As the Canadian weather cools down and we want to set our sights on somewhere warm to visit we begin to wonder; is it safe to travel again?
It’s no surprise that our typical concerns over safety in travel have shifted in 2020. We are less concerned whether it’s safe to travel solo or not, and more aware and anxious over cleanliness practices on a plane, train, or even hotel.
In 2020, Canadians have opted for more physically distanced camping trips over crowded group tours in our favourite cities in Europe. And as our priorities in travel change with the times, it’s inevitable to start wondering about the next steps, and how we can safely get back out there and explore more.
This article was last updated on October 14, 2020. It’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest global health updates and guidance from the Government of Canada and the World Health Organization, along with the country that you’ll be travelling to before undertaking any type of travel.
Click below for the top safety concerns
- Is it safe to travel within Canada?
- Is it safe to travel between provinces?
- Is it safe to travel by plane?
- It is safe to travel within Canada by car?
- Is it safe to travel by train during Covid?
- Is it safe to travel outside of Canada?
- Frequently asked questions
Is it safe to travel within Canada?
The simplest answer for this question in 2020 is that it is generally safer to stay sheltering in place at home than it is to travel in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. This goes for travel within Canada as well as any travel abroad during the pandemic.
Scientists have discovered that COVID-19 can be contracted a few ways, with one of them being by breathing in the air droplets of an infected person. This means that a trip to your local coffee shop isn’t necessarily as safe as a road trip in your home province, or even a week or two down south. It really depends on how many new people you come into contact with on a daily basis, wherever you are in the world.
If you’re looking to travel within Canada by air, our major airlines have implemented new cleanliness practices and safety measures in according with these times. Travellers will be subject to temperature checks before boarding and face masks are required while on board, for example.
There are other things you can do to ensure the health and safety of yourself and others while travelling on a plane during this time. When travelling, always make sure your hands are properly cleaned regularly, wearing a face mask and visor on the flight and at the airport, and travelling with handy extras in your carry-on bag to keep the surfaces you come into contact with clean.
When I travelled from Toronto to Vancouver by plane, I felt even more prepared having brought a few Lysol wipes and also a face shield to cover my face when I needed to remove my mask for eating and drinking so I could still feel protected.Lydia Klemensowicz, Content Writer at Skyscanner Canada
Read more about travelling by plane from arrival to departure in 2020.
Is it safe to travel between provinces?
When it comes to travelling between provinces, there is a bit of a misconception that Canadians are permitted to travel everywhere within the country. Regulations and rules do currently vary from province to province here in Canada. And due to an increase in cases in provinces throughout the country in recent weeks, medical experts and leadership have advised against any unnecessary interprovincial travel at this time. For the latest guidance on travel between provinces, please click here.
Travel restrictions for the Maritimes
Those of us that are not from the Atlantic provinces are not allowed to travel to Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, or New Brunswick as the Maritimes have created their own Atlantic travel bubble. The exception is Nova Scotia, but there are restrictions such as a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
Travel restrictions for northern Canada
Travel to Nunavut and Northwest Territories continues to remain restricted to essential workers only. Yukon just entered Phase 3 of lifting coronavirus travel restrictions. Please note that anyone who enters Yukon has to self-isolate for 14 days, unless you are a resident of and are coming directly from the other northern territories or BC. Essential workers from the U.S. crossing Yukon from Alaska will need to follow the designated route map given out at the border.
Travel restrictions for Manitoba
For Manitoba, anyone coming in from Saskatchewan, Alberta, BC, the northern territories and northwestern Ontario do not have to self-isolate upon entry if they show zero symptoms of coronavirus.
Travel restrictions in Alberta and Ontario
Wondering if it’s safe to travel around Ontario, or if it’s safe to travel to Alberta? It really depends. Please be aware that every province is at a different phase of reopening at the moment, First instance, Alberta is still currently at Stage 2 and is not recommending any non-essential travel outside of the province. Ontario announced that further restrictions will be implemented due to a rise in coronavirus cases, especially in hot spots in the Toronto and Ottawa regions. Indoor dining, gyms, movie theatres, and casinos are now off-limits starting October 10, 2020.
Travel restrictions in Quebec
The Quebec government announced on September 28, 2020 that new lockdowns will be in place in Montreal, Laval, and other regions throughout the province starting Thursday, October 1, 2020. Restaurants and cafés will be restricted to delivery and take-out only, bars will be restricted, and private gatherings at home will be off-limits. These mandates will be in place for at least 28 days. For more specifics on coronavirus-related restrictions for Quebec, click here.
For more information on travel restrictions within and outside of Canada, here’s a handy map on the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable website that provides guidance regarding where you can travel depending on where in Canada you’re located.
Is it safe to travel by plane?
When people think of catching COVID-19 while they travel, a plane trip where travellers can’t significantly physically distance is one of the major travel and safety concerns. Other things like the air flow on airplanes, and the cleanliness of our tray tables are of utmost concern during these times.
Always check with the airlines you are thinking of travelling with and read up on their updated health and safety standards. Many airlines have mandated the use of non-medical face masks (cover your nose and mouth) during travel and have limited their in-flight food and beverage services to maximize the safety and security of all travellers.
When I flew on Air Canada recently, masks were required at all times in the airport and on the plane, except when you pull it down to show your ID while boarding. They scan your temperature as you board the plane, and when you get on, they hand you a “clean care” care with a bottle of water, hand sanitizer, gloves, mask, and disinfecting wipes. No food or drinks were served during the flight. All the seats were being used on the plane, but the airport itself was extremely quiet.Lora Pope, travel blogger at Explore with Lora and writer at Skyscanner
How is the air quality on planes? Thanks to the latest air filtration technology, it’s actually not bad at all. Here’s all you need to know about air filters on planes and the quality of air you are breathing on a flight.
