Of course, the obvious answer to those questions is that it’s impossible to know for sure. But we can sure make an educated guess based on the information we know now, to help you start planning your next trip. Because there is one very important thing that you must do no matter what (and one thing you definitely shouldn’t do).
It’s finally time to start being (cautiously) optimistic about future travel. Yes, really.
Will all of Canada’s travel rules be removed on April 21st, the date they theoretically expire? Of course not. But some could be. And the rest could all be gone this summer.
So here’s our guide to help you with what most travelers care a lot about right now: when can I finally travel? (It’s by far the most frequent question we’ve received from Canadians in recent months.)
More specifically, when will international travel be simpler? Or actually, when will it be cheaper, without the ≈ $1,000 3-day hotel quarantine (or the more affordable alternative of 14 days at home via the land border, which we’ll have a detailed post about soon)?
You can already travel of course, but most of you aren’t right now because of this cost (we aren’t either).
So we were due for an updated look at when that will change. Anyway, the only thing remotely close to being as fun as traveling is planning travel.
Reminder about predictability
Many countries have announced their travel reopening plans very clearly.
For example, Greece will open to all nationalities on May 14th regardless of vaccination status (they said that last year and kept their word, so we went and it was awesome—but unlike last summer, a negative test will be required this year).
Others are already open to all nationalities with no restrictions with proof of vaccination, as many more countries will soon do too (Iceland is opening this week).
Dozens of countries are obviously already open to all Canadians but have clear plans to ease restrictions and requirements even further, like the United States.
So while our Canadian government clearly has no plan for that either and will likely decide haphazardly at the last minute based on how much outrage the media generates towards travelers just like their past decisions about travel rules—instead of based on science and evidence—we can still try to predict your best course of action.
But of course, the caveat is that no one can even predict what the rules will be next week, much less next month. Not with any level of certainty. We’ve been saying this all along. Since March 2020, as travel resumed for many last summer, through our own August trip to Greece and Turkey, our multi-country fall trip to Europe, and all winter long: rules change so fast.
It’s worth taking the time to see the scenarios though, so you can increase your chances of exploring the world sooner.
The most important thing to do (and the mistake to avoid)
The most important thing you can do if you are looking forward to traveling is simply putting in a bit of time to prepare and keeping an open mind. That’s it.
And the important mistake to avoid is… booking anything non-refundable, of course.
(Also, maybe push back your summer vacation days to the early fall if you can… or as late as possible in the summer if not.)
We want to help you maximize your chances of your next trip being an international one, and make sure you are very ready so that it can be the soonest possible.
Like everything in the world of travel, GOOD PREPARATION IS THE KEY. It was true before, it is even truer now.
So many people keep asking how I went on 12 international trips in 2019 (for about the same price as those who travel just 4 times a year) and it’s very simple: I invest the time to make sure I prepare and I plan well (among other tips I’ll share).
Failing to plan is planning to fail. And if you want to travel more or travel for less, you have to make traveling more or traveling for less a priority.
If you want to travel as soon as possible, make it a priority to travel as soon as possible. And act accordingly. Make decisions based on your priorities.
Why it’s important
If you wait until the last minute to start looking at your options and the rules, of course, you’ll miss out and be stuck here in Canada (or pay way too much).
(It’s like when some people tell me they’re jealous that I am able to seize the deals to Europe for $250 roundtrip, to Asia for $499 roundtrip, to South Africa for $550, etc. but they don’t even take the time to think about the destinations that they want to visit in advance or do the 3 other simple and vital tips to take advantage of deals.)
Anyway, I know travelers who say they prefer traveling abroad… but already booked non-refundable hotels near their home for summer 2021… what a terrible idea (if you want to travel internationally—if not, then that’s fine of course).
As we’ve said before, it’s not that Canada is not beautiful (yes it is), but our mission is to help you travel more for less… so you can discover new cultures and explore our beautiful world. International travel is simply infinitely more gratifying for us as human beings. Many countries are also extremely more affordable.
No, we can’t know for sure if international travel will be simpler or cheaper this summer… but don’t paint yourself in a corner by assuming it won’t be! Just keep your options open! That’s all.
It’s not even a question of booking anything now, not at all. But at the very least, don’t make decisions that will make it impossible to book in the coming weeks.
Experts said it would take a literal “miracle” for vaccines to be available before the end of 2020… and they were available. Some countries will be essentially back to normal life very very soon (or are already), so why wouldn’t a super quick elimination of travel restrictions be at least a possibility?
In short, of course it would be foolish to say that it will be possible to travel this summer for sure (especially with our government’s past actions)… but it’s just as foolish to say that it won’t be possible to travel this summer for sure.
Nobody knows. But in general, having a pessimistic approach, having a can’t-do attitude, and being negative usually makes your life accordingly negative and tends to lead to negative outcomes. That is science too.
