Alcohol Abuse While Travelling – Everything You Need to Know

12 July 2018

Having an alcoholic drink while travelling is often synonymous with relaxing and unwinding from the stress of everyday life. Most people would agree that the image of a perfect holiday always includes a cocktail by the pool at sunset. Just imagine yourself in a tropical setting with your beverage of choice, whether it’s a Piña Colada, a glass of wine or even a nice cold beer… While it may seem like an innocent act, alcohol intoxication is one of the most common reasons why travel insurance policies are invalidated!

It is all fun in the sun, until your claim is rejected in the case of an accident if there are proofs that you were under the influence of alcohol when it happened. Before you head out to the next party town or join a scenic winery tour, contact your travel insurance representative to review the clauses and exclusions of your coverage regarding alcohol consumption.

As you search for the best insurance plan to fit your travel needs, keep these points in mind and validate with your travel insurance agent if the following clauses apply to your policy or not:

– Pre-existing conditions:
Certain pre-existing health problems which were considered stable based on your travel insurance clauses such as diabetes or heart conditions can be worsened by alcohol. In the case of a medical emergency while travelling, your claim will be rejected if it is proven that the excessive consumption of alcohol led to the affliction. Insurance benefits don’t apply to expenses incurred due to accidents, death or injuries if there is evidence that at the time of the incident, the health condition leading to the accident, death or injury was exacerbated by the excessive consumption of alcohol.

– Negligence:
Since it is easier to let our guards down while succumbing to our inhibitions after a few too many drinks, any incident will probably void the travel insurance coverage if it is found that the person was under the influence of alcohol. The issue is not about enjoying a drink, it is about being intoxicated and engaging in activities that could result in injury or loss of personal belongings.

– Situation:
In the event of an emergency, the first step is to contact your travel insurance assistance center, regardless of the amount of alcohol ingested. The agent will ask questions pertaining to the incident and inquire whether or not it is related to the consumption of alcohol. It could happen that there is absolutely no correlation between the cause of the incident and being under the influence of alcohol. On the opposite, if it is considered the result of negligence, it should be expected that the policy will be voided. Your claim will have to be assessed thoroughly, so be aware that you might have to cover the expenses out of your pocket.

– Blood-alcohol content: Every country and every travel insurance company has a different definition to what is viewed as excessive or heavy drinking. Check the exclusions of your travel insurance policy to find what the rules are regarding acceptable blood-alcohol content is. As a general rule, most travel insurance companies will simply refer to the legal limit of the country in which they operate. For instance, the Criminal Code of Quebec stipulates that whoever is travelling in the province of Quebec cannot present a blood-alcohol level above the limit imposed (0.08% or 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood).

Do not let this information discourage you from having a drink while on holidays! When you are home, you are expected to drink responsibly and with moderation so apply those precautions while travelling. Keep in mind that the same level of vigilance and common sense should be exercised while visiting a foreign country. Here are some safety tips to take into account during your next trip:

– Drink with moderation
If you do not regulate the amount that you drink, you run the risk of not being covered by your travel insurance because of exclusions related to alcohol consumption.
Tip: Stay hydrated and avoid binge drinking. Nursing a hangover during a limited holiday is definitely not a productive use of vacation time!

– Respect the law
Not all countries have the same rules and regulations regarding the legal drinking age, drinking in public, the sale of alcohol at certain times of the day or even the possession of alcohol (like in some Muslim countries for instance).
Tip: Research your destination before leaving to avoid any surprises or hefty fines!

– Do not drink and drive
This is an unnecessary risk which could lead to potentially harsh penalties in some countries. Also, you should absolutely avoid getting into a vehicle if the driver is intoxicated.
Tip: Before heading out plan your return by checking public transit schedules, downloading ride-sharing applications on your smartphone or just writing down the number of a local taxi company.

