How to Travel Locally Safely and Responsibly
Although many restrictions are still in place across Canada, with vaccinations underway and summer on the horizon, there's renewed optimism for travel. After months of lockdown and life on repeat, most of us share a primal urge to stretch our travel legs and explore once again.
However, it won’t look quite like it did before. For those planning to get away close to home for a night or two, the question looms — how can you explore in a safe and responsible way? From increased health and safety measures to an emphasis on destinations in our backyard, below you'll find the information you need as you start planning travel in the new reality. Smart trip planning and a respectful approach to travelling will help ensure we can all continue to enjoy the many beautiful locations across Canada.
These days we need to take more time to plan, as many businesses and services across Canada have adopted new protocols and made changes to their schedules to ensure your safety. Some may be operating at a reduced capacity, with limited hours, or require advance bookings. It's best to call ahead to confirm hotel or other reservations, as well as opening hours and other logistics, to avoid any unwelcome surprises.
Prepare for the unexpected — and pack for it, too
As much as you can, stock up on groceries, gas and other essentials before you leave home. This helps lessen your impact on communities that may be experiencing supply issues and reduces your touchpoints within communities that may have limited healthcare facilities. Prepare for the unexpected — create a COVID trip kit and bring extra masks, hand sanitizer and wipes. It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared.
Protect yourself and others
We need to take more time with planning and be conscious of our impact on each community we visit. Is COVID-19 spreading in your own community or in the community you’ll be visiting? If the answer is yes, now might not be the best time to travel. If the answer is no, do your best to tread carefully. When you go, practice physical distancing measures, follow handwashing hygiene and wear masks indoors in public places, and outdoors in crowds or where distancing isn’t possible.
More time, fewer stops
It's more true than ever that travel is as much about the journey as the destination. Instead of checking in and out of multiple destinations during your trip, consider choosing a single place to sleep, and use it as a base for exploring nearby destinations. To ensure you get to see and do as much as you desire, extend your stay and reap the benefits of a stress-free vacation. Check for any local or regional updates while you’re on the road and once you return home. Tourism boards and municipalities are regularly updating their information online.
Support local businesses
Tourism and hospitality businesses are eager to welcome travellers back and many communities rely heavily on tourism support. Have respect for hospitality professionals trying to offer you a memorable experience in these difficult times. You owe it to them to do your best to keep them safe. For example, if a restaurant server is taking care of you while you are eating and unmasked, make sure you don’t talk directly at the server. (It’s awkward, we know, but err on the side of caution as much as possible.) Also, many businesses prefer payment with credit or debit cards nowadays, to avoid handling cash.
Slow down and enjoy the moment
During a time when many of us have been forced to slow our pace of life and consider more meaningful relationships, rushing around on a tight schedule does not fit the new travel landscape. Consider embracing the growing ethos of slow travel — practice patience, soak in your new environment and live like a local in your destination rather than ticking off the boxes of the tourist must-sees. You'll feel more relaxed and have a better appreciation of the place you're visiting as well as being more connected to your surroundings.