Traveling around Europe during the pandemic

Wondering what it’s like traveling around Europe in the “new normal”?

I am deeply aware that traveling is a great privilege, especially now more than ever. Several countries had imposed travel restrictions resulting in tons of trips cancelled or postponed. Inevitably, people became frustrated. Imagine reorganizing your long awaited holiday or chasing down the travel agencies to get your money back. I, for one, still have pending refunds since February, but that’s another story.

Considering the fast evolving situation of the virus, travel restrictions can change in a heartbeat. That’s why, it was of utmost importance that I was extremely spontaneous with my travel plans. The best way to travel around Europe spontaneously and efficiently is by trains. Europe’s extensive train network is extraordinarily impressive. I used an Interrail pass (Eurail for non-EU residents/citizens) to maximize my train travels. Honestly, it’s the best thing there is when traveling around Europe on a reasonable budget and hassle-free. 

After months of worldwide lockdown, a beam of light sparked hope for avid travelers and optimistic holiday makers. Last July, most countries in Europe gradually opened their borders to travelers originating from select countries. Being a resident in France, I grabbed this opportunity to explore Europe on a strange new perspective… with a mask.

I had a one-month unlimited pass which means I could hop on any train that doesn’t require prior reservation. And, in case I miss a train, I can always hop on the next one or change my direction completely. The beauty of having an Interrail pass is having the flexibility to modify my plans without any repercussion. At some point of my European trip, my next destination was determined by the weather forecast. That was how spontaneous I could be!

In hindsight, traveling around Europe in the “new normal” was not as bad as I thought. For someone like me who values personal space, it worked to my advantage. Passengers are seated apart and trains are operating at a reduced capacity. I was actually ecstatic with this arrangement when I was travelling on the night trains in Norway because I could then have the entire row to myself and get some proper sleep.

For me, traveling in the new normal was a breeze overall. I easily adapted to the situation and left everything to the last minute. The only difference now is the mandatory wearing of masks, distancing and some entry restrictions as per Reopen EU.

So, if you are hesitant to travel around Europe, don’t be. It is easier than you imagined. As long as you follow the rules of travel, you will definitely have a good time!

Author: Sarah B.

Hey there! I am a small town girl who used to work as a Software Engineer for a Fortune 500 company. I left my 9-5 job to travel the world. I am a certified Level 2 scuba diver, a Vinyasa yogi and a former IT professor. I love trekking the mountains, fishing and camping. I speak 5 languages. Cheers!

38 thoughts on “Traveling around Europe during the pandemic”

  1. Thank you for sharing.I miss traveling so much. We go to Ireland every summer, and didnt get too go this year. We were so sad!! Ivknow when we go next year it will be different, this info will be helpful.


    1. Thanks Oscar! It’s only difficult in the beginning. Once you find your footing, everything else is a lot smoother. Please have a read at my recent post as it talks about how I came to be a digital nomad. I’m sure it will be interesting for you.


  2. Thank you for sharing this, everything is so strange right now! I can’t wait to get back to traveling but due to work I am stuck in place.


  3. Good to hear! Like everything, we do adjust. I have to make a long international plane trip with my family in 10 days and I am dreading it. I think this is really the perfect time to just stay put or make short trips like you did. Nice!


  4. I haven’t been brave enough to use public transportation yet. The United States is still a big mess. Sounds like Europe is doing much, much better.


  5. I can’t wait to travel again, and the additional safety is alright with me. I guess the next travel trend will make travelers more mindful and responsible.


  6. I’m still a bit wary to travel during this pandemic. I live in Europe as well and have had numerous friends go to France and Portugal for summer vacation and go sick or knew someone that did. Be safe out there!


  7. I’m glad you’ve been able to get back to traveling. I think I’d love the reduced capacity trains as well. I don’t like have a lot of people right on top of me so these new social distancing things have been pretty nice. I hope continue to enjoy your European travels.


  8. The new normal is not that bad i think, wearing a mask and social distancing while travelling is not bad at all for our own safety especially if it’s means we can travel again, oh I love to keep travelling. I think the one month unlimited pass on the train is a good idea.


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