Bank of lockers, many of them open, with a sign saying, “all lockers must be CLOSED”.
Like the lockers at my favorite parcel pick-up spot, the Canada-US border is not entirely closed.

What it’s like to cross the Canada-US border during Covid

On life, liberty, and the pursuit of bacon

“Fruity cereal” flavored KitKat bar
“Fruity cereal” flavored KitKat bar
America’s relentless pursuit of scientific innovation is just one reason I was eager to return to the United States.

Preparing for the trip

I really appreciated the Canadian government’s handy checklist for daring cross-border travelers.

Getting into the United States

Our day in the U.S.A.

Before Covid, I would bond with my fellow cross-border shoppers as we opened our packages and compared notes.
Drive-through Covid testing at the Bellingham Walgreens.
The parking lot at the Bellingham Target was a sea of Washington state plates.
screen shot of negative covid test
screen shot of negative covid test
It’s negative!
The Rite Aid mask selection was not impressive, but you can’t beat the branding on this “Land of Liberty” mask.
Package of salted caramel brownie oreos
Package of salted caramel brownie oreos
While the rest of us were worrying about vaccination acceptance rates and universal basic income, America figured out that what the world really needs is Salted Caramel Brownie Oreos. Who am I to argue?
A package of red, white and blue oreos “with popping candy”.
A package of red, white and blue oreos “with popping candy”.
Sadly, by the time my mom promised not to share these America-flavored Oreos with my kids, I had already left Rite Aid. Now we will never know what America tastes like.
An empty post-vaccination waiting area at Rite Aid.
Starbucks sign indicating that the store is temporarily closed
Starbucks sign indicating that the store is temporarily closed
The Bellis Fair Starbucks is closed for the pandemic.
Hand sanitizer on the Macy’s counter, along with a sign reminding patrons to keep a 6-foot distance.
Hand sanitizer on the Macy’s counter, along with a sign reminding patrons to keep a 6-foot distance.
Macy’s had lots of signs promoting social distancing, but happily, the fitting rooms were still open.
Mechie’s plastic spoon handed over with metal tongs
Mechie’s plastic spoon handed over with metal tongs
Menchie’s spoon: Now Covid-free!
cardboard box full of perfectly crisp brand parmesan crisps
cardboard box full of perfectly crisp brand parmesan crisps
This is what a five-month supply of parmesan crisps looks like. OK, I’ll admit it: This is what half of a five-month supply looks like.
Cooler full of cheese
Cooler full of cheese
In this ever-changing world, it is reassuring to find the Tillamook Extra Sharp White Cheddar in the exact same Whole Foods cooler.
A very large amount of Trader Joe’s bacon in a shopping cart
A very large amount of Trader Joe’s bacon in a shopping cart
Thank God It’s Bacon.

Returning to Canada

Covid test kit with instruction sheets
Covid test kit with instruction sheets
The Covid test kit provided by Canadian Border Services comes with detailed instructions in both English and French, but if you take it on arrival at the border, a helpful human walks you through the process.
iPhone quarantine notification alert alongside screenshot of government website saying to ignore the notifications if you’re an exempt traveler
iPhone quarantine notification alert alongside screenshot of government website saying to ignore the notifications if you’re an exempt traveler
I was briefly alarmed by a phone notification suggesting I had to be in quarantine, after all…until I saw the note on the Border Services website advising that exempt, vaccinated travelers could ignore these notifications.

Author, Remote Inc: How To Thrive at Work…Wherever You Are. Tech speaker. Writer & data journalist for Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review & more.