International Travel in 2021

It’s been just more than a week since I returned from my trip to Greece. As I was travelling, I was thinking about what had changed for international travel in 2021. And so, voilĂ , here is a post to let all of you know. Someone had to be the test case for international travel in 2021, and although it was a difficult job, I took it on!

Exploring The Acropolis and The Temple of Athena with a Local Guide

First a little bit about how I ended up in Greece. My friend and client, Heather P and I, had originally scheduled a barge cruise for September of 2020, then September 2021, and as you can guess, both of the trips were cancelled. When the last cancellation happened in July 2021, both of us were extremely disappointed, and started tossing around trip destination ideas over lunch. We eventually settled on Greece.

Greece Upgraded

Why Greece you might say? First of all their Covid rates were reasonable, and their entry requirements decent. Secondly, there is much to see in Greece if history is of interest. Add in a couple of islands, and the trip was settled. I switched our deposits from the France trip to the Greece trip is August with G Adventures, and the game was on.

Our Itinerary for Greece Upgraded

With just 12 travellers on the tour, private transportation, and excellent hotels which strictly followed safe protocols, G Adventures managed this trip as promised with their “Travel with Confidence” policy. In practical terms, what did this mean?

First of all, at our welcome meeting, our CEO (Chief Experience Officer for those who don’t know) Chris talked with us about health and safety while on our trip. Masks inside everywhere- hotels, the small bus which transported us from place to place, the ferries, the stores and restaurants. I would be very remiss to not mention the flights as well with Air Canada. Secondly, hand sanitization was encouraged everywhere. In the hotels, towels often came wrapped in plastic with signs that mentioned health and safety. There were signs as well in the rooms. In the restaurants, utensils were wrapped in cloth, or even cardboard holders.

We were required to show our proof of vaccination for museums, and the odd restaurant where we ate indoors. (Most of the time, of course we were eating outside.) Also, we were required to show our proof of vaccination for the ferry and of course the in country flight from Santorini to Athens. Was any of this a hardship? Of course not. No different than at home in Canada!

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements for international travel in 2021 were, in my opinion, only slightly more onerous than before. Of course, I can still remember filling out lengthy forms for my visa for India, and various other countries for entry. So I am looking at this from a different perspective than some of you.

For Greece, this was what is currently needed in October 2021:

  • Proof of vaccination (This is needed for flights in and out of Canada shortly anyway.)
  • A Passenger Locator Form completed before dropping your luggage at the airport (Many passengers did not have this. On the other hand, we were pulled out of the line and bypassed 25 or so people because it looked like we likely did have it! The advantages of booking with a travel advisor- oh and likely profiled due to our age)
  • Random Covid tests were possible at the other end- we didn’t see anyone pulled aside for this

For Canada, this is what is currently needed in October 2021:

  • A Negative PCR test (Our CEO or tour leader helped a few of the passengers set up their tests- i.e. walked them to the local pharmacy. I on the other hand, made my appointment in Canada for them to come to my hotel in Santorini on Day 10- we left on Day 12- and we had our results in 25 minutes. Price was 120 euros for this service or about $172 CAD- less than PCR tests for travel in Canada and they came to our hotel.)
  • ArriveCan app filled out- you will need your proof of vaccination
  • At the airport they will check for both above before you drop your luggage
  • Random Covid tests are possible on arrival in Canada (A client cruising in Greece at the same time was pulled aside for this upon her return)

We landed in Montreal and our arrival process was smooth as silk. I was sitting in the bar 20 minutes or so after I walked off the plane. Need I say more?

International Travel- Yes or No?

All of this to say, international travel in 2021 or 2022 is very doable. At no time did I feel unsafe. I was glad I was in the travel business as most of the travellers on the trip did not use a travel advisor, and were very unclear about their entry requirements back into their respective countries.

Therefore if you are looking to travel, it is helpful to work with a travel advisor. I personally keep an eye on rates of vaccination, and have access to a great deal of information about travel requirements as well as restrictions in various countries. Restrictions and requirements change on a constant basis. Another option for travel, as I said, is cruising. Contact me for more details.

