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Europe is heading back into lockdown, with France, Germany, Belgium and the UK already there. In Spain, Italy and Greece, full on lockdowns have been avoided, but leaders suggest that if infection rates don’t change, full lockdown may be soon.

Just as travel was beginning to reboot, the consequences couldn’t be any more severe. Here’s how it will impact your trips.

With all but essential travel and necessary work trips banned in a growing number of countries, airlines are slashing schedules, which means many direct flights between European cities and places abroad will temporarily disappear.

With more lockdowns likely, it’s important to understand the risks of getting stranded in another country, if flights were to halt. In short: there is one. During the UK’s first lockdown, daily flights between New York and London dropped into single digits, from highs of over 40 direct flights per day prior to the pandemic.

Despite this, not all countries are closed, or locked down. Greece, Cyprus and others depend heavily on tourism and still offer solid opportunities for winter sun. If you’re traveling from a country which doesn’t currently ban all but essential travel, there are plenty of options to get away.

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European Lockdowns and Travel

If your flight, or package trip is cancelled or moved by more than 6 hours, you’re eligible for a full refund to your initial form of payment. You don’t have to accept a voucher, though doing so many help save an airline, hotel or travel business.

For now, lockdowns across most European countries are scheduled to end in early December, with the main hope of returning some level of normalcy or freedom of movement in time for December holidays. This means you can speculatively book to visit family toward the end of the year, and with any hope, trips next year will be safe.

If your trip is planned for 2021, it should still be a go, as long as you’re eligible to enter the EU under current restrictions, or are already there.

It’s not just air travel, either. Restrictions in a variety of countries mean hotels cannot welcome any tourists, and even staycations are banned. Only essential business travel is allowed, which means many hotels will be forced to close their doors, or limit their operations.

Just as hotels were reopening, it’s another huge blow to the industry. With hundreds of staff to hire, and new protocols to follow, it’s not as if they can open and close with the flick of a light switch. Here’s an up to date look at which restrictions are in place for each country.

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Still thinking about a trip? Non essential travel in places like France could be met with serious repercussions in the month of November, and few things are open anway. France requires a form just to leave the house!

Restaurants face grave challenges this winter, with only takeaway and delivery allowed in many countries, and no indoor or outdoor seating. It’s not all sad though.

Budapest is a city where creativity in crisis is winning over diners minds. A Michelin starred restaurant served a multi course menu on a ferris wheel, where all guests were in enclosed glass bubbles. Cheers to that!

Why do you care about how European lockdowns could change travel?

That’s an easy one, money.

Travelers have enjoyed record low flight and hotel deals in recent years to places near and far, but without competition, they’re unlikely to last. Travel firms only offer low deals when they compete with each other, so letting hotels or airlines go bust now could mean you’ll pay more for trips later. 

With many airlines and hotels expected to go bust over the winter, you may find yourself paying double for future trips. It’s a great time to support airlines, hotels and other travel businesses in any way you can, whether that means booking a trip, taking a future travel voucher instead of a refund for current trips, or just using their credit card to buy your day to day.

Future Trip Planning

Planning a trip can be an extremely positive thing for the mind, and it’s always great to have something to look forward to. With handling of the pandemic improving, it’s not crazy to look at booking future trips. When you do, just be sure to book with airlines, hotels and travel providers offering easy flexibility and a good track record on refunds.

Travel in Europe may be different than how you’ve experienced it before, but not all necessarily in bad ways. With fewer people traveling, there are amazing opportunities to experience places in ways that haven’t existed in decades. If you follow all health protocols and avoid crowds or parties, it can be done safely too.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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