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So far Ève Boucher has created 56 blog entries.

8 Things You Shouldn’t Do While Travelling

14 July 2017

Nowadays, before we embark on a trip, we search for information as to what we should do in guide books, travel blogs and peers recommendations. However, it’s easy to forget about things that you should not do! We often learn it the hard way and sometimes it can be very embarrassing to commit a cultural faux pas. In most cases, we just need to use our common sense, but sometimes a little bit more research can help avoid uncomfortable situations. Here are eight things you should refrain from doing while travelling abroad:

1. Criticize or Share Your Opinion About the Culture, Politics or Any Other Taboo Subject

When you’re away, you will soon realize that: no, that’s not how things are done at home! But that’s the reason why you explore the world, is it not? You travel to discover different ways of life and to get out of the environment you know so well. You might not agree with the politics or the culture of the country you’re travelling to, but as a visitor it is your duty to keep your opinion to yourself. Not only could it be interpreted as rude and insensitive, in some places, this could land you in a lot of trouble. Save your thoughts for when you go back home and share your experience with your friends and family.

2. Be Disrespectful to Your Host Country and Their Customs

We all know the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” Be conscious of your environment and follow the appropriate attire by respecting the dress code. In some more conservative areas, women are required to cover their shoulders in public. It might be okay to yell for your waiter’s attention in Korea, but it’s highly frowned upon in western countries. In Buddhist countries, the head is considered holy so it’s a serious lack of respect to touch someone’s head, even young children.

3. Leave Without Getting a Proper Travel Insurance

We don’t like to imagine the worst, but while being away it’s better to stay on the safe side and never leave without travel insurance. A good travel insurance coverage will relieve you from unnecessary stress. You can be the most careful traveller and very rarely engage in any type of extreme activities, but no one is protected against a fluke accident … at home or on the road! Look for an insurance company that can offer a travel insurance solution best suited to your needs.

4. Do Anything You Wouldn’t Do at Home

It goes without saying that it’s never a good idea to break the law. Unless you are a master of international legislation, you probably don’t comprehend the magnitude of certain offences such as drunk driving, engaging in illegal activities and even drug possession. Remember that some things might seem trivial in your home country, but that are considered a serious crime in other countries. There are Muslim countries where having physical contact such as holding hands, hugging and kissing someone from the opposite sex could land you in jail. Research prior to departure to avoid such situations.

5. Be Unaware of Your Body Language

If you are a very articulate person, this can be a bit tricky. Also, the language barrier often forces us to resort to other means of communication to get our message across. However, some hand gestures like the “okay” sign or doing a thumbs up which might be offensive in some countries. It’s important to understand those protocols before arriving to a new destination. For instance, putting your feet up and showing the soles of your feet or even pointing with your finger can be interpreted as impolite. Be considerate of local ways and learn to adapt to them.

6. Take Pictures of People Without Their Permission

Urban photography might be trending to show the “real side” of a destination, however, it’s still common curtesy to ask locals before taking their pictures. Kids love to have their picture taken but make sure that there are other adults in sight to avoid anything being misinterpreted. While you’re at it, show the people you’ve just photographed the picture you’ve taken of them. This is a wonderful way to break the culture barrier. However, don’t offer to send the pictures if you don’t think you will be able to fulfill this promise.

7. Assume Everyone Speaks English and Be Offended When They Don’t Understand

Unless you’re travelling to an English-speaking country, don’t expect everyone to be able to communicate with you. It doesn’t matter how slow or loud you speak, they won’t understand you just as you don’t understand them. Think about the reverse situation, if someone visits your country and speaks to you in a foreign language, you would also look at them dumbfounded. It is your responsibility as a visitor to try to learn a few basic words to help you communicate. This will go a long way to make the trip more agreeable and gain the respect of locals, who see that you’re making an effort.

8. Expect Restaurants to Comply with Your Dietary Restrictions and Accommodate Them

If you follow a strict diet such as no gluten, vegetarian or sugar-free, take into consideration that eating abroad might entail a certain level of difficulty. In Asia for instance, there is such a thing as “Asian vegetarian”. This means that your dish will be composed of vegetables and there won’t be pieces of meat in it. However, it is highly possible that the broth or the cooking fat is meat-based.

Certain food allergies can cause serious health complications and those are exacerbated when visiting a foreign country. When you add to the mix the language barrier, this can be downright dangerous. It is good practice to have your allergies translated in the language of the country you will be travelling to so you can easily alert restaurant staff when ordering food. Beware that some countries don’t have the same standards for their facilities so unless you cook for yourself, there is always a chance of cross-contamination.

Travel Budget Planning Like a Pro

14 June 2017

What kind of budget do I need to travel? This is the million-dollar question for everyone planning a trip. There are so many factors that will influence how much money is needed to go abroad. However, there are a few things to consider before you start crunching the numbers that will help you with budget planning.

