The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way we think about travel. Still, there’s nothing like a whole year of quarantine to make us absolutely yearn for adventure. Videos of Italians singing together from their windows at the height of lockdown may have charmed you into planning a visit as soon as you’re able, or maybe you just want to support the recovery of Italy’s tourism-based economy while indulging in amazing wine, handmade pasta, and endless gelato in the Italian countryside.
If you’re planning on traveling to Italy post-pandemic, it may be hard to know if you’re doing it safely and if you’re taking everything into consideration that you should be in order to stay healthy while traveling. It’s also hard to know what your financial risks are when travel restrictions in Italy are constantly fluctuating. There are some new precautions you should take before, during, and after you travel in a world that has now seen the effects of COVID-19 and hasn’t fully shaken them yet (as of the date of this article).
Even if you’re determined not to let fear squelch your curiosity and adventure, we know that planning a trip to Italy post-pandemic is overwhelming! We created the following guide to help you through planning a safe trip, from A-Z. Follow this list for advice and precautions for Italy, tips on how to travel safely in 2021, travel insurance guidance, and essentials to traveling to Italy post-pandemic.
BEFORE YOU GO TO ITALY
Get your doctor’s clearance.
Certain age groups and those with underlying health conditions are at higher risk for severe COVID-19. To be safe, talk to your doctor about your plans to travel to Italy and get their approval before proceeding. There may be certain things your doctor can help you consider, such as bringing extra medication in case of a necessary quarantine or knowing how to fill your prescription in a foreign country if need be.
Check official government and CDC travel advisories for Italy.
-Click here for the U.S. government’s travel advisory for Italy.
-Click here to check the current situation in Italy.
-Click here for entry requirements and click here for more information from Italy's Ministry of Health.
-Consider enrolling in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program), which can help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency.
Download the Re-Open EU app.
This platform gives you real-time information about COVID-19 travel restrictions in Italy, local border rules, the best ways to get there, and safety measures like mandatory face masks or social distancing requirements. They also provide links to other official sources outside of the app, including forms you may need to fill out to enter the country and ways to contact the local health authorities if you have further questions. This app is extremely helpful for staying current on where you can and can’t go within Italy and all of the various regional safety measures in place.
Plan your trip to avoid crowds.
Choose off-the-beaten-path destinations and look for safer activities like those that take place outdoors. Go to smaller, more obscure museums (as they will be less crowded) where you can look without touching anything, or museums with strict timed entry and capacity limits. Focus on visiting Italy’s many outdoor parks and gardens, book an outdoor meal at a farm or relax into true slow travel by staying at an agriturismo in the countryside. This sort of thing happens to be our specialty, so get in touch if you’d like some help planning your trip!
Think about what transportation you might need to use when choosing your destinations. If you’re planning on making day trips to different towns and will need to take the bus or train, consider renting a car instead to avoid the crowds. Booking a private driver for arrival and departure may be worth the extra dollars to avoid public transport to and from the airport. Ask that they disinfect the car before picking you up. Thinking carefully about how you’ll get around is an important piece of planning a trip to Italy post-pandemic!
Be strategic when choosing accommodations.
It’s great if you can book an agriturismo within walking distance from a small village. Many have individual, private-entrance apartments, which limits your contact with other guests, and you get the added bonus of staying in a beautiful, serene location away from the hordes of tourists. Most higher-end hotels have strict policies in place to keep guests safe, healthy, and comfortable during their stay, so if you’re looking to book a hotel room, be sure to ask them what cleaning and disinfecting procedures they have in place. It’s important to find out how they are keeping guests socially distanced in common hotel areas, if there are mask requirements, their restaurant’s policies, etc. There are lots of ways to limit your potential exposure to COVID-19 once you think about it and take the time to get all the necessary information!
Book flights carefully.
Due to an increased level of uncertainty, you’ll want to pay extra attention to airline policies so you’ll know what to expect if you need to cancel or postpone your trip due to COVID-19 restrictions in Italy. Some airlines are currently waiving change fees so that if you decide to change travel dates for your trip to Italy, you’d just pay the difference in fares. Inform yourself about some changes you can expect while booking flights and traveling through airports, now that the world is aware of the implications of traveling through the COVID-19 pandemic, but keep in mind these methods are subject to change as vaccinations roll out and the situation normalizes.
Take advantage of travel deals to Italy.
You’ll likely find lower fares than usual right now for the remainder of 2021 and sometimes further out. If your dates are flexible, this guide on how to use Google Flights Explore is a good place to start! You may find deals for lodging too, such as free meals with your room or free museum and attraction tickets. Pro-tip: Contact the tourism agencies of each destination to find out if they’re running any promotions to drive visitors to their area. This is becoming much more common as the pandemic has severely impacted local economies, thus cities and towns are looking to attract tourists.
Get Travel Insurance.
