Readers share UK and US to France travel tips

Thanks to all the Connexion readers who have shared feedback on their experiences of and tips for travelling to France from locations around the world.

We look at the considerations they stressed as being particularly important. Please note that all of the travellers quoted here are classed as being fully vaccinated. 

Read more: Covid-19: Rules for travel to and from France

Read more: Four Covid tests now for Christmas visit to UK family from France

Travelling by plane 

  • Lisbon – Nice: Make sure you book a test early and remember this is possible at the airport before departure. We got to the airport an hour earlier and took the test (prebooked) there.

Read more: Which French airports offer pre-flight PCR and antigen Covid tests?

  • London – Bordeaux: On the plane they mentioned using the EasyJet website to find information on entering countries. I had checked that the day before and it was inaccurate as it said no quarantine was needed in France. Fortunately I knew from The Connexion that quarantine was required.

Read more: UK to France travel: How do police checks and quarantine work?

It was really slow at Bordeaux airport as they asked for all the different documents then questioned us on where we lived, what time and where we had our pre-flight Covid test. So I would advise that you remind yourself what time your Covid test was if you are of the older generation like me and tend to forget.

  • London Gatwick – Montpellier: EasyJet were very good and sent plenty of emails to remind travellers about Covid travel rules. The opportunity to change flight plans last minute with them is invaluable. 

I travelled four times between July and November. The only problems were when the restrictions had changed recently, either on the UK or French side, and the staff – both airline and customs – were unsure of the new rules. Generally there was a feeling of stress from the staff, and they were annoyed with people who made mistakes with the rules rather than being helpful. I can’t say I blame them.

Travel with a reliable mobile phone and keep it charged! Keep checking government websites: don’t rely on the transport provider to give you up-to-date information. Have hard copies and digital copies of as many documents as possible and keep digital copies in a file on your device which is not reliant on internet connection to be viewed. 

  • Boston – Toulouse: I have travelled many times with British Airways. The staff were incredibly helpful, patient and kind. Many people didn’t have their papers in order, meaning they didn’t download certain attestations and as a result made check in more timely and a bit frustrating for all of us who were well prepared.

I would say that to simplify your travel, make sure to check government websites to see what the latest rules are, even on the day of travel. If you don’t have all your paperwork, step to the outside of the line, don’t fill in paperwork at the check-in desk where others are waiting, thus holding up the line. 

Be patient with others and tolerant of mistakes. The airline staff also have to keep up with the latest rules, which can be confusing. Check and recheck before leaving home that you have all the right documents. Take note that some documents must be filled in online to produce a QR code (not printed out and filled in by hand!).

  • London Heathrow – Nice: Immigration seemed to check everything including for Monaco residents, who should have been exempt from the requirements to quarantine and fill in the éOS form – total confusion and frustration! I would advise patience.
  • UK – Marseille: I experienced an hour-long delay arriving in Marignane (Marseille) airport as border officers asked for the prefectural decree for quarantine and the QR code that was generated when I filled it in. 

I had downloaded this form to my laptop but not to my phone as had several of the other passengers, and this was adding to delays for checks. Make sure you have the prefectural order and QR code on your phone – or at least printed out.

  • London Gatwick – Nice: I flew with EasyJet and realised that in the hurry to complete the quarantine form I had mistakenly entered my home address instead of where I would be staying in Nice. 

The following morning I received a phone call from the local gendarmerie who were at my house and wanted to know where I was!

  • Toronto – Paris CDG: Fifteen minutes through international customs. They didn’t ask to see my PCR test. They asked for my vaccination papers and my residency card.
  • London Gatwick – Geneva: The EasyJet check-in staff were great but it helps them to have hard copies of all documents ready in a plastic folder. They get delays when people fiddle with phones to find Covid test certificates etc. Allow at least two and a half hours to get this sorted.

Geneva airport has long queues for check-in during the winter season. On my return journey it took an hour to reach the desk. Get kids to the loo before you join! They now have a brilliant new fast security checks area but the EasyJet plane gates are a good 15-minute walk away from passport control. 

Book a lunchtime or afternoon return flight back to the UK if possible in case your pre-departure (PCR) test result is late. Mine came in very late last Tuesday and my flight was 11:25 the next day so it was a bit of a cliff hanger!

  • New York – Paris: It was stressful to get the PCR Covid test result on time before the flight to Paris! Received it 10 minutes before arriving at JFK airport. It is very easy to get tested in France: almost all pharmacies do rapid tests and there are tons of other options.
  • London Gatwick – Marseille: Travelling with EasyJet. Extra stress at the departure lounge due to FFP2 masks being ‘cloth’ and ‘unsuitable’. With minutes to go before gate closure there was a mad scramble to get to a malfunctioning machine where white, paper FFP2 masks (inferior to those everyone already had) were on sale for a £5 a shot. 

