Is Travel Insurance Mandatory?

9 April 2018

Going on a trip is not as easy as just packing a swimsuit and sunglasses and call it a day! There is a lot of planning involved, including making a travel budget, creating an itinerary, checking visa requirements and getting the proper immunizations at a travel clinic. All of this can be quite overwhelming.

On top of all this preparation, one has to consider these mandatory travel requirements:

– Having a valid passport

It’s important to check the expiry date as well as the number of pages left since each country has different requirements.

– Applying for a tourist visa depending on the countries visited

Canadians can visit 101 countries without a visa so make sure to verify if your next destination falls in that list.

– Getting the proper vaccination

For instance, a Yellow Fever vaccine certificate might be required to visit certain countries.

– Having a return ticket

Even though it’s not always enforced, it can be necessary to show proof of onward travel or a return ticket to gain entry to some countries.

But What About Travel Insurance? Is That Compulsory?

The answer for the majority of the cases is: no! While having proper travel insurance is not mandatory, it is highly recommended. Although rarely enforced by custom officials, you could be asked to present a health insurance certificate showing that you can provide for yourself in case of a medical emergency.

That being said, there are still countries where Canadians will need to provide proof of a valid travel insurance in order to get a tourist visa. All the information concerning entry requirements can be found on the Foreign Affairs’ section of your government’s website. It is also advisable to confirm this information with your travel insurance agent.

According to the travel entry/exit requirements listed by the Government of Canada, here are the countries for which Canadians may be asked to show proof of travel insurance either upon arrival or to obtain a tourist visa:
Aruba : “proof of health insurance (or travel insurance that includes health coverage) are required to enter Aruba.”
Belarus : “you must present proof of valid medical insurance to enter Belarus. In addition, you will be required to purchase a mandatory state insurance at the port of entry.”
Bulgaria : “you must present proof of medical insurance (minimum €30,000 coverage) that is valid in the European Union (EU) and covers the costs of emergency medical care and repatriation.”
Cuba : “you must present proof of health insurance that is valid for the period of [the] stay in Cuba. Although proof of Canadian provincial health insurance is sufficient for visitors to enter Cuba, your provincial plan may cover only part of any medical costs incurred in Cuba and it will not pay the bill upfront, which is required at most hospitals.”
Falkan Islands : “you should show proof of insurance that covers air evacuation of up to US$200,000.”
Latvia : “you must be able to show sufficient proof of medical insurance to customs officials. The insurance must cover the entire length of your stay. If you do not have proof of insurance coverage, you may be required to obtain health insurance from a Latvian insurance company when you arrive.”
Lithuania : “You must be able to show sufficient proof of medical insurance to customs officials or purchase short-term insurance upon arrival.”
Slovakia : “Customs officials may ask you to show proof of health insurance.”

In many countries, for any visa other than a tourist visa (which most likely means an extended stay in the country) you may be requested to show proof of travel insurance.

Beyond country-specific demands, there are certain types of travel that will also require you to purchase travel insurance. Tours operators, tourism companies, safaris and cruises sometimes have very strict restrictions concerning travel insurance. To be compliant with the booking, it is often mandatory to obtain a travel insurance plan that fits their requirements.

Ultimately, it is your decision to get or not a travel insurance. No matter how many precautions you might take, an accident or a natural catastrophe cannot be predicted. The choice of not having a travel insurance will have an impact on you and your relatives that will have to cover outstanding medical bills if anything was to happen.

Without thinking of all the risks associated with travelling, buying travel insurance is the smartest decision one can make regarding travel plans. After all, travelling should be a source of joy and excitement so make sure to get travel insurance for your next trip now. If you can afford to travel than you can afford travel insurance. In this case, you can see it as the one thing that you will pack and be happy if you never have to use it.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Planning a Round-the-World Trip: 7 Questions to Ask

2 April 2018

You want to travel the world but you have no idea where to start? If you presume that a round-the-world trip is an unattainable dream that can only be considered if you’re very wealthy, think again! Contrary to popular belief, going around the world is actually very simple and accessible. Here are seven questions to ask yourself to help you organize your trip.