You should know that there are two approaches to planning a trip. If you are the type to dream about a specific country and will make it happen no matter the cost, then you will have to build your budget according to the destination. On the other hand, if you are more flexible, you can establish a budget and then pick a destination which fits with this budget.

What You Need to Consider Before You Start Planning

• Length of the Trip:
Whether you leave for a long weekend or on an extended long-term trip, the costs will obviously differ. As a good rule of thumb, for budget travel, you can expect to spend a minimum of $1,000 per month. This comes up to roughly $35/day.

• Time of the Year:
If you are flexible with your schedule, take advantage of the shoulder season to travel. Prices will be much cheaper than during peak season. Travel guides normally have this information available to help you plan. Avoid summer holidays and religious festivities, when everything is drastically more expensive.

• Destinations:
Developing countries cost much less to travel to than western countries. You can expect to get a lot more bang for your buck by choosing destinations in South America, South East Asia and Eastern Europe than in North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Scandinavian countries.

• Special Activities:
Some activities will require a special kind of budget because of the costs associated with them. Riding waves in the ocean is free compared to paying a lift ticket to go skiing. The same goes for snorkeling as opposed to diving. Think of the type of activities you want to engage in when planning your budget.

• Travel Style:
Decide on the kind of traveller you want to be. If you choose to go the budget way, staying in hostels and using local transportation will be considerably cheaper than going on a luxury holiday.

Once you’ve settled on those factors, you should have a better idea of your kind of trip. The next step will be to figure out fixed costs before you leave. These next items all need to be taken care of in advance. By starting your research ahead of time, you will be able to get a general sense of the budget for your travel.

• Flights:
Consider purchasing your ticket about six weeks in advance to get the best available price. Follow websites like Flytripper and Yulair for flight deals (for flights departing from Canada). Set alerts on sites like Kayak, Skyscanner and Flighthub to be notified when the route you are interested in drops in price. If you plan to move around your destination, check also for domestic flights with low-cost airlines.

• Insurance:
Often overlooked by travelers, this is probably the most important purchase for your upcoming travel. Just for the peace of mind that it will provide, no one should ever go on a trip without proper travel insurance. With a variety of coverage available including medical, trip cancellation and protection against theft and loss, you can pick whatever option is best fitted to your situation. Don’t forget to book your travel insurance.

• Visa:
Check on your government’s foreign affairs website to find out if the country you will be visiting requires a visa. For Canadians, there are 101 countries that we can visit without a visa. Don’t forget to include these costs in your budget and make sure that you have the right currency to pay for it, if it’s only available on arrival.

• Vaccination:
Visit a travel clinic prior to your trip and get your immunizations up-to-date. The doctor will be able to tell you if the region you are visiting is at risk for any diseases. Keep in mind that on top of that, you might have to purchase medicine and pills (against Malaria for instance).

• Travel Gear:
This could potentially take up a good chunk of your budget if you are not equipped. If this is your first trip, you will have to determine if you need a backpack/suitcase, get comfortable walking shoes, travel clothes or any other items specific to an activity (e.g. mask and snorkel, winter gear, camping equipment, etc.)

You are now ready to embark on your trip. Now, the only things where you will be spending money are:
• Accommodation (unless it’s been pre-booked):
You can book online on sites such as booking.com or Agoda, which have a huge selection for every type of budget. Have a look at Airbnb for other rental options.

• Transportation:
The options are limitless! You can go from hitchhiking to having a private driver. To keep costs to a minimum, try to familiarize yourself with the local public transport. You can also try ride sharing, which is very big in North America and Europe.

• Food:
A major part of discovering a new culture is through its food. You can save costs by cooking for yourself, but allow yourself to indulge in local culinary delights. In some countries, street food is also the best way to keep costs low.

• Activities:
Unless you plan to spend all your time sitting in a cabin in the woods or lying on the beach, save a portion of your budget for tours, activities, entrance fees and classes.

• Souvenirs:
This is not compulsory, but if you wish to bring back home a little piece of paradise, save some money for little trinkets to remind you of your holiday.

• Emergencies:
Hide some money in different bags and compartments of your luggage is case of theft or loss. Also, this emergency fund can come in handy for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you had not previously included in your budget.

With these guidelines, you should be able to establish a solid budget in preparation for your upcoming travels. Remember that flexibility is key. Try to stick to your budget most of the time but allow yourself some room to splurge a little. This holiday should not be a cause of stress but rather it should bring you immense joy into discovering a new part of the world.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Consulting a doctor abroad

18 April 2017

When traveling, you want to visit lots of places… except the doctor’s office! But events shape the adventure and sometimes you can get ill on the road. Whatever the cause, you must always be prepared to handle any health problems abroad.

Before consulting a doctor

Call your insurance company if you are able to do so and ask them to refer you to a hospital or international clinic near you. You’re insured and the recommended locations meet Western standards. In addition, some medical centers are connected directly with the insurance companies and could prevent you from having to pay for medical expenses. If you are not able to call your insurance company, ask at the clinic where you are admitted to make an agreement with your insurer by giving them a copy of your insurance certificate.

