7 Essential Tips for Canadians Traveling Abroad

So here you are, passport in hand, ready to travel the world; your suitcase is ready and all that’s left to do is board the plane or get in the car, the train, or the boat, and off you go… But wait, are you sure you have everything?…

Below are few important steps to consider before embarking on that big adventure:

1. Register with the Government of Canada

Why register? Simple; if anything happens to you and you need to contact the Canadian embassy with jurisdiction in the country you are in, they will at least have an idea you were there. This is especially important if you will be travelling within the vicinity of an area of conflict. Though you should probably avoid these areas, it is sometimes necessary to do so. So be smart and register.

2. Verify the advisories for the Country you will be visiting

There is a very handy tool on the Government of Canada website which will give you advice and advisories concerning the countr(ies) you will be visiting. This will help you prepare for any eventualities and give you the tools you need in case of emergency.

 3. Have the contact information for the Canadian Embassy

No matter where you are going, if you are in a Country other than your own, there is an inherent level of risk you are taking. Knowing where the Canadian Embassy is located and having their contact number will give you peace of mind in any contingencies.

4. Make sure your estate is in order

Although it is not the most fun subject to tackle, especially while planning for a vacation, it is an important one. Ideally, taking care of your estate should already be done. If it isn’t, however, and you are going away then you should most definitely get your affairs in order so you are not making a difficult situation even more difficult for your family. At the very least, ensure that you have an up-to-date will; Canadian Living has a great article about how to do it in Canada: “6 Things to Know About Creating a Will“. Spend the time now and you will prevent trouble down the road.

5. Have all necessary documents on hand with you

Whether you are travelling for the purpose of vacation or business, you want things to go as smoothly as possible. Having correct documentation is crucial. First of all, you must have a valid Canadian Passport,  To clear a misconception, YES you DO need a passport to travel to the United States, as stated on the Canada Border Service Agency website. Be aware, however, that you may need more than just your passport; your situation may dictate the need for a visa, an international drivers licence or some other required documentation. Before booking that expensive vacation, it may be wise to visit the Travel Documentation section on the Canadian Government website. Make sure you keep these documents accessible in your carry-on.

6. Advise your bank of your travel intentions

If you don’t, you may end up with a little surprise when trying to use your debit or credit card to pay for that luscious meal you just enjoyed or for that souvenir you were hoping to bring back for your mom. An easy way to do this is to take out all the cards you will be bringing, lay them out in front of you, call the numbers on the back, give the pertinent information and put them back in your wallet as you end the conversation with the representative. Repeat for each card.

7. Have all the important phone numbers you need

This includes your banks’ toll-free as well as long distance phone number as you cannot use all toll free numbers outside of Canada, and sometimes even the U.S. Most banks will let you call them collect; that information is usually given to you when you call to advise of travels. Other must-have information includes the phone number of the hotel you will be staying at (or any other accommodation), and if you are flying, the phone number of the airline. Further, it is well advised to always have the phone number of the Canadian Embassy in the country you will be visiting. If you are going on a cruise then get the cruise line phone number. When dealing with a travel agency, make sure you get their phone number as well as they can be quite helpful in assisting through unplanned hiccups. It is also wise to write down family and friends’ phone numbers; your cell phone directory may not always be accessible.

So in short, it’s up to you to decide what kind of vacation or business trip you will be having. These are just a few tips to help Canadian plan.

Happy travels.

(Special thank you to Neeraj Pandey for his proof reading and editing)