While in March, most of the countries started to close down to the point there was no other place to go, in June, most countries are focusing on opening their borders. As a resident of Denmark, I decided to grab my chances and travel the first time I could. So 2 weeks after announcing to which countries can residents of Denmark travel, I head to the Faroe Islands. And you might say – well, hold on, it is still a part of the Danish Kingdom! That is true, but the Faroe Islands are somewhat independent of Denmark, they have their own laws and they also say who can travel to their country and who can’t. So it is basically like traveling internationally. Let me tell you all about it, hopefully, it will help you in your future travel plans.
Disclosure: This is not propagation of traveling right after the lockdown when some of the countries are still dangerous to visit. This is simply a description of what to expect from traveling after the lockdown, which some countries in Europe allow at the moment of this post.
How it is to travel internationally after the lockdown
In this post, you are not going to find any healthy tips on what to do to be healthy. I’m not a health authority, if you need such information, I’d recommend having a look at your ministry of health guidelines. Perhaps there will be something that can help you. This post is just to give you the feeling about how it is to travel internationally after the lockdown when some of the restrictions are gone. And what to expect from such travels. Ready? So here we go!
Masks in the airports
I live in Denmark, where we didn’t have any recommendations to wear a mask at all times or in public places. It was not mandatory and the health authorities here said nothing of the matter of it. This means that some of the people wore it because they wanted to, but not because they had to.
With airports, it is a whole different story. On all of the airports, that I have been to, it was necessary to wear a mask. There were police officers near the exits and they were checking if people were wearing the masks. You either must come on your own or usually it is possible to purchase it in one of the places in the airport. For doing that, I had to contact one of the police officers to follow me to the coffee shop, where they were selling the masks.
Airlines might demand the masks as well
If you think that you just have to survive to breathe with the masks just in the airport, you are wrong. A lot of airlines demand that you are wearing the masks during the time of your flight as well. Most of the time, you would find this warning just upon the time of your online checking into the flight. So you know exactly what to expect.
Coffee shops or other shops might be closed in the airport
When I first travel from Billund airport – the second biggest airport in Denmark, there was a lot of shops open. A Lego store, souvenirs, clothes shop, three coffee shops. Now it feels like they narrow it down to the most necessary places that can be open. This means that there was one bakery shop, which was also a little bit like a coffee shop and the classic duty-free things that you can buy in the airport such as bottles of alcohol, shampoo, and so on. Other than that, all the shops were closed.
The same situation was there once I landed in the Faroe Islands. The only thing that was open was information and duty-free shops. It looked like there were two coffee shops, but those were closed both in the evening when I arrived in Faroe islands and at 1 pm when I was leaving. Nobody could tell, when are they going to be open again.
Regular checks in the airport
Before you travel to the country, make sure that you read the requirements for the entering of the country. At the time when I went to the Faroe Islands, it was necessary for us to have a COVID-19 negative test that is no longer than 5 days. The test itself must have had special requirements as we were warned, that Danish and Icelandic tests were alright, but not the ones that they are doing in Germany or Norway even though both Germany and Norway were allowed in the Faroe Islands as well. However, the country made guidelines on where to get these tests as well, so it was fine for any visitors to follow it and enter the country without any bigger issues.
The checking at the time when I was arriving at the Faroe Islands was very easy, basically, people just needed to show the police that was awaiting the flight, that they had the negative test or alternatively, they had to ask for one. The airport was ready to make their own tests. If you would decide to do that, you would have to wait for 3 hours in the airport foyer for the results and of course pay for the test. Which is still a small price for getting the test done and entering the country.
Everything is changing really fast
Since this pandemic is a new thing, there are some rules that are changing all the time. A lot of countries have a plan on how to reopen their borders. This opening usually comes in a couple of phases. And during those phases, the requirements for entering your dream vacation country might be fairly different.
So here is the thing. At the time when I was flying to the Faroe Islands, there were only residents from 4 countries that were allowed to enter the Faroe Islands. And it was fine to come with my own test as long as the test followed the requirements of the country I was entering. By the time I was leaving, the Faroe Islands had a whole other policy. They made a map of which countries are allowed to enter. Basically it was most of Europe. And it was no longer fine to come with your own test. They were testing everyone right after their arrival at the airport.
Which means, that everything can change way faster than you imagine. It also depends on the active virus cases in the country where you are coming from. By the time I’m writing this post, the Czech Republic had a sudden rise in their cases of COVID 19, which make some countries like Estonia, to close borders for these countries.
So I hate to say it, but nothing is ever sure at this point. The rules are changing very fast and from your vacation that you order a week ago might still be just a dream.
Fewer seats in the plane
This came to me as a shocker but ultimately I’m glad about this decision. Can you remember the time when you were flying the last time? And how there were three seats on each side of the plane so they can fit a lot of people? So it seems like at least some airlines decided to apply the rule, where there has to be one free seat between passengers. It is mainly for safety reasons and it is probably not something definitive but for the time being, it is quite nice.
Because this pandemic hit each state differently and also every country decided to have a different answer to this crisis, the countries are open only to specific states. At the time when I was traveling, it meant that only citizens of Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Germany could enter the border. Later on, more or less every European country could do that and now the authorities are considering other non-European countries.
This means that if you are traveling, you might need to look for visas – like any other time, but also look into which requirements apply for you as a tourist depending on from which country are you traveling. So basically, you need to check the news or announcements every day before you go there. The borders keep opening and closing depending on how your country of origin is handling this issue.
Not all the special restaurants and coffees are open – yet!
I have mentioned it with the connection with airports. But here is the thing about airports – they still have a pretty wide menu, meaning that people who are vegans or need gluten-free meals can still get something to eat. But you need to count on the fact, that not all of the coffee shops and restaurants in your destination are open either. And the ones that open are might not offer a menu that is necessary for everyone.
Here is an example – I went to one of the coffee shops in Torshavn. I’m not vegan or vegetarian but I can still enjoy some of these meals that are designed for vegetarians or vegans. I also prefer soya in my chai latte rather than regular milk. Well, it was a pretty big problem to find any place that would offer vegetarian food and the coffee shops where I went had only vegetarian cakes. All the sandwiches were with meat. Apparently some of the vegan-friendly places were still closed and they didn’t know when are opening again.
This is not necessarily a criticism, I still eat some meat, so I don’t mind it too much. But if you are vegan or vegetarian or simply have a problem with lactose, it would probably pay off to check if the coffee stores and restaurants where you can eat such things are open. I’m also saying this because the Faroe Islands are quite a small place, so they might not have too many vegan coffees anyways. The situation might be very different if you are traveling to Germany. But it is something that I would keep in mind.
Hitchhiking is a risky
If you are a budget traveler, like I am, you might consider a hitchhiking on some places. I do it only when I know it is safe to do it. Well, after this pandemic, the chances of you going around and getting lift like this are a bit riskier. There are two reasons for it. The locals or even tourists with a car might not be too keen on letting foreign people inside their car without knowing that it is safe for them as well. And secondly, there are not that many tourists in general. So catching a ride might be “tricky” at best.
In the Faroe Islands, it used to be pretty common to hitchhike. A lot of people did that. I managed to catch some people who gave me ride eventually but it was maybe one car out of 20.
Fewer tourists everywhere
I guess it has its own charm. There aren’t too many tourists that would want to travel internationally just yet. So a lot of places that were very touristy before are now quite empty.
I went to visit the Gasadalur waterfall, one of the most famous waterfalls in the Faroe Islands. And there were only two people with me. Other than that, the place was completely empty. When I look at some of the pictures that I have found online, especially of this waterfall, there used to be at least 20 people at all times. Not anymore. Hard to say how long it will take to revive the ism industry. But for now, I guess you can just enjoy the pretty vacant places that are otherwise flooded with tourists.
Is it safe to travel internationally after the lockdown?
That is the question that so many people are asking. The truth is, it is a risk. How big is kind of up to you. You as a traveler are responsible for your safety. So you need to find all the information about the place where you are going and follow all the safety guidelines. And if you do, it is probably safe. But keep in mind that it will always vary. There will be people from slightly more risky places coming to the same country as well. The only thing we can do is to be reasonable and make sure that all the precautions are taken so the cases won’t rise up again.
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