Be careful if you are offered to visit the doctor at the hotel where you reside. You must make sure it is professional and not the shaman of the village. Insist on going to a recognized medical center.

Beware of anyone who offers you drugs to relieve yourself without being a doctor or a qualified pharmacist, including other travelers. Although people mean well, they lack the skills to diagnose you. Seemingly innocuous medication such as Advil or Aspirin can have adverse effects on your health and even dangerous in case of dengue (tropical fever), for example.

Make sure that you go to walk-in clinic or accept emergency treatment.

Prepare a list of your symptoms in order of their appearance. Note also the duration of each symptom. (For example, I had a fever for 24 hours, followed by mild vomiting which has intensified, etc.)

If you do not speak the language, try to find a “friend” who speaks the local language to accompany you. You can gently ask someone who works at the hotel where you stay to go with you to the clinic. If this is not possible, bring a dictionary or a translation phone app with you.

During the consultation with the doctor

Inform the doctor or pharmacist abroad of the medications that you take regularly (ideally, bring them with you to show him the names on the labels.)

Do not forget to mention your allergies. If you have significant allergies, you can prepare a list in advance with a translation of your list of allergies in the language of the country you visit.

Remember that the doctor you visit abroad has no access to your medical history, it is your responsibility to make them aware of your medical history.

Pay attention to medications that you are prescribed. Make sure you understand the reason for each drug. Ask the professional to repeat and take notes if necessary.

After seeing the doctor

Always keep your receipts for medical treatment and medicines. These will be crucial documents to accompany your claim.

Request a second opinion if an operation or surgery is recommended and if your situation allows. Call your insurance company to ensure that this operation will be covered.

Contact your family doctor by phone or a doctor from your country in case of doubt of treatment.

Finish your treatment in full even if you feel better. Some people stop taking antibiotics as soon as the symptoms disappear. The bacteria that fights you may be active in your body and could come back stronger than ever. Strictly follow the treatment dose you start.

To speed your recovery
, settle down in a comfortable place, even change hostel and pay a little more for somewhere clean, airy and accommodation with air conditioning, example.

You have to put the odds on your side and create a relaxing and familiar environment. Remain hydrated by drinking water and trying to take your mind off it by reading a novel or watching a film. Wash your hands regularly so as not to contaminate you again or catch another disease. It is important not to be stressed or to go read horror stories on the Internet. Sometimes talking to relatives at home can be comforting. Remain positive and return and consult a doctor if necessary.

By following these rules, you maximize the chances of receiving quality medical consultation abroad
and being ready to continue your journey. After all, you’re not the first person to fall ill while traveling, it will pass!

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Travel Destinations Where Canadians Don’t Require a Visa

11 April 2017

As travellers, we don’t realize how lucky we are to have the Canadian citizenship. Holding a Canadian passport opens up many borders. Your passport acts as your “Open Sesame!” formula for your adventures around the globe. Canadians can visit a total of 101 countries without requiring a visa. This comes to no surprises since the Canadian passport ranks in the top 5 most powerful passports in the world.

The Canadian Passport Is the “Coolest” in the World

National patriotism aside, the new Canadian passport, launched in 2015, has made a name for itself when compared to all the other countries’ travel document. At first glance, under the natural light, it might look pretty unoriginal. However, sharing the chameleon’s ability to change shades rapidly, it bursts with fluorescent colours when you hold it under a black light. You will witness a spectacle of fireworks, stars, a full moon, maple leaves and many more elements illustrating the history of Canada. It’s not so ordinary anymore! Above all, your passport will let you travel … and explore over half of the world visa-free.

With your beloved passport, you are allowed to visit all of the following countries without requiring a visa upon arrival:

North America

Vast open spaces, unique to our neck of the woods, are ideal for road trips! For a stay of up to six months, you won’t need a visa to visit the US. This should give you ample time to explore, from the breathtaking national parks of the West to the iconic metropolis of the East Coast. Same goes for Mexico, where you get 180 days without a visa to travel the country.

The Caribbean

Only a three to four-hour flight from Canada, the Caribbean Islands are the perfect escapade to work on your tan at a white-sand beach, dive in crystal-clear water and party the night away. Without a visa, you can go to: Antigua and Barbuda (1 month), the Bahamas (8 months), Barbados (6 months), Haiti (3 months), Dominica (6 months), Saint Martin (90 days), Jamaica (6 months), Grenada (3 months), Saint Kitts and Nevis (6 months), Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (1 month), Saint Lucia (6 weeks) as well as Trinidad and Tobago (90 days). To soak in the sun of the Dominican Republic, you won’t need a visa, but upon arrival, you will have to obtain a $10 US tourist card valid for 90 days.

Latin America

Sexy Latin dances, beaches stretching as far as the eye can see, snow-capped mountains, lush rainforest and even glaciers… Latin America is packed with adventures that won’t leave you bored. In Central America, you can visit without a visa: Belize (30 days), Costa Rica (90 days), Guatemala (90 days), Honduras (3 months), Nicaragua (90 days), Panama (180 days) and El Salvador (3 months).