Is it safe to travel in Canada by car?
It’s no doubt that when it comes to travel, 2020 has become the year of the road trip. Driving yourself somewhere (with limited stops along the way) is probably your safest bet during COVID-19 for a Canadian staycation. And because interprovincial travel is not advised by officials at this time, we recommend limiting your car travel to destinations within your home province.
While there should be many signs and protocols put in place at rest stops throughout Canada, make sure to keep your hands clean, wear a mask when indoors, and keep a safe distance between yourself and the people outside of your travel bubble.
For the best road trip safety, make sure you have face masks and sanitation equipment in your car on-hand so they’re there when you need them. This will decrease the need to stop at any roadside service areas and shops along the way! Try and avoid as many stops at rest areas and in little towns before your destination as possible.
Is it safe to travel by train during COVID?
VIA Rail is beginning to resume its train services. While some long-distance train routes throughout Canada remain suspended, many popular routes such as Quebec City-Windsor and Jasper-Prince Rupert are now partly in service. Limited seating, pre-boarding health checks, and face masks are some of the preventative measures put in place to ensure travellers’ safety. A cross-country trip might not be possible right now, but you can check out the latest train schedules here.
Other forms of public transportation like local buses are still operating in cities across Canada, though it’s not necessarily business as usual. It is important to note that many of them require face masks for all passengers and are working with heightened safety protocols. Interprovincial bus services from Greyhound remain suspended until further notice.
Is it safe to travel outside of Canada?
It’s important to note that the Canadian government has cautioned Canadians against all “non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice” (all tourism) and has made a specific note about avoiding cruise ship travel.
If you are planning a longer-term trip to visit a family member, travel abroad for work, or even if you are a digital nomad, please note that Canadians are currently allowed to fly to destinations around the world, however certain restrictions might be in place. If you’re looking to travel internationally, this page has a list of countries currently open to Canadian travellers.
Be aware that if you do choose to travel outside of Canada, you could face a few extra challenges, such as:
- medical screening and COVID testing upon departure and/or arrival
- extra fees for travel insurance coverage for anything COVID-related
- limited access to international consular services
- mandatory quarantine upon return to Canada
- the possibility of last-minute travel cancellations
When it comes to international travel, different places around the world will have their own rules and safety measures when it comes to regulating the spread of COVID-19 and you will be required to comply with their safety protocols upon entering.
Is it safe to travel from Canada to the US?
The Canada/US land border has been closed to non-essential travel since the pandemic began in March, and it’s still restricted until at least October 21, 2020. Only essential traffic will be allowed to cross the border until further notice. So a road trip from Vancouver to Seattle or from Montreal to Vermont for some shopping and exploring is still not possible at the moment.
That being said, there are flights leaving every day from major cities in Canada to destinations across the US. Check the local state health guidelines before planning any trip, and read any government travel advice before booking.
Is it safe to travel to Europe?
In July the EU lifted travel restrictions for certain countries, including Canada. Other countries in Europe outside of the EU are also lifting restrictions for Canadian travellers. For more information on quarantine requirements and other travel advisories for Europe, head to our When can I travel to Europe again page.
Please be aware that rules are constantly evolving at the moment as we all adapt to life in 2020, so what’s open today could be closed tomorrow. If you’re planning on heading to a new place, it’s important to be dialed into the goings-on of your destination.
Can I travel to Canada?
All international travel to Canada will continue to be restricted until at least October 31, 2020. This means that anyone without a Canadian citizenship, permanent residency, or any other eligible nationals may not enter Canada for tourism at this time, with limited exceptions. And a friendly reminder that all persons who enter Canada must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, and must provide information of their isolation plan (address where you’ll be staying, local phone number) to airport officials.
Health and safety tips for travel during COVID
It’s important to remember that you are a visitor to your new destination, which means that you need to follow their rules while you’re in their home.
That shouldn’t scare you away from travelling, but bring your attention to the importance of following safety rules. Whether it’s walking around your local neighbourhood or on a two-week trip to your favourite city in Thailand, it’s always important to take the basic health and safety measures wherever you may go.
- Have a face mask with you at all times and wear it accordingly
- Carry your own hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes and make sure to routinely clean your hands and frequently-touched surfaces like your phone
- Stay at least two metres away from others not in your travel party in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19
The safety precautions in most destinations are going to be clear and easy to understand, just make sure to pay attention to the signs and notices placed in front of the door or on the street. The most important thing is that you know what they are and adhere to them.
Frequently asked questions
International travel to Canada continues to be limited, and a 14-day quarantine is required upon arrival. Get all of the latest information and updates on travel advisories for Canadians in our coronavirus travel advice article, updated daily for your convenience.
Any type of travel in 2020 requires a lot of planning and preparation, no matter the distance. Researching a safe destination beforehand, making sure you have book flights and hotels with flexible booking policies, and following the local health and safety guidelines are just some of the requirements needed for safe travel during coronavirus.
In short, no. Cruise ships should not be booked this year. The Canadian government has been very vocal about travellers not planning any type of cruise ship travel at this time.
Only Canadian citizens, permanent residents, protected persons, persons registered under Canada’s Indian Act, and eligible foreign nationals are allowed to travel to Canada at the moment. Read more about Canada’s travel restrictions including quarantine rules upon entering Canada here.
Have more questions? We’ve answered your most frequently asked coronavirus questions.
This page was last updated on October 14, 2020. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. However, given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, information will vary by location and change at short notice and over time. We will do our best to keep this page up-to-date, however this cannot be guaranteed.