We see new optimism among Untourists as more and more Americans are vaccinated. All that we are reading and hearing encourages us to get ready for fall travel in 2021 and to prepare for possible summer trips as well. We hope to reopen all of our Untours for travel this year!
At the same time, we want and need to be prudent, mindful of the wellbeing of our guests, and also the health of our hosts, European staff, and host communities. Throughout the process we want to be as transparent as possible. Here’s what we are looking at and screening as we start to re-open our Untours.
Open borders & data
Of course we cannot open an Untour until the host country reopens to US (and/or Canadian) residents. Though there may be an official start date announced for the EU, single countries may open earlier, as Greece has done. We monitor the EU, Switzerland, and the UK for updates. We also weigh guidance from the CDC and US State Department and are watching infection and vaccination rates in our host countries.
Freedom of movement in country
Once a country opens to tourists, we are looking to be certain that there are no quarantine requirements for visitors upon entry. After all, how could we expect an Untourst to stay home for 10 days on arrival? We also need to be sure there is freedom of movement within the country, without lockdowns by region or any stay-at-home orders. Curfews are a caoncern as well.
Staff and owners
We are working closely with our European-based staff as countries open to check local conditions. We need to be certain they feel safe in welcoming our guests and that our apartment owners are confident and ready to host them.
Safe airport transfers
Next, we review the details of airport transfers, making sure we can provide private or small group transport. In many cases, guests will transfer with only their travel party. If there is shared transportation, spacing, masking, and ventilation will be used. Our transit vendors are also following strict vehicle cleaning protocols. Details vary by location.
Safe check in
We will make apartment check-ins contactless when possible. When hosts meet your apartment arrival, they will be masked. We are looking at the logistics in each and every case to assure safety for host and guest alike and are happy to review the specifics with you.
Our orientation session will be held outdoors when and where possible. We expect small groups to start and are working out spacing. In some cases, private or Zoom-based orientations will be possible.
Local businesses and sights
In assessing when and where to open Untours we are also assessing what is open in the region. We want to be certain essential businesses like grocery stores are open and safe, but we are also looking at restaurants, museums, and other sights. We will share information on new timed entry reservations and access limitations and requirements at popular sights.
Access to doctors
We are also working to assure that local doctors are available in the event of an illness or to verify insurance claims if trip plans are altered due to a failed fever check or other illness. And we will set up access to COVID testing on departure, to comply with requirements for re-entry to the US on return.
While we don’t know exactly when it will be possible and reasonable to travel to Europe again, we are committed to opening safely, sharing information with complete transparency, and working with guests to be certain they are comfortable with their travel decisions.
On a personal note, I have traveled modestly myself in the US during COVID. I can report feeling much safer in private apartments than in hotels, where I was forced to share hallways, staircases, lobbies, and other common spaces with others and where polite staff were not strict on mask enforcement. I feel that now more than ever, Untours are the way to go.
Thank you for your faith in us as we navigate this especially difficult time along with all of you. We hope that the interruption of “normal life” will inspire all of us to better and more mindful ways of living and traveling.