Remember last February, when COVID-19 was a little flu in other parts of the world? Ah yes, good old times. Remember making plans for the summer, writing bucket lists, booking holidays? The Netherlands for tulip blossom, Côte d’Azur in the summer, visiting family in the fall and relaxing at an Austrian mountain lodge towards the end of the year? Not to mention the city trips on the weekends with the love of my life (Ryanair), direct connections on a crowded TGV to Paris and driving down to have Swiss cheese fondue for dinner in Switzerland? Ah, the sweet pain of remembering all that we lost.
Germany is a fantastic place for traveling, long and short distance, and I’m sure you can’t wait to get back on the road, perhaps even for the first time since moving here. As restrictions are eased, we dare to be cautiously optimistic about the future of travel. But there is no doubt that things are going to look a little different from what we’ve known and expected.
Even though vaccines are slowly making the rounds, we are still a long way from herd immunity and the vaccines’ effects on mutations and transmission numbers are yet to be determined. It is therefore hard to predict the full scope of possibilities, even if you’re vaccinated yourself, so it’s best to prepare for limited options rather than having to cancel as you may have had to last March.
The fresh air renaissance has brought about a variety of trends, which are as safe as one can get during a global pandemic. A reconnection with nature may have seemed or even felt performative at the start but it is the undefeated sanity saver during these “unprecedented times” and whether you implemented a walk or gardening into your daily routine or stocked up on camping gear, the power of the outdoors shall not be underestimated ever again.
So it comes as no surprise that outdoor-centric vacations are not just your safest options but also great for your mind and your innate desire to feel at one with the earth. As summer approaches, here are three key travel tips to consider.
Give camping a go
Camping has made a huge comeback, for many good reasons: you can choose how far away you want to be from the next person or group, you are almost always out in fresh air and you wake up to a spectacular view of your own choosing. Since wild camping is illegal in Germany, you can either rent an RV, pitch a tent at a campsite or get a ‘glamping’ (glamor camping) pod if you want to stay in the country.
If you’re willing to travel a bit further for complete privacy and freedom, many of Germany’s neighboring countries welcome wild campers as long as you leave no trace. This includes Scandinavia, France, Spain, Estonia and Poland. In the rest of Europe, you risk being fined.
The one thing to avoid are crowds, especially indoors. Cities tend to be crowded enough, so opting for smaller towns, which are often far more picturesque anyway, can take some of the pressure off busy city centers.
Avoiding public transportation can also have a huge impact on your own safety as well as that of others. Planes, trains and boats are less ideal than traveling in your own vehicle. Also, you live in Germany! So your convenient location, in terms of driving distance to so many beautiful places, makes it easier to opt for your car instead. Taking the scenic route has countless perks as well. You will see much more of your European home away from home. The same goes for restaurants, so sticking to takeout or cooking yourself may be a good idea for a while. You can still support local establishments and you’ll get to know the regional cuisine even better by preparing it yourself.
Hotels: what to know
If you choose to stay at a hotel, all of which follow rigorous cleaning and safety protocols, the most important thing you can do to ensure they can remain open is to stick to the rules. Wear your mask in shared spaces, stick to allocated slots at in-house restaurants or spas, and avoid single-night stays at numerous accommodations.
Self-catering cottages, apartments and houses are your best, safest and coziest options. Browse through Airbnb.com, Fewo-direkt.de and booking.com for holiday rentals all over the country. These are great options for finding places that suit your preferences. Whether you’re looking for some “Vitamin Sea,” spectacular hikes in the mountains or gloomy mornings in the forest, they cater to absolutely any type of accommodation you can dream of.
This way, the unforgettable part of your grand European adventure will be the memories!