In South America, the countries you can visit without a visa are: Argentina (90 days, but reciprocity fees may apply before entering the country), Bolivia (90 days), Chile (90 days), Ecuador (90 days), Guyana (3 months), Uruguay (3 months), Venezuela (90 days) and Peru (183 days).

Europe

Searching for the best combination of delicious food, history and cultural diversity? Look no further and head straight to Europe. Within a few hours’ drive you can find yourself in another country, with a new spoken language and different customs.

It is possible to enter the Schengen zone without a visa for a maximum of 90 days during a 180 days’ period. The 26 countries of the Schengen zone are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

You can also travel without a visa to Albania (90 days), Montenegro (90 days), Macedonia (90 days), Moldova (90 days), Monaco (90 days), Croatia (90 days), Ireland (90 days), Serbia (90 days) and United Kingdom (6 months).

Some countries such as Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine will let you enter for 90 days without a visa during a 180 days’ period.

San Marino, one of the smallest countries in the world, welcomes Canadians for a period of 10 days without a visa. Belarus doesn’t require a visa for Canadian travellers.

Asia

An interesting mix of tradition and modernity, Asia attracts more and more Canadian tourists. The countries which don’t require a visa are: Indonesia (30 days), Japan (90 days), Malaysia (3 months), Philippines (30 days), Brunei (14 days), Singapore (30 days), Thailand (30 days), Georgia (365 days), Israel (3 months), Kazakhstan (30 days), South Korea (6 months), Kyrgyz Republic (60 days) and Mongolia (30 days).

Africa

Travelling through Africa is not a holiday … it’s an adventure! Africa, part wild and part modern, will seduce you with its intensity, its cultural diversity, its animal kingdom and its natural treasures. Without a visa, you can explore Morocco (3 months), Tunisia (4 months), South Africa (90 days), Lesotho (14 days), Swaziland (30 days), Botswana (90 days), Namibia (3 months), The Gambia (90 days), Mauritius (90 days), São Tomé and Principe (15 days) and Senegal (90 days).

Oceania

You dream of a place where you can stop time to enjoy life to the fullest? You won’t be able to resist the magnificence of the Pacific Ocean, home to some of the most beautiful archipelago in the world. Coconut trees and the sweet melody of the ukulele will make you fall in love with the blissfulness of the Pacific Islands. You can stay, without a visa, in Fiji (4 months), Kiribati (30 days), Micronesia (30 days), New Zealand (90 days), Vanuatu (30 days), New Caledonia (90 days) and French Polynesia (90 days).

What About the Other Countries?

As a Canadian, there are many other countries which we have not listed, that can still be explored. You just need to make some research prior to your departure to make sure that you apply for the necessary visa or that you have all the documents required to get it on arrival. In any case, here are a few things to keep in mind:

To Validate Before Your Trip

Regardless of the destination you choose, remember that, as a general rule, your passport must be valid for no less than six months after your departure date. Additionally, you will need to make sure you have at least two empty pages left in your passport for stamps or visas. Some countries might also ask for a proof of onward travel, like a return ticket if you are flying. In some cases, it can be required that you show proof of sufficient funds.

To Remember Before Leaving the Country

Once you’ve discovered every hidden gem of a country and been on countless adventures, you need to prepare your exit strategy. Some countries require you to pay an airport tax or a departure tax. Occasionally, this tax will be included in the price of your flight but in other cases, it is advisable to keep a few extra dollars in order to pay for it when you leave. You can never be too prepared!

To make your life easier, consult the most up-to-date information on the country you plan to visit from the Government of Canada website: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations (entry/exit requirements).

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Smartphone or Camera? What to Bring While Travelling?

20 February 2017

When preparing for a trip, the question that will always arise is “what to bring?” It takes a wizard to nail down the perfect packing list without forgetting any of the essentials. Recently, it seems as though there is another great dilemma when it comes to travelling and it’s whether to pack a camera or can a smartphone do the job.

It would be an understatement to say that the use of smartphones has revolutionized the way we travel. From the palm of our hands, we have access to maps, foreign currency converters and translating tools, all while being connected from almost everywhere in the world. The most enticing features of smartphones is undoubtedly the camera which delivers spectacular photo quality. In that case, many would ask if it’s still necessary to bring a camera while travelling or can you achieve the same results, simply with a smartphone.

Factors to Consider Before Taking a Decision

1. The place visited: Some destinations are a lot more photogenic than others and the camera of a smartphone alone would not give justice to the beauty of the place. For instance, it would be highly recommended to use proper camera equipment to shoot the dancing colors of the Northern Lights in Iceland or tracking lions in the African savannah during a safari.
2. The space available: The growing popularity of low-cost airlines has forced many people to travel with only a carry-on (10 to 12 kg) in order to reduce the costs of checking in luggage. For amateur photographers, the weight limitation can be quite restrictive considering all the gear they need to bring like extra lenses, spare batteries and all the other camera accessories.
3. The purpose of the trip: For the majority of people, taking travel pictures is a great way to save memories and share those moments with friends and family at home. For some, photography is the main reason to travel. In such cases, different equipment will be required.

