Whether you have put off travelling during the pandemic and are finally reuniting with family or you desperately need a week-long holiday someplace warm, you're thinking about setting off on a trip, but you might be unsure about how to travel safely while COVID-19 is still a concern.

From country specific entrance requirements to travel insurance with COVID benefits, we are here to help you navigate what to expect while travelling these days – and how to prepare for it.

Be a COVID aware traveller

Before you choose a destination, it's important to know how the pandemic is affecting the region you plan to visit. Knowing how prevalent the virus is and which variants are spreading there will help you make an informed choice about whether you'll feel safe at that destination.

Unsure where to find a country's COVID stats? There are real-time maps that help you learn how COVID is affecting countries around the world, as well as resources that help you gauge what's happening in Canadian provinces and the United States.

Protect yourself with emergency travel medical coverage*

Excited to jet off? Before you go, make sure you pack the most important COVID-19 travel precaution — travel insurance.

Did you know Scotiabank offers a variety of travel protection options? In fact, the Scotia COVID-19 Pandemic Travel Plan  offers worldwide protection for COVID-19 related and non-related emergency medical costs and includes trip interruption coverage. Family coverage savings are also available.

Take a look at what insurance coverage you currently have to see if this option could provide you with additional protection when you are travelling. Speak to a travel insurance agent at the time you are considering travel to get the best advice.  

Find out more about how to protect your trip with Scotia Travel Insurance

Read up on travel advisories and requirements

Many provinces, states, and countries have travel advisories or travel requirements for visiting their region. Before you embark, make sure you understand what you need to do.

Some countries currently require that you're vaccinated and require you to provide proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test to enter. Others require you quarantine for a set period of time or face significant fines for breaching their guidelines. If you have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, you may wish to choose a different destination for your week-long getaway.

There are also some countries that are still closed to all non-essential travel or ones that only allow business travellers entry and require you have a detailed work plan to prove you're entering the country for work.

Travelling within Canada? There might be some COVID-19 travel restrictions in place so be sure to check for any provincial requirements and restrictions beforehand.

Know your re-entry requirements

Perhaps even more important is to check for any provincial or federal re-entry requirements before you leave home. You might need a negative COVID-19 test to return, or you might have to quarantine upon arrival back in Canada. Look into the cost of getting a test at your destination so you can add it to your travel budget. Tests can be hundreds of dollars for non-resident travellers.

You might even want to change your plans if the testing protocols of the place you were planning to visit aren't compatible with Canada's re-entry requirements. Before you book your trip, check what days COVID-19 testing locations at your destination will be open and the average wait time for results to ensure that you'll be able to get a test that's within the required window – which is typically within 72 hours of when you fly home to Canada.

Travelling during COVID-19 is a bit more complicated than just purchasing a ticket and showing up for your flight. Check with your travel provider for mask policies, sudden seat spacing rule changes, changes to both complimentary and for-purchase meal services, or other things that might affect your itinerary or your comfort.

Also, as fewer people are travelling right now, you're more likely to run into delays and cancellations that affect your trip. That's because with fewer flights currently operating, it is harder for a carrier to rebook your flight if something happens to your plane or if it is overbooked. That could mean you could be delayed at or on your way to your destination. Prepare by keeping everything you need for a few days in your carry-on and consider taking out trip interruption insurance to protect yourself.

You should also check to see what safety precautions your hotel or other accommodations have implemented. You'll want to consider whether they have mandatory mask requirements, plexiglass barriers where appropriate, and physical distancing requirements on the property. You might also want to check if there are changes to hotel amenities or restaurants that you should know about.

Protect the local community at your destination

Travelling during COVID-19 involves risks for you - but also for the communities you're visiting. Being a good guest involves learning and following all the COVID-19 protocols at your destination. Being extra cautious is a great way to thank the people whose region you're visiting for sharing the beauty of their home with you.

Don't forget to pack these...

While we've all probably forgotten our toothpaste or our deodorant before when travelling, there are a few things you won't want to forget these days. Here are some must-haves to keep you safe or that you'll need on hand in case you have a pandemic related delay or change of plans.

  • Reusable and disposable masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Proof of vaccination
  • Proof of COVID-19 test
  • Extra medications in case of quarantine
  • Extra currency in case of quarantine
  • Extra toiletries in case of quarantine
  • Travel documents
  • Mobile devices and chargers
  • Your emergency medical coverage information