The Caldera at Sunset in Santorini

Travelling just once will completely change your perspective. It’s all about the fear of the unknown, and once that first post-Covid trip was out of the way, I realized that the world is waiting. (Eastern Europe next fall anyone?)

Know that when you are ready, I am ready to help you plan and book that trip!

Posted in Beyond Adventure Travel- All, Europe, General Travel Information, Newsletter Posts | Leave a comment

Travelling in 2021- What Has Changed?

I promised this article to discuss my travel on my recent trip- what has changed during this pandemic for travel in 2021. In 2020, who would guess in 2021 my Intrepid tour planned for Haida Gwaii in either June or August (it started out in June- I switched it to August in April) would be cancelled, and I would end up travelling independently to British Coloumbia.

When I made the decision in 2020 to go to Haida Gwaii, I figured that vaccines would be plentiful, and all would be good. I did not consider that certain parts and people might not embrace a fully vaccinated life. This essentially ensured that remote areas of our country, with little population and even fewer medical facilities would continue in isolation- and so this part of our trip was cancelled.

A little bit about this Intrepid trip…….on the calendar for another year……

Considered the Galapagos of the North, the Haida Gwaii Islands Expedition is a comfort style of trip focused on the culture and wildlife of the Haida Gwaii.  It is an isolated and wildlife-rich archipelago continuously inhabited by the Haida Nation for over 10,000 years. In addition to the splendid nature (think a northern rainforest) of Haida Gwaii, this takes you on a rare voyage into Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, where you will cruise through the waters of a protected area very few people are permitted to enter to spot wild grizzlies, seals, sea lions and bald eagles. This trip is a breath of fresh air for nature lovers.

I have included a copy of the map below, as it could be of interest to many.

Around this trip of 8 days, I had arranged hotels in Vancouver. My friend Sue F had never been, and it had been years since I explored Vancouver. So instead of heading to Haida Gwaii, we rented a car and took the ferry to Vancouver Island to explore Victoria, and then drove north to the wilds of the island around Nanaimo and Campbell River. More on this aspect to come!

How did travel in 2021 feel while we were in our own country? Good!

What made us uncomfortable? Well here is a short list…..

  1. The airplane was not uncrowded. Flying out, almost every seat was taken. Although masks and hand sanitizer were handed out, and everyone wore masks, it was still a surprise after my trip in October of 2020 when fewer seats were filled.
  2. Getting off the airplane- nothing has changed. It is still a free for all. It is up to you to try to maintain distance.
  3. We avoided crowded situations on public transit. We did take the rapid transit from the airport. That was not a problem. We did avoid the public buses at rush hour.

What made us feel good?

  1. Going on a trip! Yes- the psychological benefits were high, and in my opinion outweighed the low risks (my opinion only!).
  2. Spending time outdoors hiking and boating on the water was of huge benefit.
  3. Seeing the number of other people travelling from within Canada. And a few from the states that had ventured north.

What did we do different, than say in 2019 when we travelled?

First of all, the ubiquitous mask was everywhere with us. Not everyone wore them- in BC it is suggested/ recommended- not mandated. I was a bit shocked at the number of people who did not wear their masks. But we had ours with us at all times, wore them inside, on the airplane, and even occasionally in close quarters outside. (Not often for this last, but always on the ready!)

Contact tracing is important- so names and phone numbers at most of the restaurants, other than coffee shops.

Other than that- nothing has changed in my opinion for travel in 2021 in Canada. As a fully vaccinated traveller, I feel confident that the vaccine will do its job, and keep me safe. Even if I am infected, the chances I will get dangerously ill are slim- and I have always been a person that plays the odds in certain situations. I consider myself an educated risk taker, and the risk here is low. So my advice? If you want to travel somewhere, and check out how it goes, Canada is an ideal place to start! If you are still uncomfortable, that’s okay too……

Posted in Beyond Adventure Travel- All, Canada, General Travel Information | Leave a comment