'We just want to be where it's warm,' Snowbirds hit the road south

Kim Tompkins and her husband are preparing to leave their Coldwater, Ont., home for the sunny south now that the U.S.-Canadian border reopened for land travellers for the first time in nearly two years.

"Being able to go to the beach in January, February, and March is well worth the $150 each U.S. that it cost us to get a PCR test," she said.

Last year, desperate to get away during the cold winter months, Tompkins said they shipped their truck and trailer across the border and took a helicopter to the other side.

"We just want to be where it's warm," she added.

Meanwhile, Diane Mandeville didn't want to wait for the land borders to finally open, so she flew to Florida weeks ago, leaving behind her Moonstone home.

"It was ridiculous that it was okay for us to fly to Florida, and hundreds of people jammed on a plane, and in the lounges at the airport, but as far as coming just the two of us in our car, that wasn't allowed," Mandeville fumed.

Rick Gaboury is in the market for a new RV, but the Lagoon City resident said he's not planning to drive it down south just yet.

He's concerned about COVID-19 and plans to play it safe.

"Nope, not going," he said. "Numbers are just too high down there, so we're going to wait one more year and hopefully head south next year if the numbers are better."

Travellers must be fully vaccinated to cross the border, and those entering Canada must provide a negative PCR test, which can cost between $150 to $300.

Still, the vast majority of people are anxious to hit the road for warmer temperatures, despite the mandatory swab tests.

"We've already had to do this, two, three times now since the rules started, and that's a giant pain in the you-know-what," said Mandeville.

Pressure is growing on both sides of the border to scrap the PCR test requirement that must be taken within 72 hours of arriving at a Canadian border crossing.