Your guide to planning a European vacation

Our best advice on how to get there, explore and save money this summer

(iStock/Washington Post Illustration)
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As international travel restrictions continue to drop, Americans are clamoring to get to Europe this summer.

According to data from TripIt, London, Paris and Barcelona were among the 20 most booked destinations for Memorial Day weekend this year. The company ToursByLocals says bookings for European experiences are booming, even surpassing pre-pandemic numbers.

For travelers living out their revenge-travel dreams across the pond, make sure your passport is ready and check out our best advice on how prepare.

Airports may feel even more chaotic

You may have noticed air travel has been off the rails lately. The onslaught of cancellations and delays can feel like travel Armageddon, as James Ferrara, co-founder and president of InteleTravel, puts it. And it’s not just U.S. airports; many European ones are suffering the same disruptions. Here’s why, along with six tips on how to navigate the stress.

Entry rules have eased

It’s getting easier to go abroad as countries drop their coronavirus restrictions. For example, to enter France, travelers can provide proof of vaccination, proof of recovery or proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within 48 (for rapid) to 72 (for PCR) hours before departure.

Italy has dropped its covid-related entry requirements. So have the United Kingdom and Germany.

That doesn’t mean you won’t need to show proof of vaccination while traveling. Some tour operators, hotels and other businesses may have different rules than the government.

Consider these off-the-beaten path Italy options

With more people waiting until the last minute to book travel, you may still be filling out your itinerary for a European trip. If you’re planning a vacation to Italy, use these insights from local experts on the best stops for your travel style. Beaches, history, food and culture abound in these less touristy Italian destinations.

Take the kids

With children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, families are booking international getaways again. Searches for accommodations with cribs, child care and connecting rooms are up significantly from 2019, according to data from Hotels.com. For those gearing up to take their kids abroad for the first time, here are six tips for traveling internationally with children under 5.

Work remote on a budget

As more offices remain remote, work and travel have blended together like never before. Some might call it “bleisure travel.” This spring, I headed to Europe to see how to remote work and explore cities for less than $100 a day. Take my advice on what to do — and what not to do — in London and Paris.

Find budget flights

In April, I took Icelandic budget carrier Play Airlines on its inaugural flight from the United States to Keflavik Airport, outside of Reykjavik. While not all ticket combinations are budget-friendly, if you have flexible dates for your trip, you can find cheap tickets to Europe. Because it is a low-cost carrier, you can expect fees, including seat choices. There are some perks: the friendly staff and the interesting snacks for purchase. Read more on my experience.

See cities like a local

We’re updating our most beloved City Guides so you can explore cities like a local wherever you land. Our guides to 70 cities around the world are written by hometown writers and skip the typical tourist spots. Find sourdough in Copenhagen, the best carbonara in Rome, old pubs in Dublin and art museums that aren’t the Louvre in Paris.

You don’t have to test to get back

The United States recently lifted the order requiring travelers to show a negative test result or proof of recovery from covid-19 before entering the country. Health experts were not surprised to see officials drop the rule, though some said they wished the country was taking more public health precautions. Even though testing is no longer mandatory, they encourage guarding for covid while traveling. Here’s why.

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