Considering an isolated getaway at the family cottage as a safe winter vacation alternative during COVID-19? This can be magical if it’s done right: think cross-country skiing or snowshoeing through tranquil forest trails, followed by cozying up with your favourite beverage around a crackling fireplace.
Far be it from us to discourage you. But it’s important to remember that during the colder months, leaving the city for a multi-hour drive isn’t as simple as filling the tank and grabbing some snacks.
Here, we’ve gathered some suggestions for items you might consider taking along for your safety, tailored to your potential needs based on how long and how remotely you’ll be traveling.
The basics. Even if you’re only going an hour or two out of the city on well-frequented roads, severe winter weather can strike without warning and leave you temporarily fending for yourself. Having a basic survival kit on hand will give you peace of mind, according to Nadia Matos, communications consultant with CAA.
“You can put things like a small shovel, an ice scraper, a snow brush,” Matos said. “We also recommend that you put a candle like a tea light and a deep can and have some matches because that could keep you warm for hours on end if you find yourself in a predicament. [Also, add] a flashlight, whistle, first aid kit, and seatbelt cutter.”
Bottled water and non-perishable snacks such as nuts or energy bars are also wise additions. It doesn’t cost much to put these together into a small duffel bag in your trunk, but pre-packaged kits are widely available for those who prefer the grab-and-go option.
Extra distance, extra preparation. If you’re going a little further or onto more remote roads where it could take you longer to be recovered from any misfortunes, consider bringing along some extra boots, outdoor clothing, and blankets, plus a power pack for wireless smartphone recharging.
“[Keep road] salt or cat litter in your trunk because that can give you traction if you’re dealing with ice,” Matos added. “We also recommend bringing a fire extinguisher.”
Bringing paper maps or pre-downloading maps of areas you’re not familiar with can be important for remote travel, she added.
“We all have smartphones, but there are a number of locations up north that don’t have any service,” Matos said.
Off-grid adventure. If you’re a serious back-country adventurer and could be outside your cellular network’s range for extended periods, it may take considerable time before help is able to reach you. On top of everything listed above, be sure to leave your route and timetable with trusted family members or friends. Those with a healthy budget and an appetite for true off-grid adventure might also consider investing in a personal locator beacon, a device that sends a one-way emergency distress signal to authorities via satellite.