10 Travel Tips All Canadians Should Know Before Boarding A Plane This Summer

As airports across the country experience delays, here's how to prepare for travel.

​A person holds a Canadian passport at an airport. Right: A terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

A person holds a Canadian passport at an airport. Right: A terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

If you have a trip coming up or you're thinking of catching a flight out of one of Canada's airports, there are certain things you should keep in mind before heading out.

Airports across the country are currently experiencing major delays amid an extremely busy travel season, with many passengers reporting long wait times, missing luggage and last-minute flight cancellations.

Luckily, CAA South Central Ontario has put together a list of tips travellers should know before attempting to navigate the travel industry.

"Those who are considering booking a trip should make sure they understand the scope of what travel looks like at the moment," said Nadia Matos, manager of external communications at CAA SCO. "The checklist for planning a trip has changed and we want to help people navigate this new environment."

CAA released 10 tips that Canadians should keep in mind before they get going.

Expect schedule changes

CAA says to be aware that there may be schedule changes for flights. The association recommends subscribing to an airline's text message service so that you're notified of any updates and leaving more room between connecting flights, if possible.

"A travel agent is also a valuable resource if this happens," it says.

Consider opting for a carry-on instead of checking bags

With many travellers reporting lost luggage, you may want to consider using a carry-on rather than checking luggage on your flight. If you're using a carry-on, you'll want to make sure it meets the size requirement for that flight.

"When using a carryon to travel, you still need to follow the 3-1-1 rule: three ounces of liquid, gel, aerosol, cream or paste that fit in one quart-sized resealable bag," says CAA.

If you do choose to check luggage, CAA recommends making sure that you pack important items like hygiene products, medication and a change of clothes in your carry-on.

Expect longer wait times

Amid the long lines and delays experienced lately, airlines and airports have been asking travellers to arrive earlier for flights than they would have previously.

"The old standby of being at the airport one hour before takeoff for domestic flights and two hours before international flights no longer apply," says CAA.

Instead, passengers are advised to be at the airport at least three hours before international flights and at least two hours before domestic flights.

Have travel documents ready before you book

Passport delays have plagued Canadians throughout the spring and summer, and the federal government has said it is introducing measures to help clear the backlog.

With this in mind, you'll want to make sure you have enough time to renew your passport before your trip, if needed.

"Your passport should still be valid six months after your travel date, as this is required in several countries," CAA says. "Each destination has varying documentation requirements, so make sure you fully understand what information you need to have ready and in what format."

Buy travel insurance (and make sure you understand it)

It's important to remember the world is still dealing with COVID-19, which could affect things like what your travel insurance actually covers.

"Make sure you have $5 million in coverage for emergency medical situations and that illness related to COVID-19 is included," says CAA. "Understand your entitlements for situations like denied boarding in the event of a positive test, trip cancellation or delays, what luggage is covered and what isn't."

Book car rentals well in advance

High travel demand in addition to an ongoing car shortage means it may be difficult to get a rental car. CAA recommends booking a rental "months in advance," and says to utilize the help of a travel agent.

Remember COVID-19 is still a thing

With the return of international travel and tons of experiences and business reopened, it can be easy to forget that COVID-19 should still be a "major consideration" when travelling.

CAA says it's important to "understand the ongoing uncertainty associated with international travel, whether that be related to the continued community transmission of COVID-19, or state of health care systems in destinations hit hard by the pandemic."

Be sure to also remember to use ArriveCAN to submit your information within 72 hours before your arrival in Canada.

Stay connected

"It is important to have access to trusted, up-to-date information while travelling so you can monitor changing conditions and requirements and adapt accordingly," CAA says.

It recommends bookmarking the Global Affairs Canada website before you depart and checking it regularly.

Understand cancellation and change flexibility

Many airlines and hotels have improved their flexibility when it comes to changes or cancellations in light of the pandemic.

That being said, CAA advises that you "make sure you understand any key dates related to cancellation and changes and whether you are entitled to a refund or a future travel voucher or credit at the time of booking."

Be patient and kind

Airports and airlines alike are experiencing staffing shortages that are contributing to the delays and leaving employees overworked. Remember to be kind and patient while on your trip.

"Keep in mind that the staff at the airports are there to help you, and that things may take longer than usual."

Katherine Caspersz
Katherine Caspersz is a Creator for Narcity Media focused on evergreen travel and things to do, and is based in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario.