On her last trip to Rome, longtime tour guide Rick Steves was nervous as she hadn’t been to a tour for almost two years. “She was in tears at the end, she just said, ‘I can’t tell you how awesome it was to have people in person with me,'” said Steves.
As tourists return overseas, the travel writer and host have joined in Boston Public Radio with advice for traveling abroad at this stage of the pandemic. He also shared memories of his last trip to Italy and Greece.
Steves said traveling from the United States to Europe can feel safe and doable as long as travelers follow four key tips: get vaccinated, carry a CDC vaccination card, complete a passenger locator form if necessary and pass a COVID-19 test before each flight.
“You just have to be diligent and accept the few bureaucratic hurdles,” Steves said. He also advised travelers to fill out all necessary forms before arriving at the airport and to use hotel concierges to find testing locations and print out all necessary forms before returning home.
Then, as long as travelers are prepared to comply with mask regulations, Steves said traveling was pretty normal.
“I felt there was nothing dangerous about it,” he said. “If you’re comfortable taking a road trip in the Southwestern United States… you can go to Europe and take a vacation. You just have a few obstacles to get there and a few obstacles to get back. … For me, it’s worth embracing the world and going out and having a little fun.
On his last trip abroad, Steves managed to find some glimmers of hope for the pandemic. Usually, major tourist spots like the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City are teeming with what he calls a “tourist mosh pit”. But with the capacity limits induced by COVID, Steves has found visiting popular sites to be a better experience than before.
“You have to show your CDC card to enter and then you have an instant temperature reading. And then they let you in, and you’re there with 50 people instead of 800 people, ”recalls Steves of his recent trip to the Pantheon in Rome.
Steves also enjoyed a sense of normalcy, beyond the required mask. “When you are high in the French Alps, there is no COVID,” he said. “You have lakes stretching in one direction and these cut grass peaks in the other direction. And you feel really good, because you’ve been puffing for three hours, and there’s that feeling of accomplishment.
However, with the joys of traveling abroad comes the caveat of vaccination status. “Technically you can travel without your vaccine, but it’s horrible,” he said. Unvaccinated customers would find it difficult to enter many tourist sites that require CDC cards.
Steves also debunked myths Americans might have about the state of the pandemic overseas, including that the United States is the only country facing vaccination protests. ” They have [European countries] people demonstrating in the streets, ”he said. “I just saw this in Florence. But they have, I think, a bolder government that just says, “Alright, enough, we’ve got an economy, we’ve got to get back on track.” “
He added that despite some perceptions, many Europeans want to see American tourists – they just want them to be vaccinated.
On the horizon, Steves is eagerly awaiting his next guided tours in Europe, for which he asks all guides, bus drivers and participants to get vaccinated. He’s also working on a six-hour production that tells the story of European art, which he hopes to release in a year.
Above all, Steves is delighted to help bring tourists back overseas. “It’s just almost wonderful to be back in the saddle and helping people travel around Europe,” he said. “After COVID I think there will be a value that people recognize in travel, this is more important than ever, and I am so grateful to be positioned so that I can be evangelical about this new appreciation. . “
Steves is an author, television and radio host, and the owner of Rick Steves’ touring group Europe. You can watch his “Rick Steves’ Europe” TV show on weeknights at 7:30 pm on GBH 2 and his radio show “Travel With Rick Steves” on Sundays at 4:00 pm on GBH.