To facilitate the decision process, here is a list of pros and cons to using either a camera or a smartphone while travelling.

Camera—Pros:
• Unlimited storage space with the use of multiple memory cards
• Extended battery life
• Superior quality because of the options available in manual mode and the higher resolution
• Better capacity to take pictures in difficult environment such as low-light, action shots or distance shots

Camera—Cons:
• Slow learning curve before achieving satisfying results
• More cumbersome to use, which makes it less practical
• Requires another device in order to edit, transfer or share the pictures

Smartphone—Pros:
• Very user-friendly even for people with not photography skills
• Image quality good enough to be used on social media
• Possibility to edit directly from the device
• Small, light, accessible and almost always at hand’s reach
• Apps and accessories available to improve the performance of the camera function

Smartphone—Cons:
• No optical zoom and produces poorer results in difficult environment
• Limited image quality, especially for print
• Low battery life because the camera function requires a lot of power

The majority of travellers would agree that the camera of a smartphone is sufficient enough to capture decent quality travel pictures which will not be used professionally.

That being said, some will still prefer the convenience of travelling with a camera AND their smartphone. Maybe it is in fact, the best of both worlds. There is an appeal to being able to take a picture with your smartphone, edit it and share it instantly on social media and being able to use your camera for higher quality shots regardless of the surrounding environment.

As with any high-tech devices, like the latest generation of smartphones or the newest camera model, it is important to keep it safe while travelling. A simple clause to a travel insurance contract against theft, loss or damage can make a huge difference.

No matter the option selected whether it’s to pack a camera, a smartphone or even both, remember that it’s the person, not the gear, that makes a great photo.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Trekking: 7 key questions to prepare for your adventure

1 February 2017

Discover a country walk, it’s magic. Feel dwarfed in the vastness of the mountains, it is priceless. The hike takes you back to the basics, it’s good for the body and mind.

Good preparation is required for a hike, to limit the risks, whether for a day or for several weeks in the Himalayas. Here is a list of key questions that you should answer before the departure:

1. What are my motives?

We often forget to ask this simple question. What drives you to want to do this trek? It is important to clarify your goals and expectations. Are you seeking to simply relax in nature or perform a feat?

2. What are my skills?

It is important to be realistic and not too ambitious. Objectively establish a portrait of your situation. What is my physical condition? What are my skills and knowledge in trekking? One must be aware of their limitations; nobody is invincible. Good mental predisposition coupled with experience in the field can make all the difference to avoid dangerous situations.

3. What will the weather be?

What will the weather be in the country where you go on trek? You have to do research to get an idea of what Mother Nature will prepare for you. Will this be the rainy season? Will you be at high altitude? You have to inform yourself of the temperature difference between day and night. It is better to anticipate the weather and to adjust your equipment list as appropriate. Too much material, is as bad as not enough!

4. How long will my adventure be?

On average, an adult walks four kilometres per hour with a backpack of less than 8 kg. In the mountains, the altitude can affect this and significantly reduce the distance one can travel in a day. You must obviously consider the time you have and add a buffer before and after your hike. You do not want to end up running from the plane to begin a trek.

5. What is my budget?

The budget and the level of adventure you seek affect your decision to opt for a guided tour or independently. Guided hikes vary depending on the price you’re willing to pay, this may include porters and cooks. In contrast, trekking independently does not necessarily mean that you have to do it alone. It is also not recommended to go hiking alone. On classic trekking circuits, it is easy to meet other independent travelers and shelters are rallying places.

For the budget, it includes the means of transport to get to the start of the trek, plus accommodation, food and water supply.

Accommodation in a lodge versus camping will play on the price and the quantity of material to bring. If the chosen route is not a loop, and you can not go back on your steps, think of organizing a “pick up” (a means of transport for the return) and set a date and time.

6. What kind of equipment will I bring?

The backpack is central to transport all your equipment, you must choose a format suitable for the duration of your journey and make sure it is well adjusted. Lack of comfort when trekking is already ubiquitous, so make life much easier with convenient and comfortable equipment.

To quickly adapt to the weather, you can use the technique of “onion skins” that is to wear several layers of clothing. Ideally, you try to have one close to the body, a thermal layer and a protective layer.

Good walking boots are a strategic investment. They should be comfortable for you and respond to your needs (support, flexibility, ventilation, waterproofing …). Wear your new boots several times beforehand, it will save you from “breaking them in” on your hike.

If you go independently, choose carefully your sleeping bag, your means of navigation (GPS, compass, maps …) and practical items such as sunscreen, insect repellent, a pocket knife and a headlamp.

