With the Canadian government no longer advising against non-essential travel due to COVID-19, it is important for travellers to keep some key considerations in mind if they book a trip.
Through consultation with its top travel agents, CAA has identified ten key considerations that potential travellers may not be aware of. Anyone who is considering travel in the current environment should make sure they have looked into the following and remember that travel requirements and regulations are continually changing.
Confirm the COVID-19 situation at destination prior to booking
Understand the risk level associated with travel to a particular destination by checking the Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories While the Global Affairs Canada Level 3 Travel Advisory to avoid all non-essential travel has been lifted, individual travel advisories do remain on a country-by-country basis. It is important that Canadians understand the ongoing uncertainty associated with international travel, whether that be related to the continued community transmission of COVID-19, or state of health care systems in destinations hit hard by the pandemic.
Understand the type, timing and accessibility of required COVID testing
Every country has different requirements when it comes to the COVID tests that are needed prior to travel, and every country has different testing capacities once you are there. There are also requirements in order to return to Canada. Make sure you understand the difference between molecular PCR and rapid antigen tests, in what time period tests must be taken, the associated costs and locations where these tests are available.
Confirm change and cancellation flexibility with your travel service provider
Many airlines and hotels have been providing more flexibility when it comes to refunds and changes to bookings. Make sure you understand any key dates related to cancellation and changes and whether you are entitled to a refund or a future travel voucher or credit at the time of booking.
Buy travel insurance and understand what is covered
Make sure you have $5 million in coverage for emergency medical situations and that illness related to COVID-19 is included. Understand your entitlements for things like denied boarding in the event of a positive test and coverage related to isolation expenses.
Did You Know: CAA Travel Insurance emergency medical plans now include up to $2.5 million CAD if partially vaccinated, or up to $5 million CAD if fully vaccinated, for COVID-19 related illnesses that may occur when travelling at a time when the Government of Canada has issued a related Level 3 (avoid non-essential travel) travel advisory. Please read the Level 3 Travel Advisory COVID Coverage Endorsement for the COVID-19 vaccinations requirements that must be met before departure, to be eligible for this coverage.
T&C: CAA Travel Insurance is underwritten by Orion Travel Insurance Company. Certain exclusions, limitations and restrictions apply. Subject to change without notice.
Prepare required travel documentation and the format it must be presented in, for both Canada and your destination
Canadians returning home should have all required documentation loaded onto the ArriveCAN App or website. Each destination has varying requirements, so make sure you fully understand what information you need to have ready and in what format. Make sure you also take into consideration connections and any requirements in the connecting destination due to lay over or delays.
Take note of local public health rules prior to departure
Many destinations have measures in place such as curfews and quarantine requirements. You should also understand what the regulations are if you happen to test positive for COVID-19 in the country you are visiting.
Be aware of changes between booking and departure
Make sure you reconfirm all the details that were researched prior to booking, to ensure they are still accurate prior to departure. What was true when a trip was booked may not be the case by the time you are ready to travel.
Double check all research with the appropriate embassy or consulate
Travel at this time is complex and many factors can change quickly, so ensuring you have the most up to date and accurate information is essential.
Plan for extra time
From disembarkment and customs to retrieving luggage and exiting the airport, most things on the travel journey are taking longer than during pre-COVID travel times. Also note the check-in and baggage drop off deadline for your flight as it may require you to arrive earlier than anticipated.
Fully unplugging while travelling is likely a thing of the past. It is important to have access to trusted, up-to-date information while travelling so you can monitor changing conditions and requirements and adapt accordingly. Bookmark the Global Affairs Canada website prior to departure and check it regularly while abroad. It is also a good idea to sign up for Registration of Canadians Abroad and stay in touch with a family or friend that has knowledge of your travel plans.
If this has you wondering about anything else you need to take care of before your next trip, be sure to contact a CAA Niagara Travel agent. Whether you have already booked a trip or are hoping to do so soon, they'll help you prepare everything you need in advance.