1) How much time do you have?

Technically, you could go around the world in less than 48 hours if you were to take consecutive flights. But, where would be the fun in that? The beauty of a round-the-world trip is to discover faraway destinations, soak up local culture and try new experiences. In order to plan this big journey, you will need to answer an essential question: Do you have to be back in your home country at a specific point in time? Do you have obligations? Having the liberty to travel without a return date rather than having a time-limit will affect your decision-making process.

2) Do you plan on working abroad?

You want to live out like you’re retired, but can you actually afford it? You should consider working in one of the countries you will visit to replenish your bank account and gain work experience abroad. Australia and New Zealand are the most popular destinations to earn money while travelling.

Websites like WorkAway, WWOOF, HelpX and Helpstay can help you stretch your dollars by promoting work exchanges (a few hours of work in exchange for food and lodging).

3) How much money do you have saved up?

Did you put aside money? Calculate the amount of money you saved thus far for your travels and add any future income you will receive while you’re away (e.g. a tax return). For a round-the-world trip, you should budget between $30 to $100 per day according to your chosen destinations. Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to travel on a small budget with low-cost airlines and the sharing economy (by using Couchsurfing, Airbnb or ride sharing for instance).

4) Which countries are on your wish list?

Planning a round-the-world trip requires a bit of an introspection. It’s an opportunity to delve deep into your soul to reveal what really thrills you. What do you aspire for? Follow your heart’s desires! Perhaps all you want to do is sit back and relax on a paradise island doing absolutely nothing. On the opposite, do you wish to take on a physical and mental challenge by going on a trek in the Himalayas? You could be dreaming of visiting World Wonders from Machu Picchu to the Great Pyramids. Maybe you hope to develop new skills such as learning a foreign language. You could also fantasize about participating in various extreme sports like bungee jumping, skydiving, paragliding and rock climbing. Do you visualize yourself exploring the marine life while scuba diving? May it be landmarks or activities, continue to feed your wandering mind. There’s nothing more exhilarating than making dreams a reality.

5) Which direction are you going and in which order?

By evaluating your budget, the amount of time you have available and your level of comfort towards the unknown, you can roughly sketch the outline of your round-the-world trip. If you purchased a one-way ticket, you can easily change your itinerary to suit your desires (or your encounters). There’s nothing wrong with travelling in the opposite direction to what was originally planned.
While you are travelling long-term, you will find some comfort by going back to a destination that you are already familiar with. Bangkok, for instance, might not be love at first sight, but once you get your bearings, it will actually grow on you. It can also be a base camp to recharge your batteries before continuing your journey through Asia. It’s important to find places where you can allow yourself some time to rest. After all, you’re not doing a race around the world.

6) Do you need visas or shots?

Even though Canadians can visit 101 countries without a visa, check beforehand the immigration laws of your next destination. Certains pays nécessitent que tu te déplaces en personne à l’ambassade avec des papiers précis et des photos pour te procurer un visa. Il faut donc prévoir le temps et le montant nécessaires.

In terms of mandatory or recommended vaccinations, it’s advisable to have it done prior to your departure at a travel clinic. Even if you’re still undecided about where you are going, it’s better to share your estimated itinerary with your doctor to see which one is relevant to get. Some countries might require a proof of yellow fever immunization, so keep an up-to-date version of your vaccination record.

7) How to pick a good travel insurance for a round-the-world trip?

Make sure you can extend your travel insurance while you are abroad. If the length of your trip is not fixed or if your plans change, call your insurance company before your coverage comes to term. In certain cases, if your travel insurance is already expired, it might not be possible to renew it without having to go back to your home country (which can put a damper on a round-the-world trip).

Decide whether or not your round-the-world trip will include stops in Canada and the United States. Most travel insurance coverages increase in price when your journey takes you to Canada or the United States. You can select between a “Worldwide EXCLUDING Canada/United States” or a “World INCLUDING Canada/United States” coverage.

Be aware that certain countries are excluded from your coverage. Some insurance policies don’t cover trip destinations with a Travel Warning issue by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, such as war zone countries. Check out the Government of Canada website (travel.gc.ca) to find out the risk level of your next destination under the “Travel Advice and Advisories” tab. When in doubt, call your travel insurance company to confirm that the countries you will visit are included in your policy.

