Tips for travel between the USA and Germany in this bizarre time. (updated July 30, 2021)
For now the German border is open to Americans traveling from the United States. Sadly the opposite is not yet true, but that means Americans can come over without much trouble. Currently the vaccination rate here is actually higher than it is in the USA, meaning the risk of contracting the virus is lower in Europe than it was before.
Your US passport AND
You must present one of the following to board your flight and to enter the country:
- Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19
- Show a negative Corona test.
- Another possibility is showing proof that you have recovered from COVID-19 within the last 6 months. You must be symptom free.
As long as you fulfil these requirements you do not have to quarantine when you arrive.
Getting a covid test in the USA before you travel can seem overwhelming but below are some tips.
You will need the negative test result to enter Germany so print a copy. It’s much easier to hand a printed copy to the person at immigration than it is to fiddle around looking for it in your phone after an overnight flight.
There are a number of options for Covid testing but we found the whole thing to be a real racket so I’ll share with you what we did. CVS Pharmacy and Rite Aid pharmacy provide drive up Covid PCR testing with results within 3 days. To enter Germany the test must be within 72 hours of your flight.
CVS pharmacy doesn’t allow people outside the USA to view its website but when you are in the USA you shouldn’t have a problem. You book an online appointment and you appear at the CVS drive-thru. You really don’t have to show anything as far as insurance cards or payment. They demonstrate how to do the test and then you do it.
Don’t bother trying to read all the fine print on the website. It is complicated and largely irrelevant. It says that the test can cost money if you somehow don’t “qualify. But it turns out that if your name and birthday and information match what you already typed in when you made the appointment, you’ll have a free covid test and the results will be delivered to your phone within three days. It only took 2 days for ours.
Rite Aid pharmacy also provides free testing with online appointments. But for theirs you have to sign up for something called Project Baseline. It seems like a perfectly good way for them to track who has the virus and to do research. I was all for participating in that type of research but I had to answer so many questions and then it was impossible to schedule an appointment for more than one person at a time. Since we have four people, it was a no go.
There is also testing for COVID at the airport, but beware it is ridiculously expensive (like $250 expensive) so we did not go this route.
We had some trouble at check-in because the machine said that the date and time of our tests were invalid. We knew that they were valid because we knew the rules for entry into Germany. The machines at the airport cannot keep up with the restrictions and rules of every country. Ask for a manager. They are able to override the program so that you are able to continue with your check-in process. Do not be deterred or stressed or afraid. I hope this helps prevent some of the stress that we had.
Make sure your luggage is 50 lbs or under. They will likely make you weigh it and often 50 lbs at home is 52 lbs at the airport. The lines were long and it was chaotic. I think this is because they had so recently opened the European Boarders to Americans. Be prepared for some longer waiting times.
MASKS and CHILDREN
Masks are required for people ages 2 and up on flights to Germany. We almost didn’t book our flight because I couldn’t imagine that Little Bean would wear a mask for 8 hours. We practiced at home. We put the masks on to watch TV and this was surprisingly very effective. The kids were excited to get on the plane and wear the mask because they also got to “watch something.” I’m not into bribery but desperate times…
Traveling with a child under two is relatively uncomplicated. They do not need a mask but they do need a negative test. Under the age of two they are considered a lap child. They don’t get their own seat and they get a discounted ticket. Best of all you get to bring a stroller and a car seat if you wish, to be checked and returned to you at your destination free of charge. This goes for older kids too. We were able to bring two carseats this trip for no extra charge. You are also allowed to bring food for the kids on the flight. Some carriers/airports even allow water or other drinks for kids through security. I have heard horror stories about breast milk being thrown out but I have never experienced that myself. I’ve been successful bringing breastmilk and water through security if the child is present.
Many carriers provide baby beds that hook to the wall in front of the parent’s seat. There are usually two of these available for each flight and they typically cost 25 euros or dollars.
Currently in Germany hotels, restaurants, beer Kellers, beer gardens and shops and outdoor activities are all open. Museums, zoos and gardens are also open. Masks are required in all public indoor spaces and the FFP-2 mask specifically is required. This mask is easy to pick up and relatively inexpensive in any store in Germany. Travel between European Union countries is permitted and so while the COVID numbers in Germany are relatively low, they are higher in some of the surrounding countries.
Approximately 53% of Germans are fully vaccinated and approximately 60% have had one shot. Things are relatively calm concerning Corona. It’s not frantic or stressful because the rules are clear and everyone just wants the Corona situation to come to an end.
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General Recommendations for Traveling in Germany
Stay at Motel 1-We have stayed in Motel 1 in Munich, Berlin and Leipzig. It’s a great design and has a good breakfast. The rooms are contemporary. Bathrooms are marble. The lobby is always nice for a drink or a coffee.
Looking for something smaller? We have used Booking.com numerous times as we were driving and realized that we needed a place to stay. I have found that in Germany you can trust the smaller family owned Penzione and Gasthöfe to be clean and nice.
Rent a car from Sixt– Our favorite car rental company. You hardly ever have to wait in line at the airport to pick up the car. Depending on the sights you are planning to see and how many people you are traveling with, a rental car can be a cheaper bet. Also, on most highways there is no speed limit, making driving a tourist activity in its own right! And in Germany we drive on the right side of the road, so if you are American there is no adjustment needed.
Flying into Munich? If you arrive in the morning make sure you have a Weisswurst Fruhstuck with a wheat beer either at the airport or nearby. Ask them to show you how to properly skin the sausage
Flying into Nuremburg? Make sure to order a “drei im weckla” at the sausage truck right outside the airport. Get mustard on it.
(Read the description of these delicacies here.)
City Maps 2 Go–Featured in blog post Meetings and Greetings. Great map app. Allows you to download maps ahead of time to your smart device. Does not need internet or data services to function, but uses GPS to show you where you are.
Whatsapp-messaging app that requires less data than other services.
My taxi– Germany doesn’t have Uber but this app is great. It has taxi drivers in your vicinity practically fighting over who can get to you faster.
Public Transportation Specials
Public transport in Germany is notoriously timely and safe. Unlike other places however, you must buy your ticket before you get on the train. You cannot purchase it on the train. Smart phones work for some tickets but it is always good to print your ticket and have it with you if you purchase it ahead of time.
Regional train ticket special– travel within any German state all day for one low price.
Weekend Ticket– Spend the whole weekend and travel anywhere in Germany.
Check back soon for more tips, travel itineraries and insights!