Here’s the thing that y’all may not realize about traveling full time during the last couple of years.

It’s stressful, yes. That part is probably obvious; anyone who has ever been to an airport since 9/11 likely understands that. But there are the normal stressors of travel, and then there are all the additional ones piled on by the pandemic.

The one that has plagued me the most, literally since before the lockdown even began in South Africa in March of 2020, has been the ever changing, nebulously effective, sometimes impossible to navigate entry rules.

Let me explain.

At first it was simple. However frustrating it may have been, entry rules were basically like a light switch. Countries were either open or closed, with visa policies beyond that mirroring their pre-pandemic ones. As much as it was painful to watch countries close – damn, Georgia hit so hard, y’all – we didn’t yet know how, at best, how convoluted things would get. At worst, how racist.

Let me give you an example.

Azerbaijan starting allowing tourists back into the country last year. Citizens of only a handful of countries are yet allowed to take advantage of this, and can only arrive by air. The border with Georgia is still closed, and the rail link is still not operating.

Those seeking a tourist visa to Azerbaijan must be vaccinated, and must have proof of a negative PCR test administered within 48 hours of entry printed in English, Turkish, or Azerbaijani, and it must display a verifiable QR code. 

As convoluted as this may seem, all of this is pretty normal these days.

But Azerbaijan takes it further, requiring visitors only come to the country from certain countries, including transits. And when you’re arriving from those countries, you must be on one of a handful of daily, certified, “special” flights operated by specific airlines.

And the list of those flights does not exist.

Read that again.

Now my guess is that the actual entry rules aren’t quite as stringent; maybe tourists arriving on a variety of flights are actually gaining entry into the country, but officially, those are the rules.

And seriously, I could do this all day. I could turn this piece into an example-a-thon of ineffective immigration policies throughout the world, and pepper it liberally with all the verifyable reasons that nearly every nation has turned the fucking coronavirus into a divisive political tool. But.

This just isn’t that piece.

I’m just here to tell you that I’m fucking tired.

And maybe it was my recent stint in the EU that solidified it; in Italy especially, a country that carries a huge amount of simmering disdain for the Balkans, folks would look at my Serbian vaccine certificate as if it wasn’t also translated into English and feign like they couldn’t read it. 

And honestly, the important parts are in very simple Serbian. Even I can read it. And even if I couldn’t, it’s not like they write numbers differently: you can clearly see the dates of each of my vaccines; there’s no translation of ‘Pfizer,’ it’s a fucking brand name. It’s the same in every language. I rarely even see it written in Cyrillic, and countries that use the alphabet seem to prefer to relate this name in latin letters almost exclusively.

I’m still in Lviv. Although I’m in the Ukraine, I’m only a handful of hours, overland, from Krakow. But as the EU has slowly come out of lockstep as we enter the late stage pandemic, Poland has enacted their own litany of confusing entry requirements. 

Which sucks because, as you may have heard, I may have to swiftly leave the country at a moments notice, and an overland exit is always the easiest and fastest to book. But tourists aren’t allowed into Poland across the land border, we can only arrive by air.

However, just next door, the nation of Slovakia which is also part of the EU, is allowing virtually normal tourism, the only requirement to crossing their land border from Ukraine being a valid vaccination certificate.

And this is the part where I tell you that Poland is allowing anyone to cross into the country from another EU country.

Does this make any fucking sense to you? 

I’m fucking sick of doing this, y’all. I’m serious. And the irony is that I came to the Ukraine partially because I was fucking tired of navigating the EU’s insane covid rules, and I have found myself right back in the scenario of having to fucking deal with it.

Because even more confusing than the world’s dynamic covid rules are the intricacies of different countries ties to Russia.

See, if war breaks out, exit through Moldova may become effectively impossible: the diminutive and arguably non-existent nation of Transnistria (Prednistrova) may close their land border with the rest of Moldove depending on how things shake out. Or a Ukrainian passport stamp may prohibit entry completely. 

Damn. I really should have come here BEFORE I got a new passport, just in case. But whatever. It is what it is.

The Belarusian border, besides being closed merely to covid, is currently heavily fortified with Russian troops, and would cease to be an exit in the event of war.

Romania is currently one of the hardest EU countries to enter: testing and vaccine certificates won’t necessarily prevent lengthy, state-managed (read: $$$) quarantines.

That leaves Hungary and Slovakia, but even closer is Poland. And they’re making it nearly impossible for people like me to make it there should we need to in a hurry.


Should I need to pull the trigger, my best option for extraction is an open ticket I have for a flight to Poznan. 

None of this seems to make sense anymore. These rules started as a way to curb infections. But all I’ve seen, as this pandemic has raged on, is a bunch of political bullshit that has only given rise to new variants, more division, shittier-behaving tourists, and endless bureaucracy. 

Hear me when I say that I’m ready for a fucking break from it.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *