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Your ultimate guide to safe road-tripping in BC this summer

One of the best ways to explore British Columbia's natural beauty, cities, towns and wildlife is by open road. Now that we are in Phase Three of the Restart Plan, which will see the safe and respectful return of travel and tourism within the province, a new BCAA survey conducted by Insights West shows that the summer road trip is making a big comeback, with 66% of British Columbians planning to take one. But remember, it's essential to plan ahead and consider COVID-19 restrictions when travelling this summer. We all have to do our part.

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. This also means being extra prepared, with thorough trip organizing, vehicle maintenance, packing and route planning. But, planning can be part of the fun, and 79% of British Columbians surveyed agree! So read on for helpful tips and advice, plus a few trip ideas.

man sitting on chair outdoors
Photo credit: Destination BC/Joann Pai

Places to visit, our personal favourites to help inspire your next BC adventure

Discover or rediscover our province with these road trip ideas. The following articles were created specifically for the unique travel circumstances of summer 2020, by our partners at Destination BC. The information is accurate at the time of publication, but we recommend you contact businesses directly to confirm availability. Try one of these great BC trips this summer or fall:

Trip Idea #1: 12 Unique Experiences Along the Sea-to-Sky Corridor

Trip Idea #2: Vancouver to Kelowna and Beyond: 4 Routes, Countless Hidden Gems

Trip Idea #3: 5 Reasons to Head East for Mountain Adventure

Things to consider when planning a road trip

family packing for road trip

Being prepared makes for a smooth and more enjoyable vacation and helps keep our communities safe. And according to the BCAA survey conducted by Insights West, this year's road trip is all about preparation, with 75% saying their prep will be extra careful to keep safe during the pandemic. Here are some road trip travel tips from BCAA and HelloBC to help you enjoy BC safely, and responsibly.

Do your research

  • 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.
  • Some cities or regions may still have restrictions or closures in place for people who don't live in the area. Reach out to the local visitor centre for the latest on-the-ground information, and check-in with individual businesses to find out if they're open, and what additional protocols are in place. If their community prefers to remain closed to visitors, please respect their decisions.
  • Start planning your trips early. Visit ExploreBC.com to plan your next adventure. Be sure to check cancellation and refund policies before you book.
  • If your plans do include any non-refundable accommodations or bookings, consider BCAA's Non-medical Travel Package, including Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance to protect you if your plans change for reasons other than COVID-19.
  • Check local and provincial public health updates and local news for up to date information on COVID-19 and continue to do so while on the road.
  • Call ahead to restaurants and attractions to understand capacity limits, and where possible, make reservations in advance.
  • Don't get caught unprepared. Stay safe and save time by checking the latest road, ferry, or weather conditions before you hit the road. Map out your route in advance with our TripTik road trip planner, and bring a paper map in case technology fails.

Get your car road trip ready

woman holding a phone beside broken down car

Pack smart and be prepared for an emergency

  • Bring an extra set of keys and keep them with you at all times (outside of the car).
  • Don't forget the essentials: lots of water and your phone charger, both will be critical in the event of a breakdown. You'll need to stay hydrated and have a charged phone to call for help.
  • Keep an emergency kit in the car. Our suggestions include a first aid kit, warm clothing and blankets, a flashlight, windshield fluid, pylons, a high vis vest, and a fully charged portable battery charger.

Don't get complacent about physical distancing and hygiene

  • If you're heading to a more rural area of the province, stock up with the essentials before you leave home. Avoid unnecessary stops by ensuring you have everything you need before you hit the road.
  • Ensure to pack face coverings, gloves, cleaning supplies like disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer, and a thermometer.
  • Be mindful of high-touch areas and objects and sanitize your hands after coming into contact with them.
  • Maintain two metres of distance when in public.
  • 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.

Be patient and kind

  • Travel in BC under the latest guidelines is an adjustment for everyone. 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 remember, we're all in this together.
  • From a BCAA standpoint, our Roadside Assistance service continues to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. BCAA is expecting an increase in calls this summer, so be prepared for the possibility of longer than usual wait times (a reminder that you can request BCAA Roadside Assistance online or download the BCAA app for Android or iPhone). And to support physical distancing, be prepared to find yourself an alternate ride to your destination if your vehicle needs to be towed.

Be sure to follow along on BCAA's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as we continue to share status updates and trip ideas for this summer and beyond. Plus, subscribe to our BCAA Member Rewards e-news to learn about exclusive offers, deals and news from BCAA.