If you love to travel, then you have surely missed getting out there these past two years. As we all continue to discover new ways to “be” in the world, we are also assessing our personal comfort levels with hitting the world’s walking trails once again.
By now, you’ve probably incorporated new habits that keep yourself and everyone around you feeling safe and healthy. The good news is, you can take your habits with you wherever you go—whether to your local grocery store or to the hills of Tuscany.
Over the past several months, we’ve talked with several Country Walkers guests who have told us there’s an upside to traveling right now. Yes, there is a “new normal” no matter where you are in the world. But when you learn to navigate the hills and valleys of today’s travel landscape, you just might find that it’s more rewarding than it was before the pandemic.
With Fewer Crowds, You Can Really Slow Down
Travelers are experiencing an ironic breath of fresh air right now. Remember the stories back in the Spring of 2020 about Venice’s lagoon? With fewer boats zig-zagging its lagoon and its canals and with zero mega-liners dwarfing its medieval districts, the waters that surround the city had actually turned blue and attracted marine life once again! Talk about a refreshing turn of events! And with fewer tourists crowding St. Mark’s you could explore to your heart’s content without being jostled.
Of course, Country Walkers helps you slow down and experience all things local. But travel today lets you turn your pace down a notch. Less burdened by crowds, cities and sites are yours for exploring. You can linger longer and immerse yourself a little more deeply. Want to take some time to reflect on some ancient ruins? Feeling inspired to pause and contemplate a great work of art or architecture? You can do that – without feeling rushed or crowded.
Then, of course, there’s the simple comfort of reveling in your own personal space as you’re browsing a gallery or a shop. In some cases, you can thank social distancing for letting you spread your wings without nudging someone. In other cases, there’s simply no one to nudge.
You Can Feel at Ease on the Trail … and Off
It’s been well documented that the virus does not transmit well outdoors. So there’s safety on the walking trail, even if you’re unmasked. But there’s one thing that might surprise you about many European countries: Many indoor businesses and restaurants require guests and customers to show proof of vaccination before entering. (Importantly, Country Walkers also requires guests to show proof of vaccination.)
It depends on the country (or even the province) you’re visiting, of course. And Country Walkers guides always have their finger on the pulse of local restrictions. But in many cases, it’s nice to know that if you’re visiting an indoor establishment (still fully masked, of course), you can be sure you’re surrounded by other masked, vaccinated people.
Given this simple indoor strategy that many nations outside the U.S. have embraced, some travelers have said they feel safer overseas than they do in their own home town.
Business Owners Are Rolling Out Red Carpets
Country Walkers has long been an ambassador of local, small businesses. From larger cities to small villages, we’re relieved that many of our favorite restaurants have survived the pandemic. Some have reimagined themselves for safety in the “new normal” by adding outdoor seating. Other businesses took advantage of the slow period to do some renovation.
What they all have in common is this: They are overjoyed to see travelers walk through their doors. You’ll receive the warmest of welcomes and personalized attention. And because they aren’t as likely to be inundated with other customers (though we wish they were!), they’re open to chatting, sharing a bit of their lives with you, and giving you pointers about what to see and do during your stay in their town.
There is no guarantee of 100% safety from COVID, no matter where you are in the world. And we know that not everyone is ready to travel, and that it’s less safe to travel if you are immune-compromised or have some other condition that puts you at greater risk.
However, by observing the landscape over these many months and by talking with returning guests, we’ve learned one thing. It’s not only possible to get out there sooner than you might have expected; if you embrace the upsides and proceed carefully and thoughtfully, it’s advisable.