Traditional travel tips remind you to have a valid passport and pack comfortable shoes, but there are other considerations that will make your adventures more exciting and less stressful. Read on for essential advice for hassle-free travelling.
1. Purchase travel insurance
Whether you are travelling outside your province or out of Canada, CDSPI Travel Edge and Travel Edge Plus with Allianz are designed to help protect you against the potentially game changing cost of unexpected emergencies that could happen during your trip.
With CDSPI there are two travel health insurance plan options available: the Travel Edge option and the Travel Edge Plus option. Both options provide emergency medical coverage for an unlimited number of trips you take over a consecutive 12-month period, starting from the effective date of the policy. These trips can be up to 15, 30, 60 or 90 days in duration, which you can choose when you apply, on a single or family basis. The Travel Edge Plus option also includes Flight Accident, Baggage Loss and Trip Cancellation Insurance. Find out more.
2. Visit your doctor
- One of the first things to do before traveling is to visit your doctor. Make sure to get an advanced supply of your prescription medication—you never know if you’ll have to extend your stay, and your specific medication may not be available at your destination.
- If you're traveling with prescription medication, make sure to check the laws and regulations on bringing certain drugs into the country. This can help prevent any legal troubles or confiscation. Keep them with you in their original prescription bottles if possible and in your carry-on.
- Make sure all your vaccinations are up-to-date and discuss any medical concerns you may have. This is especially important if you are traveling to a region where certain diseases are prevalent. Some hospitals have travel clinics staffed by doctors that specialize in travel advice – consider making an appointment if you are going somewhere off the beaten path.
3. Print copies of your accomodation reservation, your tickets and your passport
While most hotels will accept a digital copy of your reservation, it's always a good idea to have a hard copy as a backup. This is especially useful if you find yourself without cell service or Wi-Fi.
Like accommodation reservations, not all transport providers accept digital copies of tickets. Having a hard copy will prevent potential headaches and expenses if your digital ticket isn't accepted.
Losing your passport while traveling can be a nightmare. Make copies of your passport to have as a backup in case the original is lost or stolen. Some accommodations may also require a copy, so it's always a good idea to have one on hand.
4. Notify your bank of your destinations
Let your bank know where you'll be traveling to avoid any issues with accessing your funds. If the bank doesn’t know you’re travelling and suddenly there are large amounts from foreign countries being withdrawn, your account could be frozen as a safeguard.
Some banks may restrict the use of your debit or credit card in certain regions, especially high-risk countries, so give them a call and avoid hassles.
5. Check your home & auto insurance
Inform your insurance company of extended trips. Typically, homeowners can leave their home unoccupied for up to 30 days for an extended trip with no need for added insurance. If you're going to be away for longer, talk to your insurance company about additional coverage.
Your home insurance policy typically requires someone regular and consistent checking your home to maintain your coverage. They may also request your water to be turned off if you’re travelling during the winter if no one is staying in your house full-time because when you’re away on vacation, your home is more susceptible to any damage being left unnoticed, making the situation worse.
The easiest and most practical way to meet your home insurance policy obligations is to get a trusted friend or family member to check on your home every day or every other day. They should do a walkthrough of your home (including the basement) to check for any issues and note their visit in a logbook. They can pick up any mail or packages left at your door, too. You should also ensure your heating is maintained to keep your pipes from freezing—or, as mentioned, you can shut off your water when you leave. Give a copy of your itinerary to a friend or family member so they know your whereabouts in case of an emergency.
- Your home may also be more likely to be a target of theft while on vacation. Have your lights turn on/off automatically while you’re away by programming your smart plugs or timers. Leave blinds and curtains open while carefully keeping valuables out of sight.
- Don’t announce your vacation plans. While it is tempting to let the world know you are taking a well-deserved trip, keep in mind that sharing too much information on social media or in emails can alert potential thieves.
- Take some time to tidy up, toss out garbage, water your plants, and secure/put away anything out in the open in your backyard, like bicycles, gardening equipment, and barbecues. You should also take photos or videos of your home’s contents before you head out – it’s a simple way to keep a record of your possessions should you need to make an insurance claim.
- Before you leave for your trip, make sure to unplug any appliances around the house to prevent energy waste and potential hazards. To avoid problems, disconnect your television, computers, sound systems, and other devices; or plug your electronics into a surge protector.
If you’re not driving your car, remove any documents with personal information from your car and store them in a safe spot in your home. Be sure to put the keys away somewhere out of sight; ideally in a Faraday pouch or box to prevent thieves from stealing the key signals.
6. Rent a car
Like most traveling expenses, renting a car ahead of time can save you money. You should also check to see if your personal insurance covers rental cars and what restrictions, if any, apply.
7. Call your cell provider
If you use your Canadian cellphone, mobile device or computer in another country, or even if you don’t – smartphones use data intermittently even if you are not actively using them – you may receive an unexpectedly large bill for your data usage from your wireless provider after you return home. This is the result of the exceptionally high international data roaming fees charged by Canadian wireless providers to keep you connected to a wireless network while you are outside the country.
Most providers offer travel packages for U.S. and international destinations that offer a bundle of minutes or megabytes for a fixed price. You can also buy a local-network SIM card when you get to your destination and buy a prepaid plan for a minimal price. Telecommunications companies are local, so do some advance research on travelling forums to find the name of a reliable carrier in your destination country.
Alternatively, switch your phone to “airplane mode” and use the hotel wifi or just turn on data when you absolutely need it. If you are travelling with other people - perhaps one person in the group gets the data and the others hot spot when needed.
You might also consider downloading maps before your trip to avoid data charges while sightseeing.
8. Use AirTags to track your luggage
The number of delayed, damaged, lost, or stolen bags increased 24% in 2021, helped by an increase in international flights, according to a recent study1. In fact, a total of 4.35 bags per thousand passengers were mishandled around the world.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing you’ll have to prepare for is if your luggage goes missing. You’ve got to somehow track down your belongings that were in the airline’s care and then wait to be reunited — all while trying to enjoy the start of your long-awaited vacation. As far as travel nightmares go, lost luggage is up there as one of the worst.
AirTags are a great product that can help you track your luggage if it gets misdirected or stolen. Put one in your bag, and you'll be able to locate it using an app on your iPhone.
9. Be aware of your carry-on limits
Airlines have become quite strict about the size and weight of carry-on luggage so before you travel, check their website where limits are published. However, in terms of your trip planning, and the fear of lost luggage it’s always a good idea to ensure your carry on includes those items that cannot be replaced easily. Money, credit cards, travel documents, jewelry, or anything else of monetary value should never be packed in your checked bag. Again, if your luggage gets lost, so will your money.
Baggage handlers are not known for being gentle; so fragile items and personal electronics should also go in carry-on.
Prepare a small kit of essentials to also have in your carry-on bag. This may include items like band-aids, pain relievers, earplugs, an eye mask, your prescription medications, and hand sanitizer. Toiletries and a change of clothes are also must-haves so at least you’ll have something to change into when you arrive, and you’ll be able to brush your teeth or take a shower.
A little preparation is key when it comes to stress-free travel. These tips can help you avoid potential setbacks and enjoy your trip to the fullest. Safe travels!