And yet until recently all passengers were apparently allowed on flights wearing either blue surgical masks or FFP2 masks previously bought at French pharmacies. 

Travelling via Eurotunnel 

  • If travelling with Eurotunnel all documents can be uploaded to the website and checked before departure so no need to show paper copies. Gendarmerie called at house to check we were quarantining about 48 hours after arrival in France.
  • Things ran very smoothly as I had uploaded all necessary travel documents onto their website. Print all documents where possible and ensure you upload a digital copy to the Eurotunnel website to make your passage and that of other passengers as smooth as possible!
  • Our travel plans changed last minute but if you are planning travel make sure you have booked your within-24-hours antigen test in advance.

You need access to a printer to complete the attestation and the reasons for travel form as they are PDFs which you then complete, sign, scan or photograph and upload. Allow plenty of time to do this.

  • Remember that the statement of honour form that you need to fill in cannot be completed online and needs to be printed, filled in and scanned. Although a faff, the paperwork is straightforward to complete once you have found the correct documents needed. 

It is strange that the specific quarantine decree form required for travel to metropolitan France from the UK asks where your journey originates from. Why is that needed for a specific form for UK travellers? For anyone resident in France and returning, I would definitely recommend they have the carte de séjour handy, as they will ask for it as proof.

  • Abide by the quarantine. We have been visited by the gendarmerie on both days of our quarantine so far; we have to sign their paperwork as proof that we are observing the rules. 

Travelling by ferry 

  • DFDS Ferries Newhaven – Dieppe: I would recommend having paper copies of everything.

The border officers at Dieppe checked that we had our cartes de séjour prior to leaving France and the éOS locator QR code was checked into their system upon return. We had our visit from the gendarmes today (48 hours after) to check that we are quarantining by checking our cartes de séjour. 

The other piece of advice I’d offer is to do as much research on what is required for all journeys and keep checking this information everyday until you leave. 

  • Brittany Ferries Portsmouth – Caen: It is much less time consuming if paper versions of all documents, especially ones with QR codes, are given to the staff at check-in. Passport control at Caen was slow, due to them having to scan everything.
  • Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth: The major issue was French border control. It took 1.5 hours to get through and the boat was barely half full. 
  • Brittany Ferries Portsmouth – St Malo: Very helpful check-in staff provided us with a copy of the ‘compelling reasons’ form to fill in on the boat. My research had led me to believe we didn’t need that one. 

The staff also alerted us to the barcode section on the prefectural decree which we’d need to show on disembarking. I didn’t realise that that online form had a barcode section which needed printing out: the end of the document appeared to be the signature at the end of all the legalese, but there’s then a space and a whole new page!

  • Brittany Ferries Caen – Portsmouth: I had my Randox PCR day two and lateral flow pre-departure tests delivered to my UK address before I left France and organised the PCR test Drop-box delivery so my results came back the same day. 
  • Portsmouth – Caen: On arrival at Caen, it took over three hours to get through Passport Control, despite the boat being practically empty. Be prepared for ill-informed gendarmes to visit your home too – even after our quarantine was completed!

Travelling by Eurostar 

  • London – Paris: There were long queues at Eurostar to go through the French checks. I would recommend that you print out all documents. Do not just keep them on your phone; it took ages as people scrolled through their phones trying to find the right document.

You can find out more about France’s entry requirements and travel rules on the Interior Ministry website.

Have you travelled to France under the current Covid restrictions?

If you have a travel tip or experience (good or bad) to share to help other readers email it to [email protected] or by answering this short survey.

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Share your favourite running route in the UK and Europe – you could win a holiday voucher | Travel

The best things about running or jogging are that it costs very little (for basic kit), doesn’t eat into the day, lifts your mood, and can take you to parts other sports cannot reach. No surprise, then, that an estimated 7 million people across the country (almost one in 10 of us) have taken up running since Covid started. So we’d like to know where your favourite runs take you in the UK (and Europe now that things are opening up a little) – maybe a city park, a cross-country course or a beach. If you have a relevant photo, do send it in – but it’s your words that will be judged for the competition.

Keep your tip to about 100 words

The best tip of the week, chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet, will win a £200 voucher to stay at a Sawday’s property – the company has more than 3,000 in the UK and Europe. The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website, and maybe in the paper, too.

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here.

