What Do Canadians Plan To Do When Restrictions Are Lifted?

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2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid (CNW Group/Toyota Canada Inc.)

76% of Canadians feel the pandemic has fueled a new appreciation for the great outdoors,
65% are re-discovering the joy of travel within Canada

Road trip plans are on the rise as Canadians eagerly prepare to get back behind the wheel this summer

Canada is known for its natural beauty and stunning landscapes, and has long been a favourite destination for tourists from around the world. And, while Canadians have always enjoyed the open road, the pandemic has fueled a newfound love for the outdoors and a greater desire to get back behind the wheel and explore their own country, according to a new poll conducted by Leger Marketing on behalf of Toyota Canada.

More than three-quarters (76%) of Canadians polled indicated that the pandemic has given them a greater appreciation for the outdoors while two-thirds (65%) feel it has given them a greater appreciation for travel within Canada. In fact, when travel is permitted, nearly half (49%) of Canadians are planning to take a road trip this summer, an increase of almost 10% over last year.

Plans to Stay Closer to Home = The Resurgence of the Road Trip

While the majority of Canadians (73%) have had to change their summer vacation plans due to the pandemic, and eight in ten (84%) Canadians plan to stay closer to home than usual, 43% feel this summer could be the perfect time to explore Canada via a road trip (as soon as its safe to do so*). Of those planning a road trip, two-thirds (67%) are opting for a shorter day trip. In fact, 35% of those planning a road trip will be travelling only 4-6 hours away from home. When restrictions are lifted, those planning a road trip are looking forward to exploring new cities and towns (51%) and spending time with family and friends (43%).

New Appreciation for Being Outdoors = New Road Trip Activities, a Focus on More Eco-Friendly Journeys

With a greater appreciation for the outdoors, Canadians are focusing on destinations that bring them closer to nature and activities that keep them physically active. According to the survey, more than half (56%) of Canadians embarking on a road trip this summer are planning to go hiking, while 48% will be walking, running or rollerblading, and 46% plan to sightsee. Additionally, if restrictions allow, almost half (46%) plan to enjoy the outdoors while visiting with friends and family, while 45% plan to picnic and 42% will go camping. Exploring national or provincial parks is also high on the list of road trip destinations for those planning a trip with 43% planning to visit one this summer.

With their new appreciation for the outdoors – along with greener destinations and activities – Canadians indicated they want the journey itself to be more eco-friendly. More than half (58%) of Canadians would feel better opting for a hybrid vehicle because of the environmental benefits.

Staying Cautious: 75% Plan to Continue Wearing a Mask in Public

While Canadians are eager to explore, they’re still planning to be cautious, taking local health and safety protocols into account. Three-quarters (75%) of those planning a road trip this summer indicate that they will continue to wear a mask in public as an added safety measure. Those who are planning a road trip this summer will be opting for more remote locations like campsites (37%) or cabins / chalets / cottages (34%).

A Shared Passion for the Great Outdoors… with Regional / Provincial Variations

While Canadians from coast to coast to coast share a love for the outdoors, there are also some interesting regional highlights when it comes to our road trip preferences:

  • British Columbians are slightly more likely than others to make concessions when it comes to their travel, with 79% stating the pandemic changed their vacation plans and the vast majority (89%) planning to stay closer to home than usual this summer.

  • Alberta residents are slightly more likely to hit the open road, with 61% planning a road trip this summer. And, on par with the rest of the country, almost half (48%) of Albertans planning a road trip noted camping would be their preferred outdoor activity.

  • Relatively on par with the country, residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are true road trip warriors, with 35% willing to drive more than 12 hours from their homes for their vacation. Not surprisingly, almost two-thirds (63%) of Saskatchewan and Manitoba respondents say fuel efficiency is the car feature they care about most when taking a summer road trip.

  • Roughly in line with the rest of the country, Ontarians are open to driving a little farther from their home this summer, with 35% willing to drive 7 or more hours.

  • Quebecers seem to love their cars the most, with more than half (58%) stating the pandemic has caused them to miss driving and 67% feeling that their car is a part of their family.

  • Atlantic Canadians feel most connected to nature, with the majority stating the pandemic has given them a greater appreciation for the outdoors (85%) and for domestic travel (79%).

“It’s not surprising that, over a year into the pandemic, Canadians are more eager than ever to get back behind the wheel and explore our beautiful country as soon as its safe to do so,” says Stephen Beatty, Vice President, Corporate at Toyota Canada. “We are so fortunate to live in a country that has so much to offer in terms of scenic drives and outdoor adventure, and it’s wonderful to see an increased appreciation for the outdoors.”

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