Choose more than just a medical coverage. When you travel long-term you can select an “All Inclusive Package” which provides coverage for additional components such as travel baggage and personal effects in case of loss or theft. This guarantees to give you peace of mind during your round-the-world trip.

What’s stopping you from travelling around the world? Go ahead, do it!

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Tropical Diseases: What You Need to Know About Dengue

4 December 2017

What’s worse: a mosquito or a Great White shark? For starters, the chances of getting bit by a mosquito are much higher than being bit by a shark. Furthermore, in the last few decades, mosquitoes have been recognized as one of the deadliest animals on the planet. In non-tropical environment, they might seem quite harmless (albeit very annoying), but in the majority of the world, they are known for spreading deadly diseases.

This doesn’t mean that one should stay at home with their windows tightly shut to avoid any contact with mosquitoes. Rather, it’s best to be well informed and use caution, especially when visiting an at-risk country.

What Is Dengue?

Dengue is a tropical disease transmitted by a mosquito carrying one of four dengue viruses, which can cause flu-like symptoms. It can take three to fourteen days, after the initial bite, to develop symptoms of the virus. In its worst case, dengue can occasionally evolve into severe hemorrhagic dengue.

Where is Dengue Endemic?

According to the Travel health and safety guidelines issued by the Government of Canada, dengue “is widespread in regions of Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean, the Eastern Mediterranean, South and Southeast Asia, and Oceania.”

Mosquitoes transmitting the virus can usually be found in urban and suburban areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that “40% of the world’s population lives in areas where there is a risk of dengue transmission.” A visit to a travel clinic prior to departure will provide you with the details of at-risk zones and advisories based on your health condition.

How to Prevent Dengue?

Unlike Malaria, there are no known immunizations (vaccines or medication) against dengue. Without resorting to paranoia every time one gets a mosquito bite, there are ways to reduce the risk of getting bit in the first place.

– Cover yourself:
Wear pale, loose-fitting clothing that cover the entire body during peak mosquito periods. Wear closed shoes and a scarf if necessary.
– Avoid certain times of the day:
With mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus, this means the time around sunrise and sunset. During those times, stay indoors or wear appropriate clothing.
– Stay in places with air conditioning:
If available, pick a room with A/C, which is normally more sealed. Otherwise, make sure that windows have screens and sleep under a bed net for added protection (check ahead of time if your accommodation can provide you with one).
– Wear DEET insect repellent:
Although many prefer more natural repellents, DEET is known to be the most effective and powerful against mosquito bites. It should only be applied on exposed skin. Alternatively, you can try picaridin which is safer to use on children.
– Stay away from areas where there is standing water:
Mosquitoes lay eggs and spread in areas with standing water such as ponds, kids pool, buckets, flower vases or containers filled with rain water. What can be emptied should always be taken care of to avoid infestation.
– Keep a good air circulation:
Because mosquitoes are not very strong, any breeze or wind is likely to keep them away. It’s advisable to have a fan in the bedroom or other communal rooms.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Dengue?

In mild cases of dengue, symptoms can last from two to seven days. Anyone who has ever contracted the virus will agree that dengue feels like being hit by a train. The symptoms to look out for, especially after having been bit by a mosquito in an at-risk area, are:
– High fever (anything over 38.5 °C should be considered serious)
– Intense headache
– Pain behind the eyes
– Joint, muscle or bone pain
– Fatigue (which can in time lead to lethargy)
– Nausea (also causing vomiting)
– Skin rash (usually on the abdomen)
– Mild bleeding in some more severe cases

If those symptoms persist for more than three days, it is advisable to seek medical help immediately.

How to Treat Dengue?

Unfortunately, there are no treatments available for a dengue infection. A doctor’s visit with appropriate testing will confirm if the disease has been contracted or not. As a side note, make sure to have adequate travel insurance before consulting a doctor abroad. Even getting a simple IV to treat dehydration caused by the virus could lead up to substantial fees. Get travel insurance for your upcoming trip now.

