5 Important Things I Learned on My First Trip Back to Europe in Nearly Two Years

A lot has changed in the world over the last couple of years, but few things have changed more than the travel industry. In December 2021, we finally made the timing, testing, and all the little details come together to take our first trip to Europe since our trip to Zurich in January 2020. Here are a few observations that might also help you when planning your trip!

I’m Way Out of Practice with Jet Lag

Steve and I both used to be really good at just hitting the ground running to beat jet lag and get the most of our trips. But we are way out of practice. It didn’t help that the sun set in Bruges at 4:40pm and didn’t rise again until 8:45am, plus it was overcast and rainy the day we arrived. We could have done a better job of staying awake that first day, waking up when our alarm went off the next morning, and just generally making ourselves get over it, but we chose to give ourselves a little grace. Next time, we’ll do a better job!

Thank goodness for caffeine–the universal pick-me-up!
Keep reading: How to Use Jet Lag to Your Advantage

I Needed to Remember my Adapter

Whoops. The irony is that I wrote a blog post a few months ago about what to remember to pack on your trip to Europe, and an adapter was on the list! We ended up renting one from the front desk, but they forgot to refund the fee when we returned it. They are currently mailing the cash to us! It wasn’t a disaster, but it would have been better if one of us had just remembered to pack one.

We may be out of practice, but we still had fun!
Do as I say, not as I do: 8 Things You Forgot to Pack for Europe

EU Countries Have an App for That

Instead of whipping out your one and only, precious, paper vaccine card, you can simply show proof of vaccination on an app in the EU! We had to show it in restaurants and before entering museums, so we were glad to save the wear and tear on our paper American vaccination card over the course of our five day trip. Each country has its own app, so rules may vary. In Belgium, however, your visitor’s COVID Safe QR Code is good for 30 days, but only in Belgium. It’s available for both Belgian citizens and visitors alike on Apple and Google Play.

More here: 5 Things to Do Before You Travel Abroad During COVID

There is a Lot of Walking Involved

Don’t get me wrong, Steve and I love walking. We are definitely more willing to walk than your average American is in daily life and on travel. However, that mile-long walk from the train station to our hotel, in the rain, carrying our luggage, was not the ideal way to start our triumphant return to Europe. But it was very European. Wear good shoes, bring an umbrella, and be ready to walk!

Once you drop off your luggage, the best way to see Europe really is on foot!
Read on: The Ultimate Guide to Your Travels and Your Feet

Social Distancing is Not Practical or Possible

European buildings, hotel rooms, and restaurants are small. That’s just the fact of it. There were so many people crammed into some of the tiny restaurants, there was no way to social distance at all. No one even seemed to be trying to stay two meters (or 6 feet) apart, so if you’re thinking you’ll have some personal space on your trip, think again!

There were 27 people (and 1 dog) crammed into our canal boat!
Just in case: What to Do if You Have to Quarantine Abroad

Need more like this? Check out my Health and Wellness Page for more about traveling during the pandemic.

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2 responses to “5 Important Things I Learned on My First Trip Back to Europe in Nearly Two Years”

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