7. Am I covered?

In addition to informing your relatives of your detailed itinerary, you should check with your travel insurance company that you are covered for all of your travel. A simple phone call will allow you to leave with peace of mind.

So, are you ready for adventure? Walking allows you to travel differently, either in the jungle or on mountaintops. Nothing is more impressive than the beauty of nature, but to admire it, we must prepare well to get there and back in one piece.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Demystifying the concept of medical conditions

24 January 2017

Travel insurance is a protection against health expenses abroad following an accident or sudden illness. This is insurance that covers the person’s health. Insurance’s aim is to warn us of future hazards. Therefore, there are restrictions on the medical conditions for people wishing subscribe a travel insurance. The proper term would be to talk to medical eligibility.

What is a condition of medical eligibility?

To obtain travel insurance that will cover you with the benefits offered by the insurance contract, everyone must first meet certain criteria relating to their medical conditions.
A condition of medical eligibility is a health condition for which you have had to be hospitalized or operated, or any condition for which you are being treated by prescribed medication.

Each insurer decides on conditions that it does not want to accept or that it wants to accept under certain conditions (prior condition of health, degree of medical disorder, medical stability, etc.). All insurance policies operate according to a principle. What is not excluded or subject to restriction in the insurance contract, is covered.

Should one infer that one can not be perfectly covered (100%) if a medical condition afflicts them? The answer is no. However, the requirements can vary greatly depending on the age, duration of the trip or the medical condition itself.

What are the medical conditions subject to exclusion or restriction?

As stated above, each insurer sets its own rules. There are very frequent exclusions, that is, those that prevent us from taking out travel insurance:

  1. Your doctor advises you not to travel;
  2. You are suffering from a terminal illness;
  3. You are suffering from metastatic cancer or certain specific cancers (e.g., pancreatic cancer or liver cancer);
  4. You have kidney problems requiring dialysis;
  5. You suffer from respiratory problems requiring oxygen at home;
  6. You have HIV or AIDS;
  7. You are afflicted with some sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, etc.;
  8. Your state is considered as disabled*.

* Recently, some insurers refuse disabled people, that is to say the people who need the help of someone else for activities of daily living or to move.

These systematic exclusions are very common but again, should be reviewed with your travel insurance broker. Some insurers have a list that may differ with varying exclusions. There are also additional medical conditions that are found with one insurer and not with another.

What if one of these conditions affects them?

Now look at the positive side. Even with a medical condition, be it cardiac, pulmonary, diabetic or other, you may be covered if your condition is consistent with the stability required by the insurer. Stability is the time between your last treatment, the last change in medication or last follow-up investigation in relation to your subscription date or date of travel departure. Attention must be given to the definition of medical stability given by each insurer.

By cons, we must also understand that if you have more than two or three major conditions in your file, it is quite possible that you are refused to take out any insurance coverage. It can also impose a large deductible of $5,000 or more, in the case of consultation on all of your medical records on a specific condition or only in the case of hospitalization.

When you purchase travel insurance, it is important to give as much information as possible. Obviously, they will not consider an operation for appendicitis that is 20 years old or even the removal of gallstones after a long time. By cons, surgery to the cardiac system (bypass surgery, angioplasty, valve change, etc.) should always appear in the file, regardless of how long the intervention occurred.

This is where a representative in insurance against sickness or accident is a valuable guide to help you in preparing your travel insurance policy.

What medical information should I know before contacting my broker?

To help your broker to find you adequate travel insurance, it is very important

– To know your list of prescription drugs (all drugs listed on your medical record);

– Why you take them (it controls what);

– To have a calendar of important dates of operation, consultation or hospitalization for health problems such as cardiac, neurological, pulmonary, etc.

Example: Bypass surgery or angioplasty more than ten or twelve years old is regularly checked and even excluded for long-term trips.

If you can accurately provide answers to the three points mentioned above, you are putting every chance on your side. In case of hesitation, check with your doctor, because any error or omission makes the contract null and void in its entirety. A simple consultation for influenza on your trip abroad or in another province may be refused by the insurance. Indeed, if there is an error in your record, for cholesterol, high blood pressure or other, even though the wrong state of health is not the reason for the medical claim, you will not be refunded.

Intentionally or unintentionally omitting medical conditions in your file may lead to the refusal of any medical claims.
A good knowledge of the contract conditions and a good statement of your medical conditions are the guarantee of a serene journey!

Scuba Diving and Travel Insurance: all you need to know

18 January 2017

Ah Scuba diving! How better to discover what is under the blue vastness that surrounds us. We explore these salty (or sweet!) lands that very few people have traveled before us, we meet large and small creatures, we discover a world which is more than fascinating. Scuba diving is soothing and rejuvenating, as we follow the safety rules established by organizations such as PADI and SSI – such as binomial and regularly checked and upgraded equipment.
However, an accident can happen quickly, even if the said rules are followed! Scuba diving may well be a beautiful sport but it remains that it is extreme and it is important to keep this in mind.
To dive with peace of mind, you must put the odds on your side and protect yourself. Should an incident happen, a treatment in a hyperbaric chamber or an air evacuation can be extremely expensive, especially if you are not in the country or province of residence. That is why it is essential to be insured to prevent exorbitant costs. Here is everything you need to know about the insurance to be taken out if one plans to dive on his next trip.

