We all know it is way past the point of having itchy feet to travel! Our entire bodies and minds are itching. Most of you probably haven't left the country (or maybe even your province) for nearly two full years. We hear clients tell us weekly (sometimes daily) that all they want to do is travel. People feel like the pandemic has stolen valuable time from them; time with their loved ones and time for exploring the world. We feel that deep in our hearts too.
If you are thinking about travelling in 2022 we want to support you in that decision, but we also want to make sure you are aware of the risks and have the knowledge and support to manage them. Here are three things you may not know about travel right now.
NOT ALL DESTINATIONS REQUIRE VACCINATION OR TESTING FOR ENTRY BUT SOME REQUIRE BOTH
This is a bit of a catch-22. We know you want to go somewhere that is "easy". All of the rules and requirements are hard to understand and abide by. On top of that, rules are still changing regularly. If you choose to go somewhere that doesn't require vaccination or testing, you also have to realize that many of the people travelling in the country will be unvaccinated tourists. While you may be vaccinated, the risk of contracting Covid is still higher if you are surrounded by unvaccinated people.
Consider your destination choices wisely. Is it more important to you for it to be easy to enter (which means it is easy for everyone), or for you to be somewhere with high vaccination rates among travellers?
WHOSE RULES APPLY
While we all wish there was some consistency and global rules for travel, there simply are not. Every country, province and sometimes city has different rules for how you can enter and move about their territory as a local or as a visitor. Regardless of your beliefs on vaccination, testing, covid, religion, culture etc, as a traveller you need to comply with the local rules, regulations and laws.
Not all countries have the same rules as Canada. It makes no difference what Canada's rules are or what you personally believe the rules should be. Check your expectations at the border. When you travel you need to follow the rules and customs of the country you are in. This has always been the case when it comes to wearing appropriate attire, abiding by local alcohol laws, road rules and more. Now, it extends to vaccination, masking, social distancing, sanitizing and quarantine requirements.
If you test positive for Covid while in another country, you will need to follow the local laws for self-isolation or quarantine and the rules of your travel supplier. Quarantine or self-isolation will likely be at your own expense unless your travel supplier covers this or you have quarantine coverage in your travel insurance policy. There are some cruises and resorts that will cover your quarantine accommodation costs, but not all do, so please don't assume someone else will cover the costs for you.
TRAVELLING HOME TO CANADA
Just like any other country in the world, rules for re-entering Canada are still changing. At the moment* a negative PCR test 72 hours before departure of your last flight arriving to Canada is required. Or you can provide proof of recovery from Covid-19 in the past 11 - 180 days. This is important because it applies to every traveller. You cannot avoid these rules for re-entry to Canada.
Please always check the Canadian Government travel website for up-to-date rules and regulations prior to booking your trip, as well as within the last couple of days before your departure and your return to Canada. It is not uncommon for rules to change while you are on a two-week vacation. You need to make sure you comply with the current rules, not the ones that were in place when you left Canada.
You will need to either pre-purchase an at-home test to take with you to your destination and have access to reliable internet for the appointment with a nurse, or you will need to arrange a test at a local lab or pharmacy in-destination. You need to take time zone changes and your flight routing into account when calculating your appointment time. You also have to understand that not all areas have access to testing. For example here in Nova Scotia we have testing available in Halifax, but not in any of the rural areas. If you are going to be in a small city or remote destination, you may not have access to testing when you need it or you may need to travel hours away to get testing. Small labs and pharmacies may not be open for testing on Saturdays, Sundays or evenings. You need to plan for this before booking your trip. You also need to plan for the cost of testing as it is most often at your own expense.
Quarantine and Recovery Rules
While you may be allowed to re-enter Canada on your 11th day* after testing positive provided you have no fever or symptoms, you must complete the quarantine set out by your destination first. If the country requires you to do 14 days of quarantine or self-isolation, then you have to quarantine for 14 days before your return to Canada.
You can't make assumptions that you will be allowed to travel because you have what you need to enter Canada. You first have to comply with your destination's rules and then with the airline and connection point's rules before you arrive at Canada's border.
If you have connecting flights in other countries you need to be aware of and comply with their rules for entry or transit as well. For example, you may need a PCR test within 72 hours to re-enter Canada, but you may need a PCR or antigen within 1 day for entry to your connecting city/country. If you have your test done 60 hours prior to departure, it may not be sufficient for your connection point and therefore you would not be allowed to board. Or if you are travelling based on having tested positive and recovered, you may need to have a doctor's note stating that you have recovered and don't have any symptoms in order to pass through your connecting city/country.
YOU CAN TRAVEL
Canada still has a level 3 - avoid non-essential travel - advisory in place and a level 4 - avoid all cruise ship travel - advisory in place. These advisories are important to make you aware that travel involves risk. It is not illegal to travel. You are not doing anything wrong by choosing to go on vacation. You just have to understand the health and financial risks involved with travelling during a pandemic and plan responsibly.
If all of this boggles your brain, we feel you! We're dealing with this on a regular basis which makes it both easier and harder. It is easier because we know what to look for, where to look and have experience navigating it. On the other hand, we also see all the difficulties, changes and how hard it is to navigate the rules of various countries with many things lost in translation which makes everything more difficult.
We also see many people travelling who are completely unaware of the rules they need to follow or oblivious to the fact that being Canadian doesn't entitle them to special privileges abroad. When they are denied boarding or told they have to pay for their quarantine stay, they are upset and demand exceptions are made and that someone else pay for their stay. Sorry, it doesn't really work that way.
This is the risk of travel right now. It is no one's job but your own to make sure you comply with ALL of the rules of travel for EVERY destination you visit or pass through and that you meet the requirements to return to Canada. You also need to have the financial means to support yourself if you are required to self-isolate or quarantine or are otherwise denied boarding. Booking specific types of travel to specific destinations and having the proper travel insurance can help mitigate some of these costs and protect your health and finances but you, as the traveller still need to comply with the rules. We are here to help you navigate all of this and make sure you have the best, most reliable information.
The hardest part of travel right now is finding and following the rules. After that ... once you are in destination, you'll have a euphoric experience when you realize there is life outside of covid. When you unplug from the daily news, numbers and social media, a weight heavier than you are even aware you are carrying will lift from your shoulders and you'll wonder why you waited so long!
Destinations are less busy right now, there are more sanitary measures, masking rules and you have to book ahead for a lot of activities such as restaurants and museums. Most of those things are commonplace right here at home now too though so it won't feel all that different. What will really touch your heart is how welcoming the people of the world are. They are waiting for your return to their beautiful countries and can't wait to show you why they are passionate about their home.
We hope this information is helpful for you. Leave us a comment below to let us know what you learned, or ask any questions you might have.
Looking for more recommendations on planning travel in 2022? Check out our last article, 4 Recommendations for Planning travel in 2022.
If you want help navigating all of the ins and outs, making sure you understand the risks and how to be mitigate them, we're here for you. Book a no-obligation consultation with us to learn how we can help you have the trip of your dreams.
* Please note: Information in this article was correct at the time of publishing on 07FEB22 but rules and regulations change regularly. It is important that you check the Canadian Government Travel website for the most up-to-date requirements for re-entry to Canada.