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With the first official long weekend of summer around the corner, many Canadians are looking forward to getting behind the wheel and hitting the open road.
And, while road trips have long been a Canadian summer staple, a recent national survey has discovered that this year’s family vacation may look a little different, with almost three-quarters (74%) of Canadians having changed their summer travel plans due to the pandemic.
With a desire to explore locally and reconnect with family, friends and nature, the day trip has emerged as this summer’s new preferred getaway, according to a national survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Toyota Canada.
“While this may not be the summer we had all envisioned, we’re excited to see Canadians getting back behind the wheel, slowing life down and exploring more of the incredible beauty Canada has to offer,” says Stephen Beatty, Vice President, Corporate at Toyota Canada, speaking from his cottage-turned-office near Algonquin Park. “Whether it’s a quick day trip or a longer journey, there is no shortage of amazing, off-the-beaten-path treasures that offer great fun without the crowds. As we continue to adjust to the new normal, the road trip is a great option for Canadians who want to get away safely, experience a change of scenery and start making new memories with loved ones again.”
Day trips are the new road trip
With only a quarter (24%) of Canadians saying they’d feel comfortable taking a plane at the moment, vehicles will be the go-to mode of transportation for the summer as the majority (70%) of those surveyed said they feel comfortable travelling by car outside of their city or town. Almost half (49%) are planning at least one day trip over the next two months. This year, though, Canadians are looking for closer-to-home destinations to explore, with less than half (42%) comfortable venturing out of their province and only 21% who would visit the U.S in the near future. Of those planning to hit the road this summer, most are opting to stay within a 100km radius of home, making day trips the new preferred excursion.
Just because Canadians will be taking to the road this summer does not mean they are throwing caution to the wind when it comes to COVID-19. An overwhelming majority (94%) of those planning a road trip say they will be taking extra precautions to protect both themselves and those around them. Of those going on a road trip, two-thirds (65%) say they will limit contact with people outside their immediate circle and limit their exposure to crowds (64%). Other precautions Canadians plan to take on their road trips include wearing a mask while out in public (54%) and taking extra time to clean and disinfect surfaces inside the car (43%).
Return to a simpler summer
It should come as no surprise after the past three months that Canadians are craving connection, making visiting family and friends this summer (53%) the primary purpose of their road trips. Additional road trip destinations include exploring another city or town (51%), visiting a beach (41%), discovering a national/provincial park (42%), or settling in at a campground (38%) or cabin (23%). Regardless of the destination, Canadians are planning a simpler summer, filled with memory-making adventures as they explore all that Canada has to offer.
“What a difference a year can make,” said Beatty, referring to the national IPSOS survey commissioned by Toyota Canada in 2019 that predicted the “demise of the Canadian road trip” due to soaring gas prices. “No one could have anticipated we would be where we are today, but there is something beautiful about this back-to-basics approach to summer vacation. The idea of hitting the road is nostalgic for many, evoking memories of simpler times spent with the family, playing silly car games, and enjoying the journey as much as the destination.”
Hitting the road from coast-to-coast-to-coast
While Canadians across the country will be taking to their cars, trucks and SUVs this summer, there are some interesting provincial differences:
Getting the most out of their miles
Of the three-quarters (72%) of respondents surveyed who own a car, half (50%) have stated that staying at home during the pandemic has made them miss driving. But even with today’s lower gas prices, 60% of Canadians list fuel efficiency as a key car consideration when selecting their preferred road trip vehicle. Canadian road-trippers and day-trippers are also looking for vehicle safety features (31%), lots of cargo space (29%), room for multiple passengers (27%), and cruise control (23%). And Toyota is responding to their needs.
“While we’re always focused on providing safety, fuel economy and other features for our customers, we also look for new ways to take our popular family vehicles to the next level,” said Beatty. “This summer, we’ve upped our road trip game with the best Toyota Highlander ever – redesigned from the ground up with all-new TNGA-enabled style and performance, and a choice of gas or hybrid powertrain. We’ve come a long way since the days of the wood panelled station wagon, and we can’t wait for Canadians to see everything new we have to offer.”
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