Though virtual tours have kept you dreaming of Canada, we hope you’re ready to start planning a future trip soon. Canada’s provinces and territories are gradually rolling out their reopening plans and it won’t be long before we’re ready to welcome our international visitors.
As we wait, here are 10 starting tips to help you unpack Canada’s new travel landscape and get you packing for trips to come.
Know before you go
Leave yourself a bit more time for trip planning as staying on top of reopenings, new safety protocols and requirements will make for a smoother trip. Many businesses, services and outdoor spaces continue to reopen, while others remain closed. Expect reduced capacity, social distancing markers, plexiglass barriers, revised schedules and be prepared to book attractions in advance. The situation is constantly changing, so it’s good to have a Plan B. Visit provincial or territorial government websites for up-to-date information.
Minimize stops, maximize time
Ease back into travel on a road trip, but aim for a more contactless journey and stay at less places along the way. Instead, make day trips from one or two home bases. For example, explore the length of B.C.'s Okanagan Valley by tucking into a mid-route hub like Kelowna or Vernon. Before you hit the road, make sure your vehicle is road ready and consider these tips from the Canadian Automobile Association.
Be border savvy
As you plan to visit neighboring provinces and territories or perhaps look to escape to a lakeside cottage, be aware of evolving interprovincial travel regulations and newly introduced interprovincial or territory travel corridors. Likewise, be mindful of individual communities’ preferences – some might not be ready to open for a while yet.
Keep basics on board
Whether you’re heading out on a day trip or overnight getaway, add gloves, masks, hand sanitizer/disinfecting wipes and a thermometer to your packing list. (Tip: plastic sandwich bags can stand in for gloves in a pinch–handy for gas pump handles and other high-touch surfaces.) Heading to a remote community? Stock up on groceries and other essentials before you leave. This will soften your impact on the community you’re visiting and reduce your exposure in areas with potentially limited supplies and health care resources.
Embrace the outdoors-smartly and respectfully
A lot of us can't wait to sit around a crackling campfire or hike into a backcountry waterfall. While the risk of disease is low in the open air compared to confined indoor spaces, maintain social distancing on trails and keep to your traveling group. Wherever you go in the great outdoors, be prepared (visit AdventureSmart for pointers). And observe Leave No Trace practices, like packing out what you pack in, fully extinguishing fires and not disturbing wildlife.
Book a clean, near-contactless stay
Whether you book a vacation rental, B&B or hotel, you can count on checking into a thoroughly cleaned and disinfected room thanks to new industry protocols. Particular attention is being paid to high-touch surfaces like TV remote controls, door and furniture handles, as well as light switches. You might like to bring your own wipes for an additional layer of sanitation as it’s recommended you decline daily housekeeping to reduce interactions with people outside of your bubble. Similarly, some hotels are offering minimal-contact check-in and no-contact delivery room service instead of buffet options.
Camp with confidence
Many national, provincial and private campgrounds, as well as day-use areas, are reopening across the country. Access and services vary and camping reservations are recommended so be sure to research your destination beforehand. As Parks Canada notes, be self-sufficient by packing hygiene products, a tablecloth, food and water, and minimize time in public washrooms.
Look to the skies
Our planes are still in the sky and Canadian airlines are working towards making the experience safe for when you're ready to fly again. Air passengers are required to wear a face mask in flight and airlines are stepping up their sanitation practices. For example, Air Canada's CleanCare+ measures include sanitizing cabins with an electrostatic sprayer and WestJet has also introduced new cleaning processes, while limiting its seating.
Know your comfort level, reduce your risk
Any type of travel can increase your chance of spreading or catching a disease. Following safety protocols like social distancing, frequent hand washing, traveling with fewer people and wearing a mask in congested areas can reduce the risk. Still, deciding if and when to travel ultimately comes down to your comfort level: do the benefits of being away outweigh the anxiety? Of course, if you or a family member have any symptoms, please stay home.
Buy local, support local
More and more communities are once again putting out the welcome mat. Show your support for hard-hit local businesses by purchasing their goods, utilizing their services and telling your friends all about them. While they might be operating a bit differently now, they look forward to your visit!