Travel in the Time of Covid

After two years avoiding international travel because of the COVID pandemic, my wife Ann Feeney and I decided to spend five weeks in Europe this May and June. We are both fully vaccinated (two initial shots and two boosters), so we decided the risk might be worth the reward. So off we flew to visit Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic. We survived without contracting COVID, with negative antigen tests the day before we flew home (a requirement dismissed two days after we were tested), and two more antigen negative tests and a negative PCR test 5-7 days after returning (see accompanying article on how reliable antigen tests are). Were we lucky or well prepared or both?


Here are some of the precautions we took on the trip:


  • We wore masks on the plane, in the airport, and on public transport.
  • We only spent three nights (out of 35) in hotels. The rest of the time we stayed in Airbnb rental apartments for 2-5 nights. We booked apartments in smaller towns if possible, with two nights in Milan and five nights in Prague the main exceptions. The Tuscan villages of Cortona, Montepulciano, and Fezzano in Italy and Vitznau and Beatenburg in Switzerland were our favorites.
  • We drove our own rental car except for one three-hour train trip from Milan to Zurich, where we both wore masks. 
  • We tried to have as many restaurant meals outside as possible, and often had lunch at a restaurant and cooked our own dinners. 
  • Most of the rentals had outside decks where we enjoyed dining (and some beautiful views, see Montepulciano picture). 
  • We felt safest in Italy, where masks were required (and worn) on public transportation and in grocery stores. Masks were required to get on the ferries at Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, and they were provided if you forgot to bring your own. Most people kept them on even if sitting outside on the deck. All the crew wore masks.
  • We visited a number of cathedrals and most required masks to enter. We complied.
  • Fewer people were masked once we left Italy. Almost no one else was masked in Prague, but we were, especially on the crowded trams. By the way, trams and the metro are free to those over 70 years of age in Prague (are you listening, NCTD?). We did walk a lot, but it was hard to avoid the crowds on weekend days. 

We were well prepared and took many precautions, but there is no way you can travel and avoid risky situations. We accepted those risks, we were lucky not to be infected, and we loved the trip.

Our outside eating area on our large deck overlooking the Tuscan countryside in Montepulciano, Italy. Photo by Don Mosier.