10 Facts and Tips About Travelling

February 7, 2018

An image of monuments around the worldThere’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered. If you’re planning to take to the sky (road, water or railway), these 10 facts and tips about travelling will help make your travels better, cheaper and less stressful.

1. A travel rewards credit card offsets travel costs

If you don’t yet have a travel rewards credit card, you’re missing out on one of the easiest ways to travel cheap(er). And, depending on the credit card you choose, the points (or miles) you accumulate can add up and often be used towards anything travel-related—not just flights, but also hotels, car rentals, tours and more.

2. Keep your options open

Avoid limiting your choices, if possible. There are great savings to be had on all inclusive vacations, cruises, tours, and last minute getaways if you’re willing to keep your vacation destination options open.

3. Passport prep and visas

Did you know that in many countries your Canadian passport needs to be valid for several months after you’ve long left the country and your holiday is a distant memory? Make sure you check the country’s entry and exit requirements before leaving. Also, leave a copy of your passport at home with a trusted friend or family member, and don’t leave your passport unattended in your luggage or car. Carry it with you, or lock it in your hotel safe.

4. Travel-sized and over-priced

Travel-sized toiletries may help you travel lighter, but they also lighten your wallet. Instead of buying travel-sized toiletries pre-filled, go to your local dollar store, buy empty travel-sized containers and fill them yourself.

5. Your first bag, isn’t always free anymore

Once upon a time, you could almost bank on being able to get one free piece of checked luggage. Don’t get caught off guard at the airport; many airlines now charge you for all items you want to check in. Fees vary but don’t be surprised if you’re expected to pay an extra $30 or so (each way).

6. Treat your body well

Travelling is notorious for throwing your body out of whack. Get adequate sleep, stay hydrated, use sunblock, wear a hat, eat healthy, and keep up with your exercise. And, depending on where you are going, consider packing: diarrhea/upset stomach medication; antibiotic ointment; a pain reliever like aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen; allergy medication; antacids; and motion sickness medication.

7. Pack travel insurance

Travel insurance is not where you want to cut corners, and you should never travel without it. No matter how close to home you’re travelling, pack travel insurance because it could save you and your family thousands of dollars. The following real-life scenarios are detailed on the Government of Canada travel.gc.ca website:

Why You Need Travel Insurance: Example #1
During a short vacation on a Caribbean island, a Canadian developed a severe form of pneumonia and had to be admitted to hospital. His health deteriorated, and he was transferred to intensive care and placed on a breathing machine for more than a month. Without insurance, he had to make arrangements with the hospital to pay a bill that amounted to more than $20,000.

Why You Need Travel Insurance: Example #2
Jim was enjoying a cruise vacation off the coast of South America, when he suffered a massive stroke. Jim’s spouse, Elaine, contacted their insurance representative who was able to organize emergency transportation to a hospital to receive care from an internationally-qualified physician, minimizing the long-term effects of his stroke. In the end, Jim’s insurance coverage saved him more than $40,000 in medical bills.

Why You Need Travel Insurance: Example #3
Young travellers may think they don’t need insurance because they’re young and healthy. But accidents do happen. While walking along a beach on a Caribbean island, a Canadian tourist in her early 20s had an accident that seriously damaged her spine. Her family had to raise funds to pay for her medical evacuation.

Additionally, the Government of Canada is quite adamant when it states:

  • Your Canadian health insurance is almost certainly not valid outside of Canada.
  • Your provincial or territorial health plan may cover nothing or only a very small portion of the costs of medical care abroad, and never up front.
  • Foreign hospitals can be very expensive and may require immediate cash payment. You could face years of debt paying off the costs of treatment for an illness or accident you suffered abroad.
  • The Government of Canada will not pay your medical bills.

Don’t risk it. Make sure you get travel insurance before you head out on holiday.

8. Know what souvenirs you can bring back

Just because you can buy it at your destination, doesn’t mean you can bring it back into Canada. Jequirity beans for example, are prohibited. Found often in tropical regions, these beans are red in colour with a black tip and are often used to make, or adorn, jewellery, artwork or percussion instruments. The reason they’re banned? They’re poisonous and can be fatal if swallowed. Before leaving, know what and how much you’re allowed to bring back into Canada to avoid disappointment at the border.

9. Take lots of pictures and notes

Everyone expects to take lots of pictures while on holiday, but don’t forget to take notes too. Chances are you won’t remember the name of that small town you stumbled upon, that restaurant, or that great wine you tasted when you’re back home flipping through your pictures. And of course, don’t forget your camera’s recharger and extra battery too.

Travelling solo? If you’re planning on packing a selfie stick, make sure it hasn’t been banned. Many tourist hot spots, like Disney for example, have banned the use of selfie sticks on their grounds.

10. Roaming is great, unless it’s your phone doing the roaming

The fees for voice, data, and text messages can be costly and add up quickly when travelling. Avoid paying crazy high fees by getting a travel bundle plan from your service provider.