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Canadians ditching summer vacations in response to COVID-19 pandemic, survey finds

How COVID-19 is changing summer vacation
WATCH: It’s the time of year Canadians start looking forward to summer getaways, but with COVID-19 affecting everything from job security to mobility, some families are cancelling vacations altogether. Laurel Gregory explains why they may want to rethink that.

For Heather Greenwood Davis, jet-setting is not only a way a life but a way of making a living. For nearly two decades, she has travelled all over the world as the blogger behind globetrottingmama.com and a travel writer for various publications.

“I started writing about travel when I was pregnant with my oldest. That was 18 years ago. We decided then that we weren’t going to wait for travel; we were going to take the kids wherever it was we wanted to go, ” Greenwood Davis said.

“When they were six and eight we set out on a year-long trip around the world. We hit 29 countries on six continents in that year and it was an incredible experience. We have been travelling ever since.”

That is, until March, when the Canada-U.S. border closed and various governments restricted Canadians’ mobility in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

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READ MORE: Is it safe to go on vacation this summer? Experts break down travel options

Greenwood Davis has never spent so much time at her Markham, Ont. home. While she has cancelled numerous trips — including a quick visit to Atlanta and Charlotte and a month-long family adventure to B.C. — the travel limitations haven’t stopped her from dreaming of quick getaways close to home.

“As the summer progresses, we are looking at Prince Edward County and the 1000 islands, Thunder Bay – I’ve never been to Thunder Bay.”

How COVID-19 is changing summer vacation
How COVID-19 is changing summer vacation

Rather than adjusting their travel plans, some Canadians are forgoing travel altogether.

A survey conducted by The Vanier Institute of the Family found 59 per cent of adults living with children had to change travel plans due to COVID-19 and 72 per cent of parents reported it was “unlikely” they would take a vacation in 2020.

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“First of all, historically — pre-COVID — people would go on vacation in order to spend time with their families. They have had an abundance of time with their families in the last few months and so that draw is not there,” said Nora Sprinks, CEO of The Vanier Institute of the Family.

“And then there’s all the sort of obvious ones: financial insecurity/instability, needing to be close to home in order to manage all the things related to COVID or returning to place of employment or returning back to school in the fall.”

Spinks says Canadians typically make family decisions based on choice and circumstance and the pandemic has created limitations on both of those things.

“As different places open up, different opportunities will present themselves and families will slowly but steadily and surely start to reconnect.”

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Jordan Friesen, national director of workplace health for Canadian Mental Health Association, encourages Canadians to take some sort of break this summer, even if they need to make some compromises.

“A good friend had some wisdom in a common saying that the way he liked to disconnect was to do something completely different from what he did every day,” Friesen said.

READ MORE: Kids have been stuck home for weeks. Here’s how to ease them back into the world

“There’s certainly some inherent wisdom in that and it’s backed up by a lot of research showing that we are most able to be productive and contribute to the work we want to do when we take time away to look after ourselves.”

Looking at a summer vacations in Canada? Here’s what provinces are open for tourism this summer
Looking at a summer vacations in Canada? Here’s what provinces are open for tourism this summer

“That would certainly be my encouragement to Canadians over the summer, whether it’s the seven-day vacation you planned or taking a couple extra long weekends, that time off is critical for your ability to do your best work when you are at work.”

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Greenwood Davis plans to explore her own province and, potentially, unfamiliar parts of Canada as restrictions continue to ease. COVID-19 may have put a wrench in her schedule, but it hasn’t affected what truly puts the joy in each journey: her family.

“It’s the idea that you are out there with the people you love.

“You’re having a great time, there’s something new to see, that’s key for us. Not so much if you have crossed a border or hopped on a plane.”