Dengue symptoms can be alleviated by taking pain killers, keeping hydrated and resting. Stay clear of tablets such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or Naproxen Sodium (Aleve) which can have adverse effects with symptoms of dengue. Instead, to relieve the fever and the pain, use Acetaminophen (Tylenol). Consult a pharmacist or doctor if in doubt.

Given the widespread of dengue, it would be unfortunate to avoid travelling altogether. By following these precautions, knowing how to identify the symptoms and taking the necessary measures if the virus is contracted, it is not only possible but still safe to explore the world around us. Put your trousers and long sleeve, spray some mosquito repellent and go enjoy that beautiful sunset!

“Dengue Fever.” Government of Canada, May 3, 2016, travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/diseases/dengue. Accessed June 23, 2017.

“Dengue – Epidemiology.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 9, 2014, www.cdc.gov/dengue/epidemiology/index.html. Accessed June 23, 2017.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Travel Insurance

12 September 2017

To get or not to get travel insurance, that is the question. As many people start planning their trip, whether during the budgeting phase or as a last-minute decision, the consideration of subscribing to a travel insurance will inevitably pop up.

Some might view it as an unnecessary cost because they are only taking a short trip, they are in good health, they won’t engage in “at-risk activities” or any other excuse they might come up with. Not only is this foolish, but the sole reason for having an insurance is to cover you in case of an unpredictable event. Now that it’s established that one should not travel without a proper travel insurance, how does one make an informed decision with all the questions that it raises?

Here are the Most Common Questions Regarding Travel Insurance:

Is Travel Insurance Mandatory?

Normally, travel insurance is not necessary to enter a country on a tourist visa. The best is to research the entry requirements ahead of time to confirm this information. However, in order to apply for certain types of visas, like a Working Holiday Visa for instance, you might have to show proof of travel insurance to be granted the visa.

In any case, having travel insurance might not be mandatory, but it is highly recommended. It’s the kind of purchase you won’t think is necessary until you actually need it. Make sure to get your travel insurance now for your next trip.

Travellers needing a visa to enter European countries in the Schengen area are required to purchase travel insurance with a minimum coverage of 30,000 Euros. This requirement does not apply to Canadian travellers.

What Types of Travel Insurance Are There?

There are many types of insurance available to fit different situations and travel styles. A call with your travel insurance agent will be the best option to assess your needs. Basically, there are four major pillars to travel insurance: Travel Health Insurance, Medical Evacuation Insurance, Trip Cancellation Insurance and Baggage/Property Insurance. Some packages will also offer additional coverage for flight delay, accident or personal civil liability.

What Is Not Covered by Travel Insurance?

No one wants to read through an insurance policy! However, there are things that will definitely not be covered by your travel insurance if you make a claim such as: failure to declare pre-existing medical conditions (ex. Chronic ailments, pregnancy or any disease which was not contracted while travelling), failure to involve the police or show proof of ownership in the event of theft or loss, any accident that occurred while intoxicated, travelling through a high-risk zone, engaging in certain extreme sports, etc. Make sure to contact your travel insurance agent to validate the exclusions, conditions and limitations of your policy.

Am I Already Covered by My Credit Card Company?

Travel insurance issued by credit card companies should be regarded with caution. It is really important to understand the contract and its limitation. Some cards will cover trips up to a certain number of days while others will only cover purchases (ex. Flights, hotel reservations, etc.) made with the credit card. By having a good comprehension of your policy, you might find that it requires an additional complementary coverage from an external travel insurance company.

Nowadays it is less common to get coverage for flight accident through credit cards. Only all-inclusive packages provided through your travel insurance broker or through an insurance company directly will guarantee this additional coverage.

When Should I Subscribe to a Travel Insurance?

No matter what the type of insurance you wish to obtain, it should be purchased when the travel plans are official or money towards the trip has been spent on transportation or accommodation. Perhaps getting a travel insurance quote should be on the same level of priority as checking for flights or booking a hotel.

How Much Does It Cost?

