Milan Korcok

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Milan Korcok is a national award-wining journalist, author and medical writer who has been covering international health care activities and trends in Canada, The U.S., and abroad for many years. He was the first features editor of the Medical Post in Canada He has long served as contributing editor to the Canadian Medical Association Journal and the Journal of the American Medical Association and currently serves as contributor to the International Travel and Health Insurance Journal in the UK.

Once the US Border Opens, You’ll Need a Vaccine Passport Checklist

With most of Canada’s provinces adopting some form of vaccine passport rules for entry to venues such as sports events, restaurants, public buildings, and other indoor functions, large portions of the US—particularly sunbelt states familiar to Canadian seasonal visitors—remain far less demanding of guests from up North, or anywhere else. Once the US land border opens to Canadians you may want to take note of where you might be asked to show proof that you’ve had your two shots…and where that won’t be necessary. Your vaccination card or mobile app confirmation should be acceptable. As of September 22, 2021, governments in 20* states have ordered or signed bills prohibiting government agencies from issuing COVID-19 vaccine identification cards or requiring proof of vaccination (cards or mobile apps) as a condition of entry for any premises. These states* include such Canadian target locations as Florida, Arizona, Alabama, Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia, as…

Determined to Start Travelling Again? Learn the Landscape

When Canadians were surveyed in mid-summer about their future out-of-country travel intentions, it appeared that visits to the UK/Europe and Asia/Pacific were well down the list, with the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean being the preferred choices, at least for the time being (according to data from the Conference Board of Canada). A major reason for that imbalance is the confusion and inconsistency about COVID testing requirements, vaccine passports, and the almost daily rule changes about what documentation or immune status is required to enter any given country. Most confusing is the narrative out of Europe which used to be easy to navigate thanks to the borderless entry requirements of countries in the Schengen Area. Show your passport to enter one member country and travel throughout the others without further border checks. No longer. The Schengen Area is a consortium of 26 mostly European countries dedicated to providing easier,…

Outbound Travellers Hopeful—But Still Cautious

As summer fades into fall, Canadians remain determined to reinstate their travel plans—but it appears travel insurers have a job to do in providing clear advice about how their products have adapted to accommodate coverage in the post-COVID era. According to a new survey by the Conference Board of Canada, while 70 per cent of outbound travellers agree that the availability of COVID-specific insurance policies (for both cancellations and medical issues) increases their willingness to travel, 54 per cent have little or no understanding of how these products have actually changed due to the pandemic, and 47 per cent say they have no understanding of COVID-coverage details. Says the CBoC, “This offers an opportunity for insurers to offer clear direction and advice to clients seeking assurance about the adequacy of their coverage vis-a-vis their specific health concerns as well as the requirements of the countries that are now demanding proof…

Post-Pandemic Rebound for International Students Will Benefit Canada

Though pandemic shutdowns played havoc with international students’ schedules, as well as their aspirations for educational goals, early reports from various sources around the globe clearly show rebounds are already happening as demand for overseas schooling remains robust going into the future. One report from a Singapore-based* education technology company reveals that 60 per cent of high school students surveyed in 100 countries insisted that the coronavirus pandemic had no impact on their ultimate educational aims even though 76 per cent said they were concerned about missing out on their student lifestyle experience, and 58 per cent were questioning the value of paying heavy fees for online experiences. (*Source: Cialfo.) This portends good news for Canadian and American colleges and universities, which suffered serious dips in enrollments (-17 % for Canada and -16% for the US**) during the pandemic. Of the more than 5 million students enrolled globally in colleges…

Cruising Is Back. Or Is It?

