BRAUN: Vaccinations key to international travel

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After 16 months of lockup, Canadians are ready to travel.

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Airlines and travel agents are reporting huge upticks in inquiries and bookings.

And a similar increase in confusion: What about my unvaccinated children? What about the unvaccinated locals in the country where I’m headed? What if the rules change while I’m en route?

Since July 5, fully COVID-19 vaccinated Canadians — fully vaccinated a minimum of 15 days, to be specific, and with one of the four approved vaccines— have been able to return to Canada without having to quarantine, a change that has kick-started travel plans.

But there are caveats.

Any place you want to travel will have its own set of rules that must be followed. And that’s fine, but the rules are still changing everywhere, all the time.

By this fall, for example, clubs and restaurants in the U.K. may demand a vaccine passport if necessary to tamp down a fourth wave, and that will be hard cheese for anyone travelling with unvaccinated children.

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The one certainty is that things are easier for the fully vaccinated. In Europe, where a vaccine document is required in many countries, fully vaccinated Canadians are welcome.

Besides every country’s requirements, some attractions or vacation types (such as cruises) may require a full vaccination for all travellers.

According to flight centre.ca, the top-10 travel destinations open for Canadians right now include Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Saint Lucia;  Italy, Greece, the U.S. and Peru are also on the list.

But look before you leap.

Peru, for example, has been decimated by COVID and has a very high mortality rate. Other countries on that list are bracing to see what the Delta and Lambda variants will do as they spread.

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Few countries have as many vaccinated citizens as Canada does, so plan accordingly. The pandemic is not over.

One way to stay on top of requirements in other countries is with Canitravel.net, a travel-planner website that can give you all the answers you need based on passport, departure, vaccination, and destination.

Canitravel.net was started by three Italians, intrepid travellers all, and it’s designed to take the chaos out of travel during COVID-19.

What Canitravel.net can’t help you with is the lengthy line-ups expected at airports and border crossings. Checking COVID-19 tests and vaccination documents creates bottlenecks.

According to Allison Wallace, spokesperson for The Flight Centre Travel Group,travel inquiries started to ramp up as vaccines were rolled out in Canada.

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“The last 30 days has seen a big increase in bookings. Short-term  — this summer — is all about domestic travel, not surprising as it’s the best time of year to explore Canada, and also because many restrictions are still in place. There is still a general travel advisory against travel outside of Canada.”

As reported in February, cottage country was getting booked far in advance for the summer of 2021, so it may be slim pickings at this point. But it’s a big country! Check Airbnb or Cottage Link Rental Management.

Wallace also said that people are anticipating the opening of the U.S. border, so inquiries about American destinations have spiked recently.

“People are interested in Hawaii, California and Florida. Longer-term, from November through to March, we’re seeing big demand for sun destinations — Mexico and the Caribbean.

“People definitely seem to be planning to get to a beach this winter.”

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