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Still plan on travelling? Get ready to pay, in money and time

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Written by Publishing Team

If you’re on the road these days, expect the unexpected

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Despite the fact that the federal government has issued advice to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada, strictly speaking, there is nothing to stop you from taking a trip abroad. In fact, some people see an opportunity to travel now, as there are fewer crowds.

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The decision to travel is up to you, but there are a lot of new things to consider as the COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving, aside from the risk of contracting the virus. Not only will you have to navigate the new rules that seem to change daily, but you will likely have to budget for the additional costs.

Test cost

With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, Canada is now requiring all travelers entering the country, unless exempt, to submit a negative COVID-19 molecular test. This test must be taken within 72 hours of the departure of the original flight to Canada and must be taken in a country outside Canada.

Depending on the country you’re traveling from, these tests could cost you anywhere from nothing to $100 per person. Don’t forget that many countries also require you to provide a negative molecular or antigen test upon entry. For reference, a molecular test in Canada costs about $150, while antigen tests will set you back $20 to $40. If you’re traveling alone, this may not be a big deal, but if you’re traveling as a family, these costs can add up quickly.

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Constantly changing the rules

Besides testing, there is always the possibility that the new rules introduced could greatly affect your travel plans. For example, a country can implement a ban that restricts visitors from Canada. They can also ban travel to Canada. This will force you to cancel your plans or find an alternative way home.

While these are extreme measures, they have occurred in this pandemic. The most likely scenario is one where countries offer additional testing and quarantine when you arrive. Not only will this increase your overall trip costs, but it will also reduce your vacation time.

Even if you plan to stay within Canada, you need to think about any potential rule changes. Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island have reimposed quarantine requirements for travelers entering those provinces.

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Pay extra for something fully refundable

Prior to COVID-19, many people were choosing the cheapest possible rate when it came to their vacation expenses. However, going this route usually means you have a less flexible refund policy. These days, it’s probably a good idea to pay extra for something that can be fully refunded.

holiday bags: For example, Air Canada Vacations offers exclusive CareFlex travel protection for $69 to $99 per person. By purchasing this plan, you can cancel for a full refund, change your reservation, or even transfer your package to someone else as long as you do so 21 days before your departure. You can even make changes up to three days before you’re ready to leave, but you’ll only get travel credit.

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Hotel rooms: Hotel chains operate in a similar way. For example, most hotel brands that fall under Marriott International have a fully refundable policy when booking the standard rate. However, you usually have to cancel within two to five days prior to your arrival or you will be charged a one-night fee. Although this flexible rate will cost you more, you can use it to lock in something. Once you’re sure you’re definitely traveling, you can book a lower rate at the same hotel and cancel your refundable room.

flight tickets: With air travel, things can be a little more complicated. The fare categories that offer you a full refund are usually much more expensive than the non-refundable ones. Always read the terms and conditions before purchasing your tickets so you know what you are entitled to.

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Check your travel insurance

Canada issued a Level 3 Global Travel Advice in December 2021. In most cases, your travel insurance should still cover issues related to COVID-19 if you’re going with your travel plans, as this advice is not for specific countries. However, since every policy is different, you need to read the details to see what is covered.

Speaking of specifics, you’ll also want to pay attention to what qualifies for COVID-19 coverage. Many policies will be very clear and state that you will be covered for any medical treatment related to COVID-19. However, not every policy includes quarantine protection. Those that do usually have specific conditions. For example, it might cover your hotel stay for up to 14 nights only for $200 per night.

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In addition, you will need to ensure that your travel insurance covers trip cancellation/interruption in the event that COVID-19 forces you to change your plans. Some credit cards include this insurance for free, so you may not need to purchase an additional policy.

Even if you need to purchase a separate travel insurance policy, it is not very expensive. The all-inclusive package will cost you roughly $6 to $15 per day. You can also purchase annual multi-trip plans that are cost effective. The CoverMe travel insurance plan from Manulife is one of the most popular options for Canadian travel.

be flexible

It doesn’t matter if you plan to travel within Canada or travel abroad, you need to be flexible because we are still living in a global pandemic. New restrictions are always possible. These new procedures can increase your costs and possibly affect your experience. Ultimately, you have to decide if the travel risks and additional costs at the moment are worth it.

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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