1.Inquire

Please read the clauses relating to extreme sports insurance: This is the most sensible advice we can follow! Not all policies cover all types of diving or all qualification levels. It must also be noted the limits of insurance: to a depth of how many meters does the coverage apply? What kind of equipment and what kind of air? Are there additional covers like an interrupted journey due to an accident or transportation of our family members?

2.Cover as professional divers

Are you already covered by PADI (or any other organization that offers certification)? When you are in the process of obtaining your professional levels (divemaster), PADI applies de facto insurance. On the other hand, if you plan to work after taking these courses, it is more than important to take out insurance. The more diving, the more risks!

3. Be alert

Sometimes symptoms of discomfort due to diving can take a few hours before surfacing. We must be alert and, above all, listen. You must perceive signs sent by your body – if one feels any symptoms or if one realizes that something is wrong, it is important to not hesitate to talk with your guide or instructor. Their first mission is to make sure that everything happens for the best!

It is important to trust the people with whom you dive, but also to the place where you dive. If you feel the slightest doubt about the equipment, the binomials, the places of diving or anything else, you have to listen and follow your instinct. It is always better to dive with a reputable school, rated five stars by PADI or another recognized association. This ensures that the establishment follows the rules and standards with finesse and precision.

4. Dive in the right place with the right equipment

It is important to trust the people with whom you dive, but also to the place where you dive. If you feel the slightest doubt about the equipment, the binomials, the places of diving or anything else, you have to listen and follow your instinct. It is always better to dive with a reputable school, rated five stars by PADI or another recognized association. This ensures that the establishment follows the rules and standards with finesse and precision.

Enjoy!

Being a divemaster for over a year now, I know that an incident can happen much faster than you think, and even to the most experienced. A small flaw in the equipment can cause much havoc, unplanned currents can take us far from the shore or boat, a sudden panic attack can surprise us and all this even if one has hundreds of dives under their belt.
It is much better to take all possible precautions, before, during and after the dive, and have an experience that will blur our vision of this formidable activity! Being covered for scuba diving removes the stress of “if something happens” so that you only have to relax and make the most of the seabed!

Article by Nomad Junkies team

7 things to plan before you travel

22 December 2016

After weeks of waiting, the long awaited moment has finally arrived: the ticket is purchased and the big trip approaches! From one point of view, the hardest part is already done: the project has turned into reality. But speaking of reality… it is important not to forget all the preparations for the beginning! Here are some steps to be reckoned with before leaving.

1. Obtain an international driving license

Many travelers believe that it is a waste of time and money to obtain an international driving license. However, it is mandatory to be allowed drive in some countries. The rules may even change from one region to another within the same country! While some places like Thailand are rather conciliatory, with a fine of just $ 8 for offending drivers, the bill can rise very quickly around the world. When you know that the international driving license is only $ 25 (at a CAA-Quebec services center), not a bad price to pay for peace of mind!

2. Join the list of Canadians Abroad

All travelers should register on the Canadian government website. The operation takes no more than 10 minutes and it ensures you will always be up to date on important (and potentially dangerous) events in the countries that you plan to visit. Thus, any registered traveler will receive an email in the case of worrying political movement, of imminent natural disaster or any other phenomenon that requires them to take precautions. The email will contain all the recommendations of the Canadian government and the address of the embassy or the nearest consulate and emergency numbers exclusive to Canadian nationals.

3. Subscribe to travel insurance

Who knows who will fall ill while traveling or who is injured on the road? Due to the number of people who suffer the often inevitable repercussions of a trip, we can say that subscribing to travel insurance, goes without saying! All the stress associated with obtaining overseas care is well taken care of so that we can focus on what is really important: going to enjoy your holiday as soon as possible! And it’s almost too easy if your insurer is chosen well.

Tip: Speaking of insurance, travelers planning to be outside Quebec for more than 6 months (182 days) in total in the same year (1 January to December 31) must inform the board of Quebec health insurance by phone.

4. Choosing the right equipment

Here every traveler has their own method. Some travel very light, while others could practically sleep in their suitcase! But regardless of the method, there are essentials. For a short stay, it is better to provide enough clothing to avoid round trips to the laundry room. In the opposite case, we must provide enough for peace of mind, but not too much, especially if you plan to move around often. Not to be overlooked: the electronics. Is it better to take a camera or smartphone device? A tablet or a laptop? It’s essential to consider everything, because electronic devices are often heavy for their size!

