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Thinking about visiting Canada this summer? Things you should know

Before you book your tickets or start packing your car for the journey, there are a few things you need to know before travelling to Canada this summer.

Cities full of personality. The jaw-dropping beauty of the Rockies. Some of the best skiing on the planet. The chance to see a polar bear in the wild. And, of course, the gooey deliciousness known as poutine. 

These are just some of the reasons why everyone should try and visit Canada at least once. But before you book your tickets or start packing your car for the journey, there are a few things you need to know before travelling to Canada this summer. 

You may need to self-isolate 
The way things stand, if you’re eligible to enter the country, you will be required to self-isolate for two weeks. That’s no picnic. Of course, if you’re planning on a long summer road trip, the wait may be worth it. Conversely, if you’re looking for a short-ish trip, next year is probably the better option. 

The pesky quarantine issue also works both ways. For example, UK citizens who return from Canada are also asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Put together, that’s almost an entire month of staying indoors. In that kind of situation, you have to ask yourself if going to Canada is the right option for you. 

Preparing for self-isolation 
If you’re not going to let Covid-19 stop your travel plans, you will need to prepare for self-isolation. We recommend doing this even if Canada lifts or eases restrictions, as it is very possible they will be re-introduced if cases start going up once more. Here is what you should have in place: 

Self-isolation is boring. You need to make sure you have fun things to do from your hotel room, just in case you’re stuck. Entertainment is built around an internet connection, so make sure you have a solid cell plan before you go. You want lots of data. 

To pass the time, you want to have movies, books (load that Kindle!), and games. Board games and puzzles are always fun to play with the family. Should you be going with friends, do as the locals do and play a friendly game of poker. If you need a break from socializing, grab a Margaret Atwood novel (a Canadian legend!), load up a virtual poker session (or slots casino, another popular option amongst locals), or go out to the balcony or garden and meditate or just enjoy the tranquil atmosphere (it’s good to get away from tech every once in a while). 

The point is this: you may go through a period where your group will need to stay indoors. Have options. Lots of them. You don’t want to be stuck twiddling your thumbs and getting on each other’s nerves for two weeks. 

Book good accommodation (for two weeks!) 
You want your first ‘base’ in Canada to offer you several options. If lockdown restrictions have been eased, nature and town fun should ideally be close to where you’re staying. A place like the Thornhill condos might be ideal for this. And if you’re in the unfortunate situation where 14 days isolation is in place (or you develop Covid-19 symptoms), you want your accommodation to have everything you need for a strict staycation. 

Know the rules 
You’ve probably experienced some sort of lockdown already, and self-isolation is pretty much as strict as you can get. At the time of writing, stringent restrictions are still in place. 

For example, you won’t be able to stop at a grocery store to pick up supplies when you arrive. Canadian law requires arrivals to have this stuff taken care of already. Ensure you’re stocked, whether through friends you’re meeting in Canada or your own means. 

You also won’t be allowed to take public transportation. Have that rental car ready to go the minute you land, or drive over the border with everything you need already in the trunk. 

Don’t try and trick the locals 
It may seem a little boring, but we’re sticklers for the rules. Don’t try and find loopholes, and don’t even think about attempting to trick local law enforcement. It’s not going to be pretty. 

The Guardian recently reported that Americans were caught crossing the Canadian border under the pretext of using the country as a thoroughfare for their final destination: Alaska. Yes, Canada is currently closed except for essential travel. Except for those looking to travel to the American state. Tourists were taking advantage and lying about it. Several were caught, fined, and sent on their merry way home. 

Yes, waiting for the rules to change is annoying. We’re all getting sick of the lockdown rules. But be patient and wait for Canada to open up again. Consider a staycation, if you’re desperate to get away. 

Explore hidden gems  
We may have pumped you up at the start of the article, mentioning the famous places Canada is known for. But the problem with heading straight for the highlights is the fact that everyone else will have the same idea. And when we’re all trying to keep a semblance of social distance, things can get a little tricky. 

One of the less busy places we like is Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (love the name of the place). It’s not too far from Edmonton, has character by the boatload, has some great restaurants, and nature isn’t too far away if you find it’s still a little too busy for your liking. 

Dawson is another gem we recommend. It’s a tiny town in Yukon, and harks back to the Klondike Gold Rush of the nineteenth century. The cool thing about this place is that it retains that Old West feel, as many of the original buildings have been preserved. 

But what you should really focus on is the ridiculous nature that Canada has to offer. Social distancing is super easy when you’re out in the wild. Some of our favourites are Gros Morne National Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park (yes, you can find dino fossils here!), and the windswept Sable Island National Park Reserve. 

Check before heading out! 
Covid-19 has put holidaymakers into a tricky position. Advice seems to change almost daily. For example, the UK suddenly changed its quarantine rules for those travelling back from Spain. The result? Thousands of people scrambling to change their plans at short notice.

To end our travel tips spiel, we want you to take away one simple message: always check the official advice. Even if things seem rosy today, tomorrow may look a little different. Keep checking daily. And yes, these all apply even if you live just across the border in the United States.