– Be aware of the content of your drink
Be advised that in many countries, the locals will have their version of home-brewed spirits or some type of moonshine. Because this kind of alcohol is not distilled, it could pose a threat to your health. Additionally, the alcohol content of popular beverages could be much stronger than at home. Understand that drink spiking is a worldwide issue affecting men and women equally and it should not be taken lightly.
Tip: Don’t leave your drink unattended, always keep it with you or within eyesight. Watch while the bartender prepares and serves your drink. Do not accept drinks from strangers!

It is perfectly normal to have an alcoholic drink while on vacation and this should not discourage you to do so. However, because alcohol may impair your judgment, it is important to understand the limitations and exclusions of your travel insurance policy. Contact your travel insurance agent to discuss the best solution for your travel needs, but remember that it is still your holiday so lean back, relax and enjoy yourself.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

10 Travel Tips to Give a Friend Going on a Semester Abroad

12 July 2018

Studying abroad for a semester is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that not many people get to experience. According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, only 2.3% of Canadian students went abroad to study in 2015. Of those who have had the chance to spend a semester abroad, most would agree that this was the highlight of their degree. Some might even describe it as one of the best experiences in their life so far.

Although undertaking such a big project requires a large amount of preparation and involves being away from home in a completely foreign environment, studying abroad has the potential to be a highly rewarding accomplishment. It has been said by many students, upon their return from international studies, that this has been a catalyst to a life of travels.

Whether you or a friend are thinking about taking that leap into the unknown during your studies, here are 10 tips to make this experience as enjoyable as possible.

1. Familiarize Yourself with your Host Country

Take some time to research the culture, the customs and the do’s & don’ts of your host country. While nobody wants the embarrassment of a cultural faux pas, this can be easily avoided by being well informed beforehand! Try to learn a bit of the language with apps like Duolingo or from a travel guide phrasebook. Locals are always flattered by foreigners going the extra mile by communicating with them in their native tongue. Don’t forget the Google Translate app, which can be a lifesaver when it comes to deciphering a menu for instance.

2. Establish a Budget

Studying abroad will necessitate great planning skills and it all begins with a bulletproof budget. You might have to save a lot of money before leaving, but make sure to search for grants which can alleviate some of the financial burden. Here are the items for which you will spend the most:
o Flights: Unless you leave for more than one semester, a return ticket should be your only expense. For European or Asian destinations, consider putting aside a small budget for low-cost flights if you plan on taking side trips.
o Visa costs: Check your government’s foreign affairs website for up-to-date visa requirements, procedures and contact information for foreign embassies.
o School material: In some countries, textbooks expenses can be pretty steep, so don’t forget to take this into account while setting your budget.
o Travel insurance: Don’t skip this step, talk to a travel agent representative now in order to be well covered during your semester abroad. The last thing you want is to be on your own in the event of an emergency.
o Cost of living: This includes your accommodation as well as food. Whether you decide to cook for yourself or eat out will greatly affect your budget.
o Transportation: This cost will vary depending on whether you have to use public transit, buy a bicycle or even rent a car to get around.
o Activities: Socializing can easily break your budget if you don’t pay attention to how you spend your money. Be smart about it!

3. Make Sure All Your Travel Documents Are Valid

The first thing to verify is the expiry date of your passport. The rule of thumb is that your passport should be valid for a minimum of six months before your return date. It is very important to also check the number of remaining pages in your passport. You should have at least two full pages left before entering any country to avoid problems. If you need to get or renew your passport, keep in mind the time necessary and the costs involved to issue it.

For certain countries, you will be required to apply for a student visa. Because bureaucracy is very unpredictable from one country to another, allow yourself enough time for the visa application.

Some colleges or universities might ask for proof of a valid travel insurance policy in order to finalize your registration. Contact your travel insurance representative to find the plan best suited for your needs.

4. Notify Your Bank of Your Travel Plans

To avoid any surprises while you’re abroad, call your bank to let them know about your trip and any other side trips you might take. Some banks can charge significant foreign transaction fees, so check what sort of plan you can have with yours. If possible, it could be worth looking into opening a bank account abroad. Lastly, consider bringing more than one credit card and bank card in case of theft, loss or just if the ATM decides to eat your card.

