Travel is a luxury and a privilege, one that many people around the world don’t have on a regular basis, let alone during a pandemic. We all know getting back to travel is important for our own mental health. Who doesn't need a vacation from all of this stress, gloom and doom?
Trying to decide if getting away is worth the risk is another conundrum altogether. You may be trying to decide right now if you are going to travel in the coming months. If you’re considering booking your next adventure and are looking for ways to make things a little less complicated, here are our top four recommendations for planning travel in 2022.
Do a deep dive into one country that piques your interest, that you can’t stop thinking about or that you’ve always dreamed of visiting. So often we get caught up in country counting, seeing the highlights and taking in as much as we can that we miss the simple fact that everything in a new country is new.
You don’t have to move from country to country to keep busy or have new experiences. Each city, town, province, provincial park has something new and incredible to offer that is different from the last. Why not get to know the culture authentically instead of rushing by.
With weekly changing rules and no consistency between countries, the biggest tip I can give you is to choose one country and stick to it. You’ll only have one set of country rules and regulations to adhere to for entry and exit. Your time in airports and transportation between destinations will likely be less which means more time to explore. You’ll have more time to get into rural destinations to see lesser-visited destinations and hidden gems. You’ll be having a lower environmental impact from less flying.
Direct flights from Canada
Direct flights are always recommended whenever possible. If you are concerned about your carbon footprint when travelling, take-off and landing are the worst for carbon emissions. Choosing direct flights instead of the milk run not only saves you time, hassle, stress, but it also has a smaller impact on the environment.
During the pandemic, there are other big reasons to make the most direct route a priority. One of the biggest complications in travel right now is that every country has their own vaccination, testing and entry rules. There is no consistency. There is no one-size-fits-all.
While your destination may not require an antigen or PCR test, your connection country might. The best current example of this is USA, but there are other countries doing the same and the rules change regularly. While your destination may allow entry from Canada, they may have different rules if you’ve been in another city within the past few days. If you have stops in two connecting cities in two different countries, you now need to check three sets of vaccination and testing rules and make sure you comply. You may also need to do each of their online health questionnaires and download their check-in app. Not to mention the potential for random Covid testing and needing extra connection time built-in because everything takes longer than it used to.
There are still considerably fewer flight options than what we were spoiled with back in the “old days” of 2018 / 2019. The more flexible you are on your travel dates, the more likely we will be able to find you direct routes with connections through the Canadian cities of Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver. Instead of daily direct connections to cities around the world, there might only be twice-weekly direct connections to your destination. That means if you can fly on a Wednesday instead of Thursday you might be able to go direct from Canada instead of involving an extra connection in the USA or Europe. The savings in time, stress and hassle is worth it!
Give Yourself a Buffer
Travel in 2022 is going to be bumpy. While not my favourite advice to offer, right now I think it is important that if you are still working (not retired) you plan to return to Canada a few days early before you are scheduled to return to work. If you have 14 days of vacation, consider spending nine or 10 days in destination and having a four-day buffer on the end. If you catch Covid in destination and cannot fly home, this gives you a few days where you’re not expected to be at work. If you come home as planned and are selected for mandatory testing upon entry to Canada, you are required to self-isolate until you receive a negative test result. This is taking four to six days right now. Maybe a flight gets cancelled and you need to wait two days until the next flight with the same airline … these buffer days take the pressure off as your boss isn’t expecting you at work the morning after you arrive home.
More than anything I’d love to tell you to spend every last second in destination soaking up the sun, the adventure, the excitement and supporting tourism-reliant businesses in your destination. Right now, part of mitigating the risk is planning your time reasonably so you won’t be panicked if something goes awry.
Hire a Travel Advisor
It goes without saying that you should also hire a travel advisor to help you plan and navigate your trip. Don't just hire anyone though. Hire an advisor who specializes in the destination or type of trip you wish to take. You wouldn't buy your wedding cake from a pizza place, would you? They both cook for a living, but that doesn't mean they use the same tools, recipes or have the same experience!
There are things you just simply won't know if you are planning a trip for the first time during a pandemic: Terms and conditions, cancellation penalties, the ins and outs of travel insurance, rules and regulations for your destination and connection cities, how much time is needed for connections in Toronto and Montreal - not the required amount by the airlines, but what you actually need during the current situation so you don't miss your connection. The list goes on.
Advisors have experience navigating the entire planning process. We know where to quickly find reliable information and many of us now have experience dealing with clients testing positive abroad. We often have inside information and because we are immersed in the industry we catch changes to rules and regulations that you might not even know apply to your trip.
If something goes wrong, do you really want to be left on your own, in another country, with no support? From being a friendly voice when panic sets in, to taking care of cancellations, rebooking flights and helping you get home safely, a good travel advisor will save you hours of research, planning, hold times and your sanity.
At Love the Way You Travel, we are passionate about helping people have authentic experiences and travelling responsibly to have a positive impact on the people, places and planet. If this speaks to you, we'd love to hear from you.
If you are flexible, not easily stressed and can go with the flow, then get ready to explore! Pack your patience, your Canadian kindness and a sense of adventure, the world awaits!