We’re sorry, but for legal reasons you must be a UK resident to enter this competition.

The competition closes on 18 January at 9am

Have a look at our past winners and other tips

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As omicron changes infection risk, experts share their approaches

The rapid spread of the omicron variant has left many vaccinated people feeling confused about which activities are safe as the U.S. heads into the third year of the Covid-19 crisis.

Omicron appears to be far more transmissible than prior versions of the virus and better able to evade immune protection from vaccines or prior infection, though it seems to cause less severe illness.

The average number of new cases in the U.S. topped 590,000 on Wednesday, with an average of 1,349 deaths. More than 110,000 Covid patients are hospitalized. For many people, those stark statistics raise familiar questions about whether to curtail social gatherings, travel and other activities.

NBC News asked four public health experts about their own personal behavior and risk calculus during this chapter of the pandemic. All of them advised vaccinated people to remain vigilant and conscientious — and not to return fully to pre-pandemic life — but there was no firm consensus around some activities like air travel.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, struck the most cautious note, saying he has avoided travel and restaurant dining since March 2020.

But others said they have returned to some pre-pandemic rituals while taking strict precautions. What follows are their answers to five common questions that might be on your mind.

What kind of mask do you wear right now?

The most simple answer: N95, KN95, KF94 or a similar high-quality face covering.

Dr. Kavita Patel, a primary care physician in Washington, D.C., and a scholar at the Brookings Institution, said people who can afford to upgrade their masks should trash the cloth ones that were ubiquitous during earlier Covid waves. Higher-quality masks like N95s are more effective at blocking viral particles.

“I have thrown out my cloth masks,” Patel, who is also an NBC News medical contributor and columnist for MSNBC, said. “I’ve saved a couple of my children’s favorite cloth masks, though, but I have them going to school wearing KN95s.”

But if a cloth face covering is all you can access or afford, that’s probably better than nothing

Is it OK to travel by plane?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that domestic travelers delay any trips until they are fully vaccinated and that everyone wear a mask at the airport and on planes.

The experts who spoke to NBC News expressed differing levels of comfort with air travel at this stage of the pandemic. Osterholm said he has yet to resume flying and has been on a plane just once since March 2020, whereas “normally I’m a 150,000-mile-a-year flyer.”

“Anything I can avoid, I will,” Osterholm said. “It’s an easy one for me in the sense that I am able to accomplish what I need to accomplish without having to get on a plane.” He similarly avoids trains and buses. 

Other experts were more open to air travel. Patel said she went to Puerto Rico last month on vacation with her husband and two children, who are all vaccinated. She wore an N95 on the flight — and did not remove it once — and researched the Covid situation in Puerto Rico before leaving, as the CDC recommends. (Patel said she planned the trip before cases rose dramatically on the island.)

Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, said she and her husband flew to Kansas City, Missouri, around Christmastime.

They, too, wore N95 masks while traveling, and they did not eat or drink so as not to remove their face coverings. While in Kansas City, they did rapid tests every morning.

“It was a Covid-free Christmas,” Gounder said.

Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore, said she would feel “quite confident” on a plane (in a mask) if she only had to worry about herself and her husband. But they have two kids under 5, who are not eligible for vaccines, including a child under 2 who is unable to wear a face covering, so she is avoiding air travel. 

Do you eat at restaurants?

Osterholm errs on the side of caution here, too: He has not visited a commercial eatery since March 2020. He has only gone into grocery stores a handful of times (masked, of course) and mostly orders food online.

Gounder, meanwhile, has not dined indoors since Covid-19 reached the U.S., but she and her husband, who live in New York City, occasionally eat outside in the makeshift restaurant structures that now line many streets.

She continues to avoid movie theaters, Broadway shows and gyms, however, and said it “could be a while yet” before she feels comfortable returning to those establishments.

Is it safe to send your child to school?

The debate over school closures is once again roiling the country. The public health consensus is that it is safe to send vaccinated children into classrooms as long as school administrators and teachers are conscientious about masks and other mitigation efforts.

But for parents of kids under 5, the risk assessment can be trickier.

Wen said her 4-year-old son is going into preschool. “We need to accept that there is risk in everything we do,” she said.

“Our goal at this point cannot be to avoid Covid altogether. That would be extraordinarily difficult,” Wen added. “The price to pay to avoid getting sick is extremely high. We are not willing to keep our child out of school in order to achieve zero Covid.”

She said her son’s preschool has many precautions in place and tries to keep kids outside when possible, even in the cold.

Patel said she would advise parents of young children to make sure their kids’ day care, preschool or kindergarten requires masks and regularly screens the little ones for symptoms.

