors usually require full vaccination; at least our women’s tours do. Ask before you book a group tour. You should also ask if all drivers and guides are vaccinated! Scan cruise information; most say vaccination is required. A close reading of one major line showed a long list of exemptions.
  • Still leery? Back a few months ago, the US government sent every household post office address 4 home test kits. Take one with you when you travel. You can use it like the umbrella — you take so it doesn’t rain. And if you do feel under the weather, you can easily test yourself.
  • Make sure your airline has your cell phone and email so they can contact you with any changes.  Buy travel insurance and relax.
  • Finally, have a credit card that can be used overseas, shops are going cashless fast. (Recently, even a cookie I bought had to be charged on a Visa!)

A recent Womens Travel Group in Armenia. Turkey’s Mt. Ararat is in the background.

Get excited, go pack and restart your travel life this Autumn with cooler weather and fewer crowds. 

Phyllis Stoller, founder and President of The Womens Travel Group, which recently received 5 star reviews on Facebook, is NABBW’s Group Travel Associate.  The Women’s Travel Group, is a tour operator specializing in smart vacations for smart women.

For solo women travelers who do not yet know her,  The Women’s Travel Group caters to women travelers, especially those traveling solo on group tours and cruises. Find more of Phyllis’ travel tips on her blog at and on Facebook (at “toursforwomen,”) where you can also ask Phyllis your travel questions. https://www.thewomenstravelgroup.com/contact/

 

Anne Holmes Boomer-in-Chief of NABBW
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