This varies greatly based on the age of each traveller, the length of the trip, the type of travel/traveller (e.g. expatriate, snowbird, exchange student, etc.), the destinations (including or excluding Canada/USA) and the health condition of the person insured.

When planning your travel budget, you should not neglect the importance of getting a travel insurance. If you think you don’t have enough money for it then maybe you should not travel in the first place. Having to pay for emergency medical services without having a proper insurance can potentially mortgage your future. For a few dollars a day, it’s very little paid to have peace of mind.

Travelling, as much as it is a wonderful experience, should not be a source of stress. Getting a travel insurance before your trip will help lift the pressure off your shoulder and allow you to relax during your holiday.

Avoid getting sick while traveling

27 August 2017

There is nothing more annoying than getting sick while traveling. Nobody wants to stay in their room or in the waiting room of a clinic instead of lounging on the beach or visiting tourist attractions!

In the case of accidents or serious illness, the best thing will always be to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses and provides assistance to find the best care. But for everything else?

Here are five things to consider to avoid getting sick while traveling or at least prevent minor ailments.

1- FOOD

– Begin to take probiotics a few weeks before your departure to strengthen your intestinal flora;
– Try to find fresh ginger when you arrive. In cases of discomfort due to indigestion or even to appease a small cough, it is the best medicine! Ginger can easily be consumed in a tea (some pieces infused in boiling water);
– Give a chance for your body to adjust, especially after the shock of jet lag! Gradually adopt the a new diet. In other words, eat vegetarian and not too spicy for the first few days. Once you have accustomed to the local flavors, you can start experimenting with more food;
– Eat fruits and vegetables that can be peeled, so are less at risk of contamination. Do not forget that even if they were rinsed, it does not mean that the water is drinkable;
– When it comes time to choose a restaurant, opt for a place with lots of traffic and frequented by locals. A high volume of clients means there is more turnover in food, so less chance of spoiled food.

2. WATER

– Stay hydrated at all times! It may also be useful to provide magnesium tablets or rehydration sachets containing electrolytes. Sometimes, some countries sell bottles of water devoid of minerals. This ensures that the water will quench thirst, but the body does not replenish minerals, which puts you at greater risk of suffering the effects of dehydration;
– Keep a small bottle of water in your room to brush your teeth, if the water is not usable;
– Pay attention to the ice! If you’re not sure, avoid taking it. Moreover, in many countries, the cans are kept in ice-filled coolers. As the level of safety is not the same everywhere and there are risks that the water used for ice is not safe, it is best to wipe the neck of the can before putting it to your lips.

3. BASIC FIRST AID

– Prepare a small first aid kit before you leave. Here is what we recommend having:
o Activated charcoal pills: against indigestion and diarrhea;
o Ibuprofen and acetaminophen: against pain and headaches;
o Antihistamine: against minor allergic reactions;
o Dressings: to cover injuries and reduce the risk of infection;
o Iodine: to disinfect wounds;
o Anti nausea: to reduce motion sickness;
o Aloe vera: apply aloe to soothe sunburn;
o Disinfectant for hands.
– Wash your hands with soap at every opportunity. This will greatly reduce the risk of transmission of bacteria and viruses.
– Ask the reception of your hotel to translate your symptoms before obtaining medication at the pharmacy. Before taking the medication, make sure you have the right dosage and that it is the right product to treat your problem.

4- MOSQUITOS

– In areas where the risk of contracting diseases such as malaria, dengue or Zika is higher, make sure you cover well at sunrise and sunset to protect you from mosquitoes. Also avoid places with standing water;
– Check with a travel clinic doctor whether malaria drugs are recommended for the regions visited.

5. TEMPERATURE

– Bring a scarf to cover your neck and your head. This will be especially convenient for all train journeys or bus where the air conditioning is at the maximum, as in many places in Southeast Asia;
– Protect your skin from the sun, either with a regular application of sunscreen or light clothing that covers the body. What’s worse than losing a day and avoiding the sun for the rest of your vacation because of a sunburn!

The list could be even longer if we added all the “grandmother tricks” we know. The golden rule is COMMON SENSE. We cannot repeat it often enough; prevention is better than cure!

Article by Nomad Junkies team

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