We’ve traveled 3 times this year, once in February, when all the craziness was just starting (no lockdowns in Europe yet at that point). And twice during the rest of the year. In May for a long weekend and this Summer for a road trip. All within The Netherlands. Here are 10 tips we can give you from our experience for traveling in 2020.
Traveling in 2020: know the rules
Before you take off on your road trip, know the rules specific to the country and/or region you’re visiting. Moreover, keep yourselves to these rules. Every country and in some cases regions have their own set of rules to fight the pandemic. You don’t want to break these and get a fine and/or anger the locals for not following the rules. Next to that you don’t want to cause spread of the virus, because you broke the rules.
We went traveling in The Netherlands on both our vacations, where we know the rules. Originally we wanted to make a road trip through Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, but found it too big a pressure to find out the rules of each country, so we canceled our plans for traveling in Europe Summer 2020, and postponed them to 2021. In hindsight, if we would have gone through with our plans, we would have been in Estonia or Latvia, when the borders closed from Latvia for Dutch people and the other 3 countries installed a 2 week quarantine for Dutch people.
Face masks and hand sanitizer
Bring your own face masks and hand sanitizer with you on your trip. We always brought with us our own hand sanitizer. Not all sanitary stops have soap and water available, so it’s handy in those situations.
Face masks are required in The Netherlands when using public transport, in other countries they’re required in even more places. So have them ready, so you can wear them when necessary or if you’re in a situation where you feel safer with a face mask on.
Book with a refundable option
We booked almost all our accommodations with a fully refundable option if they would have to be canceled because of measures taken. Luckily we didn’t need to cancel, but you never know, especially in these times.
When crowded, leave
We’ve made the deal with each other that when it would be too crowded somewhere and we wouldn’t feel comfortable with it, we would leave. We’ve had this once in Tilburg, where we were walking in the city center. It was crowded, because of the carnival and keeping social distance from others was hard. We opted for walking straight to our hotel to get away from the crowded streets.
Reserve far ahead
We reserved our accommodations in May, since prices for the Summer were going up per week. So we booked before prices would be out of our budget.
Moreover for museums, attractions and swimming you had to reserve a time slot. This wasn’t the case a half year ago, so it takes some getting used to. We couldn’t go to a number of museums or tours, since they were booked full for the duration of our stay. Lots of people were going on staycation on August, so it was peak season. When we would have figured out what we were going to do 1 or 2 weeks earlier, we probably would have been able to visit these things. So don’t be like us and book everything early. Although when traveling in September 2020 it will be less crowded again, and less people visiting attractions.
Swimming pools in The Netherlands now have time slots, so just going to the pool when you feel like it, isn’t possible right now. But reserve a time slot and you can still enjoy a swim.
When traveling in October 2020 get used to higher numbers again, that’s the month with fall break.
Things take longer
We noticed all over our 2 vacations that things take longer. Companies have to take extra measures and this takes time. So take this into consideration when planning something.
We had to wait longer when taking the ferry to Texel in May. Visiting attractions and restaurants also took longer. Since they have to clean more often and ask extra questions (at least in The Netherlands). Be patient, these people are just doing their job and calculate extra time for this when planning.
Kitchen and sanitary
We made sure to have our own kitchen and sanitary (except for the hotel in Tilburg). The reason being that we than would be able to prepare our own food, and not be dependable on having to go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This vacation we also didn’t want to share the bathroom with others, these 2 vacations. One of the reasons we didn’t go camping this year, but we also didn’t consider some other accommodations because of shared sanitary.
For lunch we did a lot of picnic’s, which we always love.
Walking and biking
We did a lot of walking and biking. A great way to see your surroundings and easy to keep social distance from others. It’s usually free and when in a place too crowded you can easily leave. Some things we opted for visiting by car, like the Delta Works and getting out at viewpoints.
On our Summer road trip we did go out for dinner and lunch a few times, or sat on a terrace. Before going out, check whether you have to make reservations for this. The rules for this have changed a number of times over the last months in The Netherlands. Some restaurants still require it, others don’t.
Go by car
When traveling in 2020 we found it easiest and giving the best peace of mind to travel by car, so that we could always go back home and weren’t depending on other transportation to get back home again. You don’t know at forehand when rules might change and it might be best to get back home again. So road trips are perfect right now.
The Best tip for traveling in 2020
In conclusion there’s a lot more to take into account when traveling in 2020. We again put these rules in practice when visiting the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. But the best tip off all and 11th free one I can give you is: make sure you enjoy your travels! When embarking on a road trip with a baby for the first time, we have some tips here and for with a toddler, here.
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