Black Friday is just around the corner, and with border restrictions loosening on Monday, you might be wondering if the trip to the US is worth it.
The pandemic created additional costs for Canadians traveling south. Here’s a look at the additional costs cross-border shoppers will face, and some tips to avoid nasty surprises.
Canadians traveling to the US by air will need to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19, as well as a negative test result. It can be any type of COVID test, including the cheapest rapid antigen tests.
A test costs between $ 16 and $ 40, depending on where you get it, said Marty Firestone, president of Toronto-based travel insurance company Travel Secure Inc.
However, if you are traveling by land, no proof is required, but proof of vaccination is required, except for children under the age of 18, who are exempt from vaccination requirements.
Returning to Canada will be more expensive, in terms of testing, Firestone said; Canada requires a negative PCR test or molecular test done within 72 hours, which costs at least $ 150, and more if you need the results quickly.
If you’re taking a quick trip, you can get the test in Canada, Firestone said, although that won’t necessarily save you money.
Personal finance expert Barry Choi said that home kits are available for roughly the same price, and he recommends bringing one along and using it before heading home.
While $ 40 for a rapid test and $ 150 for a PCR test is not astronomical, these costs can add up quickly if the entire family is present, Choi said.
If you’re there for the Black Friday deals, “how much money are you really saving?” he said.
“It absolutely changes the dynamics of what travel used to be.”
Both Firestone and Choi recommend obtaining travel insurance for your trip, although they note that insurance costs have not really increased from pre-pandemic prices.
Firestone said that if you are vaccinated, many regular travel insurance policies will include COVID-19 in their emergency medical coverage. But many still don’t cover COVID-19-related cancellations and outages, he said, so you may want to get additional coverage for that.
Manulife offers travel insurance that covers up to $ 5 million in COVID-19 related medical expenses if travelers are fully vaccinated.
You may be able to get some cancellation coverage through your credit card, Choi said. But do your research.
“It really comes down to terms and conditions,” Choi said.
For example, if you test positive for COVID-19 while in the United States, you may have to pay for food and lodging costs for a two-week quarantine, plus your return flight, Firestone said. That is if you travel by plane. If you travel by land or water and your COVID-19 PCR test is positive or you have symptoms, you can still return to Canada.
If you are traveling with children, be aware that some schools and daycare centers may require your child to stay home for two weeks after returning from international travel, if they are not vaccinated, Firestone said.
Another potential cost as parents may have to take time off from work to care for them, Choi said.
“That three-day trip can suddenly turn into a … 17-day holiday.”
Firestone said car rental costs will likely remain high, so travelers shouldn’t expect to find a cheap deal there. Airfares are back up from previous pandemic lows, he added, and airlines are doing a lot of consolidation to keep flights full, so plan for delays or schedule changes.
“I can’t imagine a family crossing over to go shopping, because any savings they found on their Black Friday specials will be offset by four or five PCR tests they had to take.”
Choi agreed, adding that in recent years, Canada has been upping its game for Black Friday sales, and it’s probably not worth crossing the border this time.
But Black Friday could be a good time to book future trips, he said.
With files from Ivy Mak