Dreaming of travel

How much do you miss air travel? We’re now into our first major snowstorm of the season in Saskatchewan. My thoughts turn to warm-weather destinations.

It’s pretty well just a dream now. Canada continues to urge Canadians to “avoid non-essential travel outside Canada and avoid all travel on cruise ships outside Canada until further notice.”

Remember the golden age of travel? It was early March 2020. There were long lineups at airport security. There were flight delays and crowded planes. There were no temperature checks, no physical distancing, and no masks. Ah, those were the days.

My interview with Christine Niemczyk of CAA Saskatchewan.

So if we can’t travel, we can always make plans. The people at CAA’s travel department encourage us to dream a little and begin making plans now for that next bucket list trip.

I connected with Christine Niemczyk, Director of Communications for CAA Saskatchewan.

“It has been a little bit quiet,” says Niemchyk. “But there’s no harm in making preparations now for the day when travel opens up again. We know some of the countries where the members have expressed interest are what we call a bit safer than other countries. It might not be destination A on your bucket list, but maybe it’s destination B. Iceland is seen as popular. There are some islands in the Caribbean where they have low pandemic numbers. So what we say is dream along with us. When you are ready to travel, hop on, and we will help make that dream come true.”

Here are some things to consider when looking at possible travel down the road.

“You have to be flexible. You have to be sure you are knowledgeable. Be prepared. Familiar places like Disney, Palm Springs, and Europe; Those experiences are not the same today and won’t be the same as tomorrow,” says Niemchyk. “Even if you are going into the amusement parks, those lineups are going to be different, and there are going to be different rules and regulations in place. You may have to arrive early. You may have to arrive a day or two before, but we have to expect delays. We have to be flexible. We also have to be patient.”

Dreaming of travel? This is CAA’s video that might serve as some inspiration.

Flexibility is the key. The situation is fluid. Countries that are open to visitors one day can shut down their borders the next day.

For example, on July 1, the Bahamas reopened to international tourism.
A few weeks later, COVID-19 cases shot up. The country added a list of restrictions. By July 27, all visitors were required to complete a 14-day quarantine at a state-run facility. A few days later, the country shut down beaches and reinstated curfews. Authorities have since eased those restrictions. Visitors must now comply with a list of other conditions, including submitting Bahamas’ approved health visa. Visitors that stay longer than five days must take a rapid COVID-19 test. At one point, visitors were required to take their temperature twice a day and enter the result online. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends against travel to that country.

The rules for some countries seem to change by the day.

What about Mexico? You can still fly into Mexico, and no testing requirements are required. Terminal imaging cameras monitor the temperatures of all incoming passengers. Overall, Mexico has among the highest COVID-19 cases globally, and its medical system is overwhelmed. It’s a different story in some tourist areas such as Cancun that boasts low COVID-19 numbers. But would you want to take a chance of getting sick in Mexico?

Travel insurance has become more critical now, whether it is for health or cancellations.

“Talk with the travel consultant and ask what do I need for my travel insurance? We’ve all filled out that form for travel insurance. Be honest. We want to make sure that when it comes time to give you that insurance coverage that you are getting the coverage that you deserve,” says Niemczyk.

Given the fast-changing landscape, it appears non-essential travel outside of Canada will remain but a dream for a while yet. If you must travel, a good start is to check the International Air Transport Association’s page. A global map shows travel restrictions for each country. You will quickly find the extent to which the world has all but shut down to international travel.

However, there is one spot in the world that offers some respite from the cold Saskatchewan weather. It’s a country with no visa restrictions, no COVID-19 testing, and no quarantines. Are you interested? That country is war-torn Afghanistan. I think I’ll take a pass on that for now.