Travel this year is different from anything we have experienced before. But as British Columbians, we’re lucky to have awe-inspiring terrain to explore and rediscover beyond our backyards.
Breathe in fresh alpine air as you take on a new mountain peak, catch a glimpse of an eagle feeding along our rugged coastline, and traverse lush rainforests in search of some comforting solitude. Take your pod out for a group kayak through towering river canyons or SUP on a placid lake, then après with some fresh summer eats or a cold brew (or two) at a tasty spot you never knew existed.
To sum it all up, there is a slew of exciting travel options available to you. Although this summer may require extra planning and keeping up with travel alerts, you can still do travel right. When you do, you’ll not only rediscover the beauty of our province, but will also come home knowing you’ve done your part to be a responsible, conscientious traveller.
To help you get out there safely and responsibly, we’ve partnered with the travel experts at Destination BC to compile some tips for travelling around BC this season.
Respect the new normal
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When you travel responsibly, you’re creating a positive impact for everyone involved — from your fellow BC residents to the owners of the cottage you’re staying at, to the folks working at the stores you visit. It’s super easy to do your part and respect the guidelines and protocols in place right now.
If you usually travel with a big group, keep it low-key this summer by adventuring with fewer family or friends. This comes with some benefits: you’ll have an easier time practising physical distancing with a small group, which also means a potentially less negative impact on the destination.
Do your research
Our favourite TV shows make going away on a last-minute vacation look glamorous, but we all know real life is a little more work. This summer, forget the stress and give yourself more time to arrange your trip.
Many BC businesses and services are operating with new protocols and policies to ensure your safety (see The BC Ale Trail for one example), and you can show you care by planning your trip and excursions in advance. This includes everything from reviewing transportation schedules with limited capacity to deciding what day to go whitewater rafting.
Remember that some spaces and businesses may remain closed for the season, but you can still work around what’s open. To avoid any mishaps, be proactive and contact experience providers and visitor centres before you depart.
Visit fewer locations
In summers past, you might have put yourself under pressure to visit as many destinations as possible (the kind of vacations that you need a vacation after). But the ongoing crisis is now prompting us all to take things slow. To help better protect yourself and curb the spread of COVID-19, consider choosing a ‘home-base’ from which to explore multiple places in one area.
Pick just one accommodation for the duration of your trip and head out to nearby spots you want to see from there, taking in the new sights, scents, and sounds around you. Not only will you get to chill out a bit more because you’ll be less on the move, but you’ll also get to know a community better by almost ‘living like a local.’
Support local along the way
Our province is a natural playground with so much to offer local visitors. BC-owned tourism operators and experience providers are relying on the business of those travelling within the province, so there’s never been a better time to support local establishments. Plus, you’ll have a chance to see a side of your province like never before.
Supporting local businesses can involve anything from shopping at local boutiques to renting equipment for outdoor adventures; dining on a patio in the sunshine or brewery hopping counts too! Before your next trip, discover what’s open so you can plan when visiting a particular community.
Leave no trace
Exploring the great outdoors should always be done with respect for the local environment and the wildlife that call it home. Of course, you can take photos and marvel at everything you see, but remember to leave an area in a better state than when you got there.
This includes disposing of waste properly and packing out everything you packed in — leaving no trace. Let’s face it, we wouldn’t be happy if someone left trash on our lawns. To win at vacationing, check out the seven leave no trace principles here.
Pro tip: know the risk when dealing with campfires and check for any fire bans and fire safety tips before your trip.
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To help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we each need to step up and do our part. Remember to keep following recommended measures, including frequent handwashing hygiene and physical distancing. You can even learn a song or dance moves if it helps!
Check in with the tourism businesses you plan to visit and ask about the protocols they are following. Don’t forget, all businesses are now required by WorkSafeBC to post their COVID-related health and safety protocols for the public and staff to see.
Planning to visit a rural area? Reduce your touchpoints with communities that may have limited supplies and healthcare facilities by bringing groceries with you. Pack soap, gloves, masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer like a pro so you’re covered if these items aren’t readily available.
Be excellent to each other
In the wise words of Dr. Bonnie Henry, “This is our time to be kind, to be calm, and to be safe.” After all, we’re all in this together.
Things might take a little longer than usual, and some places may be at capacity — but that’s okay. Research a Plan B option and allow yourself more flexibility if your first choice isn’t available.
You can create lasting memories by rediscovering our province safely and responsibly this season. To find inspiration for your next trip, see what’s open, and learn what you need to know before you travel in BC, visit ExploreBC.com.