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

Esme Fox
Esme Fox - [email protected] • 5 Jun, 2021 Updated Sat 5 Jun 2021 10:07 CEST
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Family members embrace each other upon their arrival from New Zealand at Sydney International Airport on April 19, 2021, as Australia and New Zealand opened a trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel bubble. (Photo by SAEED KHAN / AFP)

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.

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.




Esme Fox 2021/06/05 10:07

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