After months of staying at home and experiencing new places from afar through virtual tours, we know you’re ready for a real getaway. As provinces and territories gradually roll out their reopening plans, the good news is we can look forward to venturing outside and a bit further afield–locally at first, then regionally and nationally.
Here are some tips to help you unpack Canada’s new travel landscape and get you packing for trips to come.
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.
Know before you go
Leave yourself a bit more time for trip planning and be prepared for things to be different depending on where you decide to visit. Taking the time to stay 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. You should also be prepared to book attractions and other elements of your trip 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.
Be border savvy
If you plan to visit neighbouring 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. Visit provincial or territorial government websites for up-to-date information.
Minimize stops, maximize time
A road trip is a great way to ease back into travel —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. Similarly, slow down and relax with fewer activities and bigger spaces within your days. Before you hit the road, make sure your vehicle is road ready and consider these tips from the Canadian Automobile Association.
Book a clean, near-contactless stay
Whether you book a vacation rental, B&B or hotel, you can confidence in new industry protocols ensuring cleaned and disinfected rooms. Particular attention is being paid to high-touch surfaces like TV remote controls, door and furniture handles, as well as light switches. You might also like to bring your own wipes for an additional layer of sanitation and 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 to ensure you can still enjoy the local food and beverage options.
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 travelling 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.
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 table cloth, 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
Everyone has different comfort levels as we start to travel again. Please be friendly and respectful with your fellow Canadians. Any type of travel can increase your chance of spreading or catching a disease but the risks can be reduced. Following safety protocols like social distancing, frequent hand washing, travelling 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!
In a way, there’s never been a better time for Canadians to check out our country’s own backyard.
Start planning your trip – and keep checking back – with our map on the latest travel information across Canada.