It’s happening! Borders are opening up, restrictions are lifting and we’ve all been itching to finally get a vacation in. Here’s what you need to know for Canadian travel updates before booking a future trip or even a last-minute getaway–from Air Canada’s new self-administered PCR testing kits to the land border opening, to non-essential advisories being lifted, this is how your dream trip can be a reality now.
Canadian Travel Updates: Your Post-Pandemic Travel Checklist
Check Your Passport:
Make sure it’s valid and not expiring within 6 months (many countries do not accept your passport if it expires within 6 months). The wait times are longer to get your passport renewed (up to 28 business days for it to be processed) and you’ll need to book appointments online if you need to visit a passport office.
Last-minute weekend getaways to another country can be tricky, as long as we still have testing in place and prices are changing. You need to plan in advance as much as possible if you can, and keep up to date on restrictions in your destination of choice. And keep in mind you’ll need to plan in advance for antigen testing, PCR testing and filling out applications.
Plan for more airport time:
Expect longer wait times for security and/or customs. Airlines are now recommending arriving 3 hours prior to your flight for US destinations and international destinations.
Flight and hotel prices:
They’re fluctuating a lot… if you’re looking to save book as far in advance as possible to secure a great deal. Last-minute flights are veering on the more expensive side at the moment. A great way to avoid some extra costs right now is to use those travel rewards, points or air miles you may have accumulated over the past year and a half.
Double check all your cancellation details:
Should you need to cancel or change your travel plans you want to make sure you know what restrictions you have in place, fees, etc. when it comes to booking flights and booking hotels.
Canadian Travel Updates: PCR testing requirements
To enter into the US you need to do an antigen test. These are faster and not as costly (you’re looking at around $40 at most drugstores). It’s done in 15 mins and you need it to be done within 72 hours of your departure.
To get back into Canada you must have a negative PCR test (these typically take longer) completed within 72 hours of your departure to Canada.
- This is where it gets tricky. It can be costly. I recommend budgeting up to $300 for both the testing to enter the US and then to return to Canada.
- One trick I found is you can try to get a free test done at a US pharmacy (Walgreens or CVS) at the 72 hour mark. They don’t guarantee results within the 72 hours, but it may come back within 24 hours. That saves you some money.
- BUT Have an expedited PCR test booked as a back up plan. These are done at clinics as opposed to pharmacies. They’re usually done anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 day for results, but they do cost anywhere from $100-$400.
Air Canada just announced they have international PCR self testing kits that are approved for use that you can buy from them, use the kit yourself, get results quickly and not have to worry about finding a clinic or a pharmacy. This could be a game changer when it comes to testing.
Canadian Travel Updates: Dealing with travel anxiety
- Restrictions are changing, so you need to keep on top of that, and it can be tricky/stressful. Here are some ways to help relieve some stress.
- Plan as far in advance as possible
- Make sure you’re covered with insurance. And have the budget/back up plan should you get a positive test and need to quarantine.
- Use a travel agent: They not only help find great travel deals, they can help you navigate the restrictions, testing, regulations. If you’re nervous, they can be the stress-relief you need.