What life is like in Canada during the pandemic

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Hard as it is to believe, we’ve lived the pandemic life for over half a year now, with cases still on the rise in Canada and across the world. In Canada, life during the pandemic is a whirlwind of daily news coverage, closures of businesses and public spaces, and a jarring experience of living in isolation and uncertainty. I naively thought that the outbreak would be over by late spring and watched as the months go by, my travel plans now in the form of rain checks and flight vouchers. For travel bloggers, it hasn’t been easy dealing with the setbacks. And yet, many of us have taken this time and opportunity to refocus and rediscover adventures closer to home.

Here are what my fellow travel bloggers from all across Canada have said about life during the pandemic, and how they are keeping their travel spirit going in spite of the challenges.  

 

British Columbia


Penticton

Photo Credit: Gemma Taylor | Off Track Travel
Gemma TaylorOff Track Travel

I live in Penticton in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. My pandemic experience has been relatively low key, with even the wider region experiencing very few cases overall (at least, until recently). Living in a small town with a population just over 30k, I was in the fortunate position to be able to get out of the house safely and easily throughout the pandemic. My partner and I took the opportunity to search for more hiking trails in our area, finding a couple of new favourites. We also enjoyed walking around the (deserted) downtown and discovered an incredible amount of impressive street art.

Life began to feel more normal again in mid May, when restaurants began to open up. Penticton is a summer resort town and we began noticing visitors from Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton and further afield. This summer has been as busy as ever in Penticton.

In terms of travel blogging, it has been a challenging time. March felt bleak, with the future of travel such a big unknown. My website traffic, of course, fell substantially, but the recovery has been steady. I feel lucky to have a blog that concentrates on Canadian travel, with a focus on outdoor adventure. Everyone seems to be hiking and camping more this year! I have been able to secure some partnerships with local tourism boards this summer, including one that I doubt would have happened any other year! I may have lost my international audience for now, but I am definitely thankful for what I do have.


Vancouver

Roxy and I currently live in Kitsilano, which is 5 minutes from downtown Vancouver. We recently moved here after 5 years of travelling the world full time and plan to stay here on a permanent basis. This was going to be our first full summer here and we were going to explore and conquer the entire West coast of Canada…at least that was the plan until Covid.
The immediate effects were the shutdown of pretty much everything and Roxy and I both started to work full time from home instead of in our downtown offices. Like many travel bloggers our traffic tanked after Covid really started to spread across the globe, especially as the majority of our content focuses around Asia.

Luckily we have some posts on Canada and Australia that has helped plug the gap and we are slowly beginning to see a recovery in terms of traffic. The Pandemic has really made us shift our ideas and plans for our travel blog. Previously we had planned to explore around our new home in Vancouver much more but this has really pushed us to make this our goal.

While many of the parks we had hoped to visit this year remain closed there is still a number that have been open for a while and we have been doing our best to get out and explore the parks that are open. We are also trying to hike some of the more obscure and off the beaten path trails to avoid the crowds and social distance when we are out exploring. While it has been a tough time to be a travel blogger it has given us the opportunity to refocus and rethink our strategy moving forward to look much closer to home!


Alberta


Edmonton

Mayuri | Canada Crossroads

I live in Edmonton Alberta, Canada. During the early pandemic months (mid-March to June), we were in lockdown, with only essential services being open. Our offices were closed, and I started working from work (instead of my downtown office). 

Working from home gave me more time to work on my travel blog. I started updating old posts, working on drafts for new ones, and took a ton of courses to upgrade my blogging skills. As domestic travel seems to be on the horizon I opened a second site – Canada Crossroads.

As a travel blogger when it comes to domestic travel, not a lot has changed. Since June we are able to visit national and provincial parks, whilst following local guidelines of social distancing and safe hygiene and PPE/masks. Of course, income has taken a big hit due to pandemic.

Locally, we are chasing waterfalls near Edmonton and Calgary, long drives and road trips, and enjoying the outdoors safely. We have avoided staying in hotels and taken day trips or stayed with a friend at their home to limit public interaction. 

My husband and I are also enjoying staycation – reading a lot of travel books, watching documentaries, and catching up with friends online. We are hopeful travel will resume soon, and so we are creating our bucket list for the upcoming year, hoping a vaccine comes out! Fingers crossed!


