‘I’m going crazy’: Why international residents in Europe will travel this summer despite Covid

Despite ongoing travel restrictions, extra costs and uncertainty over new Covid variants, international residents living across Europe vow to travel abroad this summer. For most it is the need to see family that motivates them.

'I'm going crazy': Why international residents in Europe will travel this summer despite Covid
Why international residents in Europe intend to travel this summer despite Covid (IllustrationPhoto by SAEED KHAN / AFP)

International residents living across Europe are planning to travel abroad this summer, with most aiming to visit their long lost families, if responses to a survey of The Local’s readers is anything to go by.

Some 87 percent of over 1,200 respondents to a recent survey of readers across Europe said they were planning to travel abroad this summer. 

Of those who said they would not travel abroad this summer, the most common reasons were because of worries about the pandemic and ongoing Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Nearly two thirds of those who said they plan to head abroad this summer said that the need to see family and friends was their primary reason. The other 35.9 percent said they simply needed a holiday. 

It’s not surprising that so many people want to travel back to their home countries to see family, with more a third of respondents stating that they hadn’t seen their family in more than a year. Just over a quarter said they hadn’t seen family in more than six months and one in five hadn’t even seen families in more than two years. 

When asked why it was so important to travel this summer and see friends and family or go on holiday some key themes were repeated by readers.

Family matters

Many talked about the need to see ageing parents back home and their fear that time was running out. Many also spoke of the need to take their children back to see their grandparents. Other readers spoke about the need to travel back home to see their grandchildren who they’ve missed.

Tom Bolton, who lives in France, is one reader who spoke about his need to get back to the UK to see his mother. “Not seen my mum for a long time. She has dementia and would like to see her before she forgets who I am,” he told us. 

Susan Erswell, who lives in the UK and is desperate to travel to Sweden, said: “I need to see my three young grandchildren who I haven’t seen in almost two years.”

Some readers had even had babies during the pandemic and wanted to introduce their new arrivals to their family back home. Sarah Martin, who lives in Norway and plans to visit the US this summer, said: “My in-laws are getting old and haven’t met their second grandson yet – we haven’t seen them in over two years.”

Love was also a theme that popped up responses from readers with many couples having been marooned in long-distance online relationships since the pandemic began.

Aravinth Selvakumar, who lives in Canada and intends to travel to Germany and Denmark said: “I have not seen my fiancee for over three years now and we were planning to get married before Covid happened. It was delayed because of travel restrictions. We are hoping to be reunited in case the pandemic extends for years to come”.

As well as simply missing family, many of our readers spoke of the need for family support after enduring difficult times during the pandemic. From family deaths and illnesses to miscarriages and mental breakdowns, many desperately need family around them again to help them get through these difficult times. 

Peter Hulse, who lives in Italy, intends to travel to the UK. His need to return home to see family is motivated by personal loss. He said: “My wife died in 2020 and I am transporting her ashes back to the UK for a family memorial. I have not seen my family since my wife’s death.”

Bernalyn Vitto, who lives in Copenhagen and plans on going back to Germany, had a similar reason for desperately wanting to see family.

“I want to see my sisters. It’s very important to see my sisters, especially since we just recently lost our father,” she said.

Covid taken its toll on mental health

This also ties in with another key theme that we saw, which was mental health. Many respondents said that getting away or going home to visit family was necessary for their sanity.  

Greg Smith, who lives in Sweden and is hoping to get back to the UK this summer, said: “Living in a foreign country with no family is challenging. An overseas holiday to visit family will ease mental health struggles and provide a release from being in Sweden for so long.”

Diane, who also lives in Sweden and wants to get back to Canada, said: “I am going crazy. I live alone here and never expected to be so isolated and alone.”

Other readers were keen to get back and check up on properties and holiday homes that had remained empty for a year. 

Italy was a popular summer destination listed by respondents, with France, Greece, the UK and Spain also featuring prominently.

Germany and Scandinavian countries Sweden and Norway, although not as popular as the Mediterranean destinations, were also popular travel destinations. 

Tests, quarantine and costs

While travelling within Europe has become easier since the beginning of the pandemic, travellers still face many struggles and uncertainties, from quarantines and travel bans to having to fill in complicated health forms and the need for expensive Covid tests.

In fact, over half of respondents said that mandatory Covid tests were one of the biggest complications to travelling this summer. The possible need to spend time in quarantine was also a big concern. 

And with the concern over virus variants rising all the time, many countries have imposed even more travel restrictions.