5. Gather All Your Personal Documents

Before your big departure, collect all your important documents (passport, diploma, birth certificate, credit cards, visa, latest transcript, health report, etc.) into a folder that’s easily accessible in case you need it when you reach customs. Make photocopies of everything for safe-keeping and leave a copy with your emergency contact at home. Additionally, put all the scanned copies of your documents on a cloud-based service such as Dropbox as backup.

6. Make a Packing List

The golden rule of packing is to not over pack! Find a few clothing pieces that can be used in different combinations and leave the rest at home. Don’t forget to bring a few “comfort” items and food that will uplift your spirit when you feel homesick. Take some pictures of your friends and family to decorate your room. Furthermore, be aware that some prescription drugs which are legal in Canada might not be legal where you are going. Contact your medical practitioner to ensure that you have enough medication for the entire duration of your trip. Finally, to reduce the weight of your luggage, carry travel-size toiletries and buy the full-size version when you arrive at your destination along with anything else you might have forgotten.

7. Look for Accommodation Before Leaving

Try to find a place close to campus or easily accessible with public transit. Alternatively, university dorms are a great way to make new friends. Many other exchange students tend to favour this option. For a more local contact, you can look into a homestay experience. This will give you a deep understanding of the culture and provide you with the opportunity to practise the language while being fully immersed. Get in touch with the department responsible of international students to help you find the perfect accommodation.

8. Meet New People

Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone to make new friends. Nowadays, with social media, it is very easy to get in touch with prospective students. Join Facebook groups of international students at your host university (even before you leave), take part in organized activities for exchange students, share meals with people from your dorm and try to engage with local students to learn more about their culture. As intimidating as it can be to approach new people, you will learn that relationships made during a semester abroad have the potential to develop into lifelong friendships.

9. Start Planning How to Fill Your Free Time

With all the excitement and distractions of visiting a new destination, you might want to start organizing your weekend escapades well in advance. Look for free things to do such as walking tours, local exhibitions or must-see attractions. Stay ahead of the game on trending activities or food specialties by checking websites like Insider, Instagram or travel blogs.

10. Don’t Forget to Study and Attend Classes

Doing a semester abroad might seem like all fun and games, but remember that your grades still count towards your curriculum. You do need to pass all your classes unless you want to add another year to your degree!

Opening yourself to the world during your studies is the best way to enjoy a new culture while pursuing your education. Spending a semester abroad is definitely an unforgettable experience. If the chance to participate in an exchange program presents itself, you should seize the opportunity with both hands.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

15 Things You Should Know Before Travelling the World

12 July 2018

The last years have seen an increase of first-time travellers and backpackers wanting to discover the world. Exploring new countries has become more accessible with the introduction of budget airlines and the rise of independent travel.

Preparing for a trip involves a lot of planning and it can be quite overwhelming. What’s the most comprehensive travel insurance to get, staying or taking the big leap, where to go and what’s the best time of the year to leave… It’s unlikely that anyone has the wisdom to provide all the perfect answers to those questions. There is no right or wrong way to approach travelling, one can only learn from experience and from making mistakes.

Seasoned travellers have all gone down that path and are still there to tell the tale. Don’t be fooled by what you see on their social media profiles, everyone will agree that there are certain things they wish they knew before they first set sail into the unknown.

1. Take Your Time!

There’s nothing worse than rushing through a destination ticking off items from a bucket list. Sit back and relax, do some people watching, enjoy one last sunset, this trip is yours! It’s better to visit fewer countries or cities, but to spend some quality time appreciating that new culture.
Know that it’s okay to take a day to rest and do nothing, especially when you’re travelling long term.

2. Don’t Bring Too Much Stuff

There’s one simple economic principle called the Pareto Law. Basically, this means that 80% of the time you will use 20% of the items you packed. If you’re missing anything, you will most likely be able to buy it abroad. If you need to pick three things that you absolutely cannot leave without, it should be:
• a sarong (that can be used as a scarf, blanket, towel and even a dress),
• toilet paper or tissues (you will be surprised how only a minority of public toilets provide it, especially in Asia),
• hand sanitizer (you guessed it, no soap either in those restrooms!).