Gounder, though, said parents of young kids may want to consider keeping them at home for now, “if you can afford it.” 

“But if both parents are working outside the home or that kind of care is too costly, that may not be an option for everybody, especially lower-income families,” she added.

How should we all handle Covid isolation?

The most recent source of confusion about Covid protocols came last week, when the CDC shortened the recommended time people should isolate after testing positive from 10 days to five — if their case is asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving. The agency did not ask people to test negative before re-emerging.

The announcement led to an outcry from some health experts, who said the shorter window could allow more opportunities for the virus to spread. The CDC clarified its guidance Tuesday, saying people can use rapid antigen tests around the fifth day of their isolation if they want to and have access to them, and they should wear masks for another five days.

Gounder said the guidance was “probably the most confusing I’ve seen come out so far.”

She added that it’d be “preferable” for people to get tested before leaving isolation, since some can remain infectious for up to eight days after the initial five-day period, “and we don’t always know who that’s going to be.”

“If that person is religiously wearing a high-quality mask, the probability that they would infect somebody else is probably low,” Gounder said. “But I know many people do not wear masks or wear them incorrectly or take them off during the day.”

In the face of omicron, some people are also beginning to wonder whether getting sick is inevitable and, if so, whether it would be better for an infected person not to isolate themselves from other members of their household. Patel shot down that idea.

“I’m old enough to remember when we took that approach with chicken pox,” Patel said. “But that’s not a great idea with Covid.”

“I’ve been discouraging people from going, ‘Hey, let’s all get Covid at the same time,’ because we’re seeing variable clinical presentations,” she added. “We’re seeing cases where kids get it and the adults don’t, or vice versa. There’s no reason to assume everyone will get it.”

Plus, she said, omicron could hit some family members harder than others, and everyone should do their part to avoid putting more strain on overwhelmed physicians and hospitals.

“It’s not worth taking that chance, if you can avoid it,” she said.

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10 Entrepreneurs Share Tips For Running A Location Independent Business

By Gerri Detweiler

Although the terms “location independent entrepreneur” and “remote worker” are everywhere now, they hadn’t yet made it into the lexicon when I started working remotely years ago. So when I recently left for Europe to try working from overseas, I figured running a location independent business would be a piece of cake. 

A week in, though, PayPal froze access to my business account and I had to jump through numerous hoops to restore it. Other websites I rely on behaved differently once they detected I was outside the United States, forcing me to find workarounds. And a credit card payment was flagged by the bank after it detected it was being paid from a new location. 

I clearly still had a lot to learn about working remotely and running a location independent business. 

“There are many things that you have to keep in mind, prepare for, and adjust to in order to find success as a remote entrepreneur,” warns David McNeill, founder of Expat Empire, a consulting service that supports entrepreneurs in taking their businesses abroad.

“In addition to managing payment providers across multiple currencies, hoping that websites won’t lock your account when traveling to new destinations, and balancing time for work and for fun when you’re exploring a new locale, there are many more issues you may need to handle regarding your global team, client base, and partners,” he explains. 

Here I’ve asked McNeill and other location entrepreneurs to share their strategies for successfully working from anywhere. And I share my own tip, learned firsthand. 

10 tips for running a location independent business

Tip #1: Spring for good accommodations

Advice from Tom Blake, owner of This Online World, a personal finance media company that teaches people how to make money online and become location independent and financially free. Blake has run his business from Florida, Columbia, and Dubai; he’s currently in Florida and plans to head to Europe soon:

“It might be tempting to cut costs when you’re on the road, especially if your business is in its infancy and you’re trying to remain lean. However, your accommodations are one of the most important budget categories when traveling. Not only do you need to be somewhere safe and secure, but the quality of your sleep plays a massive role in how productive you are when living somewhere new. Furthermore, you shouldn’t take amenities like a reliable internet connection for granted; many countries don’t have strong internet as a default.

“I learned this lesson while running my business in Colombia, during which time I booked a private room in a hostel-style Airbnb. Between the noise and Wi-Fi going down every 10 minutes, I had to book a private office at a coworking space, which was around $400 a month. With that extra expense, I could have easily booked my own private accommodation with better amenities and some peace and quiet.

“Things like flights, entertainment, and tourist-related activities are areas you can cut costs. But when it comes to being a location-independent entrepreneur, your accommodations are one area of your budget you shouldn’t cut corners.”