Hoping to shake off your cabin fever by cruising the Caribbean this winter? Well, the cruise industry is hyping its fall and winter itinerary with special zeal, but don’t expect your next cruise to be a carbon copy of your last. Virtually all major cruise lines sailing out of US ports are booking primarily fully vaccinated sailings—and according to the CDC, “fully vaccinated” means that both vaccines must be of the same brand. (Actually the major cruise lines are allowing up to five per cent unvaccinated bookings just to get around government regulations in Florida that prohibit businesses, including cruise companies, from demanding customers show proof of vaccination. Norwegian Cruise Line is the exception in promoting only 100 per cent fully vaccinated sailings.) This is especially relevant to the many Canadians who have been inoculated with two different vaccines. For example, Carnival Cruise Line emphasizes in its boarding regulations brochure…

Visitors to Canada Insurance Grows into the Mainstream

With global borders reopening, albeit unevenly, the prospect of reconnecting with long-separated family and friends is made a lot easier given Canada’s increasingly generous “Visitors to Canada” travel insurance product line. Crafted to protect short-term international tourists as well as parents and grandparents visiting their families under the federal government’s Super Visa program, Visitors to Canada (VTC) plan benefits are also available to residents awaiting permanent visa status, citizens applying for reinstatement of their provincial health plans, as well as international students seeking alternatives for their college-based health insurance options. Health care in Canada is expensive. Don’t underestimate it Though Canadian residents don’t normally receive “bills” for hospitals or physician services, they pay a lot in taxes or premiums to maintain their health care system—one of the most expensive in the developed world. In any large Canadian city, uninsured visitors can expect to pay up to $1,000 or more for…

Multi-trip Insurance: The Right Plan for the Time?

Before the pandemic struck, annual multi-trip plans were growing faster than any other segment of travel insurance due largely to a more mobile society, more young travellers taking shorter trips, and even seasoned older travellers opting for more choice and flexibility. According to the Conference Board of Canada, in the years prior to the pandemic, some major insurers were reporting year-over-year sales increases of 20 to 30 per cent for annual multi-trip plans. As Canadians return to travel, perhaps tentatively at first, might shorter multi-trip plans be just the right choice for the time? Shorter trips, flexible schedules, only one application to complete—you select the number of days you want covered per trip, use it an unlimited number of times throughout the year, your premium remains the same, and you save money. What’s wrong with that? What’s the catch? All policies are priced on a daily rate that is based…

Have a Pre-existing Condition? Don’t Give Up on Travelling

As travel insurance has evolved over the years, more and more people in less-than-perfect health have become eligible for coverage. That’s a good thing. But you still need to be mindful that travel insurance is supplemental to your government (provincial) health plan, not a substitute for it, and there are exclusions and limitations in all travel health plans you need to be aware of when selecting insurance. The most basic plans are those offered within credit card benefits, but they are generally short term (10, 15, or 30 days), usually designed for persons younger than 65, and generally do not cover medical emergencies caused by pre-existing conditions—although there are exceptions in higher-end credit cards for which you pay a premium. But even then, coverage for pre-existing medical conditions is very limited. Fortunately, having a pre-existing condition does not mean you can’t get excellent coverage in a dedicated travel insurance plan.…

How Travel Insurance Has Evolved—For Your Benefit

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, travel insurance providers have made policy changes to better protect you from unforeseen events and situations beyond your control. This is important, as sooner or later, you can be sure we’ll be revisited by regional epidemics, pandemics, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, civil demonstrations, or terrorist attacks—perhaps even wars. History has taught us that much. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to explore what’s new in travel insurance, what’s essential for you to know in fashioning the best coverage for you and your family as we return to normalcy, how to get the most value for your money, and how to earn peace of mind. When to cancel a trip—and how Let’s start with the issue that generated so much concern this past year: coverage for trips that were cancelled, interrupted, or delayed beyond endurance. Traditionally, Canadian travel insurance has primarily focused on emergency…

International Travel Insurers Urge Better Defenses against Pandemics

As international travel reopens, don’t expect to flip a switch and find it all comes back as you left it. Even a short trip across the border to watch a ballgame or concert will require a few extra steps and a little more time to arrange. Canada has gone through an exceedingly strict lockdown—one of the most stringent in the developed world. Believe it or not, there are groups who track such things, among them the highly respected Oxford (University) COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT), which governments around the world look to for guidance in dealing with civil or natural upheavals. OxCGRT looks at indices such as workplace closures, travel bans, stay-at-home restrictions, school closures, public events, and social gatherings and rates them for comparable severity and effects on normal life. It found that on a scale of zero to 100 (with 100 being the most severe), Canada’s lockdown was among…

