Many of us haven’t managed to get away as much as we’d have liked in 2020, so if you’re planning a post-lockdown adventure, it makes total sense to want to maximize your time on the road. A multi-country trip offers the perfect opportunity to make up for this summer’s lack of adventure and tick a few places off your list at the same time.
A multi-destination trip can also give great insight into local life. For example, you can travel to Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon for a few days of historic tourist attractions before checking out the countryside and maybe relaxing on the coast. Because you’re already in Europe, you can take a low-cost flight to the gorgeous island of Tenerife in Spain and spend a week relaxing, hiking, and taking in the scenes of the stunning coastline.
Other benefits of a multi-country vacation? It can be far more cost-effective than taking three separate trips. For example, if travellers from Canada take one long-haul flight to Singapore (currently open for transit only), they can make the most of the ticket cost by hopping on some budget Air Asia flights from there to Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City or (once the current lockdown measures are lifted) Bangkok or Chiang Mai in Thailand. Short-haul flights from Singapore to these Southeast Asian cities average out at as little as $50 one-way, so it seems like a shame not to take advantage if you’ve travelled all that way.
Planning a multi-country trip
Wherever in the world you want to go, there’s a long list of things to think about when planning a multi-city vacation. Keep reading for some tips on planning a trip with multiple stops during these times, and make sure to visit our multi-city flights bookings page to learn how to use Skyscanner to book multi-country vacations.
1. What are the COVID-19 travel restrictions in each destination?
During the coronavirus pandemic, travel is a bit more complicated than usual. Some destinations require all entrants to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival, like the UK. For travellers to Brazil, you’ll need to show proof of travel insurance with complete coverage from each visitor. Some countries, including Ecuador and Egypt, require arrivals to present a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19. At some borders, like on arrival in Russia, everyone is subject to a temperature check. And many countries like Australia and New Zealand are generally closed to all arrivals except for citizens and permanent residents. Flights are still disrupted globally and some countries, such as India, have suspended almost all international inbound and outbound flights at the moment.
Before planning your trip, make sure to check our regularly updated map of global travel restrictions for a quick glance at which countries are open for business. Then, check in with each country’s own government and local embassy pages for up-to-date news on entry requirements where you’ll be able to check whether quarantine on arrival is in place, and what documentation you might require upon arrival.
2. Do I need a visa for a multi-country trip?
One of the most important considerations for a multi-country trip, regardless of coronavirus, is whether or not you need a visa in each destination you go to. A quick way to check is via the website iVisa.com, which also provides a secure, visa application service.
Make sure all your visa documents are in order before leaving for your trip, and bear in mind that any last-minute travel changes – for example, if COVID-19 travel restrictions change and you have to take a different route – might result in a new visa requirement.
If you’re one of the 26 countries in the Schengen Area, you don’t need a visa to visit other countries within that zone, but individual countries’ coronavirus restrictions will apply. For example, you could opt for a short-haul cultural crawl from Berlin to Copenhagen to The Netherlands, without having to worry about visas or – at the time of writing – high levels of coronavirus infections.
3. Do I need to quarantine on arrival, or when I get home?
A quarantine on arrival only depends on where you are planning to go on vacation. At the moment, there are a few countries where Canadians can travel to in Europe that do not require a quarantine upon arrival, but you’ll still have to quarantine for 14 days once you come back to Canada. Many destinations in the Caribbean are also currently open to Canadian travellers, but the two-week quarantine upon return to Canada still applies.
Tips to reduce risk on your multi-country vacation
1. Be flexible and informed
Bookmark each destination’s government pages to check the restrictions for the countries you’re planning to visit on your multi-country trip, so you can check in regularly before your departure date. Please note that travelling in these times of COVID-19 requires more flexibility than you may be used to. You might need to change your plans quickly if travel restrictions change, so always keep an eye on the relevant embassy and government information pages.
2. Invest in complete coverage travel insurance for a multi-country trip
The only way to protect your multi-country vacation money from unexpected changes is to invest in complete coverage travel insurance. Check official insurance websites for policy changes due to coronavirus, as certain existing policies may now have stricter cut-off dates in which you can claim compensation for a cancelled trip. Talk to your insurer, study policy fine prints and consult our complete guide to flight travel insurance. Also, be aware that it can be difficult to be covered by travel insurance if you fly somewhere against your government’s advice.
