We’re considering traveling to the US this weekend to get a vaccine shot so that we can eliminate the risk of us getting other more vulnerable people sick… and of course, so we can make traveling abroad even easier. We figured we could share our thought process about this other new travel topic, as we often have done since the beginning of the pandemic.
We’re not even sure this works, so as travel experts and the travel resource for Canadians, we might go check it out for ourselves—just like we wanted to test traveling during a pandemic last summer to inform you and share our tips with those who are traveling.
It’s certainly not for everyone, but it’s very tempting in our particular situation (and ethical concerns are certainly not the reason we are hesitating).
How does Canada’s vaccine failure motivate us?
Procuring vaccines is literally THE most important thing our federal government should have focused its efforts and resources on. You know, THE thing that saves lives.
Instead, they wasted time and resources on implementing a stupid ineffective hotel quarantine program. I won’t repeat here why it is a bad measure, but I will do a post about it with the latest data soon… because clearly a lot of people still believe the opposite, despite the facts.
(Yes the pandemic exists and is very serious of course… but that changes nothing to the fact that at least 81% of the hundreds of thousands of people entering Canada every week still today are completely exempt of any quarantine whatsoever, based on the government’s numbers. And that changes nothing to the fact that since almost everyone who does have to quarantine at a hotel can go home within a day, they can still completely ignore the 14-day quarantine very quickly just like before.)
The reality is that Canada’s vaccination campaign is an embarrassing abject failure, and that’s objectively undebatable. Even provincial premiers are saying so. And that’s what the media should talk about, but the government was very glad to change the subject by blaming travelers (even if travelers represented 0.5% of all COVID-19 infections in Canada during the worst one of the past six months).
Anyway, all Americans will be vaccinated by May and they will all have a nice normal summer—including a whole lot of traveling (United Airlines’ CEO even said that “domestic leisure demand has almost entirely recovered” as the US health agency has updated its recommendation for travel to resume for those who are vaccinated.)
Canadians will likely not have a normal summer… but we are thinking of taking action to not be (further) penalized by the federal government’s failure.
How can Canadians get vaccinated in the US?
In short, there are currently a few US states that:
- are vaccinating all adults
- are vaccinating non-residents
- returning to Canada overland does not require a hotel quarantine (we’ll have a detailed post about that next week)
- short-distance one-way flights are just half the price of a roundtrip (as always)
So it’s very tempting to make our way there to get the free vaccine right away, at least for us.
Especially since there is an easy online scheduling tool (a VPN is required) to book a free vaccine appointment (in Walmarts, pharmacies, and other places). The tool also allows us to specifically select the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine. That’s the one that requires only one jab instead of two—way more practical for Canadians going there for less than a month.
We’ve read testimonials of Canadians saying it worked for them, but we like to test things out ourselves to give you the best information.
Also, many US states near the Canadian border (like New York, Michigan, Washington, etc.) seem to have pharmacies offering free PCR tests too, making it much more affordable to return to Canada without any extra cost (by entering at the land border with a proof of a COVID-19 test that you can get for free).
The trip certainly involves some costs of course, as opposed to waiting for the vaccine for free here in Canada. But who knows how slow that will be (the federal government that always preaches transparency has been outright refusing to release vaccine contracts for months now).
The government says it will take until late September. That’s almost a half-pandemic timespan later than the US…
And at least we’d get an extra trip out of it, as we can visit new places for a few weeks while we’re there for the vaccine.
Why get the vaccine now?
There are many reasons…
We want this nightmare to end
We obviously believe these vaccines are safe, so if talking about our own vaccination can help, that’s great… even though we’ll never tell anyone what to do about anything (on any topic).
In short… vaccines are what will end this whole nightmare more quickly. We could seize this opportunity to get vaccinated now and accelerate the process. We’d do our part, at our own expense. There’d be more vaccines for Canadians.
And more selfishly, we’d take the opportunity to enjoy it too of course.
Traveling in the USA is certainly not our favorite option (we always prefer the culture shock experience of traveling abroad), but it’s infinitely better than staying at home for sure. Especially since we live in the most lockdowned place.
We’d be lying if we said that it won’t be fun to be somewhere where the coronavirus situation is going better than here!
To be able to do something other than work inside all the time. They even let us walk outside at any time of day!
We want to travel
While this pandemic has obviously had many other more important repercussions, we are a travel website and we talk about travel.
And having only gone on 2 trips in the last year has not been fun as passionate travelers who have literally redesigned our entire lives around travel.
For example, Flytrippers’ other cofounder Kevin had been a digital nomad visiting countless new places full-time for about 2 years. And even I had gone on 12 international trips in 2019 alone for example. So we definitely miss traveling pretty badly.
After a way-too-long travel break since our Europe trip in November (our longest stint in Canada since launching Flytrippers 4 years ago) Kevin is ready to become a full-time digital nomad again, and I hope to travel to the Middle East in May.
We have an epic trip to Fiji and a few other Pacific islands booked for August, and I want to be sure I’m vaccinated in case they require being it (it seems likely that they would if they reopen, given how those are very vulnerable and isolated islands that have taken a very strict approach to travel).
We want to simplify our other 2021 trips
Speaking of, it goes without saying that being vaccinated will make international travelers simpler for at least the rest of 2021 (even though many countries won’t necessarily require it; for example, Greece announced they will be reopening in May to all nationalities regardless of vaccination status).
Whether you agree with vaccines being required or not, the fact remains that some countries will require it (like they’ve required many other vaccines for many years).
Sadly, as of now, not all countries have removed testing or quarantine requirements for those who are vaccinated (Canada certainly has not). But we hope it’s only a matter of time for governments to follow the science on that as more data becomes available.
