Travelling to Europe from Australia in 2022? Is it just me or did the whole planning process become harder and more overwhelming?
I didn’t have much time to plan my trip and got stuck at the starting point – I couldn’t even remember where I was always searching for flights. Two years without international travel made me feel like a total rookie. Plus, all the lockdown rules we had in place in Melbourne really made me question every decision.
But the knowledge comes back. I spent four weeks in Europe in May without any dramas and let me tell you, it still can easily be done stress-free and feel like nothing’s really changed in the world. So go on, book the trip you’ve been wanting to go on since pre-COVID.
Masks, passes, certificates & current rules
My biggest issue was with the outdated info about current COVID regulations. It might be easier if you’re planning to visit just one country but if you’re going on a tour through four like I did, it gets trickier. Not only do you need to check the entry rules to each of them but also know if you need any special passes or where/if you have to wear a mask to avoid fines. Then there’s another curveball – the rules seem to change often.
When I arrived in Italy, we had to wear masks on the plane and on trains. And not just any mask, it had to be FFP2 type. Four weeks later, when I was completing the trip, I had to fly to Italy from Poland – no more masks on the plane. But then on my next flight, from Rome to Abu Dhabi, we had to adhere to the UAE’s rules and masks had to be worn for the entire duration of the flight.
It’s best to check government websites of countries you’re visiting but I found Reopen Europa to be quite helpful with finding the recent detailed info about all European countries. Smart Traveller is also good but sometimes there’s a delay with up to date information.
Back when I was planning the trip, the EU Digital COVID Certificate was a requirement to enter some museums and trains. I had my Australian international COVID-19 vaccination certificate and was looking at flying somewhere where for a small fee I could convert it to the EU kind. But then, you know it – the rules changed and it looked like my Aussie certificate would be sufficient. I set it up on my phone in three different places – Google Pay, pdf and a screenshot. I also printed 6 copies, just in case. During those four weeks in Italy, Slovenia, Austria & Poland I needed it only once (for the Australian Digital Passenger Declaration). To be fair, if I wasn’t using my EU passport when I first arrived in Italy, I would have to show it at the passport control but that’s not required anymore (at least in Italy).
Unexpected booking requirements
Some places you may want to visit still have some sort of regulations and may require bookings. The Pantheon in Rome is one of them (at the time of writing mid June 2022). As per their website: To visit the Pantheon on weekends and public holidays it is necessary to book the visit at least one day in advance. Admission is free from Monday to Friday. Access is however allowed to one person at a time, so there may be a line at the entrance of the monument.
It’s worth checking with the sites you’re planning to see if they have any special requirements in place.
Travel prep reminder
Here’s a handy list of things you need to prepare before your trip but might’ve forgotten over the two years of no international travel:
- Momondo is a good place to look for flights, Rome2Rio is the best place to look how to get from A to B and Google Maps will still help you find your way everywhere
- Sim card: I do prefer to get a SIM card every time I travel than to rely on public Wi-Fi. This time I tested the Eurolink e-SIM from Airalo (first time using eSIM for me – much more convenient than changing SIM cards but it won’t work on every phone) and can recommend it!
- Accounts & cards: check if you still have your bank cards to use overseas & don’t forget to tell your bank about your travel plans. If you don’t think you have the right accounts/cards for travel, read our tips here.
- Passport: locate your passport, remove the thick layer of dust and check your passport’s expiry date. If it’s less than 6 months, get a new one.
- International Driving Permit: if you’re planning to drive in Europe, you’re likely to need the International Driving Permit (IDP) as well as your Aussie licence. If you’ve had the IDP before, don’t look for it, they expire after 12 months – get a new one.
Going back to Australia
After all the fun you’ve had in Europe you need to do a bit of homework before you check in for your flight home. The DPD – Digital Passenger Declaration. The airline you’re flying will most likely ask you to show the summary screen or DPD number.
You can complete it on the website https://dpd.homeaffairs.gov.au/ on your mobile or desktop or through the Australia DPD app. I used the app and don’t recommend it, the website version might be easier. In the app, you’re required to take a selfie, scan the chip in your passport and scan the QR code from your vaccine certification while in the web version you’re just entering the data and attaching a pdf.