Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a peace-loving country that has delighted many of our guests in the past, has taken the world by surprise. Like everyone, we are deeply saddened by the senseless violence and are hoping for a resolution to the situation soon.
We are naturally concerned for the one member of our team who resides in Ukraine, Kateryna, who with her family, is currently staying close to the country’s western borders, with Poland, Hungary, and Romania just a short drive away. Fortunately from the feedback we have received, our provider partners there too are keeping themselves out of harm’s way. The decision to leave is made harder by the fact that families will be separated as all men aged 18-60 must stay to defend the country.
We’re sure that for any of our guests who’ve traveled to Ukraine this personal connection brings home the harsh reality of the situation and we thank them for their concern for our Ukrainian colleagues. We are in touch with Kateryna constantly, and have reached out to all our partners in Ukraine to offer our assistance, both logistically, should they choose to leave the country, and financially.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and how it might affect your trip
If you were planning a trip to anywhere in Europe, it is natural that you might have questions and concerns.
Traveling to Ukraine, Russia or Belarus?
We are not planning any new trips to any of these countries at present and for anyone with a trip scheduled there, we can postpone indefinitely, or provide an alternative itinerary.
Traveling somewhere other than Ukraine, Russia, or Belarus
We have been responding to the concerns of travelers with trips scheduled throughout the rest of Europe. These concerns center on two aspects, the threat of Russia also invading outside of Ukraine, and of the number of refugees fleeing Ukraine having an effect on logistical aspects of the trip. We’ll address these points one by one.
On The Threat of Invasion in Countries Bordering Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus
Our staff and provider partners in cities like Budapest, Krakow, Bratislava, Bucharest and the Baltic States tell us that people there do not have any expectation that Putin will invade their country. They feel secure in the knowledge that NATO membership, and the presence of NATO troops, and bases, on their territory, is a guarantee of safety. As NATO members, just like the US, an attack on any member is an attack on all. Given that these countries’ tourism workers are still recovering from the drop in business from the pandemic, and that they are as safe as any other NATO member country, we see no reason to change plans.
The Refugee Situation
Throughout the region, immense efforts are being made, by governments, charities, NGOs, and individuals to take care of Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their homeland. These efforts are well organized and truly impressive. With any city that has absorbed several thousand more people, there might be a few more people than normal on public transport, but other than this you will not notice any difference.
One thing you will see in many cities in Europe is a lot of public support expressed for refugees, from something as simple as Ukrainian flags hanging from public buildings, businesses, and private residences, to benefit concerts and other events to support Ukraine and Ukrainians in a number of ways. In some cities, you can even get the chance to meet some Ukrainians and try some Ukrainian food, as some refugees have opened bistros. Our local staff will let you know where.
Concerns About Traveling to Europe Generally
For travelers with plans to visit countries further away from Ukraine, it is very unlikely that travel plans will be affected. At present the only outward signs of what is happening in Ukraine are peaceful demonstrations, and other shows of support aimed at urging more action by each country’s government to assist Ukraine. With the pandemic showing signs of finally receding, everywhere in Europe is eager to welcome visitors again.
What Can We All Do To Help?
Many of our guests who’ve traveled with us in the past have been in touch to express their concern and asking what they can do to help. There are many charities and NGOs assisting both on the ground in Ukraine, and in neighboring Poland, to alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people and welcoming those have been forced to flee the country. Jay, our CEO, has been spending an extended time in Warsaw, and while there has been volunteering, and providing financial assistance, to a local effort to help women and their children who have left their homes in Ukraine for the safety of the Polish capital. That organization is called Women Center Warsaw. Ania and Irina who manage the center, and everyone volunteering there, are working hard to provide refugees with food, supplies, access to local information, help finding accommodation, and to receive much needed support. If you would like to donate, they have a page on the Polish crowdfunding site, Pomagam. You can enter an amount in Polish Zloty (there are around 5 Zloty to the US Dollar) and it will show you the approximate amount in USD.
SLAVA UKRAINI (GLORY TO UKRAINE)!
Charlie is head of marketing at JayWay Travel. A long-term Prague resident, his interests are cooking, eating out, cycling, skiing and of course, travel.