Travel has taken off again with a name that makes it sound like there’s a vendetta to be won…revenge travel! Simultaneously, COVID is not yet done with us, and while we dream of hitting the road again and even go so far as to make plans, when the travel date is imminent, anxiety sets in. I think this anxiety is more widely felt by those who are trying to venture farther from home.
After 18 months of the pandemic, I very happily returned to my native Washington state to visit my family this summer. While there, I was able to get my 14-year-old son vaccinated, work at the San Juan Distillery and Westcott Bay Cider while visiting my dad, and most importantly, see all the people I love and have missed. My husband was also able to join us for the last 3 weeks of the trip for a much-needed vacation. Since the US isn’t yet open to foreigners, he had to show our marriage certificate and my passport information before boarding his transatlantic flight, and upon arrival in the US.
Flying domestically in the US has certainly picked back up again but from my perspective, it’s strangely a bit riskier than traveling to Europe. During my recent trip home to the US, and then back again to Italy, there were a few legs of the trip that concerned me more than others.
While masking up in airports and on flights is still mandatory, you have no way of knowing how many people on your flight aren’t vaccinated or who might have Covid since having a negative test to fly domestically isn’t required.
One of my son’s vaccinated friends flew from New Jersey to Seattle just a few days ago and then learned she was positive for Covid after a friend of hers (unvaccinated) in Jersey came down with it. The inoculated friend, aside from feeling like she had a cold, is fine, but how many unvaccinated travelers might she have infected unwittingly as she flew across the county?
Returning to Italy has been a lesson in learning how they are trying to cope with keeping things open and safe. The first thing that made me more comfortable was knowing that all the people on our international flight had a negative Covid-19 test, not more than 72hours before flying.
Upon arrival in Italy, because we are vaccinated and have our Green Passes, (American citizens can use their CDC vaccination cards) we won’t have to quarantine. If we weren’t vaccinated, we would have to quarantine and take a new Covid-19 test on day 5 to see where we stand.
While in transit, we were also required to fill out a form for the Netherlands before getting on the airplane in the states. Delta airlines require all passengers over the age of 12 to fill out this form, not just one per family. It was clear that a lot of people did not hear this announcement even though it was repeated at least 10 times while we were sitting at the gate.
Upon arrival in Italy, before departing baggage claim, there was another checkpoint for Green Passes and vaccination cards which was quick and efficient.
Another step Italy has taken on the road to keep us all healthy, and the reason for which we were contacted by a doctor, was a pain in the butt to fill out, but clearly a pretty solid way of tracking people who are or have been traveling. Before returning home, we had to file a digital passport locator form and between registration and filling out the details of a many-legged trip, it took nearly an hour. You must register how you will be entering the country: plane, train, boat, car…you must supply seat numbers, flight/train carrier numbers, arrival and departure time, and addresses for where you will be staying. Our registration was checked at the airport while checking in for our flight which brings up another new obstacle. We were not allowed to check-in online prior to flying and were simply told to arrive at the airport 3 hours ahead of time even if the first leg of our trip was domestic.
Back in Italy, the Green Pass is our new ticket to freedom and must be shown if you plan on dining in a restaurant, out for morning coffee or afternoon drinks. Anything that requires time inside; a movie, the theatre, a trip to the gym…all these things require a green pass, or if you refuse to vaccinate, you must show proof of a recent negative Covid test to be admitted to whatever activity you want to pursue.
Classic Italian bureaucratic craziness…I received a phone call from a regional doctor while writing this to schedule a molecular Covid test in a couple of days (day 5). He said we should be in quarantine. What!? So, I went back and reread all the regulations and found that despite what the doctor said, we are in compliance with the rules. Buon Viaggio!