Hotel Daniele, Venice

Life is many things, but few of them don’t involve some level of risk management. You, the individual, and only you can know what tolerance or intolerance to risk you may have, and make informed decisions based on what you know.

For many, this year is a pass when it comes to travel, but for many more, 2020 could become one of the most unique opportunities in the history of travel, in part because it may be unlike anything experienced in decades…

For weeks now the messages have flooded in. “Oh my goodness, Gilbert, I must tell you that I just had my best ever trip to (insert European capital)”. Hotels are empty and eager to please, even the most iconic landmarks, statues and squares hardly have anyone around, and for the first time in a long time, cities feel ‘worth it’.

multicolored houses of Burano island, Venice, ItalyVenice typically experiences 30 million annual visitors, but is unlikely to break more than a million or two in the entire year. Unlike other regions of the world, bars, cafes and restaurants are open – shops are too – and people are experiencing once in a lifetime travel.

It’s not without some level of risk and also a large level of responsibility but those who do may find a Europe they’ll never experience ever again, dating back to the 1960’s. More than sheer visitor numbers, travelers are finding their business embraced and rewarded, rather than taken for granted. A hotel booking is no longer a number, but a valued guest.

In Greece, the story is even more moving. Cruise ships are currently banned, and in popular ports including Santorini that means up to 10,000 fewer visitors per day, leaving the island a haven for those who overnight and support the local economy. Those beautiful walking trails are more beautiful than ever, and with far fewer people crowding them, the iconic Santorini shot is within reach.

On an island of private infinity plunge pools and outdoor terrace seating, responsible tourism isn’t nearly as difficult as it would’ve been in any other year in the last 50.

Barcelona, Milan, Rome the list goes on of cities typically rammed to the rafters in the summer, which are now practically open on a walk in basis, even at the most exclusive restaurants or attractions.

The hardest part? Planning.

a pool on a cliff overlooking a townJust this week, Greece moved back plans for UK-Greece flights from July 1st to July 15th, throwing two weeks of booking in limbo, along with accommodations. Fortunately, most travel providers are offering flexibility without fees, in hopes of capturing at least some bookings.

Making things more complicated, of nearly 200 countries, only 14 outside of the European Union are currently allowed to travel into the region, though the approved list will be updated every two weeks. For now, Americans are excluded, as are Chinese visitors.

Uncertainty around future spikes makes it nearly impossible to plan long term, at least not without flexibility from both the travel bookings and the booker, but if you want the chance to experience travel in ways that haven’t been experienced dating back nearly all the way to World War II, this could be the summer of opportunity.

And yes, probably of spontaneity 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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  1. Gib, I know you repeatedly speak well of Santorini while I repeatedly disparage it so I have to ask: have you been to other islands in Greece? Sure I adore Crete but there’s no shortage of other options for either of us. You just don’t seem to mention other places in Greece. I guess I’m wondering if you have a point of comparison.

    1. I’m not OP, but I can tell you that having been to a few islands in Greece, Santorini takes the cake. As much as it’s hyped, the place is indeed magical. Mykonos, by way of contrast, was not.

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