Norway for example is only letting travellers in from those countries that meet the criteria for low infection levels, unless they are a Norwegian national or a resident. The UK is making all travellers quarantine for 10 days, unless they enter from a country on the government’s green list, which currently excludes most of Europe.

Various countries have also imposed tight restrictions on travel from the UK while non-essential travel to and from most other countries outside the EU is still largely impossible.

But not everyone is planning on staying within Europe if they can travel. Across the continents, the most popular destination among readers was by far the US, with India also featuring high on the list.  

Many Americans resident in Europe were hoping to travel back during the summer, with long-haul travel having been even more difficult over the past year. While travelling there seems less challenging, they face uncertainty when returning to their country of residence with the possibility of quarantines and Covid tests.

But not everyone intends to travel to see family. For many, the understandable need for a holiday after lockdowns and curfews was paramount.

Thomas Brown who lives in Switzerland and is planning on visiting Spain this summer, said: “I just need a break from routine, plus better weather and fascinating culture.”

Irene, who lives in Denmark and is planning on travelling to Portugal, said: “I need sun and to just have a positive experience.”

The Local’s survey was carried out via an online survey that is now closed. Some 1,293 readers responded.

Member comments

  1. The majority of people do not need to travel…and should facilitate genuine people – in desperate need to see loved ones – travelling.

    This whole pandemic – and economic despair – has only been prolonged because of selfish people (with a secure salary, financial means, or benefits) not social distancing, not respecting the rules, not wearing masks (correctly) and TRAVELLING because they believe they are entitled to a holiday.

  2. My fully-vaccinated elderly mother flew from the USA to Germany a few weeks back. We haven’t seen each other in years as I am deployed here. She was refused entry and made to stay in a secure police station in the back of the airport overnight. It was truly inhumane. The only good thing that happened was the police let us go in the holding cell with her and hug her. I brought my children as well to see their grandmother. They didn’t have to let us see each other. Lemonade from lemons I suppose. I do hope they open soon so she can try again. I’d love to see her for a few weeks and not in a holding cell.

    1. She and you knew the position before she flew so why whine about the end result? It’s people with your attitude that are prolonging this outbreak.

      1. We actually didn’t know. Immediate family in the US is defined as your spouse, your children, and your parents. Germany’s rule for travel allows for immediate family members to visit legal residents of the EU, of which I am. They checked all her paperwork at both airports leaving the US. The problem occurred because we found of in Germany, the Germans do not define your parents as immediate family. They are, but only until you turn 18, and then your parents aren’t immediate family anymore. It was a technicality, but they would budge. I’m not sure what attitude you mean. Americans for the most part, especially the ones living here in Germany have been vaccinated since March and April. It seems the pandemic has been prolonged by the fact that many people are still having private gatherings and are not vaccinated. That doesn’t apply to me or anyone I know. How is my elderly, fully-vaccinated mother prolonging a pandemic? What a stupid thing to say. You sound both stupid and cruel. I’m sure it’s because you have no family to visit, surely no family that wants to see you anyways.

        1. Why is it people like you still don’t understand that even with the vaccine one can still be a carrier and pass it on and still become ill with it?
          There is certainly no need to be nasty considering all the unrest in the Middle East you Americans have caused in your relentless push to control the world’s oil reserves.

          1. Clearly, you’ve not been keeping up with the latest medical studies. Vaccination does in fact prevent transmission.




            As to the second comment (insult), it isn’t relevant and typical of hypocritical minds. Especially those who drive cars, ever fly on planes, or use any kind of fossil fuel based transport.

          2. You sound like a priviledged numb-nut that doesnt have any problems in your life. PEOPLE NEED TO SEE THEIR FAMILY, it has been a year and a half already of this bs.

            Who do you even think you are Boggy?

  3. I agree with some of the things LMcK says, I can quite understand people wanting to see family though the journalese of ” … with most aiming to visit their long lost families.” is a bit of emotional rubbish. Most people know a) their families, b) where they are, and c) have been in plenty of comunication. and a year or two though it may be critical in some circumstances is hardly “Long Lost”.
    But I don’t think this is the time to be taking holidays, not if that refers to travelling and staying in hotels and mixing with crowds of other people who presumably think the same and are likely therefor to be risky company. The scientists must be tearing their hair out looking at pictures of dumb dumbs lying side by side on the beach or raving in clubs. We in the West may be lucky in the sense that the current availability of vaccines seems to be keeping, or even winning our health back, the pandemic is very far from over. Heaven knows what mutations it will come up with the longer it roars through the world despite health efforts internationally.

