Ottawa couple taking staycations to a whole new level

Despite the pandemic, Ruth and OJ Gallant spent their winter travelling to New York, Florida, Hawaii, Las Vegas and the Maritimes — all without leaving their house.

Throughout the pandemic, the Gallants have been getting away from it all without leaving their house

Ruth and OJ Gallant enjoy a cocktail in their living room, which they've decorated to look more like a Florida beach, right down to the sand. With the pandemic still putting real travel on hold, the couple has embraced elaborate staycations and shared photos to lift others' spirits. (Submitted by Ruth Gallant)

Despite the pandemic, one Ottawa couple spent their winter travelling to New York, Florida, Hawaii, Las Vegas and the Maritimes — all without leaving their house.

"We decided that we would recreate some of our past vacations since we couldn't go on an actual vacation," Ruth Gallant said from their home in the city's Beacon Hill neighbourhood.

The couple loves travelling and came up with the idea for the "house vacations" after being forced to cancel a month-long stay in Florida this past March.

Their trips have included elaborate setups in their living and dining rooms with food and drink to complement each destination.

Ruth Gallant is originally from Nova Scotia, and OJ Gallant is from Prince Edward Island, so naturally one of their 'house vacations' was to the Maritimes for a lobster supper. (Submitted by Ruth Gallant)

For example, their Maritimes holiday included lobster and scallops, and the Florida vacation came complete with palm trees and even real sand in the living room.

"It was great to get up every morning, walk into my living room, sit down in a beach chair and run my toes and my feet through the sand," she said.

The Gallants took a bite out of the Big Apple from their living room. (Submitted by Ruth Gallant)

What happens in Vegas

Their trip to Vegas left OJ Gallant nearly naked after a tough game of strip poker, a joke for a photo that he said garnered quite a few laughs from family and friends.

"It was all in fun and jest," he said, adding that they wanted to help lift the spirits of those struggling with mental health issues.

OJ Gallant wasn't doing too well during a pretend game of strip poker on their house vacation to Las Vegas. (Submitted by Ruth Gallant)

"I think some people probably have more difficulty with this than people are letting on," he said.

Ruth Gallant has battled cancer twice, and said she always tries to enjoy life to the fullest.

"Even more so since the pandemic, because nothing is a certainty," she said.

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4 months ago
Ottawa residents Ruth and OJ Gallant came up with the idea of having “house vacations” after the pandemic caused them to cancel a month-long trip. Elaborate, themed decor has helped them travel to places like Florida, the Maritimes and Las Vegas. 1:34

Travel restrictions easing

Canada has had strict travel restrictions in place throughout the pandemic, but on Wednesday the federal government announced coming changes.

Soon, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents crossing the U.S. border into Canada won't have to self-isolate for 14 days, as long as they have a negative COVID-19 test.

The change doesn't apply to tourists, but it's a step in the right direction for housebound Canadians like the Gallants with the itch to travel.

Aloha from Hawaii, also known as the Gallants' living room. (Submitted by Ruth Gallant)

They recently purchased a motor home that's been sitting in their yard since October.

"The RV to nowhere, so far," Ruth Gallant laughed.

The couple plans to hit the road to visit family as soon as restrictions in the Maritimes are lifted. Even though the house vacations were fun and much less expensive, she said nothing beats the real thing.

"We normally see our family a couple of times a year, and I haven't seen my family in a year and a half."

The Gallants say that while their house vacations are fun and less expensive, nothing beats the real thing. Here's the couple on vacation in Hawaii. (Submitted)