A COVID-19 Success Story. We Need One

Let’s look on the bright side—at a post-COVID success story—and realize that a new dawn is possible. Israel, a country of 9.3 million people, has freed itself of most pandemic restrictions after its daily new case rate dropped to less than 20, and more than 80 per cent of its citizens have been fully vaccinated in perhaps the most efficiently run vaccination program of all nations. At one point, as recently as this past January, Israel’s daily new COVID case numbers were peaking at 10,000 per day, proportionately the same as rates in the United States, which was among the hardest hit of all nations. And overall, this small nation, less than half the size of Nova Scotia in square kilometres, sustained close to 840,000 cases and over 6,400 COVID-related deaths (a rate of 71 deaths per 100,000 population—slightly more than Canada’s current death rate of 68 per 100,00). But…

EU Bids Summer Welcome—But Not Just Yet

News that the European Union is “allowing” fully vaccinated Americans to vacation within its confines this summer (date yet to be determined) should NOT be taken by Canadians as a “given” that trans-Atlantic travel will be returning to normal anytime soon. Earlier this month, the US State Department, following advice from the CDC, upgraded 80 per cent of the world’s nations to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” status. That included Canada, Mexico, the UK, and much of Europe. The nations not upgraded to Level 4 are largely in East Asia, Oceania, and parts of Africa and the Caribbean. Canada too maintains its “Avoid all non-essential travel” advisory to all foreign countries, warning that any air passengers returning from “non-essential travel” will trigger the now infamous hotel-quarantine response. In addition, most Canadian private travel insurance plans warn they may not cover all benefits for travel to countries on the “Avoid non-essential…

No Consensus on Vaccine Passports

Throughout a world still bogged down by border restraints, the idea and processing of travel passes for those lucky enough to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 is raging ahead. Israel’s green passports In Israel, which leads the world in completed vaccinations (55 per cent), “green passports” have become common currency, and in many cases are mandatory for entry to concerts, restaurants, gyms, hotels, synagogues, businesses, stores, and everyday movement. Those that have them are first in line. Many others have to wait. To get a pass, you must first of all have been fully vaccinated for at least one week. Then after downloading a specified health department app to your Apple or Android phone, you must update your personal details, including personal ID number or passport number, phone numbers, and birth date, confirm the information is correct and confirm a code sent to your phone. You will then be sent…

Don’t Give up on Cruising in 2021… Canadians Can Still Hope

Given up hope of taking that late summer or fall cruise? Starved for some Caribbean sun? Hang on. The battle to reopen cruising out of South Florida—the world’s largest cruise market—has moved into high gear. Under intensifying pressure from American political, travel, and cruise industry heavyweights, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is being forced to explain and justify the continuation of its ban on cruises out of US ports now that vaccination efforts are far outpacing the spread of COVID transmission and the cruise industry has itself committed to stringent new protocols designed to mitigate future spread onboard its ships. Leading the charge to reopen cruising, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has threatened to sue the CDC to lift its Conditional Sailing Order (issued almost five months ago) banning cruise vessels with capacities exceeding 250 passengers from sailing in US waters, and to do so this summer.…

Where are the Canadians? America Misses You

Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, misses seeing Canadians…a lot. Dow lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and he says every night he looks out at the condos in his neighbourhood and they’re dark. Because they’re owned by Canadians. Speaking to his trade constituents via Zoom recently, he said, “A billion dollars a day goes across that border…We need to get the Canadian traveller back. It’s the largest country for travel to the US and over 20 million Canadians come here, and it goes back and forth. “We have to get that going,” he said, adding that though the USTA is lobbying to get all markets open for travel to the US, ”the Canadian [market] should be one of the easiest to get open based on protocols both countries are doing and it would make…the most sense to start stepping out in Canada fairly quickly.” Congress concurs Susan Collins,…