5. List of your possessions

Another important point about the equipment: it is highly advisable to identify what one carries in their luggage. The most important is to note the serial numbers of all electronic devices that includes those being carried around. If one takes other valuables (such as jewelry, for example), it may be wise to also identify it with, if appropriate, make and model. Once everything is noted, it is recommended that all devices and objects are photographed and to send everything to your email. It may be wise to send a copy to a few trusted people, in case you lose access to your emails. When you have a claim for theft or loss, these precautions will serve as proof that you really had these objects.

6. Note the addresses and important phone number

What if it is your papers, wallet or bags which are stolen? To always know who to call first, it is best to make a list of important phone numbers. The number of the Government of Canada’s emergency support service, including email address (sos@international.gc.ca)is a good start. It’s a good idea to continue with a list of contact information (address, phone number and email) embassies and consulates of Canada in countries that you will visit. All friends and contacts that we have in these countries may also be part of the list. Finally, it is very important to note the telephone numbers of banks that manage your credit and debit cards. Again, it must be addressed to yourself by e-mail and send a copy to someone you trust.

7. Check the expiration date of your passport

It may sound obvious, but it is important not to check that the passport is still valid… And it is for even a little while longer! Most countries in the world require that the passport of a passenger is valid for at least six months beyond the date of leaving the country. After all the preparations for the trip, it would be a disappointment to have to go home because of an outdated passport! Moreover, it is essential to check the entry requirements of the country you wish to visit. Maybe getting a visa is required?

Article by Nomad Junkies team

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7 Challenges to working abroad

16 December 2016

Regardless of your country of residence and regardless of the expatriation country, looking for work experience abroad consists of similar challenges. Unless you are assigned abroad by your employer or if you have been recruited remotely, seeking employment abroad is not easy. Those who go abroad to work should prepare for and address the following seven challenges:

1. Obtaining a visa or a work permit

The key element of work experience abroad is to have the legal right to work in the destination country. This prerequisite is acquired by means specific to each country. The procedures can be long and require the applicant’s patience and perseverance. Various types of documents are frequently required for a visa: police clearance certificate, medical certificate, copies of diplomas, criminal record etc.

For young people 18 to 30 years, permits which facilitate working holidays greatly reduce the time required for the precious document to work in a country other than their own. The Working Holiday Permit is a temporary immigration visa which is for those who come from a country which has signed WHP agreements with other nations.

2. Adapt your resume

Each country is characterized by its professional culture and the approach to individual skills and talents. A resume is not written in the same way from one country to another. All candidates will have to discover these codes and customs in order to prepare their resume properly. It must be written in the local language to demonstrate their employability. Since the traveler or expatriate will perhaps be having their first international experience, they will need to bring strong references. Get references from current and past employers prepared before leaving for work abroad. The documents attesting to school and university education, ideally with a translation in the local language are also important in the job search process.

3. Adjusting your salary expectations

The professional experience gained in your country of origin will not always be recognized at its true value. It is often recommended to favor obtaining a first experience locally rather than seeking the ideal position in salary and job description. When you start a new career path in your expatriation country, do not always keep your previous salary as a reference point. Indeed, the cost of living from one country to another strongly influences the level of remuneration. In addition, some professions may be undervalued relative to its country of origin. The reverse is also true. Salary claims are fixed by inquiring about the local market reality and seeking comparisons.

4. Recognition of qualifications

The education system can be very different in the destination country. Your level of education does not always correspond to a tangible reality in another labor market. Some countries offer services to help establish the local equivalence of diplomas. This does not always guarantee that employers will be receptive to it. For technical professions, it may be necessary to carry out an upgrade in a local college. The issue of recognition of qualifications must be addressed early in the expatriation process to be free from setbacks once there.

5. Know how to decrypt a job offer

Professional jargon is specific to an industry but also a country. Thus, the same profession will be addressed in another country from a different perspective with certain terms and concepts unfamiliar to home. It is recommended to read many job descriptions to incorporate local specificities. Moreover, a similar term can describe even a very different reality. When the expatriate is ready, they can meet people and ask them about the reality of their daily tasks. They should choose their words wisely to define the position sought. As a result, they can detect the employment opportunities that are not really suitable and make the job easier to match the idea that they have.

6. Networking and relying on word -to-mouth

Many job opportunities are not available through traditional channels (job advertisements). In some countries, job positions are filled by an informal approach, on the recommendation or cooptation. Getting closer to expatriates and participating in their community social events are an excellent way to build a network of contacts and discuss employment opportunities. Members of these communities have gone through the same difficulties as any newcomer has. They will be able to warn of the pitfalls and recommend ways to optimize the chances of landing your first job locally. Establishing a list of interesting companies for self and planning a spontaneous application with each one of them is also to be explored.

7. Reassure the future employer

After the first challenges have been faced, the first interviews are conducted. Here, the same criteria of skills, attitudes and behaviors that during a job search in your home country come into play. Abroad, with a greater or lesser mastery of the local language, the expatriate worker or a WHP traveler will deploy his talent to reassure his future employer. The latter will feel that the candidate understands the local reality and will be part of a team that does not know its culture. Rapid adaptation is the hallmark of a successful experience working abroad.