Edmonton

Photo credit: Nick Kembel | Spiritual Travels
Nick Kembel | Spiritual Travels

After living in Taiwan for eleven years, I moved back to my hometown, Edmonton, along with my Taiwanese wife Emily and our children Sage and Lavender. We left Taiwan in September 2019, traveled around the world for 10 weeks, and arrived in Edmonton before Christmas.

When the COVID crisis first began in China, few paid attention to it in Edmonton. Taiwan was impacted very early on, though. Since my travel website is mostly about Taiwan, I lost almost all of my traffic (and income) well before most travel bloggers.

Even then, I didn’t believe the virus was ever going to make it that far. My wife did, however, and was already stocking up on essentials before panic shopping became a global phenomenon.

Making the most of life in Canada during the pandemic…

Despite losing my income, the timing of the pandemic for Emily and I couldn’t have been better. We’d had over two months to set up our new life. By the time lockdown reached Edmonton in mid-March, we were already settled in. We’re both self-employed and were already used to caring for our children while working at home.

Thus, lockdown didn’t have a huge impact on our lifestyle. We had renovations to keep us busy at home, while the kids were thrilled to have a backyard for the first time. I only left home to buy groceries once per week. We also had decent savings to fall back on, so we could survive an extended period of reduced income.

We didn’t get much travel itch because we had just traveled around the world. But once things started opening up in Alberta, we traveled to Fort McMurray to stay with my sister and her kids. We stuck to outdoor activities, plus a short private flight over the oil sands.

As summer approached, we stuck to our backyard, local camping trips, and postponed all our international travel plans to next year.


Ontario


Sarnia

Photo credit: Kimberley | Two Travelling Toques
Kimberley | Two Travelling Toques 
Living in Sarnia, Ontario during this pandemic has had it’s own set of challenges. Sarnia is a border city to Michigan in the U.S. and has the Bluewater Bridge which connects both countries. It will be at least 5 months that the border is scheduled to be closed for non-essential travel, and that time frame could be extended. Since we are a border city and have had a higher percentage of Covid cases than in other areas, we have also been given a longer time frame going into all the phases of re-opening for certain businesses.
We have family that live in the United States, and we’ve not been able to see them since the pandemic began. We’re also so used to flying out of the U.S. for a cheaper rate than Canada. But with the current situation in the world, we really wouldn’t be going anywhere right now. Luckily for us, we had just returned from travelling when the whole lockdown started.
As a travel blogger, we’ve gone from virtually losing all our traffic, to back where we were before it began. It has been difficult to stay inspired to write since no one is really travelling. But at least we got some trips in when we could, or otherwise we’d be going stir crazy by now. Thankfully we live in an area with some beautiful beaches and hiking trails. So this is the perfect time of the year to stay put.
Although we’ve since cancelled a flight to France for September, we feel very fortunate and safe living in this beautiful country we call Canada. 

London

Nicole | Wellbeing Wherever

When COVID was first making the news in March, I had a trip to Alberta planned to visit friends from March Break since I am a teacher as well as a travel blogger. I still took the trip even though many people were cancelling. International travel was locked down and the fear was that they might end up stranded. Domestic travel had not been halted and only minor safety measures were in place at the time. We were given wipes for the seats and in-flight service was suspended. Because so many people had cancelled their flights, I had a row to myself on both flights. Masks were not required, though some people were wearing them. I made sure to have my own bottle of water to stay hydrated, which is one of my top travel tips, and was fine. 

Shortly after I got home, Ontario’s action plan intensified and travel around Ontario was restricted. Thankfully the weather has been warm and sunny with most days over 30 degrees Celsius. I have been out in my backyard under my pergola with music playing and pretending I am in the Caribbean. Around London, masks must be worn while inside locations and many businesses have been carefully restricting the number of patrons inside them. This means you will often see lineups of people standing 6 feet apart. Many restaurants created temporary expansions to their patios into their parking lots when they were permitted to reopen a couple of weeks ago.