This one is tricky but absolutely essential in smart travel planning post-pandemic, so pay close attention! Unfortunately, now that the COVID-19 pandemic is a well-known thing, it’s considered a foreseen event. This means that generally, fear of travel associated with sickness, epidemic, or pandemic (including COVID-19) is not covered under most policies. So if you book a trip to Italy hoping that by the time your vacation comes around it will be totally safe to travel, you may be out of luck if it turns out you’re still feeling uncomfortable or borders have not yet reopened.
-Visitors Coverage offers free assistance comparing and choosing the best plan for you.* Click here to get a quote or give them a call at 1-866-384-9104 , then book at the link. They can answer your questions about what’s covered or not covered in various cases, including if COVID-19 prevents you from traveling to Italy.
-Your best bet with travel insurance is to spring for the Cancel for Any Reason coverage (CFAR). It’s more expensive, but you could be covered for a percentage of the loss if you cancel. Be aware that CFAR coverage must be purchased within a certain time frame after you pay your first deposit towards your trip, usually 15 days.
-If you contract COVID-19 and have a confirmed diagnosis while traveling in Italy, it’s likely you could be covered for Trip Interruption, but you’ll need to carefully check those details with your provider.
Know how healthcare works in Italy
Typically, tourists will be required to pay for the entire cost of treatment, unless they are covered on an international health care plan. However, emergency treatments may be free or at a nominal charge. Read more details here.
Make sure cancellation policies are clear.
You should have a written cancellation policy for every single thing you book. It may be a little more work upfront, but if something happens, it will make it so much easier to navigate that unfortunate situation. Make sure that both parties are clear on what the penalties are if you need to cancel. You may even want to create a calendar to document how much money you’d lose if you cancel at every various point leading up to the trip. You can view our cancellation policy here.
This likely goes without saying in a world that has now experienced COVID-19, but be sure to pack your own personal protective equipment (PPE), such as adequate face masks, gloves, wipes, and plenty of hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Also, be sure to pack extra masks, so you aren’t reusing any on your trip and so you have extras handy in case one gets soiled.
Pack a good supply of your medicines.
Pack enough to last for your entire trip plus two weeks, in case you run into an emergency, need to quarantine, or end up in a situation where you cannot get more of your medications while in Italy. Better safe than sorry!
Boost your Immune System.
This has always been on the list of essential pre-travel duties, but it’s never been more important than it is now. It’s not as simple as taking one Emergen-C pack anymore; you really need to spend some time before your trip making sure you’re in good health and that you’re physically able to travel safely and enjoy your vacation. Check out this article from CNN Health for guidance on how to naturally give your body what it needs to protect itself. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, drinking adequate amounts of water, and getting all the vitamins you need each day and you’ll already be in a better position to travel!
Make an emergency plan.
If you’re not feeling well right before your trip, at what point will you cancel? If you start having symptoms of COVID-19 during your trip, do you know what to do? Do you have your doctor’s phone number saved and written down? You may also want to have the information for emergency centers at each of your destinations in Italy so that they’re handy in the unfortunate circumstance that you may need them. Take note of these emergency numbers in Italy and the phrases you might need, and find out where you can get a COVID-19 test in case you start feeling symptoms. Taking these steps in advance will be a big relief if the situation arises!
Set up a system for quarantine at home upon your return.
Set up an isolated room at home and a private bathroom (if possible), as well as systems for getting food and other necessities safely. Set up contactless grocery delivery through a professional service, or, if you have really good friends, they may be willing to bring you the items you need! Discuss working from home with your job for the length of time you will need to safely quarantine after returning from your trip.
WHILE YOU’RE TRAVELING IN ITALY
Take your food to go.
This may change as things slowly return to normal, but currently, it would be best practice to enjoy your Italian meals picnic-style, which is arguably even more scenic and romantic! Just make sure you are being cognizant of local guidelines for eating in certain public areas (Florence has had a crackdown in recent years!) and being respectful of your surroundings; don’t litter, leave the area better than you found it.
Disinfect your accommodations.
See the CDC’s guidance on how to clean and disinfect.
Keep a safe distance.
As much as you can, keep at least 6 feet away from the people you come in contact with. You never know who may be carrying COVID-19, especially while traveling internationally. Avoid crowded areas, even outdoors, and when you’re inside, such as in a museum, wait for the area you want to go in to clear out enough before entering. Try to remember that patience is key and plan accordingly; if you try to add too many things to your itinerary, you may feel rushed to see and do everything, when it is safer to take your time, wait, and make sure you’re not putting yourself into a situation where you could contract COVID-19.
Practice good hygiene— frequently.
Wash your hands at least once an hour (but more frequently if you touch anything, especially in a public area!), try not to touch things, disinfect the things you touch before and after, don’t touch your face, and cover your cough/sneeze with the crook of your arm (even if you’re wearing a mask!)
Wear your mask to protect others.
Even if you don’t feel sick and don’t show any symptoms, you could be carrying COVID-19. Learn the difference between the types of masks here and why they are so important.