Tip #2: Plan for quiet time

Advice from Matt Ruttenberg, founder of SureLI, an online life insurance company. Ruttenberg worked from an RV in 2020 and is currently searching for a new home base for his location independent business:

“Finding time for taking a Zoom call or conference call was much more difficult than my original expectations, especially when sharing an RV with family. It takes a lot of organizing to find a place with good internet and silence. You’ll need to plan ahead to find a local library, coffee shop, or shared workspace because you just can’t get it done in an RV. Then you’ll need to figure out if they offer Wi-Fi, or if your hotspot has service in that location, all while finding a nice background for your Zoom call. But if you can master the art of planning ahead, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.”

Tip #3: Adjust your hours

Advice from Andrew Pierce, attorney and founder of, which forms businesses, acts as a registered agent, and provides supporting mail and virtual office solutions. Pierce spends more than 250 nights a year traveling.

“I adjust my sleep schedule to better match my teams’. It can make traveling a bit more difficult, but ultimately you need to be there for your team even if that means less sleep, or maintaining odd hours. 

“Making it work depends on how many hours difference you are from your team. When I’m in Europe, I’m often six hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast, so it means late nights, but I’m free to explore in the morning. In Asia it can mean a 12 hour time difference—that means some very early mornings and probably a siesta in the afternoon.”

Tip #4: Spring for good Wi-Fi

Advice from Jacob Wade, founder of Roadmap Money, a personal finance website that helps readers learn how to budget, pay off debt, and start investing toward retirement. Wade is also a money coach and freelance writer. From 2018 to 2020, Wade worked from an RV, traveling to 38 states with his wife and children.

“Reliable internet is a must for my business, and traveling around the United States created connectivity challenges. We were able to stay connected using a rented Verizon plan which offered unlimited (and unthrottled) 4G LTE internet. We also purchased a Cradlepoint mobile router, which could be plugged into the RV. It provided a decent signal for working inside or outside the RV.

“When a Verizon signal was not available, most campgrounds offered free Wi-Fi in their public pavilion area or throughout the park. And when that failed, Starbucks was my go-to for reliable internet and mediocre coffee.”

Tip #5: Plan how to pay for purchases

Advice from Sa El, cofounder of Simply Insurance, an online insurance agency and insurance education blog. El and his husband, Aten-Re El, run their business from multiple U.S. states, and will be working from Columbia next year.

“Notify your financial institutions you’ll be traveling. If your card is declined due to fraud because your bank thinks you’re at home, you could be in a situation where you are unable to get access to your funds. And be careful about carrying too much cash, as it can get you in trouble with the authorities when you enter the country. This happened to us on our last visit to Mexico.”

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Tip #6: Pare down equipment

Advice from Chhavi Agarwal, co-founder of Mrs Daaku Studio, a blog, YouTube channel, and academy which provides work-from-home tips, ebooks, courses, and coaching. Agarwal works while traveling across India.

“It’s important to find equipment that is easy to travel with. I’ve created rules for myself which help me eliminate the need to carry certain equipment. For example, I either batch create video content for my YouTube channel before I leave for another location, or I shoot in the morning so I don’t have the need to carry add-on lights (which are huge). 

“Additionally, I invested in an iPhone 12 so I could use it to shoot in 4K, which means I don’t have to carry a camera. Over time, I have figured out which tech items are absolutely necessary, the ones that can be combined with others, and the ones that aren’t important to carry at all. Make sure you understand how to work efficiently with minimal equipment.” 

Tip #7: Make your business as flexible as possible

Advice from Susi Kaeufer, founder of Dreamlife Deluxe, a business mentoring and coaching business for women entrepreneurs. Kaeufer has been a full-time nomad since 2017, and has run her location independent business from all over the world, including Australia, Europe, and Asia. 

“Make your business as flexible as possible so you can run it from anywhere in the world, no matter the time zone or quality of the internet connection. We communicate a lot via the app Voxer. It’s a free text and voice messaging app that works well for talking back and forth. Instead of having to sit down in a quiet spot and organize a video conference call, I can reply to my clients or my team members while on the go. I don’t even need a great Wi-Fi connection—the voice message will just buffer until it’s fully loaded. 

“In addition, I schedule all my client calls on Tuesday, which leaves me with six days per week where I can travel and explore whenever I want.” 

Tip #8: Leverage email

Advice from Blaire Brown, founder of, a brand strategy firm which helps entrepreneurs and small businesses with marketing and branding initiatives. Brown has worked in multiple states on the East Coast. 

“As the owner of a marketing agency, I have to stay on top of my A game when it comes to consistent outreach and communication. My email list is one of my best assets. Having an automated email system setup is critical for me at all times, especially when I am traveling. When I recently moved from Maryland to Florida, I didn’t have to worry about having to play catch-up with my clients because I had already planned my emails in advance through my email provider, Flodesk. 

