Shields Up (Masks On)

Our constant companion in travel

After a bit more than 2 years since our last international travel (or any travel) because, yeah, Covid-19 and a worldwide pandemic, we’re masking up to take a trip!

But in this new world, international travel isn’t easy like it was so long ago (or so it seems). Travel to the UK requires (assuming you’re fully vaccinated as we are): 1) Government passenger tracing form with all your arrival and stay details and 2) pre-paid 2 Day Covid test 3) your vaccination card. There’s no quarantine on arrival if vaccinated (everyone would enjoy spending their vacation in an expensive quarantine hotel if not vaccinated).

We had originally planned a different itinerary , spending time in London before going to Edinburg. We really enjoyed Edinburg when we visited in 2019 and had hoped to do so again. But Scotland hasn’t been able to control its Covid cases as well, so we (reluctantly) dropped that part of our journey and will instead travel to the Continent. Of course changing this meant an almost complete rebooking of hotels and changing the return portion of the airline.

Travel to the Continent (France) requires (if fully vaccinated) : 1) Vaccination card 2) Pass Sanitaire (a different problem) 3) Statement of Honor . Though we applied for the Pass Sanitaire almost a month ago, it hasn’t come through as yet, so we’ll have to deal with that through going to a Pharmacy in France.

This entire trip, which we’d booked ages ago in anticipation that things would be “better”, was in limbo up until a week before departure. We finally decided it was “safe enough”. The vaccination rates in both the UK and France are higher than the US. Booking a 2 Day Covid test for the UK was a small adventure in itself. As part of the UK’s passenger contact tracing form, you have to include the booking number for a prepaid 2 Day Covid test on arrival. The type of test changed right at the last minute making it slightly less expensive 😊, but the process of booking and getting confirmations was chaotic. On day one of the change, the website of the test providers crashed. We registered (and paid), but never got the QR codes you need. 24 hours later, still nothing. Then the website said (contrary to the Helpdesk) you had to cancel and rebook. Now the only alternative was at Gatwick Airport (no central London), which would cost more to go there and return than the test cost. Off to find another provider. We found one, so now we’re set on that point, except hoping to get our refund from the first provider.

So now we wait for the flight. And keep our masks on, for most of the next 12 hours. And then probably most of the rest of the time unless we’re outside with not too many people. So, almost the entire time.

The flight was uneventful and, landing at 6:30am, was not at all crowded in the terminal. It took all of 15 minutes including queuing in line to clear customs through the e-Gates. On to the Tube to get into the city. We made it!

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