Nobody can dispute that 2021, just like 2020, has been a tumultuous year for travellers, particularly those based in Europe. After a summer of partial freedom in many countries, the shutters are now coming down again and restrictions are springing up across the continent like wild mushrooms.
If you are vaccinated, you do at least have travel options, although most of Europe is a rather unwelcoming place at the moment, with covid passports being demanded to access the most basic of goods and services. If you are unvaccinated, the majority of Europe is quite simply a no-go zone. You will either be denied entry altogether or subject to draconian restrictions throughout your stay.
My personal feeling is that this situation will continue at least throughout the remainder of the Winter and probably into the Spring and Summer. Having spent time in several European countries during 2021, I can clearly see that most of the continent is simply not ready to move on. I would not be looking to commit to any bookings in this region for at least the first half of 2022 and would advise travellers to delay making any plans for the second half of the year.
Notable exceptions to this are England and Sweden, which have – at least so far – not been drawn into the “papers please” mentality so prevalent in other European nations. It remains to be seen whether this freedom will continue to exist in these countries, although I have recently noticed more positive signs in England.
Looking further afield, it is still very clear that the Asia Pacific region generally is not the place to looking for a relaxing break. Many countries in the region still have very onerous entry requirements, including quarantines and multiple tests. In my view the number of hoops which need to be jumped through is simply not worth it.
Africa is a possibility, with many countries now keeping their borders open, notably South Africa which requires only a negative PCR test for entry. Strict indoor and outdoor mask mandates, however, are still in place once there.
Certain Latin America destinations, specifically Mexico and Costa Rica, remain the easiest countries to enter, requiring no proof of vaccination or negative tests, although Costa Rica requires unvaccinated travellers to purchase a health insurance policy. These two countries are, without a doubt, the best options for unvaccinated travellers seeking some Winter Sun. An important caveat, of course, is to check the conditions that your home country will impose on your return. Certain countries have restrictive or even effectively preventative measures in place in regard to unvaccinated travellers seeking to leave or return.
Last – but by no means least – is the USA. With borders now open for vaccinated tourists, my advice is that the USA is the place to be if you meet this requirement. In many parts of the country, such as Florida and Texas, the covid panic is a distant memory. Of course some states and counties still mandate masks in indoor environments, but many do not. The beauty of the USA is that these things are decided on a county or city level. If a particular municipality bring in a policy that you find unacceptable, you can simply move on to another county.
Overall, my assessment of prospects for freedom seeking travellers in 2022 is cautiously optimistic, as long as you are willing to be flexible. Whilst much of the world is still obsessively restricting people’s lives and seems unable or unwilling to move on, there are still options and that will continue to be the case.
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