So once again, being vaccinated will likely make traveling simpler (and cheaper) by avoiding some requirements (hopefully Canada’s 14-day quarantine will be removed for vaccinated travelers when the current rule expires on April 21st or if not, maybe on May 21st).
I don’t miss any of the activities that I haven’t been doing since March 2020 (I have been mostly staying home apart from my trips), but I miss traveling and I’m ready to get back to a more normal pace with more trips and more destinations options. And since some US states are allowing Canadians to get vaccinated… why not?
Is it ethical to get vaccinated in the US now?
We are very comfortable with going to the US to get vaccinated now from an ethical standpoint.
That is certainly not what is making us hesitate. We are budget travelers: whether the cost is worth it to avoid the wait is what we are evaluating. This vaccination trip will cost a minimum of a few hundred dollars even by using travel rewards… the same budget would obviously give us 3 times more travel weeks in affordable countries—and in my case, there’s also the fact I’m currently having a house built so I feel quite bad leaving my girlfriend to deal with all that.
But ethically, it’s pretty straightforward for us.
The states in question are vaccinating all adults regardless of age because that’s how their public health officials have decided to proceed. Trust the experts, right? It’s not like we’re taking a vaccine that was going to go to a vulnerable person there: they have a lot more vaccines than we do and vulnerable people are vaccinated already.
In short… if they didn’t want young people getting vaccinated, they simply wouldn’t allow young people to get vaccinated.
Our foreigner status
They are also vaccinating non-residents because, rather logically, their experts want whoever is in their state now to be protected and to not spread COVID-19 to other people in their state. Trust the experts. We’ll spend a couple of weeks in their state so we’re okay with taking their vaccine. It’s not a grey zone, it seems 100% allowed.
Again… if they didn’t want non-residents getting vaccinated, they simply wouldn’t allow non-residents to get vaccinated.
It goes without saying that by being careful traveling can be done safely (and we’ve got COVID-19 medical travel insurance too). And in my case, by quarantining for 14 days upon return, there is no risk for others here.
And since I’ll be vaccinated, when I return here in Canada I will also be less of a danger to others than those who aren’t vaccinated… even if I do travel (which was already the case anyway, since after every trip I simply quarantined at home without putting anyone at risk).
Where in the US would we get vaccinated?
For what it’s worth, at first glance, there are 3 US states that fit the 2 vaccination requirements in the southern part of the country (it’s been many years since we had to endure such an interrupted stretch in a cold climate in Canada’s horrible winter; might as well go where it’s warmer since we have to fly there anyway).
The 3 states are:
Choosing a destination
I’ve already visited both major cities in Louisiana (New Orleans and Baton Rouge) 5 and 4 times each, so I’ve eliminated that one (it’s bad enough I’ve only been able to visit 2 new countries this past year, I want to at least visit new cities).
I’ve also already been to Arizona and Texas multiple times (that’s to be expected since I’ve visited 46 of the 50 states) but Texas is huge and I’ve never visited its biggest metropolitan area (Dallas)… which also happens to be a 2-hour drive from one of the 4 states I have not visited (Oklahoma).
Oh, and Dallas happens to have direct flights from Montreal for just 11,000 Avios points and $68 in taxes. Dallas also happens to have Marriott category 1 hotels in the suburbs for as low as 25,000 points for 5-night stays (it’s not as appealing as Bali for sure, but we have enough Marriott points anyway).
By the way, both of those reward currencies are listed in our free cheat sheet of the essential reward programs for Canadian travelers; you should download it.
(Welcome bonuses can give you tens of thousands of these points: Avios points can be obtained by transferring points from the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, the Platinum Card from American Express, or the American Express Gold Rewards Card for example — and Marriott points are easier than ever to get with the current highest-ever offers on both the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card and the American Express Cobalt Card.)
The situation in Texas
So it’s trending towards Texas, where the situation is going better than here in terms of infection rates… even though they don’t seem to be taking many precautions judging by their 100% full baseball stadium.
That’s not ideal. But it’s been 4 weeks since their governor reopened the state at 100% and removed the mask mandate… and their cases have only gone down. They have fewer cases per capita than where I live. I love the “facts don’t care about your feelings” saying… so that data sure reassures me.
I still want to be careful because you’re considered fully vaccinated only 2 weeks after the shot.
When we traveled to Europe and Turkey last summer and last fall, we chose to visit 4 countries where the situation was going better than here… but those countries also happened to take distancing and hygiene measures seriously.
That’s probably not the case in Texas. Whether outsiders like us agree or not, Texas lets everyone decide whether to require a mask or not. I will be free to wear mine and I will.
But anyway, this trip would be mostly to get vaccinated and we’d be doing more of a work retreat. Or enjoying the warm weather outside, fully distanced.
- I’ll be very careful for 2 weeks like I did on previous trips
- I’m at a factually low risk level for complications based on the science because:
- I am young
- I don’t have any health issues
- I am not overweight
… I personally am comfortable traveling based on my own situation. I also know all the many other risks involved very well.
I had a prior commitment this morning for that aforementioned house, so I can leave starting tomorrow… so we will decide today whether to go ahead with the trip (being easygoing and booking last-minute is the new reality of travel as we told you last summer).
We’ll let you know more details about how it goes if we do, but we’re certainly leaning towards yes.
Want to get more content to travel for less whenever you are ready?
We are considering traveling to the US to get the vaccine and spend a couple of weeks where the coronavirus situation is going better than here. Our federal government’s vaccine procurement failure is so massive that it would take half-a-pandemic timespan longer than in the US for us to get vaccinated here so… why not?
What would you like to know about getting vaccinated in the US? Tell us in the comments below.
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Featured image: Lake Mineral Wells State Park (photo credit: Texas State Parks)
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