We’ve all heard the saying, there’s no place like home. And staying close to home may be a good route to go for a get-away these days.
On-going and ever-changing pandemic protocols continue to make travelling abroad more cumbersome and costlier. Fortunately, there are plenty of adventures to be had coast-to-coast right here in our own backyard!
With a little research and planning you can discover secret gems, visit popular tourist attractions, and take in the beauty that Canada has to offer.
Despite the winter weather, why not get out and about in your own province or check out what other provinces have to offer? Take a ski or snowshoe vacation in Manitoba or Alberta. Check out a winter festival or simply drive to a secluded cabin with a warm fireplace. It’ll be a true get away from your hectic routine.
Canadians are Sticking Close to Home
Jason Mills, an escapes.ca travel agent, says more and more Canadians are looking for vacations closer to home. And they are finding them, too.
Recently, for instance, his repeat Toronto clients who typically book a hot-spot winter vacation opted to stay in Canada, booking a package that included a hotel in Vancouver and visit to Victoria.
“Of course, COVID is changing everything, “Mills says. “There’s a lot of interest in Canadian packages. You will definitely find savings if you look around.”
Mills says Air Canada and WestJet offer packages to Mexico and other sun destinations, but they also put together domestic packages which include airfare and hotel. That could be trips from Toronto to Victoria or Vancouver to Quebec or Calgary to the Maritimes, he says. There are also domestic ski and spa packages available.
Always Plan for the Unexpected
Mills says he always encourages travelers, domestic or international, to ensure they have insurance. That’s the case now more than ever.
He says it’s quite affordable and can cover everything from out-of-province medical expenses to trip cancellation or baggage loss. He suggests people check existing insurance policies to see if they are covered and if not, urges people to look into getting coverage for their travels.
Many Canadians don’t realize that within Canada, medical costs covered by government can vary from province to province. Which means your trip to another province can result in emergency medical costs that you didn’t plan for that aren’t covered by government insurance. GMS offers Emergency Medical Coverage which provides protection from the high costs of emergency treatment while travelling outside of your home province. Our Emergency Medical Insurance makes sure you're covered, when you need it, no matter where you are. We’ll even cover up to $500,000 in coverage for emergency medical expenses related to COVID-19.
Take a Road Trip Close to Home
Cheryl Wallach often takes roads less travelled very close to home. She loves capturing the beauty of the nearby Rocky Mountains or other natural landscapes. Sometimes fellow photographers join her for scene-stealing road trips. It’s something she does year-round.
“I often try to go for sunrise, so you drive in the dark and are walking in the dark and get pictures before the sun comes up or as it comes up,” the Calgarian says. “Often I can do sunrise and be home by noon. It can be really cool and not everyone goes out and enjoys winter scenery.”
That said, Wallach has learned to let the weather dictate her plans. Sometimes it delays them.
Most winters she travels by road to celebrate Christmas with family who live in Vernon, B.C. which means Wallach is aware of the precautions required for winter driving.
Preparation is a priority. For Wallach, that means topping up the gas tank at every opportunity and being ready to unexpectedly change plans. It also means being prepared should you have to park for a road closure or poor weather. She suggests having flexibility around when you travel. That way if the roads are bad, you can reschedule or pick a different route.
“When you’re planning and packing food and water in your vehicle, don’t forget about things for your pet, too,” she says. “I also usually pack my sleeping bag in the car.”
Having good tires is not just good thinking. Wallach says many highways in B.C. require motorists to have winter or mud and snow-rated tires during the winter.
Winter Trips in Canada
So, where should you go? That involves a little research. It’s always a good idea to ask friends and coworkers for suggestions. Go online to search out local attractions, road trips in your province or ones nearby (depending on how far you want to travel and how much time you have.)
Tourism Saskatchewan, for instance, has travel counsellors willing to chat about possible travel plans in the province and you can sign up for details on the perfect Saskatchewan road trip.
It also depends on what you want to do.
If you're looking for attractions or scenic drives, that’s one thing. Or maybe you want a great hotel deal and a spa vacation.
And if you’re not flying to your destination — you don’t have to do the driving, either. It’s easy to find travel providers that offer relaxing adventures or tours by bus.
Check out Reader’s Digest list of top spots for Canada's coolest winter destinations.