Going travelling is as simple as booking your flight and hotel and packing your bags, right? Wrong. For a smooth trip, you actually need to do quite a bit of preparation. Doing these 20 things before you take off travelling will make your life easier and reduce the risk of nasty surprises.
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1. Check the Visa Requirements
According to the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index, the Canadian passport ranks highly in terms of travel freedom: yet another reason why Canadians are the envy of the world. However, there are a few countries that require you to apply for a visa before your visit. Visa requirements change often, so check with the embassy or consulate of the country you’re going to travel to.
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2. Check the Entry and Exit Requirements
Every country has its own requirements for entry and exit. You may need to pay a fee upon arrival, for instance, or your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after your arrival date. The Government of Canada's travel information website has more info. You should also check with the embassy or consulate of each country you’re planning on visiting.
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3. Check That Your Name is the Same on Your Travel Documents and Passport
When you make your travel arrangements, the Government of Canada says that you should do it in the name that appears on your passport. If you’ve recently changed your name, get a new passport in your new name or you might have trouble crossing borders or boarding flights.
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4. Get an International Driving Permit
An International Driving Permit or IDP is a document that shows that you have a valid driver’s licence in Canada and will allow you to take that epic coastal drive in your destination country. Most countries recognize the IDP and you can apply for it through the Canadian Automobile Association.
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5. Research the Local Laws
Jessie on a Journey suggests that you find out about the local laws before you visit any country. Drug laws are pretty obvious (just don’t do it) but some local laws, especially traffic laws, can be so obscure that you would never have thought of them if you hadn’t done your research.
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Before you travel or as soon as you arrive in your destination country, use the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to register with the Government of Canada. You can do this online or at a Canadian government office abroad. Being registered will allow government officials to let your loved ones know in case of emergency.
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7. Check the Travel Advisories
Government travel advisories do sometimes make things sound scarier than they really are but still, you don’t want to arrive at your destination only to find yourself in the midst of a civil war. The travel advisories are a wealth of information on local conditions and can also help you avoid dreadful diseases. For example, you’ll get an idea of Zika-free beach destinations.
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8. Make Copies of Your Important Documents
Travelling in a foreign country can make you vulnerable to crime, especially if you do dangerous things that invite opportunists. Just in case, make copies of your important documents and store them where you can easily access them. Jessie on a Journey suggests storing them in Google Drive but you could also simply email the documents to yourself.
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9. Get Travel Insurance
When you get sick, have an accident or the airline loses your luggage, you’ll be grateful for having travel insurance. It will help lower your travel anxiety too. Travel insurance is inexpensive, so there’s really no excuse not to be safe rather than sorry.
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10. Take Care of Regular Payments
Smarter Travel suggests that you arrange stop orders for regular services for the time you’ll be away. Alternatively, pay in advance or automatically so you won’t fall behind on regular payments while you’re travelling.
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11. Notify Your Bank
There’s nothing worse than trying to withdraw money or use your credit card in a foreign country only to find they don't work. To avoid this happening, notify your bank of when and where you’ll be travelling.
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12. Book the House Sitter or Kennel Early
The sooner you book a house sitter or kennel, the greater the chances that they’ll be available on the dates you’ll be travelling. Smarter Travel says that this is something you may even want to take care of before booking your flight.
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13. Check the Weather
Have an idea of what the weather will be like at your destination before you even book your trip. After all, you don’t want a beach vacation in the middle of hurricane season, do you? The weather can help you choose your destination but, as Smarter Travel says, it should also guide your packing strategy.
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14. Check the Local Listings
Smarter Travel suggests that you check the local listings before you leave home so you can book tickets to that show you want to see or make restaurant reservations. You’ll get an idea of what’s free, and whether the destination will be crowded because of some big festival or event.
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15. Clean Out Your Fridge
Cleaning out your fridge is probably the last thing you want to do while preparing for travel but as Jessie on a Journey says, there’s nothing quite like coming home to the stench of rotting cheese or curdled milk.
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Jessie on a Journey suggests that before you leave home, you unplug your electronics and gadgets like the WiFi router. This will save you money on your hydro bill and is better for the planet too.
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17. Write Down Where You Parked
When you’ve landed after an exhausting return flight, got flagged at customs, waited forever for your luggage and finally make it out of the airport building, the last thing you want is to have to search for your car. Take a picture or make detailed notes on your phone about where you parked.
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18. Get Cash
A tip from Travel Smarter is to get enough cash before your trip so that you won’t have to search for an ATM as soon as you arrive at your destination. Exchanging currency at the airport is a pain and will end up costing you too much to boot.
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19. Take Your Hands-free Device
You probably know that an unlocked phone is one of the things you should always travel with but what if you’ll be driving a rental car? Having a hands-free device will help you keep your eyes on the road and follow local distracted driving laws. You can also use it when you’re walking so you won’t have to flash your phone to potential pickpockets.
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20. Plan Your First and Last Days
Even if you plan to wing it during the rest of your trip, have your transport and accommodation for the first and last days of your trip booked in advance. This will help reduce stress, provided that you book your hotel with care. Also keep things like your house and car keys close at hand before you board your flight home.