“I love Flodesk because it is tailored for my audience of mostly creative entrepreneurs, so its templates and branding customization capabilities make the emails more appealing and more likely to be opened. It makes my life easier with workflow functions, pop-up forms, and landing pages, too. With workflows set up and automated, I can handle big moves across the country, and travel whenever I want to pick up and go with confidence that I’m not missing a beat running my business.”

Tip #9: Document processes for new employees

Advice from David McNeill, founder of Expat Empire, a podcast, website, and consulting service which helps people move and work abroad. McNeill has worked from multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, and now Portugal.

“Given that you probably won’t be physically located in the same place as new team members you’re onboarding, it’s a good idea to create manuals to send to new team members so they can onboard themselves through your tools and processes. Provide an overview of their job responsibilities and how they will be evaluated, an overview of all the tools they will need, the locations on your file management system where they can find key documents, and the contact information of team members they should reach out to if they have questions. This manual should contain all the information they will require to perform their job.

“It’s good practice to spend some time thinking through what it would be like to be a brand-new employee in your remote company, and what you would want to know and experience if you were in that position, and then work backwards to create that experience for all new team members.”

Tip #10: Install a VPN

This is my own tip for running a location independent business, one I discovered the hard way during my current travels through England, France, and Portugal:

Install a VPN before you leave the United States. I could have avoided multiple headaches had I done this. I doubt PayPal would have blocked me from logging into my account had my computer not registered a foreign IP address, for example. Once I realized my error, I had some trouble installing a VPN from overseas. It was a huge hassle. Eventually I was able to install one. Once I set it to my home state of Florida, my problems were solved.

About the Author

Gerri Detweiler has been helping individuals and small business owners make smarter credit and financing decisions for more than two decades; follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn. See Gerri’s articles and full bio at

RELATED: 5 Tips for Better Online Meetings That Help Employees Feel Connected

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Top doctors share what you need to know now

If you’re like me, your Covid risk-tolerance gauge is exhausted. But the Omicron variant is on the rise around the world and present in 35 states – just as sleigh bells are ringing. And like the Covid-19 variants before it, Omicron doesn’t care if you have non-refundable flights booked.

I recently spoke with some of the country’s best doctors to get their latest guidance on Omicron and holiday travel.

Here’s what Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician and director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Dr. Kavita Patel, a D.C.-based physician and health policy expert; and Dr. Vin Gupta, pulmonologist and public health expert told me.

Below is our conversation, which has been edited for brevity and clarity:

Q: The flights are booked, and the grandparents are excited. Am I safe to fly with my kids?

Dr. Gupta: I think it’s absolutely safe to travel on airplanes. That’s why I’m traveling with my young child on one.

The air on airplanes is very clean, because the ventilation systems have been upgraded and the air gets fully recycled every three minutes. I would embrace airline travel over driving. I’d rather be on an airplane where I don’t know the vaccination status next to me than in a coffee shop or restaurant.

The variants have become adept at airborne transmission, but there’s no signal that Covid is getting transmitted through surfaces, so don’t worry about sanitizing every inch of the airplane seat.

Dr. Patel: The guidance is pretty simple. Get and stay up-to-date on vaccinations, including Covid boosters and flu shots. After that, remember that Covid is airborne, so the quality of your mask matters. Travel in medical grade masks if you can find them (N95, KN-95, or KN-94).

Q: What’s the latest someone can wait to get their vaccine or booster before traveling?

Dr. Gupta: You can get benefits from the vaccine even 48 hours after you get it, and that benefit grows and you’re fully boosted two weeks out. Get the shot.

Q: Flu cases were way down last year. Is the flu shot still important this year? And is it OK to give my child both shots at once?

Dr. Offit: We’re seeing far higher flu numbers in our hospital than last year. Get your kids vaccinated for flu as well.

Dr. Gupta: It’s definitely OK to give both shots at once. There’s no evidence to suggest the shots interact with one another in the body. Completely safe.

Q: I have kids younger than 5 who can’t get the vaccine yet. What’s your advice for bringing them to family parties or big dinners this holiday season?

Dr. Patel: The best protection for any gathering with children who are not vaccinated is making sure that everyone else is vaccinated AND does not have any symptoms related to Covid-19. Another tip at a dinner if possible is to ask all adults and children over the age of 2 to perform a rapid test prior to the gathering; this isn’t fool proof, but helps to ensure that everyone is as safe as possible.

Dr. Offit: If children are around a lot of people whose vaccination status is unknown, keep wearing masks.