Restoring Confidence in International Travel

While we wait patiently for international travel to reopen, there are important things we can do to restore confidence that we can travel safely and be well prepared to meet the challenges of a post-pandemic world. We’ll need to learn some new rules and brush up on some we may have forgotten. For example: when was the last time you reviewed your passport to check out its expiration date? Ten years can fly by more quickly than you realize and increasingly, border control agents are requiring at least six months of remaining passport eligibility before granting you visiting rights. And “granting” is the key word, because you have no inherent right to be allowed into any foreign country. You’re only granted that privilege by your hosts. Some passports have more benefits than others Fortunately, Canadian passports are among the most highly valued* in the world, allowing their holders visa-free or…

Post-COVID: Summer Travel Is Not Impossible

As economies begin to open up—some timorously, others robustly—summer vacation travel is no longer an impossible dream… so long as you stay flexible, able to moderate your plans even up to the last minute if need be, and are prepared to compromise. Many travel insurers as well as suppliers such as air and cruise lines, hotels, and tour operators have modified their rules to allow for late-term cancellations, cash-back rebates in lieu of travel credits, and other pandemic-related disruptions. This bodes well for travel-deprived Canadians who have learned the value of preparing for the unknown, balancing risks and rewards, and daring to make choices. As Forrest Gump wisely said: “You never know what you’re gonna get.” Because of variations in COVID prevalence internationally, it’s unlikely that all borders will open synchronously. Even among European countries there is little harmony about inviting summer tourism. Nonetheless, we may well see more travel…

Can Vaccines Be the Game Changer in Opening up Travel?

As two of Canada’s closest neighbours (UK and US) lead the world in vaccinating their citizens against COVID, we’re seeing clear indications that getting those jabs might be the game changer in getting confinement-weary citizens back on the road again. For the record, among the 92 countries being tracked by the Bloomberg (news service) Vaccine Tracker, the UK and the US are among the world’s top four vaccine jabbers: (1) Israel, with over 82 vaccinated per 100 population; (2) United Arab Emirates, 52 per 100; (3) UK, 27 per 100; (4) US, 19 per 100. These figures are mostly based on vaccine recipients having received at least one jab—although many have received both. (These figures were effective as of Feb. 22, 2021.) According to the Guardian newspaper, since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his plans for a May 17 easing of lockdown rules, three of Britain’s top charter carriers reported…

There May Be a Cruise in Your Future. Be Patient

If you feel the need to lift your spirits, plan ahead, “break free,” you could do worse than start scouring the Internet for deeply discounted cruise packages now being offered by the world’s leading cruise lines in anticipation of a post-COVID pent-up demand for leisure travel. You may have to wait until late 2021 to board—that appears to be the most realistic projection anticipated by cruise professionals at this point—but there aren’t that many travel options in the meantime. And cruise companies have loaded up their packages with plenty of safeguards to protect your investment should it be delayed further or should your plans change, for whatever reason—and you may not even have to give a reason. Full cash refunds on-demand are now standard throughout the industry. If not, 125 or 150 per cent credits for changes, cruise delays, or cancellations remain an option. It’s a buyers’ market as it’s…

The Snowbird Conundrum: Paying to Go Home?

Feeling stranded? Confused? Uncertain if and when you can return to Canada and what you’ll have to do to get back to the northern side of the border? It hasn’t been made any easier by Ottawa’s new plan to require Canadians flying home to quarantine in selected hotels for up to three days (at an estimated cost of $2000) while their PCR COVID tests are assessed, then complete the remainder of the 14-day quarantine period at home. At this point the hotel quarantine option is still being developed so it may be some weeks before it is operational, but it does not presage an easing of border rules any time soon. How long can you stay? You can stay out of Canada indefinitely and still retain your citizenship. But US law allows Canadian passport holders to remain in the country only up to 182 days per every rolling 12-month period—so…

