Travelling abroad is possible, however complicated
The flag in front of parliament in Ottawa, Canada
How often have you thought about traveling abroad in the past? In fact, have you ever considered traveling to Canada? You can choose to visit the beautiful Canadian scenery, historic cities and don’t get me started on the food…
Poutine – french fries, brown gravy and cheese curd.
After a long winter of Covid hibernation (not sick, just hiding a bit), I finally saw an opportunity to go on a trip to Canada. First, I’ll share that I was born in Canada and moved to the U.S many, many years ago. I have dual citizenship as both countries define who I am. But that is a conversation for another day.
Why I am Travelling Now
I enjoy traveling back and forth between both countries. In fact, Canada is a place I can play tourist and still feel comfortable. My husband laughs as I often fall back to my old Canadian accent when I am there. It’s not on purpose – it just happens.
It is exciting to be able to travel abroad now. However, I don’t have to tell you that international travel is just another thing that has changed in the last few years.
My trip to Canada also requires going a step beyond as I am not a tourist this time, but going to be in the company of family. Specifically, it is my Mom’s 93rd birthday, so Covid caution is critical. I hadn’t seen my Mom in almost three years where I use to see her every few months. I didn’t travel to Canada as soon as the borders opened, so now, given time, it seemed like it would be safe.
Last time I was able to visit my Mom – we were having lunch at a restaurant in the town she lives near
Travel In The Past
Travel to Canada used to be pretty straightforward. Whether you traveled by car or airplane, all you needed was a passport. Perhaps if you flew, you had to fill out a declaration document – not that challenging.
Customs was interesting – you check in at a Automated Border Clearance (ABC) self-serve kiosk to verify your customs and travel documentation. Furthermore, you pop in for a quick conversation with the customs agent.
All mildly challenging but won’t be your undoing.
After researching the Covid cases in the area my Mom and family live, travel seemed reasonable. The area is recently opened up, but the cases haven’t dramatically increased. Again, I researched requirements to travel to Canada. Lastly, I went ahead and got the second booster so that I did everything I could to protect my mom.
Covid-19 Immunization Record – Having an up-to-date Covid Immunization record is required just as a passport is required.Covid-19 Test – I did not need a rapid test to go to Canada, but I needed one within 24 hours of flying back to the U.S. Going to a rural area can be complicated; I had to find a site to send a rapid test that covered COVID-19 and the associated SARS-CoV-2 virus.Observed Test for Return Travel – Travelling requires either going to a site (more accessible in a larger city) or getting an observed test via a zoom call. A health professional has to watch you go through each step and verify results to certify you for travel. I also had to schedule a specific test time to meet online for a nurse.
New For Me
Travel Insurance – booking my travel, a travel insurance company popped up and offered everything I thought I might need. Given Covid issues I wanted to be able to get a refund on this travel as Covid has been super unpredictable.
Package I was offered and accepted
Booking A Flight Is Easy Compared To Trying To Cancel
Well, Covid screwed things up. No sooner had I booked my flight than things went amuck. Ontario announced you don’t have to wear masks, and Covid increased by 49% in the area I was traveling. My niece tested positive for Covid and one of my brothers was experiencing symptoms. Bummer! There is no way I can attend my Mom’s birthday.
Companies make it super easy to book their services – not so much with the canceling.
The travel company – I was only offered one-year credit on the same airlines I had booked. It was probably naïve, but I thought canceling because of Covid and having travel insurance would immediately result in a full refund. Nope, after spending nearly 45 minutes on the phone with the travel agency now I have to contact the insurance company.
Insurance Isn’t What It Seems
I went online to cancel the insurance, and all I can say is it was more frustrating and exasperating than speaking to the travel agency. Again, probably naïve of me, but you have to send medical records of someone actually sick to get that refund. It’s not enough to say that Covid is out of hand in parts of the world; you or someone you know HAS to be sick.
Excuse me, just as the world has changed, travel requirements has changed, so should the companies you use to travel.
Summary – Choose Wisely
I booked a trip to Canada in hopes of making my Mom’s 93rd birthday. As usual, Covid has gone and messed up travel plans.
I chose to share this journey to give you some idea of what to expect if you want to travel abroad. There was a lot I hadn’t mentioned, but I believe the whole canceling process is painful and still not complete. I am still waiting for the insurance company to let me know whether I will get a refund. I’ll keep you posted.
My Final Advice
Go beyond researching what it takes to travel; look at what would happen if you have to cancel. Had I known this process was soooo unforgiving, I might have waited longer.