The Province of British Columbia has now moved into the next stage of its careful Restart Plan during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that we are now able to travel around the province, with safety measures in place, and support local communities and businesses that depends on tourism to thrive. Here’s how you can explore your own big, beautiful backyard and travel safely in BC during Phase 3 this summer, with tips from Destination BC:
Travel Safely in BC During Phase 3
Search “What’s Open in BC” by community here »
1. Plan Ahead
Take extra time to research and plan your trip in advance. Many businesses and services in BC have adopted new protocols, and changes to their schedules or policies to ensure your safety. You’ll want to become familiar with them ahead of time. For example, you may have to book in advance for attractions or experiences where you didn’t before, and transportation schedules, like BC Ferries, may be operating at a reduced capacity. Some businesses or outdoor spaces may remain closed. See the HelloBC.com accommodations listings, transportation listings, and experience provider listings to start your research, and contact the local visitor centre for more information.
2. Be Respectful
Responsible tourism means that the experience creates a positive impact for all involved–not just the traveller. Keep in mind that you’re a guest of your fellow BC residents when travelling, and respect the guidelines and protocols they’ve put in place in their community during this time.
3. Travel in Smaller Groups
If you normally travel with extended family or with several friends, consider travelling in a smaller group this summer. Travelling with fewer people makes it easier for you to practise physical distancing in public, and may have less of an impact on the destination.
4. More Time, Fewer Locations
Consider a slower travel pace this summer to help curb the spread. Instead of checking in and out of multiple destinations during one trip, choose one destination and one accommodation for your entire trip, and use that as a ‘home-base’ for exploring all the destinations nearby.
5. Pack Essentials
If you’re heading to a more rural area of the province, stock up with the essentials before you leave home (i.e. groceries). This helps lessen your impact on BC communities who may be experiencing supply issues, and reduces your touchpoints with communities who may have limited health care facilities. Even better: create a Clean Trip Kit, including hand sanitizer, soap, gloves, masks, and toilet paper. While some businesses and destinations may supply these for visitors, it’s not a guarantee.
6. Stay Apart, Stay Safe
Practise physical distancing and frequent handwashing hygiene to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Follow the recommendations from the BC Centre for Disease Control to learn about preventative activities, and talk to the tourism businesses you are visiting about the steps they are taking to keep you and their staff safe. WorkSafeBC now requires all businesses to post their new COVID-related health and safety protocols at their workplace for staff and visitors to see.
7. Leave No Trace
When exploring BC’s outdoors, always leave it in a better state than when you arrived. Respect local wildlife. Minimize campfire impacts and check BC Wildfire Service for fire bans and fire safety tips. Pack out what you pack in, and dispose of waste properly. These are just some of key principles of Leave No Trace, a set of seven guidelines for enjoying the outdoors responsibly while minimizing your impact on the landscape. Visit Leave No Trace and BC Wildfire to learn more.
8. Be AdventureSmart
No matter what outdoor activity you are planning, you must be prepared. Remember to follow the three Ts: Trip planning, training, and taking the essentials. AdventureSmart is a great resource to get informed before heading outdoors.
9. Be Calm, Be Patient, Be Kind
Remember, activities may take longer than usual, or places may be at capacity when you arrive. Have a Plan B researched and ready in case your first choice isn’t possible. Be calm, patient, and kind, and remember, we’re all in this together.
10. Support Local Businesses
BC’s tourism businesses are eager to welcome you back this summer and your support is more crucial than ever. Remember, with the border closed, our businesses are relying on British Columbians. For now, you have the province all to yourself! Make the most of it. See What’s Open in BC by Community to learn where you can support local businesses.
Follow Destination BC on Facebook for more tips.
Indigenous Tourism BC has also created a How to Travel Responsibly page outlining things to think about as you plan your next local Indigenous travel experience.
Wait for Your Welcome
For remote communities, including island communities, the fear of the virus, and the need to protect resources is significantly higher. Haida Gwaii, for example, is a unique and delicate ecosystem. In Old Massett, there are less than a dozen fluent Xaad Kil speakers, all over the age of 70. Haida Gwaii is closed to all leisure travel and non-residents during Covid-19 for the preservation of Haida lands and People. Respect specific requests to stay away and research community guidelines before planning your trip.
Read more tips here »
Here are a few of my local staycation stories I’ve published over the last few years:
3 Ways to Enjoy BC’s Sunshine Coast
5 Ways to Enjoy an Abbotsford Staycation
Getting to Know the Forests of the Sunshine Coast
B&B on the Sunshine Coast
Fraser Valley Staycation at Rowena’s Inn
Or explore the Miss604 archives by region:
Whislter, Cariboo, Kootenay/Rockies, Vancouver Island, Okanagan, Sunshine Coast.