For us Americans, the time is approaching when we will be able to travel abroad. It seems unbelievable that after the onset of COVID-19 in our lives, we are finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Travel is a prime example of the return to normalcy that we all crave with all our might.
For many, being able to travel will mean a celebration of life and a commemoration of those who have left, some even prematurely, amidst the maelstrom of the pandemic. For some, regaining mobility between countries will allow them to once again pursue their dreams, whether it be studying for a degree at a prestigious institution, broadening their professional horizons or even finding love.
For all of us, having the opportunity to travel again will also give space to think about the importance of being able to move freely around our country or the world.
Latin America, Asia, Africa, Europe, which areas will be safer for travel?
Although vaccination protects us against the coronavirus, we should still be cautious about the places we want to visit. The ideal is to go to places where:
- Vaccination has advanced significantly
- Have first-rate medical care
- Manage the arrival and stay of travelers safely and securely
With India suffering a terrible second wave, Asia is virtually ruled out. Although not many cases have been detected in Africa (except in South Africa), not all countries have efficient medical care.
The southern cone of Latin America is experiencing a new wave which, although it is not as serious as the one experienced months ago, it does not seem the most sensible thing to move there at this time so as not to be caught in a moment in which contagions are skyrocketing.
It is better not to talk about Oceania, because its border closure policies make it very risky to plan a trip to this remote area of the world.
What remains for us is to look to the Old Continent and set course for Europe. This region of the world is making progress in its vaccination program (the United Kingdom is among the most advanced in this regard), has world-class medical care and is being cautious in the management of travelers entering its territory through limitations or, in the near future, through a “vaccination passport”, which will allow vaccinated Americans access to “Schengen” territory.
ETIAS, a necessary authorization for the security of travelers and of Europe
Although few people know about it, the ETIAS system is a requirement that will be imposed by the end of 2023 on the citizens of the 60 countries that enjoy visa exemption to enter the countries that make up the Schengen area. It is for this reason that many confuse it with a visa, but in reality it is not a visa, but an authorization that is obtained in a faster and simpler way.
Travelers traveling to Europe for tourism or business must obtain an ETIAS authorization with which they may enter and move freely for 90 days within the Schengen area, which is made up of 26 countries: France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Slovenia, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Slovak Republic and Sweden.
ETIAS, which stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System, was designed primarily to increase security in the Schengen countries. This system was established in view of the increasing risks posed by the arrival of millions of people visiting the European Union each year.
This authorization will help identify all travelers who do not need to apply for a visa before leaving their country of origin, as it must be processed before the flight to the Schengen countries. Through a simple procedure that is done completely online, travelers from up to 60 countries will be able to obtain the ETIAS which, once approved, has a duration of 3 years or until the passport is valid.
This is not a restriction on travelers, but an increase in their safety and that of all Europeans. Its use does not imply a restriction of movement through Schengen territory, something that will be maintained and which is one of the advantages of traveling through Western Europe, but rather that it can be done with greater security even before boarding the plane. More than anyone else in the world, we Americans know the importance of having adequate control over those who board our planes.
For all the information on ETIAS visit this site.
Planning and patience for your next trip
It seems to be very easy to ask for patience after spending so many months locked up and with all the bad things that the pandemic has generated. However, there is still some time to go before everything is completely back to normal.
On the travel side, it is very likely that airlines and even countries will suddenly change their restrictions on the grounds of the safety of passengers, their crew and their countries, respectively. Faced with this situation of uncertainty, there will be people who prefer other destinations that provide greater certainty, but to be perfectly honest, there are none that can make any solid promises of what is going to happen in the coming months.
Therefore, the best thing to do is to plan well and be patient. The advantage of this is that you can find very attractive offers at very advantageous prices in Europe, whose main tourist destinations in Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Berlin or London are eager to receive tourists from all over the world, especially from the United States of America.
Although we must remain cautious, what the progress of vaccination in different parts of the world is indicating is that every day that passes brings us closer to recovering some of the things that the pandemic took away from us. Thanks to science, we are heading towards a safer and freer world. Let’s make the most of it!