Q: I have a few people I’m likely to see over the holidays who aren’t vaccinated. Would you recommend I skip that part of the get-together?

Dr. Gupta: If that person was tested and asymptomatic, the risk is far greater to them than to you. Might you test positive? Yes. But fundamentally, you’ll likely be fine, unless you’re high-risk. But remember that if you test positive, you’ll have to quarantine for 10 days, which may be challenging if you’re far from home.

Dr. Offit: Fear the unvaccinated. I would recommend not spending time with unvaccinated friends and relatives. It’s too bad. It’s become a cultural thing.

Dr. Patel: Here’s a thought exercise that may help you answer this: If you choose not to see your loved ones because they are not vaccinated, will you only agree to see them once they are vaccinated?

Q: My older family members are fully vaccinated and boosted. Is it OK to bring my young children to see older family members? They’re fully vaccinated and boosted.

Dr. Gupta: Absolutely. If you trust a group of people to get vaxxed and boosted, and that’s who you’re convening with, feel free to do that. Also recognize there’s a chance that you could test positive for Covid, which in all likelihood is also OK. That should not pre-empt you from normal activities anymore because we have great controls, like vaccines.

Dr. Offit: If your kids are too young to get a vaccination, get them to wear a mask.

There’s a tremendous positive with living your life and visiting grandma and grandpa that got overlooked early on. And that still counts.

Q: I decided that it was worth the risk to travel with my kids internationally. What guidance can you give me about the experience on the ground in areas where the Omicron variant has really taken hold?

Dr. Gupta: Omicron has been no different than other variants, including Delta. For those who are fully vaccinated (which we’re starting to define as three shots), you’ll likely be OK. Those individuals are fine.

Dr. Patel: It varies. Some countries are incredibly strict about masks and testing requirements, as well as demonstrating proof of vaccination to enter some locations. Be prepared, and be flexible/patient with yourself and others.

Q: Can I be honest? I’m tired of being tired. I’m scared I’ll do all the right things and my kid will get Covid anyway.

Dr. Gupta: There is no such thing as zero risk, and that’s OK. I’d recommend a paradigm shift for parents to reorient themselves to managing the risk, not to stress out trying to eliminate it.

Dr. Offit: Living with Covid risk is a game of Russian roulette, where there are 100,000 empty chambers, but you are playing that game. It’s always a matter of relative risk.

Cat Rakowski is an Emmy-winning journalist and a booking producer for MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and “Way Too Early.” She lives in Queens with her son, Lincoln. Follow her @catrakowski.

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COLUMN: ‘Is it is the festive season, I will share my top travel tip with you…’

As it is the festive season, I’ll share my top travel tip – which is to tell your hotel beforehand that it is either your birthday or an anniversary, even if it’s not.

They will often do something nice for you. I discovered this trick by accident when I was visiting Berlin to see the city’s famous Christmas markets a few years ago.

I had mentioned in passing that we were staying to celebrate my aunt’s birthday. When we arrived, my aunt was delighted to find a huge freshly baked chocolate cake with candles, from the hotel’s own Michelin starred restaurant, waiting for her in her room.

A great way to start a weekend in Berlin; you’d have to agree.

There are few places that do Christmas festive cheer better than the world-renowned Christmas markets in Germany.
The snow-capped wooden huts, bright twinkling Christmas trees with lights and ornaments, the sound from brass bands, the cinnamon scented smell from Glühwein and the hot hogs are all back this Christmas

This has been greeted with much joy and fanfare as all of Germany’s medieval town squares remained empty last year. Even the world famous Nuremberg Christmas market was cancelled for the first time since WWII last year.

Christmas markets, a much-loved tradition in Germany, have been taking place in towns and villages since the 14th century when stallholders gather to sell seasonal foods, drinks, crafts and ornaments to celebrate Christmas.

Germany has over 3,000 Christmas markets and they are an important part of the economy bringing in over €3 billion every year.

Tourists from all over the world flock to Germany to experience this most wonderful Christmas tradition. Just like the Irish pub has been exported all over the world so too has the Christmas market. But the original and best ones are still in Germany.

The most famous cities to host markets are Berlin, Cologne, Munich, Dresden and Nuremberg. All these cities are a great option for a festive city break to soak up the Christmas atmosphere in November or December. This can be combined with a city break and some festive present shopping too.

Every German city has its own market with its own unique characteristics. Nuremberg’s sprawling, bustling

Christkindlesmarkt, is one of Germany’s best known holiday markets and traditionally the biggest tourist draw.