As a travel incentive, some airlines are offering free COVID-19 insurance cover. For example, Air Canada Vacations has just announced that they are offering COVID-19 insurance at no extra cost for trips to select destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean departing between September 4, 2020 and April 30, 2021.
3. If you’re on a multi-destination road trip, take precautions every time you stop
This includes wearing a face mask (especially in destinations where masks are mandatory in public), paired with frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizer whenever a sink is not available. Check the World Health Organization (WHO) website for tips on the best hygiene practices when travelling – and our own guide to taking a safe road trip during COVID-19.
4. Book hotels with free cancellation
In recent months, many travellers were stuck with wasted hotel bookings due to some last-minute changes in government travel policies. So in order to protect yourself financially in case of any last-minute travel restrictions, we recommend only booking hotels that offer free cancellation. This won’t be difficult to do, as many hotels have adapted and implemented more flexible booking policies.
We’ve compiled a list of unique hotels that offer free cancellation throughout Canada – including the modern and family-friendly Hotel Le Crystal in Montreal; the beautiful boutique Kwa’lilas Hotel in BC; and the luxurious St-Regis in Toronto.
If your hotel booking is cancelled, read our guide on what to do next.
5. Book free cancellation throughout your multi-country vacation
For the same reasons as above, it’s important to book a rental car with free cancellation when taking a multi-country road trip during coronavirus. Also, be aware of the latest local guidelines if using a car for a multi-country trip. If you rent a car in Europe, you might not be able to transit through each country without having to do a mandatory quarantine upon arrival, so make sure to check the latest restrictions before and during your trip.
And if you book a package multi-destination trip, it might be easier to claim a refund if circumstances change.
6. Research a back-up plan
Multi-country trips during coronavirus must be flexible in case travel restrictions change while you’re away. At the time of writing, Canadians can transit through Croatia if you plan on going to a third destination, so you can stopover on your way to, let’s say, Greece. You can also spend some more time in Croatia if you like, because travellers are currently allowed to stay in Croatia for the purpose of tourism; you’ll just have to show proof of your hotel bookings upon arrival. However these travel restrictions may change at the last minute, so you have to be prepared to change or cancel a leg of your trip completely. Note that travelling to multiple destinations during these times will most likely require a health check or a COVID test before crossing any borders, so be prepared. You might have to pay for a test out-of-pocket if your insurance doesn’t cover a coronavirus test while you’re on the road.
Multi-country trip FAQs
1. What if I’m driving through a country with travel restrictions but I don’t plan on stopping there?
If you do this, keep in mind that as soon as you step outside of the car, you have to abide by the restrictions in place or might not be able to enter altogether. While Germany is currently open to Canadians, the only issue is that you’ve had to have resided in Canada for at least the past six months, so crossing over to Germany by car from France (which currently requires a mandatory 14-day quarantine) if you are on your way to Switzerland might not be possible. As always, opt for flexible booking policies where you can.
2. What if my multi-stop flight has a stopover in a country with restrictions but I don’t leave the airport?
Each country and airport has its own transit rules, which vary for travellers according to where they’re coming from. For example, travellers from these destinations are allowed to transit through Singapore Changi Airport, but only residents are allowed to enter Singapore itself. Research the guidelines for every airport you’re travelling through, as well as its country’s government advice, and keep those pages bookmarked so you can check for changes while you’re away.
3. What if the travel advice for a country changes while I’m there?
If your government travel advice changes to negative advice for a country that you’re already in, your travel insurance should cover you until you return home. You don’t necessarily have to come home early as long as you follow the advice of the local public health authorities – but of course, if an impending quarantine measure will affect your ability to work or take your children to school, then you’ll probably want to get home in advance of the new policy.
On multi-country trips, new travel restrictions might mean it’s time to head to your next destination early – meaning that it’ll save you lots of time and money if you’ve got flexible hotel, train, flight and car rental bookings. Get in touch with the airline you booked with, travel agent, rental company, or hotel booking platform to make any necessary changes.
4. What if the travel advice for a country changes to negative travel advice before I’m supposed to leave?
If you travel somewhere against your government’s advice, make sure that your travel insurance will cover you in case of emergency – and if you go and get sick, you could incur some serious fees in medical bills. On multi-country trips, it’s best to swap out the affected destination for a back-up and avoid it entirely.
Want to read more?
- Is it safe to travel? Our travel safety tip checklist
- Coronavirus travel advice: our daily update on travel restrictions and airline policies
- 12 things to pack if you’re travelling right now