Your international travel questions answered by Simon Calder

On the eve of Shakespeare’s birthday, the journey correspondent of The Unbiased paused earlier than his annual pilgrimage to “unpathed waters, undreamed shores” by means of Stratford-upon-Avon to reply your pressing journey questions.

Inexperienced shoots

Q: I stay in south Devon. That are the most effective web sites for self-planning choices or “inexperienced journey” corporations that may take me to Europe by boat and/or prepare? Additionally, which lesser-known European locations are your private favourites which will be reached with out an excessive amount of complication with out flying?

Pam S

A: For unbiased planning, I recommend you seek the advice of the worldwide rail web site, which incorporates a wealth of experience on trains round Europe and the world – in addition to particulars of connecting ferries.

Concerning inexperienced journey corporations: my wonderful colleague, Helen Coffey, who’s a flight-free specialist, recommends Byway Journey (“Joyful journeys by prepare and boat”) and the No-Fly Journey Membership (“Sustainable rail journeys for adventurous souls”).

Helen’s high private choose is “lovely Slovenia, very accessible by rail by way of Paris and Munich”.

I popped this query on Twitter, too, and the solutions included:

  • Brittany Ferries from Plymouth or Portsmouth to France – “The perfect ferries we’ve been on,” in response to Phil Watson.
  • Fehmarn Burg – “Direct trains from Hamburg and really good pancake home,” says Shawn Collier.
  • Heidelberg, Interlaken or Stresa, really helpful by Stephen Mason.
  • Harz Mountains, mentioned one other Stephen, whose Twitter deal with is @MostlyByTrain. “Eurostar to Amsterdam, prepare to Hannover and native prepare to Wernigerode. An space in a time warp nonetheless served by steam trains.”
  • Orleans, southwest of Paris. Chris Bates says: “Easy to get to, however in all my visits there (17 to date) I’ve solely as soon as heard one other British voice.”
  • Turin – “Very under-rated metropolis. Could be performed in a day by prepare crossing Paris with a scenic journey via the Alps,” says Dorset Glassboy.

My private view on close by locations which might be much less celebrated begins with southern Belgium and Luxembourg; the latter has free public transport. I additionally love the Charente-Maritime space between La Rochelle and Bordeaux in western France, particularly the small and interesting metropolis of Rochefort and the stunning coastal area round it.

As regards to sustainable journey, this nook of France is the one location the place I’ve ever been picked up by a Mannequin T Ford when hitchhiking.

Continental trailways

Q: We’re travelling by Eurostar direct from Amsterdam to London St Pancras in June. We may have met the Covid guidelines for Holland, however do we’ve got to satisfy the separate guidelines for Belgium and France if we’re in transit?

I requested Eurostar, and after a month I acquired a kind reply that they had been unable to supply recommendation. (Liked your webinar this week, however that is the kind of downside you get, once you attempt to comply with Helen and go inexperienced.)

Michael 80

A: As quickly as you enter any nation you should, in fact, adjust to its laws. In Covid phrases that will contain pre-departure testing, filling in a passenger locator kind, carrying a masks on public transport or a mix of those and different guidelines.

I can perceive Eurostar being non-committal: partly as a result of (as we’ve got seen over the previous 4 years) giving exact recommendation on a four-nations-in-five-hours journey is fraught with uncertainty – and in addition as a result of June appears impossibly far forward.

Anyway, let me see if I be a little bit extra useful, beginning with Belgium – in whose territory you’ll stay for simply over an hour.

Based on the Overseas Workplace, if you’re in Belgium for lower than 48 hours you needn’t current proof of vaccination, nor a restoration or adverse take a look at certificates – except you arrive from a rustic with a brand new Variant of Concern (VOC). Let’s hope that the Netherlands shouldn’t be in that place by June.

Subsequent, France. In principle, because the Eurostar prepare races at 186mph throughout the Franco-Belgian border, you ought to be standing by to provide proof of full vaccination. I believe the possibilities that you’ll be requested are vanishingly low.

By June, certainly, if something I count on that journey throughout the Schengen Space/EU will likely be extra normalised, with few restrictions between nations of the European Union.

As you say in your final line, although, I have to regretfully agree a fast flight from Amsterdam to the UK would contain far much less potential trouble than the prepare journey.

Q: I’m travelling to Sweden on a bike on the finish of Might for the Tremendous Rally close to Malmo. The journey begins on the tunnel to Calais the place we then trip to Belgium and head up via Germany to Sweden the place we keep for a couple of days. We then journey again nearly the identical route.

I’m unvaccinated so are you able to please advise me what if any restrictions there are and paperwork I want.


A: As my earlier reply indicated, trans-European journeys are tough sufficient for people who find themselves totally vaccinated (which, for many EU nations, means having had a finishing an preliminary course lower than 270 days in the past or having had a booster).

Unvaccinated multinational journey is for the courageous. So the image at current is:

  • France will admit you with a lateral movement take a look at inside 48 hours of departing for France.
  • Belgium requires you to have an “important purpose” for travelling, however the normal exemption for transit will in all probability cowl you.
  • Germany is the large downside. Unvaccinated travellers will not be welcome there at current, however in response to the official authorities web site you could possibly roar via in a time outlined as “solely so long as completely essential to journey on to the nation of vacation spot or one other transit nation”.

