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9 things to do before you travel internationally

To the point Here are some things to check before you leave on your trip to avoid facing unexpected situations and frustrations!

1. Make sure your passport and visas are valid

The passport expiration date should be checked before leaving on a trip and before making reservations; this will avoid stress and costs for urgent requests. Most countries require that the passport remain valid for up to six months after returning to Canada.

At check-in, boarding may be denied if the carrier finds that entry requirements are not met. The responsibility lies with the traveller, and no compensation will be given.

Little tip

Some countries require two consecutive blank pages in your passport. This can be a problem for people who travel a lot or when customs officials stamp just about anywhere; the passport quickly becomes full and must be replaced well before the expiration date.

On my side, I put post-it notes and small indicators before leaving on a trip to guide the customs officer to the right page. I once had to renew a passport just 16 months after it was issued!

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Then, for people who change their family name following a union (outside of Quebec), you must make sure the names match on the different documents!

For babies, a birth certificate is required to apply for a passport. This document is not sent free of charge when the birth registration is made to the Registrar of Civil Status. The time required to receive this document and to process the passport application should be taken into consideration before booking a trip.

Finally, as a precaution, it is advisable to keep hard copies (in a different location) and electronic copies (on the mobile device and in the cloud) of all essential documents in case they are lost or stolen.

Also, leaving a copy of these documents with someone who is not travelling with us can help in case of a problem.

Little tip

Make a copy of both sides of your credit cards and leave this document with a trusted person who is not travelling with you. In case of loss or theft, it can be helpful because even though it’s possible to block a card on your mobile device… it can also be stolen!

2. Check travel warnings and the geopolitical situation

In this time of pandemic, health measures and restrictions are constantly changing. What was valid at the time of booking may no longer be accurate the day before the trip.

In addition to the COVID-19, you should also check the political situation before travelling.

Political tensions can quickly and significantly affect a vacation, in fact, especially your insurance coverage. The Government of Canada website keeps this information up to date.

Travel insurance policies are based on the Canadian government’s warnings to provide coverage or not. Insurance companies will look at the effective date of the notice to determine whether or not your claim is eligible.

Remember that credit card cancellation insurance does not cover you if you change your mind or feel uncomfortable about going. These insurances are designed to protect you when an unforeseen situation arises.

3. Make sure you are well covered by insurance

Beyond the borders of your province of residence, you must have adequate health coverage, even if you remain in Canada for your trip.

Canadian provinces have agreements for health care coverage, but your plan’s coverage may differ from the amounts charged in other provinces. Many procedures are more expensive elsewhere in Canada, and you will have to pay the excess with the RAMQ rates if you don’t have emergency medical care insurance.

In terms of COVID-19, some credit cards offer emergency medical coverage in case of COVID-19 hospitalization but will not cover costs related to extended travel due to quarantine. Therefore, it is essential to make sure that you have coverage in this specific case if you do not want to assume the costs related to a more extended stay.

Finally, it would help if you also considered the various risks of each situation before you travel. For example, I took out additional insurance to protect my trip to Antarctica; in the event of theft or loss of luggage, my credit card insurance would not have reimbursed the full amount required to replace my photography equipment and specialized clothing.

4. Registering with the Registry of Canadians Abroad before you travel

When an event may pose a health or safety risk to the traveller, the Canadian government will try to contact you if you are registered as a Canadian abroad before you travel.

For example, during my trip to Tibet, a severe earthquake and landslide occurred suddenly. I received an email asking if I needed assistance and the phone number to call for help.

5. Plan the first transfer on arrival and the first night at destination

After a long flight, we are not always in top shape to make decisions to get to our accommodation. Indeed, one can easily fall prey to dishonest cab drivers or get lost and thus add frustration to fatigue.

Before leaving on a trip, a simple search on Google can give you the way to get to the hotel, whether by public transport, by car, or have an idea of the cost by cab.

For spontaneous people who do not travel with a fixed itinerary, booking the first night at the destination is still highly recommended.

In the airport, some agencies offer you hotel rooms, but the prices will not be competitive with what is available with good planning.

6. Download an offline map (of the town you'll be in)

The Google Maps application allows you to download an offline map before leaving on a trip. This way, you will be able to find your way around without the need to get a local SIM card or find wifi.

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7. Get a plug adapter and chargers

In this technological age, we are often very dependent on our cell phone. Therefore, we must make sure that our device is well charged when we need it!

Here’s what we’re always carrying around with us on this subject:

  • 2 travel adapters
  • 2-3 charging cables of different lengths
  • 1 power strip
  • 1 portable charger
  • 1 plug extension
Adaptateur
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Remember to pack several adapters and power strips before leaving on your trip, especially when travelling with others. It can prevent bickering!

8. Fill medication prescriptions and validate health care needs

If you are taking medication, it is recommended that you obtain prescriptions for the duration of your trip, especially if you are not sure you will be able to get them at your destination.

Sure, there are pharmacies everywhere, but some medications or doses may not be available elsewhere.

Please make sure that your prescriptions are appropriately labelled with your name. Some substances, such as narcotics, can cause problems at the border if you do not have a prescription in your name.

Similarly, if you need prescription glasses, remember to leave a second or older pair in your luggage in case of loss or breakage.

Also, consider bringing your sleeping mask and earplugs if you need them. Although most airlines provide it, it prevents you from being mistaken if necessary.

Finally, is your destination at risk for specific diseases like yellow fever or Zika? Remember to consult a professional about vaccinations and health before you travel.

9. Credit cards, debit card and cash

Some institutions recommend that you be aware when you travel. In this case, your credit card or bank account could be blocked to prevent fraud.

The issuer can be notified online or through the bank’s application in most cases.

avis de voyage
Little tip

We always bring three credit cards (Visa/Mastercard/American Express) and two debit cards each. In addition, we leave some cards in our luggage at the hotel when we go out.

Thus, we have alternative solutions to continue our trip in case of theft, loss, or blocked card.

Secondly, applying for a credit card with no foreign transaction fees before travelling will save you a lot of money on foreign currency fees! This fee is generally 2.5%.

Finally, while it is best to pay with a credit card to take advantage of the daily exchange rate and earn reward points, it is wise to carry some cash. This can help in case of problems. On our side, we always carry a few $20 US bills with us.

Owning a chequing account with Tangerine, Scotiabank, and HSBC Canada can save you money on local currency cash. These banks have branches or partners in many locations around the world.

Otherwise, it would be best to avoid exchange offices in tourist areas. In my experience, these are often the worst rates.

Conclusion

One last little tip, always bring a pencil to fill out the forms and declarations at customs! It will save you from waiting for someone else!

And you, do you have any other tips to share about things to do before going on an international trip? Come and join us in the Milesopedia Facebook community!

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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