What is it like to travel during the pandemic?

Karen Pugh on 11 August 2021

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I’m just back from a week in sunny Portugal, a trip I booked back in January before any of us knew what the first half of the year had in store.

Much like all of us, with my travel plans, I don’t want to be at a loss financially if things don’t work out and a few weeks before my balance was due for my trip, Covid numbers were creeping up in the Lisbon area and the Portuguese authorities had introduced restrictions. I had a wobble and cancelled the hotel - but then rebooked again 4 days later (thankfully the hotel wasn’t booked out!). I only mention this as even travel professionals can be apprehensive in the current climate - it’s completely normal if you haven’t gone anywhere yet to be wondering if things will work out OK. As it got close to departure, I was like a kid waiting for Christmas and figured I may as well be by the pool in Portugal than looking at the rain in Dublin!

So what was it like to go on holiday during the Covid pandemic?

Before

Although it may seem confusing with news snippets and social media posts about what documents you may or may not need, however travelling within the EU is actually quite simple with the Re-open EU website and app https://reopen.europa.eu/en/ app which tells you all you need to know. Although warning: information can change so it’s worth checking regularly right up to departure. I had my Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) on my phone, printed kept with my passport and I also uploaded it to the airline website (Ryanair). I had filled out the Passenger Locator Forms (PLF) for Portugal for my family which were very straight forward - I printed them too to be on the safe side.

At the airport/on the plane

We splashed out on fast track at Dublin Airport and seats near the front on the aircraft which meant less queuing and was worth every penny to us. One thing to note is that there wasn’t much social distancing at the airport although everyone had masks, with the nature of the airport I’m not sure it’s possible to socially distance! So, if like me, you haven’t been in any crowds for a while be prepared for that.

Sunny climates

In Portugal everyone wears masks - even outdoors in beautiful Cascais, where we stayed, the vast majority of locals - young and old - had masks on. This may be because this area was a hotspot for Covid in recent months. In our hotel (the great family hotel Martinhal Resort Cascais), in local restaurants and taxis we felt completely safe. The gorgeous Lisbon climate meant windows and doors are open everywhere too. Much like home -we had to queue for Lidl, we were cursing mask-wearing as a necessary inconvenience and we had to show our DCC for eating indoors (indoors is sometimes essential when dealing with a 2 year old!)

Back to Ireland

Our own Passenger Locator Forms are also straight forward and can only be done online within 72 hours of departure. I didn't print as they emailed a copy. Lisbon Airport’s Terminal 2 was a bit more challenging - with queues for everything from dining area, shopping area to passport control (as we’re outside the Schengen). However arriving back in Ireland was a dream with no queues at passport control who checked our DCC and PLFs, waved us on and our bags waiting for us on the carousel.

I love holidays - the planning and the going but I actually also love coming back to Ireland too - when I spot the Poolbeg Chimneys coming into Dublin or the lights over the city at night I get that comforting sense of home but that doesn’t mean I’m currently on the look out for my next trip out of here - ASAP - watch this space!

Need some help with travel? Drop me a line and let's talk!

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