I assume additionally, you will be going via Denmark, which helpfully is freed from journey restrictions – as is Sweden.

It is vitally possible the foundations for not less than one of many 5 international locations you’ll be visiting will change over the course of the following month.

American adventures

Q: I’m travelling to New York in Might with an 11-year-old. I’m totally vaccinated however she’s going to solely have had one dose. Does she have to quarantine and the way do I proof her vaccination? Beneath-12s can not get a Covid move or letter within the UK, and the resort and different actions require proof.

“Galicia Fan”

A: The regrettable mismatch between vaccination/certification insurance policies within the UK and Covid necessities in numerous elements of the world has brought on a variety of grief – significantly for households visiting America.

For the needs of getting into the US, it’s adequate on your daughter to be travelling with you as a vaccinated grownup.

As soon as there, guidelines for kids range from metropolis to metropolis and state to state. Till final month New York Metropolis was probably the most draconian. Beneath the “Key to NYC” guidelines, anybody aged 5 or over needed to present proof of vaccination for “indoor actions at eating places, bars, gyms, cultural venues and leisure services”.

Whereas particular person companies are legally capable of require proof of vaccination at their very own discretion, that is unlikely to affect your journey.

Q: Do you assume direct flights from Manchester to west coast US will begin once more this 12 months?

“Alison USA”

A: In 2017 I wrote, excitedly: “From its thriving long-haul base in Manchester, Thomas Cook dinner Airways will likely be flying to San Francisco twice every week from 14 Might.

”The Manchester-Los Angeles hyperlink will increase from twice to a few instances weekly.“

Virgin Atlantic joined within the enjoyable, and for some time Manchester was completely the place to begin for any Brit heading for the US Pacific Coast.

The unhappy collapse of Thomas Cook dinner ended that US community, after which Covid put paid to different hyperlinks.

Ever since British Airways launched (and shortly dropped) a Manchester-LAX hyperlink within the twentieth century, it’s been very on-off. From the airways’ perspective, serving an East Coast hub creates a a lot larger market. So who is aware of?

Q: Do you assume the US is prone to ditch a pre-arrival adverse take a look at as a requirement for entry to the nation throughout the subsequent couple of months?


A: I’d like to assume so however I worry the fact is that they’ll pay no heed to the principle summer season vacationer season and drop the requirement in September or October.

Going Dutch

Q: I’m travelling to Amsterdam in June. For entry necessities, it says, all travellers are suggested to self-test. What does this imply: a lateral movement? The place will we get hold of this self-test from and who does it should be reported to? Do we want a pre-departure take a look at?


A: Totally vaccinated or not too long ago recovered British guests are welcome within the Netherlands with out testing. The one recommendation on this topic I can discover from the Dutch authorities pertains to unvaccinated arrivals (who might want to meet some difficult circumstances to get in in any respect).

The official recommendation – and it’s no stronger that that – reads: “Travellers with out a vaccination certificates or restoration certificates are strongly suggested to check on days 2 and 5 after arrival.” A self-test, as beforehand offered free by the NHS and now out there for buy, will suffice.

For travellers with a certificates of vaccination(or restoration), the one info I can see for self-testing is “pressing recommendation” to take a self-test earlier than assembly others or going to work or college.

Passport palaver

Q: Is a passport with 5 months 26 days left okay to fly with easyJet to Amsterdam for six days. I’m discovering the data on the easyJet web site contradicts what the Netherlands authorities states (three months), in actual fact it even appear to contradict itself.


A: It’s most regrettable that easyJet, together with Ryanair, continues to misrepresent passport guidelines for UK guests to the EU. Within the post-Brexit world a British passport for journey to the European Union should meet two assessments:

  • On the day of entry to the EU, was it issued lower than 10 years in the past?
  • On the supposed day of leaving the EU, will it have not less than three months remaining?

In your case, all of it will depend on the difficulty date.

As long as your journey is earlier than mid-July, your passport seems to satisfy the second situation. Take a look and see if it meets the primary. If you’re arriving on 1 Might, for instance, it ought to have been issued on 2 Might 2012 or later.

Q: Can my spouse, with UK passport, undergo EU border channel, piggybacking me on my EU passport, possibly with marriage certificates? UK to Netherlands and again.


A: The essential half is getting into the Netherlands. Because the UK determined to topic itself to 3rd nation citizen guidelines for the European Union, passport management strains have prolonged alarmingly.

Regardless of what some pro-Brexit commentators have mentioned, EU international locations will not be intentionally making us wait: due to leaving the European Union, they should make many extra checks that take for much longer. In your place I might in all probability attempt to insinuate myself into the EU arrivals queue and hope for the most effective.

Calling time

Q: How can I get via to BA after they maintain saying it’s too busy after which the road goes lifeless?


A: How maddening. I discover calling as early as potential on a Sunday morning generally will get outcomes.


Q: We’re because of fly to Portugal subsequent Thursday. My spouse had her second booster on 13 April. Her earlier booster was on 23 October. Any issues with this?

Ian E

A: No. As with most European nations, the overall rule for being accepted as totally vaccinated is: ultimate dose of preliminary course not more than 270 days (nearly 9 months) in the past, or a single booster – no time restrict. Have a stunning vacation.

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