Here is my report from our last tour of 2020 (We have led a total of 3 European tours since July, each following CDC guidelines and each embracing European travel restrictions and regulations).

Travel from Tulsa to Dallas to London to Berlin:

Airports: Tulsa was almost back to normal crowd levels, Dallas, too, was busy; however, London was unusually empty (the flight board was displaying less than 50 total departures scheduled for the day, compared to close to 3000 departures daily pre-COVID).  Berlin airport was even more empty than London.

Terminals: Missing typical decorations that come with this season and holidays. No festivities or festive mood to be found at the beginning of the month.  On the return trip scheduled for December 10, some of the decorations had begun to appear at the terminal. Terminals were slightly more crowded on the return dates of our trip.

Flights: Domestic flights were busy but not full.  International flight to London was near empty with only 70 passengers in economy and 22 in business/first class. The London to Berlin flight was almost as full as the domestic from Tulsa to DFW. Everyone wore masks, high standards of hygiene were practiced by each airline, and social distancing was respected—and easier to maintain—on flights at half or less capacity.

Travel: While it takes 1 or 2 flights to grow accustomed to it, the “new normal” aligns effectively with Go Global experiences and practices:

  • We travel on less crowded planes

  • We stay away from crowds at the airports and at must-see sites

  • We schedule meals during hours that avoid local crowds

  • We stay at hotels with all floors exclusively at our disposal.

Weather: Europe is cold but not windy, especially if you come from the moderate temps of the Midwest or the South. Temps stayed between 30 and 39 degrees Fahrenheit during our trip.  No wind, and days of sunshine mixed with light snow. Layering, wearing a head covering, scarf, and gloves are a must to be outside comfortably.

Our Trip

  • Two weeks prior to tour departure, we received requests that we chose to respect from our Italian friends and vendors to postpone the visit to Italy for 2021.  In their words, “we are not ready to receive you at this time.”  I missed seeing Italy in December, but we eagerly await our return in 2021.

  • Germany, on the other hand, was ready for us!  Our Christmas Markets tour went on as planned.

    • While the majority of German Christmas markets were officially canceled, a few individual stalls (selling traditional holiday warm drinks and foods) were still open. People practiced social distancing at each of these mini-markets. Police were present to enforce “mask on” policies and distancing measures.

    • Many vendors displayed a simple note: “No mask = No service. NO discussion.”

    • NOTE: Christmas markets tend to be very social—always local—gatherings; during our tour we witnessed only 2 instances where police had to get involved in crowd control (on both occasions, it was resolved quickly and peacefully).

    • Restaurants are opened for takeout or delivery only.  To deal with that issue, we have turned our meal times into progressive, walking, food celebrations.

    • All must-see sites were open. The only major site on our list that was closed was the Dachau Concentration camp.

Final thoughts/lessons learned

  • Travel is possible even now

  • Travel continues to be very safe (including health related matters)

    • Travel logistics are a bit more challenging with fewer flights, shorter transportation schedules, hit-and-miss openings of hotels and must-see sites.  NOTE: These factors alone should make you choose GO GLOBAL to book your domestic or international travel as we track all these changes and closures in real-time!

  • Locals and local businesses are as friendly and as willing to help and to visit with us as ever!

  • My ability (some would say, “my need”) to travel continues to make me feel more alive and more human!