Life and travel in Canada during the pandemic…

While London itself is not a high traffic tourist location, it is located within a couple of hours of more touristy places, making it a convenient home base for travellers looking to explore Southwestern Ontario. As restrictions are lifting, day trips to Niagara, Grand Bend, Port Stanley, and even some camping at various provincial parks is possible. Toronto, Windsor and Essex county, while close enough to drive to for a day, are areas many people are avoiding with the cases of COVID being higher in those areas than elsewhere in the province. I am looking forward to when I can go back to Colchester to visit the wineries and breweries and stay at my favourite B&B, Lakeside Porch& Pillow. While international travel is still restricted,  I planned a girl’s getaway for me and my best friend to Orillia to just get away and relax by the beach.

As a travel blogger, I have been using this time to focus on my blog’s design and to learn more about blogging strategies. I’m planning future trips and prioritizing where I want to go when things are open again and it is permitted to travel without the 2-week quarantine period. At the top of my list are Italy and Norway!


Niagara

Photo credit: Sarah Camp | In Search of Sarah
Sarah Camp | In Search of Sarah 

If you asked me about my 2020 plans, they surely would look different from what I’m actually doing. The pandemic has totally upheaved our two major international trips this year and plans to see family, but it’s been a blessing in disguise for my blog.

I live in the Niagara Region of Ontario – between Toronto and Niagara Falls – in the fruit and wine belt. I’ve been incredibly fortunate living here in an area that still offers a lot of natural beauty and socially-distanced safe activities. 

I launched my blog in May, after being laid off from work mid-March. It finally allowed me the time to dedicate to it, after working on it since December. I was granted free access to spend as much time as I wanted, and did I ever! I’m talking 12 hour days to “fast-track” its progress and get a solid routine going. Topics aren’t hard to come by because I am still so new, so fortunately I have enough material to blog about for a while. I’ve shifted my blogging focus to include more local topics, which is great considering I live in a tourist region.

Keeping busy with travels in Canada during the pandemic…

Living in Niagara, I’ve taken the opportunity to explore what’s local to me, and I was shocked to find so many things I didn’t even know about! I’ve done day trips to Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Port Dover – places that usually get put on the backburner due to the allure of foreign places! I’m also surrounded by hundreds of wineries so there is no shortage of activities to do to keep me busy for a while, especially if travelling abroad is off the table for the foreseeable future. 

Even though the pandemic has been life-altering, I’ve been making the most of it but I absolutely cannot wait to get back travelling again – safely!


Caledon

Manpreet | Hello Manpreet

Living in Caledon in the Greater Toronto Area, we are fortunate to be surrounded by an endless amount of nature. Directly opposite our home is a huge empty field, previously used for farming but not so much any more. The main road joining the end of our street is lined with huge beautiful trees and just behind our home there are many little trails with a small stream passing by.

The lockdown meant that our travel plans to different parts of Canada as well as the USA had to be put on an indefinite hold. But this opened up opportunities for us to explore our home town as we only moved here a year ago. Most of our time has been spent hiking and more recently, kayaking. The Forks of the Credit Provincial Park and the Belfountain Conservation Area are all easily accessible from where we are and these have helped us overcome that itch to travel. We love seeing nature in new parts of the world, like the trees of Yosemite and the bamboo forests of Japan, and these two local spots have helped us get close to what we love.

Forks of the Credit has many trails which are easy to follow if you get a picture of the map when you enter. You can pass over a beautiful little waterfall and walk through stunning fields of flowers. Canada is full of natural spots, and though we cannot wait to get back in the air, we are managing to find reasons to be happy and content where we are. This lockdown has taught us the beauty that exists around all of us and we hope to explore more in between our future trips.


Nova Scotia


Ayngelina | Bacon Is Magic

The pandemic was an interesting experience for me as I was in Cuba, where I spend most of my time when I’m not travelling for work.

It did not reach the island until late March and initially I thought I would stay in Cuba. But within a few days it was clear that the virus could spread quickly and when Prime Minister Trudeau advised Canadians to come home I booked a flight to Nova Scotia. 

Returning to Canada in the wake of the pandemic (and being productive during that quarantine life)…

I quarantined for two weeks in my room so I wouldn’t potentially infect my family and while some people think that would have been difficult, it was actually a great way to start as the only thing I could do was work. So I sat down and planned out what I would work on for my website for the next 3 months.