Cologne is one of the most picturesque being situated in the shadow of one of the world’s most beautiful Gothic cathedrals.

Cologne’s market is famous for its live entertainment with over 100 stage performances throughout December.
Dresden’s market is said to be the oldest in Germany, with the first event approved by Frederick II, Elector of Saxony, in 1434 and it has been taking place ever since.

Many traditions, from Advent calendars to Christmas trees, are thought to have originated in Germany. Protestant reformer Martin Luther is often credited with being the first to put lights on the Christmas tree, after a night-time stroll through a German forest under a starry sky.

Christmas markets started off in medieval times to help small local artisans and farmers sell their wares on religious feast days around the local church. This eventually grew from a few days to the whole month of December.

The markets grew and became ever more popular until the 19th century with the rise of the working and middle classes. Then the large department stores agitated to get the markets moved to the outskirts of cities as they viewed them as unfair competition.

The markets went out of popularity as a result.

It took the Nazi party in the 1930s to revive the markets’ fortunes by moving them back into city centres. The Nazi saw the propaganda benefits of selling German made goods and restoring German national nostalgia.

This move revived the markets and they have grown in popularity ever since. A fact that was brushed under the carpet after the war.

My recommendation is to go to Berlin where there are many festive markets with one for every taste.

The German capital is also a wonderful city to visit with great history, museums and entertainment.

The biggest and most famous Berlin Christmas market is the Winterwelt in the Potsdamer Platz which transforms into a gigantic winter wonderland.

It holds Europe’s largest toboggan and every weekend hosts live DJs to create a real après-ski party atmosphere.

The Gendarmenmarkt is one of the most beautiful markets in Berlin with a great traditional Christmas feel with regular choir recitals and it is famous for its handmade crafts on sale.

There is so much to do with lots of great restaurants, bars and clubs. If you were so inclined you could try to go to the Berghain nightclub, which is the most famous in the world and now a Government protected business. It is also the hardest disco to get into in the world, they say.

Because the traditional markets and winter festivals are so ingrained in Berlin life, you will find lots of entertainment throughout the city every night in December. A visit to a Christmas market in Berlin is a brilliant way to ring in the Christmas season in style.

Fergal O’Keeffe hosts the Travel Tales with Fergal Podcast and there are three seasons on his website for some great Christmas listening during those walks after the Christmas dinner.

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Travel experts share top tips for safe travel in Covid times – ‘important’ | Travel News | Travel

Travel experts share top tips for safe travel in Covid times – ‘important’ | Travel News | Travel – ToysMatrix

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Online Travel Update: grows European market share with superior technology; Sabre adds travel management company veteran | Foster Garvey PC

With the holidays rapidly approaching and the yearend only one week away, it is no surprise that the last week was fairly quiet. The one notable exception, however, was, which released its financials on Thursday, December 16. Grows European Market Share with Superior Technology
(“ Bolsters Flight Search Engine to Boost European Bookings,” December 17, 2021 via Skift) (subscription may be required)
Leveraging its increasingly superior technology platform (particularly around flight search), Chinese platform is making huge strides in growing its European market share. Not only is’s internally developed flight search engine better at delivering users appropriate fares and itineraries, but the systems’ ability to offer ancillary products and services is attracting the attention of European airlines. ( owns Travelfusion, one of a handful of technology vendors that aggregate airline NDC content for onward distribution.) also plans to be one of the first online booking platforms to roll out Hopper’s price freeze tool (allowing users to pay to freeze fares up to 14 days) to users in North American and Europe as part of a previously announced deal.

Sabre Adds Travel Management Company Veteran
(“Sabre Names Former CWT Head Ekert President,” December 15, 2021 via Business Travel News)
Last week, Sabre announced that Kurt Ekert, former President and CEO of travel management company, CWT, will become President of the global distribution system (GDS) operator. According to the announcement, Ekert will oversee all aspects of Sabre’s business and technology operations and report to current CEO, Sean Menke. Prior to his position at CWT, Ekert served as Senior Vice President and CCO of GDS competitor, Travelport, for five years. Business as usual for Sabre or perhaps a further evidence that Sabre hopes to take a far broader role in travel distribution, not just GDS?

Have a great week. Happy Holidays. 

Other news: Travel Predictions 2022
December 15, 2021 via Hospitality Net – Latest Industry News
60 percent of travelers are looking forward to meeting new people while on vacation. The pandemic has forced us to focus on what and who is a priority in our lives – and freedom has never been so valued. Now that we are able to get back to travel once again, 2022 will not only see people reconnecting with friends and family, but also seeking new connections with 60 percent wanting to meet new people while away.

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