New US Rules Require COVID Test Results—Even if You Have Been Vaccinated

Effective January 26, 2021, all international travellers (including Canadians) flying to the US are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure, or validation from their physician that they have sufficiently recovered from infection by the coronavirus. The rule, issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in effect reciprocates a similar one effective January 7, issued by the Canadian government for international travellers flying into Canada. But an important adjunct to the CDC rule that is causing some confusion among seniors already vaccinated against the coronavirus insists that their vaccination doesn’t exempt them from the negative test requirement. It’s a head-scratcher, but it’s true. Even though you may have recently received your two jabs—either of the Pfizer/ BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine—you will still have to show proof of a negative test taken within three days of boarding your flight. Says…

Confused by Post-Brexit European Travel? No Sweat

Now that Brexit is a done deal, you might wonder how it will affect your summer or fall travel plans to Europe—assuming and hoping that COVID is by then brought under enough control that flying around the globe is safe again. Until that clearance is sounded, you should keep abreast of any changes to entry requirements for all countries to which you’ll be travelling and/or transiting through. Though entry to any country in the Schengen area (which covers 26 nations—most of them in the EU) normally allows Canadian and American citizens to travel without visas or further passport inspections, individual nations within this union have the right to impose temporary border inspections if certain emergencies (such as illicit migration surges or terrorist threats) emerge. Also, proof of health insurance coverage up to EU standards (at least €40,000) may be required at any stop along the way. Individual countries are increasingly…

Vaccine Arrival Sparks Traveller Hopes, But Canadians Remain Cautious

Though arrivals of COVID-19 vaccines may give us hope that travel restrictions might soon be relaxed, Canadians remain cautious about planning international—or even, to some extent, domestic—trips any time soon. According to a new survey by the Conference Board of Canada, while 87 per cent of Canadians say they miss travelling, three quarters insist they won’t travel out of the country until a vaccine is available, and 53 per cent say the same about domestic travel. Meanwhile, one quarter of respondents to the survey do not plan to get vaccinated. Furthermore, if and when airline travellers decide to pack up and go, 66 per cent want mandatory face masks used by all ground and in-air staff and 57 per cent want distancing space retained—to some degree. Survey respondents also revealed that their fears about exposure to COVID were most pronounced about the modes of transportation—more than half were “extremely or…

Update on European Travel Authorizations: Deferred to 2022

Early in 2019 we alerted you to the European Union’s forthcoming travel authorization scheme requiring Canadians and Americans (as well as citizens of 60 other nations who do not normally require visas for European travel) to file for pre-authorization to visit any of its member countries as of January 2021.  The scheme, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), has been deferred to late 2022 to allow all member countries to better coordinate and come into compliance with each other. Nothing comes easily or without glitches in the EU’s multinational operations. That start date is also tentative as there is likely to be an official launch toward the end of 2022 but it will not be mandatory until 2023. Additionally, a 6-month grace period is planned to allow eligible travellers to become familiarized with the new regulations. So all we can say today is “for now you can relax,” but “stay…

It’s Your Policy. Take Responsibility. Take Your Time

More than ever, travel insurance products are giving customers in less-than-perfect health opportunities to leave home, visit friends and relatives in distant countries, and even indulge themselves in leisure activities that would have been unthinkable a decade or two ago. Even for the elderly, given their normal range of chronic conditions (e.g., high blood pressure, heart flutters, diabetes, artery or vein disorders), coverage may be available so long as their health has remained stable for specified periods (three months, perhaps six) and they have completed their medical questionnaires accurately and haven’t “shaded” the truth to gain a slight reduction in premiums. Such attempts at “savings” can turn into financial catastrophes if the insurer is forced to deny a claim for emergency medical services because you failed to fully or accurately disclose that you had been “checked out” for a respiratory condition within the past three months, or that your medication…

Simple Tools for Avoiding US Taxes for Canadian Snowbirds

Canadians spending long periods in the US on B2 visitor’s visas (see our previous article) often ask at what point their presence becomes taxable to Uncle Sam. It’s a good question because paying taxes at home is irritating enough. You don’t want to get tangled up with tax demands from two governments. And the good news is that the great majority of snowbirds won’t have to pay US taxes. But they need to follow some not-too-complicated rules. Let’s take it from the top The demands of the IRS, which governs tax collection, and the requirements of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency, which controls who enters the country and for how long, are separate. CBP agents are not tax collectors. The IRS, however, is. And it wants to know if you spend enough time in the US to be considered a resident for tax purposes. Don’t read that as…

