I get it. We have all been cooped up in our homes for almost 6 months. The summer is half over and we are all getting restless. While many people don’t feel comfortable with the idea of any sort of travel, many more are hitting the road to seek a change of scenery in the safest manner possible. If you aren’t lucky enough to own a cottage or live within easy distance from a beach, there are still ways to get away from the city before Fall. The wisest thing to do is to stay home but if I can’t talk you out of it, I can offer you some tips to help make your trip a bit safer and less stressful.

So, I don’t have to keep repeating this, let’s assume that with every single element of travel, I will be ending with “please check out the website for the mode of travel, the destination, the lodging, the restaurant, etc., before you book anything.”  You might also want to consult the Ontario COVID data before choosing a destination here.

Everything is incredibly fluid these days. The current restrictions and guidelines may change by the time you decide to hit the road.

A treehouse is as socially distanced as it gets! Photo:Erik Mclean

In Ontario, you can now rent through airbnb, stay in hotels and rent cottages. In fact, many airbnb’s are now catering their rentals to COVID conscious travellers, offering contactless, self check-in, enhanced cleaning protocol and/or longer vacancy periods between guests. Again, if you want to leave the province, check the situation in your desired destination. For instance, BC has just announced new limits on rental properties due a recent spike in Covid19 cases.

Hotels are open, often at reduced capacity but your stay will feel much different. Some of the adjustments include contactless check-in and keyless room entry to potential temperature checks as well as no room service, no extra pillows or blankets in the room and guarantees of guest rooms vacant for a period of 48 hrs or more between guests. Check out each individual hotel first, before booking. While almost all of the province has moved to stage three, many places are choosing to skip indoor dining but may offer patio dining, take out and delivery. Some wineries are taking pre-booked tastings and are offering boxed meals that you can take out to enjoy in a shady spot for a picnic on the property.

Camping is the ultimate, social distance getaway. Photo: Timothy Meinberg

If you choose to camp in a private park contact them first. You can go to Camping in Ontario for a list of campsites in the province. For camping in Ontario Parks, you can check the website for up to date information here.

Road tripping is still the safest way to get anywhere during the pandemic. Just be mindful of stopping for bathroom breaks (maybe invest in a female portable urination device for long trips). Bring your own food for the road and stop as little as possible until you get to your final destination.

Photo: William Christen

Although the safest way to travel is in your own car, you can still catch a train, bus or a flight. Via Rail is offering more flexible booking, allowing you to cancel or change your reservation at any time prior to your departure, free of charge. They are also limiting the number of seats to help with social distancing although it is not guaranteed that you won’t find yourself seated next to someone on one of the busier trains. Their baggage assistance will only be offered to travellers with disabilities or limited mobility and checked baggage is currently suspended on the Quebec-Windsor corridor. Of course, you must wear a mask, except when eating and drinking.

Greyhound has suspended all bus travel in Ontario although Ontario Northland appears to be up and running with mask-wearing requirements in place.

Photo: Camila Perez

Air travel requires a face mask (and I also recommend safety goggles to keep those pesky aerosol bits and bobs out of your eyeballs). A health check prior to boarding will be required. Be prepared for an almost empty airport. Expect little food and drink options pre-boarding inside the departure Terminal. Also, there will be little or no food/drink service on board. Depending on the airline, don’t expect to NOT be seated next to a stranger. Air Canada, for example, is no longer leaving the middle seats empty. If you can afford it, flying Business Class is the ideal way to give yourself some distance from fellow travellers. They are offering rebooking options for people who find themselves booked on a packed flight. Some things never change.

If you want to leave the province, you are going to have to check the latest COVID restrictions on your preferred destination. At this time, recreational travellers from Ontario can go to Quebec, for instance, but you can’t continue on to New Brunswick unless you own property there. Even then, you must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Make sure you will be allowed to travel to the province you are interested in visiting – you wouldn’t want to be turned around especially if you’ve got kids on board!  Your safest bet is to travel within your own province to minimize the stress — unless you need to travel for a family, emergency, or work.

NOTE: It’s not necessary, but I would strongly advise everyone who wants to take a holiday within Canada, to get a COVID test first for some peace of mind. While you are travelling, take all safety precautions. Travel only with people that are within your household or your tightly controlled bubble. Wear your mask and maintain social distancing as much as humanly possible. Consider protective eyewear or a face shield as well as a face mask for travel on any sort of plane, train or bus. Bring plenty of hand sanitizer, tissues, disinfecting wipes, extra masks and travel safe.