    1. Thank you, Nick-Nack.

      I fully support people travelling – who are fully vaccinated – or, God forbid, needing to.
      I just have an issue with the many people who travel – and potentially put others at risk – because they feel they are entitled to a holiday.

      Stay safe, well and wonderful

  4. This whole pandemic – and economic despair. That kills 0.1% average age 80.

    Furthermore, the burials and cremations in many Englsh cities were lower in 2020 than in the preceeding 5 years.

    Yes absolutely people should be allowed to see loved ones. Covid is with us, will reamain with us and we will have to learn how to live with it.

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From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

Austria’s lucrative winter season has already been hit by pandemic restrictions for the past two years. But this year there is also record inflation, staff shortages and an energy crisis to deal with.

From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria's winter season

The winter season in Austria is a big driver of the country’s economy and has been hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions for the past two winters.

But this year the industry faces an even bigger crisis – a combination of rising inflation, concerns over energy supplies, staff shortages and the pandemic (because it’s not over yet).

We took a closer look to find out how these issues could impact the industry and what we could expect from this year’s winter season in Austria.

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Winter sports is a big guzzler of energy to operate ski lifts, apres ski venues and snow making machines. 

This means the industry is in a vulnerable position as energy prices rise, with some resort operators already confirming they will have to pass on some costs to customers.

Johann Roth, Managing Director at Präbichl in Styria, said that energy costs at the resort have tripled and admitted he is concerned about the coming winter season.

Roth told the Kronen Zeitung: “Of course we will have to increase the ticket prices, and to an extent that has never been seen in recent years.”

READ MORE: Cost of living: Why are restaurants getting more expensive in Austria?

At Planai ski resort in Schladming, Styria, Director Georg Bliem said they aim to keep the day ticket price under €70, but has also set up an energy task force to find cost-saving measures for this year. 

Suggestions for Planai include narrower slopes, reduced snowmaking capabilities, shorter cable car operating times and even a delayed start to the season.

Electricity costs at Planaibahn (the resort’s ski lift and gondola operator) were already at €3 million before the current energy crisis, according to the Kronen Zeitung.

Then there are hospitality businesses and hotels at ski resorts that are also being hit by rising costs.

As a result, the Kurier reports that room prices in overnight accommodation could increase by a further 15 percent in winter, and many people will no longer be able to afford skiing holidays.

Heating may be an issue in winter as the energy crisis looms (Photo by Achudh Krishna on Unsplash)


Rising prices are just one element of the energy crisis as there are fears that Austria will not have enough gas for the coming winter season – mostly due to the war in Ukraine.

In March, Austria activated the early warning system – which is the first level of a three-step emergency plan – for the country’s gas supply. If it reaches step three (emergency level), energy control measures will be put in place across the country.

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How this would impact ski resorts is unknown, but at the emergency level, households, essential industries and infrastructure would be prioritised for energy.

So far, there is no indication that step two (alert level) will be activated and the European Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory recently confirmed that Austria’s gas storage capacity was 60 percent full

Austria’s goal is to reach 80 percent capacity by November 1st in order to have a safety reserve.

However, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler already appealed to businesses and households in July to start saving energy where possible.

Staff shortages

Ever since Austria (and Europe) started opening up after Covid-19 lockdowns, the hospitality and tourism industries have been struggling to find staff.

In fact, shortly before the start of the summer season in Austria, there were 30,000 open job vacancies in the tourism sector. And the Wiener Zeitung recently reported on how restaurants in Vienna are struggling to keep up with customer demand due to staff shortages. 

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The issue is even being discussed in parliament and it has already been made easier for seasonal workers in Austria to access residency through changes to the Red-White-Red card. 

Now, there are expectations of similar staff shortages for the winter season, which could cause further stress for ski resort operators.


Back in July, it was reported that the federal government was working on a Covid-19 contingency plan to get the country through another autumn and winter.

It envisages four scenarios – numbered from the best to the worst case. In the best case scenario, Austrians can live free of any pandemic rules. In the second best scenario, the situation will remain as it is (find out more about Austria’s latest Covid-19 rules here).

In scenario three, if new variants lead to more severe illness, the mask requirement will be expanded and more testing will be carried out.

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There could even be night-time curfews, entry tests and restrictions on private meetings. In addition, major events could be stopped from taking place and nightclubs closed.

Scenario four, the worst case scenario, would mean vaccination no longer offered protection and hospitals became overwhelmed, leading to severe restrictions on people’s social lives.

From what we’ve seen over the past two winters, scenarios three and four would likely impact winter sports operations. But to what degree would depend on the severity of the situation.