Europe Travel Safety: Navigating Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

is travel in europe safe

For the past two years, the safety concerns of global travelers revolved around the coronavirus pandemic. However, with the recent invasion of Russian troops in Ukraine and the outbreak of war in Europe, the conflict has now become a top concern for many international travelers. With the U.S. embassy in Ukraine urging American citizens to depart immediately and governments issuing travel advisories, the question arises: is Europe travel safe during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? Let’s explore the situation and seek insights from travel risk management and security experts.

The Impact of the Ukraine Invasion on Travel Confidence

The Ukraine invasion has already caused a drop in confidence and demand for travel to Europe from the United States, just as transatlantic travel was poised for recovery after the pandemic. Travelers are now questioning the safety of traveling to countries like Italy and France, despite their distance from the conflict zone. Flight searches to Europe have declined, with travelers shifting their focus to destinations in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. A recent survey revealed that a majority of travelers are more concerned about the war in Ukraine expanding to nearby countries than they are about COVID-19.

Expert Insights: Is it Safe to Travel to Europe Right Now?

According to Mike Susong, senior vice president of global intelligence for crisis response and risk management firm Crisis24, it is generally safe to travel to Europe at present. While the invasion in Ukraine is a significant security crisis, popular travel destinations in Western Europe are far from the armed clashes in eastern Ukraine. The conflict is primarily contained within the borders of Ukraine, Belarus, and western Russia. Experts believe that Russia’s focus is on territorial control of Ukraine and do not anticipate military force against other European nations. Mutual defense pacts between the EU and NATO members discourage Russia from escalating conflicts further.

Flying to and Through Europe: Safety Considerations

Some travelers are concerned about flying across Europe due to the conflict. However, experts assure that commercial air travel within Europe is safe. The airspace over Ukraine is completely closed off, and new safeguards have been put in place to prevent incidents like the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014. Travelers are advised not to cancel their trips to Europe or Central European countries. The risk of flying near conflict zones is significantly reduced, and experts emphasize that it is safe to fly in Europe.

How the Crisis Affects Travel and Preparing for Europe Trips

While travel to most of Europe remains safe, there are certain considerations to keep in mind amidst the ongoing conflict. Commercial air traffic may be rerouted, potentially leading to flight delays or cancellations. Protests against the war in Ukraine are occurring in European cities, which could lead to disruptions and increased risk. Additionally, the influx of refugees escaping Ukraine can impact transportation infrastructure near the bordering countries. Travelers are urged to stay informed and take precautions, such as enrolling in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and notifying friends or family of their itinerary. It is also advisable to carry extra cash in case of cyber disruption affecting ATM access.

The Bright Side: Relaxation of COVID Restrictions

Despite the war in Ukraine, 2022 presents an opportune time to travel to Europe as countries continue to ease COVID travel restrictions. Italy, France, and the U.K. have dropped prearrival testing requirements for vaccinated travelers, and Iceland and Ireland have eliminated COVID restrictions entirely. While concerns about travel during a war are valid, the yearning to reunite with loved ones and rediscover cherished places outweighs the uncertainties. The crisis in Ukraine has brought people together, reinforcing the interconnectedness of humanity even in times of distance and conflict.

Barbara Peterson contributed reporting.

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