Planning to travel for March Break? Be patient, experts say
More Islanders may be planning to travel during March Break as COVID-19 restrictions begin to be lifted in PEI and abroad – and for many, that will be their first trip in two years.
But Steve Olmstead, director of the Atlantic Canadian Automobile Association, says traveling won’t be as easy as it was before the pandemic.
“A lot has changed, hasn’t it? It certainly has. There’s new information all the time, it seems,” Olmstead said. CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin.
“So it’s very important to try to understand all of these things and understand how they impact you and your travel plans.… The key is to plan ahead as best you can at this stage, and not just as to what is the best flight or what flight connection you need, but a bit of that assumption and what my requirements are.”
Those heading to the United States must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken one day prior to entry, regardless of their vaccination status. For some Caribbean countries like the Bahamas, a negative test result must be taken three days before entry.
In Prince Edward Island, there are no isolation requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers entering the province, but they must be tested for COVID-19 upon entry as well as days 2 and 4 after entry.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said the province is planning additional testing for school-aged children in the coming weeks as Islanders are expected to travel during the break.
“We will encourage people to take tests during the March break for students, and we will send information to schools next week,” she said.
“But also test this first week when we return, at the end of March, when they go back to school.”
Prepare for setbacks, be flexible
Olmstead said many travel insurance policies and travel health insurance plans will now cover COVID-specific travel interruptions.
“A big change happened recently when the government said, ‘Yeah, go travel, just be careful,'” he said.
“Now that conditions have changed and opinions have changed, more of the health policy is going to apply to you. And as we all know, when you travel, things happen. You might need to medical care, you may need a hospital stay, you may need to return to Canada — so travel health insurance covers all of these things and more.
Depending on the policy and destination, travelers may also be covered for additional expenses, an extended stay, or transportation if they contract COVID-19 during their trip.
“So those are the types of things that a policy will cover, but again you want to work with a professional to walk you through those details, just help you plan and sort out the problem.”
He adds that patience is a necessary virtue for traveling in a post-pandemic world.
“Pack your patience. You know there are going to be delays. Travel suppliers are getting back to it, everyone is excited but not everything is at full capacity,” he said .
“So be prepared for not having quick access to things you’re used to in normal times.”
“Travel insurance is extremely important”
Travis Stewart of Stewart Travel Group in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, says business has picked up as Islanders prepare to travel for the first time since 2020.
“We’re a lot busier than we’ve been in the past two years,” he said.
“It’s hard to keep up at this point. February was probably our busiest February since we started the business. That’s how it has been.”
He said agents can help customers through all travel requirements for different countries.
“It may take a few times, or a few conversations, or a few emails. So it’s a bit more work than what we’ve done in the past before COVID, that’s for sure.”
Stewart added that anyone with pre-existing health conditions should consult a doctor before planning a trip, but those with insurance should be fully reimbursed for any scenario involving a trip cancellation.
“Travel insurance is hugely important, probably more than ever,” he said.