How Long Canadians Can Visit the US: A Review

Every now and then, the question of how long or how often Canadians can visit or tour the United States each year comes up from someone who has heard a horror story about a border-crossing mishap. And though I have written many thousands of words on this subject over more than 25 years, there always seems to be room for an update—especially as travel regulations constantly seem to be changing and new requirements for international travel keep being announced. Since hundreds of thousands of Canadians spend entire winters in the US, it’s worth setting the record straight. And that’s easy. It’s not complicated. Thanks to the special relationship that exists between Canada and the US, there is a preferential arrangement between our countries that allows Canadians to visit the US for up to six months per each rolling 12-month period. That is an allowance deemed under the B2 visa which covers…

Will Canadians Return to Cuba after COVID-19?

Now that vacation flights have resumed to Cuba, albeit on a limited scale, can we expect Canadians to maintain their position as that Caribbean country’s most favoured source of tourism? It seems so: with Canadians accounting for one-fourth of all tourists to Cuba (1.1 million of 4.4 million in 2019), that lead is likely untouchable, for now at least. The runner-up USA, which provided 650,000 tourists (mostly on special group and family-connection programs) in 2019, will continue to lessen its numbers as the long-standing trade embargo is strengthened. But there is no shortage of tourists from Europe and Asia applying for Cuban tourist visas, and high among them are Russian tourists, who have already started chartered flights into Cuba this month (along with German tourists). In 2019, approximately 178,000 Russians visited Cuba—up 30 per cent from the previous year. According to Cuban authorities, Russians have submitted the fourth-highest number of…

Still Hope for the 240-Day Visa? Patience is a Virtue

For more than a decade, Canadian snowbirds hoping for permission to spend more time in warm-weather states south of the border have pegged their hopes on passage of US federal legislation amending the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize their admission for up to 240 days—eight months per year. That’s two months more than is currently available through the standard B2 tourist visa, which is what Canadians use when hopping the border for a one-day sports event—or for a 183-day winter vacation in Florida or Arizona. Known generically as the “Snowbird Visa,” the amended visa would allow Canadian citizens aged 50 or older to reside in the US for up to eight months per year contingent on their retaining homes in Canada, owning or leasing long-term residences in the US, waiving all rights to welfare or public assistance funding, and refraining from any employment or other work for hire. In effect: tourism…

Can’t Wait to Get Back to Cruising? Expect Changes

In 2019, Canadians took almost one million cruises, sailing oceans, lakes, and rivers around the world. And a large majority of them say they would do it again. Cruisers are a committed lot—all surveys confirm it. Then came COVID, and though it took some time, cruisers returned home, wondering when or if they would get another chance to sail. Now, almost nine months later, the question remains. When will cruising resume? And how will the experience be changed? Since the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) first issued its “no sail” order for ships in US waters (March 14, 2020), there have been a few isolated attempts at cruise resumptions—primarily in the Mediterranean and other parts of Europe. But outbreaks of COVID on some of these voyages have cut them short as well. Since then, extensions of the “no sail” order have been continued through to the end of October.…

You’ve Covered “Medical” Insurance—Now What About “Cancellation”?

If there is anything positive to be said about how travellers have been impacted by COVID, it’s that trip cancellation insurance has become a “top of the mind” issue. For Canadians that’s critical, because though more than 70 per cent of travellers normally buy emergency out-of-country medical coverage, fewer than a third have, up to now, considered trip cancellation/interruption insurance a necessity. No longer. With millions of the world’s travellers now lining up for refunds or rebates for cancelled air travel, cruises, or tour packages due to COVID, the focus has shifted to gaining some assurance that family finances are also protected in case of unexpected disruption. Fortunately, there is no shortage of trip cancellation/interruption products in the travel insurance marketplace, but understanding the conditions of coverage, the limitations and exclusions, and how and when one goes about getting a “refund” when travel plans go awry is part of the…

