How to Travel Safely to Northern Ontario

Wear a mask, bring your groceries, and more essential tips for safe and responsible travel to Northern Ontario this summer.

For months now we’ve all been told we need to stay apart, stay home as much as possible, and reduce travel to the absolute minimum. But with the recent re-opening of lodges, camps, cabins, cottages, and resorts across Northern Ontario, the time has finally come for us to get outside—and not a minute too late.

Whether you've been staying at home to crush the curve or keeping people safe, fed, and secure as a front-line worker, a well-deserved trip into the majestic wilderness of Northern Ontario is just what the doctor ordered. Fresh air, plenty of unique places where physical distancing is easy as pie, and a warm Northern welcome await—even if it is through contactless check-in and a sheet of plexiglass. It's the perfect cure for this extended quarantine. 

We have so many businesses in Sunset, Algoma, Superior, and the Northeast who are aching for you to return. It's no secret that they’ve been going through tough times—this is usually their busy season. So not only will you be getting away from the quarantine blues, you’ll be helping Ontario’s tourism economy recover by safely travelling and relaxing at these remote accommodations.

But we know you’re as concerned as we are about keeping yourself, and the people in the communities you’ll need to pass through, safe. So we’ve outlined a series of best practices, in line with recommendations from Canada's public health department, to help keep everyone free from worry. Although nothing is without risk, these guidelines should reduce it to a very manageable level. Remember, we're all in this together—and we're all counting on each other to do the right thing. 

Bring everything you need with you

Gone are the days of doing all your shopping for your trip on the road. If you need extra bait and tackle, rods and reels, chips and dip, adult beverages, or anything else  to make your vacation comfortable, fun, and safe, plan to pick it up before you leave. The less time you spend in the towns and communities of the North on your way to your final destination, the better. We’ll welcome you back there soon enough. 

If you have to stop, wear a mask, clean every surface, and hand sanitize often

Whenever you have to get out of your car, make sure you bring a cloth soaked in alcohol, or sanitizing wipes to wipe down everything you touch. Wear a mask at all times when you leave your car. Have a pump bottle of hand sanitizer in your cup holder to clean your hands every time you get into and out of your car. 

Talk to your hosts ahead of time and understand what’s required of you

Many hosts will reach out with safety guidelines and information about what to expect ahead of your trip. If not, reach out and ask—they'll be happy to help make your check-in process seamless and safe. If you know how you’re supposed to get your keys, find towels, parking, and access amenities before you arrive, you’re less likely to be caught in a situation where you’re missing something crucial and risk breaking physical distancing protocols. It’ll help put your mind at ease too.

Ensure your vehicles are in good condition

The last thing you want is car trouble on the way there. Getting all of your gear out of the car, finding a rental, or having to call someone to pick you up is going to ruin a good time. So make sure your oil changes are up to date, you’ve swapped your winter tires, and the service lights on your dash are out.

Be prepared for emergencies

There are so many aspects of daily life that are just a bit less convenient now—but if you plan ahead, you'll get along just fine. Bring extra glasses if you wear them, contacts if you don’t. Sunscreen, pain killers, bug spray, a basic first-aid kit and extra prescriptions are always good to have on hand. Have an emergency contact, and straightforward plans to deal with emergencies. Once you've made your preparations, you can rest and relax more easily. 

Avoid Indoor spaces with people outside your family bubble

Research has shown the virus spreads fastest indoors. So if you can avoid being indoors with people outside your group, you can avoid a lot of risk. When you’re at your destination, you don’t have to feel unsafe if there are other guests there—as long as you’re outside and physical distancing.

Plan FOR bathroom breaks when travelling long distances

One of the biggest changes you’ll notice is the distance between bathroom facilities. While most of the OnRoute highway services centres are open and have put measures  in place to keep visitors safe, private businesses have varying levels of open-ness. Try to ensure you use the bathroom before your trip, and plan your route to your accommodations ahead of time, checking in with the businesses you normally stop at to make sure they’re open and have facilities available. And, of course, wear your mask, sanitize surfaces and use hand sanitizer when you’ve left the property.

remain in your vehicle while travelling and try not to touch anything during pit stops

Try to avoid touching anything when you leave your car: phone, wallet, keys, purse, backpack, face, arms. This also includes door handles, countertops, and gas pumps. Once you arrive at your destination you can breathe easy—you can grab a shower or take a dip in a sanitized environment. But before you get there, the less you touch the better. Don’t check your phone when you’re out, and have your payment card ready and out of your wallet before leaving the car. Wipe your phone, credit cards, and even your wallet down with sanitizer after use. 

Finally, if you’re not feeling well, do not travel.

If you develop symptoms while on vacation, make sure you have a plan in place to get back home without coming into contact with anyone—and where you can get tested immediately. Your home is the best place to be if you’re sick—and your home community has resources in place to take care of you, unlike many of the smaller communities you’ll be travelling through. 

We know this all sounds like a bit much, but trust us, when you’re sitting on the deck of your cabin, hundreds of miles from the city, you’ll forget all about it almost instantly. We can’t wait to see you—from 2 meters away.

About Mike Jacobs

Mike is an avid Northern traveller, having spent years traversing its backroads, and visiting its remote lodges and fun cities by car, RV, motorcycle, and boat. There's always something new to discover in the North and Mike never shies away from the next great adventure. Mike is the chairman of the board for the Tourism Technology Company.

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