I have been blogging for 10 years and there are always so many things I would love to do but am too busy. So this was really such a gift of time for me. Initially I was working 7 days a week because it was a cold spring here and I was so productive catching up on work. However, I have since cut back to 5-6 days.

Thankfully Nova Scotians took isolation seriously and we were able to control the spread of Coronavirus. The province opened up the first week in June and I’ve been exploring my home province. I have been visiting smaller towns to update my post on things to do in Nova Scotia and I’m shooting video with day trip ideas for locals to support independent businesses here.

Atlantic Canada has a small bubble so I hope to venture out to neighbouring provinces but I’m in no rush to get on a plane, the Maritimes have enough to keep me busy.

Photo credit: Ayngelina | Bacon Is Magic

Suggested reads for travel inspirations (that are safe and pandemic-friendly!)

What have you been doing to curb that travel itch during the pandemic? Leave a comment below!
Thanks for reading, and stay photospired!
25 comments
  1. It is so interesting hearing about different people’s experiences of the pandemic. I keep noticing that a lot of people have been away from home when everything started happening and either got stuck in another country or had to quickly find a way to go back home. I also travelled to the USA at the beginning of February and then barely managed to make it back to my home country before my allowed time in the country would expire on the travel visa that I had. It is funny, how despite travelling, we all make it back to our home places at the end and start exploring what has been in front of us for so many years, but somehow we have never gotten to see!

    1. Wow that must have been so stressful! I was in India around February and decided to return to Canada early. Looking back it was a good call as I don’t know what I’d do if I ended up being stuck somewhere in the pandemic!

  2. Aside from reading the fascinating insights of pandemic life in Canada, it was lovely to see pics from around the provinces. My family live in New Brunswick, and have had a similar experience to Ayngelina in Nova Scotia. May we all get through this as happy and healthy as possible!

  3. I was supposed to be in Canada this time around, If not for the pandemic! Nevertheless, so good to stumble upon your blog. Here’s hoping we can explore a lot more real soon!

  4. It is so interesting to read the experiences that different people all over Canada must be having right now. I follow a couple on IG and they had some pretty interesting experiences too!

  5. I’m in Vancouver so I know how it has been here but it’s interesting to hear some different stories from around the country. I moved from downtown Vancouver in March, perfect timing really. It has been pretty quiet where I am, but taking my first local trips in the last month has been eye opening. Overall I’m happy that Canada has done relatively well, we just need to keep working at it. And of course, like everyone, my blog took a hit in April and has only recently started to come back

  6. This was a really interesting read. I’m from Canada but am currently in Europe, so it was interesting to learn about what’s going on back home.

  7. I’m just so inspired and lifted by how positive everyone is! This has truly been a confluence of so many bad events happening back-to-back; but seeing how everyone’s reframing their perspectives to find the good amidst all this bad is really shifting my own way of viewing things too!

  8. Very interesting post! I’ve seen three provinces during the pandemic (I live in Toronto and was there at the very beginning, then I flew home right before lockdown to stay with my parents in Edmonton, and we drove to their second home in the Okanagan) and it’s been interesting to say the least!

  9. I’m from Australia but it’s cool to hear what other countries are like during this crazy crazy time! Canada has always been high on my bucketlist and it still is!! This was a super interesting post to read.

  10. As someone who lives in the USA but loves Canada (and had a trip planned in April), I find this to be super interesting to read what the experience is like outside of my own country

  11. A really interesting and informative collaboration post – I’m currently based in Australia which has managed the crisis very well and its great to see positive reframing of the situation in Canada as well.

  12. This was such an interesting read! I had a trip planned for Banff in June that I was sad I had to cancel. But like these other bloggers stated, it has been nice to explore locally! Thanks for sharing these perspectives.

    1. Aw I’m sorry to hear about your cancelled trip! Living in Canada I was lucky to use this time to visit Banff, when it would normally be way too crowded in the summer 😀 That said I do think this is a fabulous time to explore in our own backyard or go on a social distance friendly road trip 🙂

  13. I found it interesting that each area and city in Canada is having its own experience with the pandemic. We are starting to experience that in New Zealand with a resurgence causing different levels of lockdown between areas of the country.

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