‘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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What are France’s rules for bringing bikes on the train?

Travelling by bike and train are good ways to reduce your carbon footprint. But transporting you bike on a train can sometimes be a little complicated - especially in France where the rules vary from service to service.

What are France's rules for bringing bikes on the train?

The rules for carrying your bike onto a train in France depend on multiple factors, including the type of train you are using. 

Generally speaking, recumbent bikes, tricycles, tandems, cargo bikes, longtail bikes and trailers are not allowed on any train lines. 

The breakdown for regular bikes is as follows:

TGVs and Intercités

TGVs are high-speed trains that connect major cities and some large towns in France. The Intercités trains connect major towns not covered by the TGV network. 

If you want to bring your bike, fully assembled, on either of these train services you must reserve a space for your bike at the same time as you buy your ticket online or at the station. This will typically incur a €10 charge. You must then store your bike on the dedicated racks on board the train. 

If there is no option to reserve a bike space online, this means that either the train doesn’t provide a space for bikes or that all of the bike spaces have been reserved already. Some lines, such as Paris – Avignon TGV do not accept fully assembled bikes at all, which is why it is worth checking online first, via

One solution is to bag up (housse) or box your bike, or use a folding bike, which doesn’t require you to reserve a space for it. This must be packed into a cover and stored in the baggage area onboard the train. The dimensions must not exceed 130cmx90cm. No specific reservation is required and it is generally free to carry a bike on this way.

However, when booking a journey on a line operated by OUIGO, there is a €5 charge even for bagged or folding bikes and you must reserve online.  


The TER network consists of regional train lines where you can bring your bike for free, provided you hang it on a designated rack or place it in the bike storage area. No special reservations are required but spaces in the bike areas are often limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis, meaning that it is worth arriving a little early. 

In most cases no reservation is required but it is worth checking the TER website first or asking at the station as there are notable exceptions, such as on the Paris-Dijon-Mâcon line for example. 

There also some TER lines on which you can only bring a bike at certain times of day. On the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur line for example, station controllers sometimes ban bikes at busy rush hour times such as 7am-9am and 16h30-18h30 Monday to Friday. 

A regional breakdown of other such exceptions to bike transport onboard TER services is available here

Rail transport in Paris

Bikes are banned on the Parisian metro service, as well as on bus and tramway services in the capital.

The notable exception is on line 1, where bikes can be transported on Sundays and bank holidays before 16h30. You should ask station staff to open the service gates for you to transport your bike through the station. 

The RER and Transilien trains which connect Paris to its suburbs do allow for the transport of bikes, but not between 6h30-9h and 16h30-19h Monday to Friday. When using these trains, you must keep your bike in the designated section of the train and are advised to stay with it throughout your journey.

No special reservations are needed. 


If you are travelling between London and Paris on the Eurostar, you can book a space for your bike by emailing [email protected]

This service is only available at between the following times:

  • London to Paris 08h01 – 15h31
  • Paris to London 11h13 – 18h13 

Availability is usually limited to it is best to email well in advance. Reservations made more than 48 hours in advance of departure cost £45 each way, while those made less than 48 hours before cost £60 each way. 

Any bikes you plan to transport this way must be disassembled and placed in a box or bag. They should be dropped off with Eurostar staff at the station in London or Paris and picked up on the other side. 

If you are travelling from London to Lille, or vice versa, it is not possible to carry a regular adult bike onboard. 

On any UK-France Eurostar service, you can carry a folding bike or a children’s bike for free – as long as it is no more than 85cm long and carried in a protective bag. These bikes will be considered as one item of luggage, when it comes to your luggage allowance.