Travel Demands Determination—Don’t Give Up

Though the Canadian government continues to warn against all international travel because of ongoing COVID-19 prevalence, the US State Department has begun easing its warnings for most countries down to Level 3 (Reconsider travel) from the highest Level 4 (Do not travel). Canada is now listed in the Level 3 range even though the border with the US remains shut to non-essential travel. Still on the US “Do Not Travel” list are such major destinations as Mexico, Russia, China, Brazil, India, Egypt, and several countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. However, despite the warning level easing for outbound travel, there are still some European countries that do not allow Americans entry for leisure purposes, or that at least demand certain health checks or other clearance conditions. Canadians, however, are welcome in more countries—even though your government would prefer you to stay home. How do you plan ahead? So…

Time to Shake the Pandemic Blues? Maybe Soon

Tired of sitting in your backyard—alone? Bored by bureaucratic admonitions to wear your mask, stand apart, wash your hands, and sneeze into your elbow? Hang in there. More and more countries are prepared to welcome you but you still need to be selective. At this point much of Europe is open to Canadians (if you can find flights that fit your schedule and budget). All airlines are flying greatly reduced schedules and you may have to provide proof of a recent negative COVID test, but that’s a small price to pay for salvaging something out of the dwindling summer and upcoming fall. The Caribbean too is welcoming Canadians—albeit doing the limbo with a mask may be a little challenging—but mainland guests are highly prized and prices are quite reasonable. Also, as you may have read in the mainstream media, some Canadian insurers are now offering coverage for COVID-related medical services…

Canadian Travel Insurers Prepared to Offer COVID Coverage

Media announcements that major insurers are prepared to start covering COVID-related medical emergencies for Canadian out-of-country travelers will clearly put pressure on the federal government to ease its restrictions on international travel. At present, Travel Canada maintains its “Avoid all non-essential “ warning for all foreign travel, even though European nations have opened up their borders to several countries—among them Canada—which they consider has adequately controlled the spread of COVID. The advisory warns that if travelers choose to defy the advisory “your insurance may not cover your travel or medical expenses.” That of course, is a decision to be made by individual insurers not by government, and Manulife, Allianz and TUGO, Canada’s largest travel insurers have confirmed that as soon as the feds drop their advisory, they are prepared to offer COVID cover in most of their policies, under the existing limitations in their policies. And Medipac International, the designated…

Is Florida In Your Sights This Winter? A Ground Level Report.

As the Canadian/US border shutdown moves towards autumn, snowbirds and short- term winter vacationers are being left with little time to plan their next moves or commit to travel plans that many have considered their God-given right during inconsiderate winter weather. Though many Caribbean countries and Mexico have sent a hearty welcome to their northern neighbours, (see our previous article on this issue) there are some caveats that go with the invitation—masks, distancing, virus test verifications, stripped-down luxuries, even beach and surf patrols to ensure proper behaviour. Not great, but perhaps tolerable considering the alternative. Florida at ground level. Despite these offerings by other warm weather destinations, Florida remains Canada’s pre-eminent winter vacation destination, and given the recent reports of COVID surges throughout the state, many of them somewhat overblown, let’s take a ground level look everyday life in the Sunshine State today and what Canadians might expect to see…

EU Welcomes “Safe” Canadian Travellers. But Are You Ready?

Now that Canadians have earned a spot on the European Union’s safe travellers list, does that mean you are free and clear to book summer vacations or family visits wherever you like throughout the EU? The short answer is Maybe, and there are many contingencies to consider before you set your sights on spending part of the summer in Britain, France, Germany, Finland, Italy or any of the other EU member countries. The UK, for example has taken the biggest step forward in welcoming foreign visitors by dropping the 14-day quarantine requirement for those from “safe” countries (US is not included) as well for returning Brits. Ironically, the biggest problem for Canadians planning overseas travel is not their destination country, but Ottawa, which requires (as of this date) that Canadians returning from abroad may still be subject to 14-day self-quarantines. Sort of “Welcome Home. But…” Specifically, Travel Canada warns: “While…