Two Hours Apart, Or Is It? How COVID Put Distance Between London and Croatia

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Today, it seems to me that London and Croatia are further away than those two aforementioned hours. I am a British-born Croatian who grew up in Croatia and is now settled back in the UK. As a student, I envisioned flying back and forth between Zagreb and London a lot. Until COVID changed that. Travelling these days between the two destinations requires multiple steps in preparation pre-and post-flight. And that’s only if we’re lucky that our flight doesn’t get cancelled or rescheduled. A passenger between the two destinations must continuously be checking complex rules written on respective governments’ web pages in order to be fit-to-fly.

Moreover, travel expenses go beyond the ticket price. To enter Croatia, one is allowed to enter so long as they possess one of the following: proof of vaccination (no older than 365 days), a negative COVID antigen or PCR test result (no older than 48 or 72 hours respectively), or a doctor’s certificate of recovery from COVID. Of course, all passengers have to fill in an Enter Croatia form. 

All international arrivals to the UK must adhere to a different set of rules, which also continuously change. Let’s just make a point that the rules among England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are different. As of recently, fully vaccinated travellers to England do not need to take a COVID-19 test prior to arrival. One can choose to take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR test upon arrival to England. Things get a little trickier if the lateral flow test shows positive: one will then need to self-isolate and book a PCR test. Either one of the tests must be booked before the arrival to England. Mind-boggling, doesn’t it?

To conclude: there is no longer quick city-hopping between London and Zagreb. Travel requires research, planning, and commitment these days. It is only for the most determined travellers who can afford the newly required travel “luxuries” – my student budget doesn’t exactly allow for those! 

I am now trying to reassure myself with the fact that if I don’t travel I am actually being a responsible citizen on many levels: I do not contribute to the spread of the pandemic internationally nor do I participate in increasing a carbon footprint! However, I do long for the times when travel is easier again so I can go to Croatia to give my grandparents a quick hug and to jump over to Zagreb or Hvar to visit my friends. 

For more updates on international travel news, check out our dedicated travel section.


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