Our 2020 experience
You can book a Plan B in Canada to make sure you’re not stuck somewhere bad, but almost every airline and thousands of accommodation options offer free changes and flexible bookings, so pick one of those only at least!!!
As an avid traveler, I would personally do literally everything to keep open the possibility of not having to travel within Canada this summer. Of course, everyone’s situation is different as we’ll go through below, but still.
If we had booked something nonrefundable here in Canada last summer (or believed all the skeptics who don’t know what they’re talking about and said going to Europe wouldn’t be possible until 2021), we would have missed out on going to Greece when medical travel insurance coverage for COVID-19 became available for Canadians in late July (we left the very next week).
If we hadn’t put in the time to understand the restrictions and rules, we would not have been able to explore Malta, Albania, and Turkey in November (via 4 other countries too). We had a great—and safe—time everywhere. But certain rules will remain in some places well after Canada will have removed its own, hence the need for some preparation.
So no matter how the situation evolves, if you have even the slightest desire to travel internationally later this spring or this summer, keep an open mind to it, start thinking of preparing for it, and don’t book anything non-refundable here in Canada!
Predicting international travel scenarios
Speaking of trips within Canada, of course, those who live in Canada’s 4 most populous provinces (ON, QC, BC, AB) can already travel to any of the 4 with no COVID-19 tests, no quarantine, and no requirements whatsoever. Those are the rules today, and it has been this way since last summer.
International travel has always been allowed too, but it is more complicated as explained in our post about Canada’s 11 current rules for international travel.
So predicting when you will be able to go abroad all depends on your personal situation. And it especially depends on which factors are keeping you from traveling right now (it’s different for everyone).
The determining factors
I won’t list all the many current risks and restrictions here again; you can download our free checklist for pandemic travel.
But in short, if you are like us and are not at high risk for COVID-19 complications (based on the data and science), you probably don’t want to wait for a vaccine. You just want the 14-day quarantine to be replaced by a test on arrival.
Or if you work from home, you can even live with the 14-day quarantine—as long as it’s not the stupid hotel one—so you can stay at home without putting anyone at risk for free (just like 99.3% of those infected in Canada are allowed to do with no surveillance since they’re not travelers).
If you are going to be careful, many places around the world will have very low infection rates anyway. If you are not going to be careful and are going to be irresponsible, you should not travel but you’re probably going to do whatever you want anyway…
And if you are waiting to be vaccinated, then how quickly that happens will depend on your age too, and on whether or not we stop being one of the worst developed countries in the world in terms of vaccination rate (again based on the data and science).
When the rules could be eliminated
All those required scenarios could happen starting April 21st, as all rules expire on that date (quarantine, tests, border closures).
That’s not very likely, so maybe they get extended for one extra month, to May 21st. Maybe it will be June 21st, which would still be perfect for all those who want to travel during the summer (we chose September for my girlfriend’s summer vacations from work to increase our odds, although I plan on traveling solo before that).
Maybe if you are vaccinated, the hotel quarantine will be removed even quicker. Which would be quite logical.
It would also be logical that during the summer, when all those who are really at risk of dying of COVID-19 will have long been vaccinated, the quarantine could finally be removed entirely…
But again, that is the biggest warning: if things were decided logically, it would be easier to predict. But anyone who knows anything about Canada’s travel rules and who has followed the government’s actions on the travel file for the past year would not be even remotely surprised if irrational illogical decisions were made yet again.
The USA is much more advanced in terms of vaccination, but the number of air passengers there is already back to over 50% of 2019 numbers (in Canada we’re at less than 10%). The US didn’t have the massive travel-shaming we had and all those numbers include domestic passengers… but still, it’s just to show that travel can resume very quickly when the situation gets better.
I’ll keep hoping that people will be rational enough to accept that if everything else in society is back to normal and all other activities reopen, international travel can also resume without being more of a risk than everything else. Especially if all vulnerable citizens are vaccinated…
Not everyone has been rational through this though. Zero nuance and a lot of impulsive emotional reactions. So we’ll have to see.
I had the misfortune of seeing a few minutes of a TV news show last week for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic (I don’t have cable since 2012 and strongly adhere to the personal development principle that is pretty unequivocal about how not watching the news is very beneficial) and seeing that has somewhat shaken my efforts to be optimistic, but anyway…
We’ll be here to help you plan and get ready, with a lot more content to come!
- how to start planning
- which countries are your most likely options for the summer
- our future outlook for our own trips
- our tips
Want to get all coronavirus updates for Canadian travelers?
It is finally time to start being optimistic about future travel, but most importantly time to start thinking of preparing to be ready for when you can go abroad more simply (and more cheaply).
When do you think you will travel? Tell us in the comments below.
Explore awesome destinations: travel inspiration
Learn pro tricks: travel tips
Discover free travel: travel rewards
Featured image: Santorini, Greece (photo credit: Joel Protasio)
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