3. Be Smart With Your Money

You don’t want to get halfway through your trip to realize that you’ve burned almost all of your budget and you need to cut it short to head back home. Be conscious of the money you spend, but keep some breathing room for unplanned activities. It would be a shame to be sailing in the Great Barrier Reef and not go diving because it was not included in the initial budget.

Learn to be creative to save money by cooking for yourself, hitchhiking or couchsurfing in areas you know are safe and even stretching your dollar by exchanging work for food and accommodation

4. Purchase Travel Insurance

It might seem like an annoying cost, especially considering all the money that is already spent for flights, accommodations and activities. However, this should not be taken lightly… If you don’t have the means to pay for your travel insurance, then maybe you shouldn’t be travelling. Anything can happen while abroad and the last thing you want is being on your own on the other side of the world.

5. Keep Your Belongings Safe

When you fall asleep in a train, no one will protect your important things but yourself. Pack your valuables in your day bag and care for it like your life depends on it. However, don’t put your safety at risk for material possessions. Remember that everything is replaceable. Without sounding patronizing, a good coverage by a travel insurance will alleviate the stress of theft and loss.

6. Stay Healthy

It’s all fun and games until your body can’t keep up anymore and you’re stuck in bed for a whole week, missing all the action. There’s no need to get plastered every night or eat whatever you want because you’re on holidays. Use this as an opportunity to discover exotic fruits or vegetables. Drink plenty of water. It’s easy to forget about staying hydrated when water is not as available.

7. You Might/Will Get Sick

It won’t be fun and you will maybe have to get acquainted with local health facilities. Stay on the safe side and make sure you left with Travel Insurance to avoid any complications. Carry activated charcoal pills for minor stomach ailments and other basic medicines. Bring Tiger Balm to relieve bug bites and sore muscles.

8. Be Flexible Learn to Adapt to Your New Environment

Travelling requires a great deal of open mindedness. You will be expected to know about the culture and to respect it. It’s alright to go with the flow, but remember that you are the visitor and certain behaviors can be interpreted as cultural insensitivities. Make sure to make some research before to find out what is acceptable and what is not.

9. There Are Moments When You Will Feel Lonely if You Travel Solo

The feeling will come and it will pass. Learn to recognize it and know that it’s okay to feel homesick. Don’t be afraid to meet fellow travellers or locals. Most human beings are genuinely nice and will help you if you ask for it. Strangers will become your best friends and goodbyes will sometimes be heartbreaking. Try to keep in touch with the people you meet. No matter where you end up in the world, you will realize that your vibe attracts your tribe.

10. Culture Shock Is a Real Thing and So Is Reverse Culture Shock

There are so many things that will hit you in the face when you get to a new destination. It is not like home! In some developing countries, trash management and the protection of the environment is years behind western standards. In high-density cities, the notion of personal space is nonexistent. Maintaining that big bubble is not only impossible but it goes against the culture. Patience, patience, patience… This will be one of the hardest character traits to develop because not everything runs as smoothly as we are used to. It will happen that the ferry leaves only once it’s full or that the bus breaks down on the side of the road. You will learn not to rely on schedules and plan accordingly.

When you return home, you will be shocked by the rat race in which we live. It’s normal to feel this way and it will change your perception of our society.

11. Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle/Negotiate

You will get ripped off at least once … get over it and grow from that experience. In certain countries, it is customary to engage in a negotiation with the seller. Learn what the social cues are from one place to the other and play along with it.

12. Keep a Journal and Take Pictures

Memories fade… Even if just quick notes that you scribble every other night, make it a point to write down addresses of places you went that you liked, people you met and feelings you experienced. Being able to share those moments with your friends and loved one is precious. Having visual supports and written accounts will help you delve into this past journey. Take mental pictures. Stop for a minute and enjoy this time for yourself as well.

13. Experience the Place and Don’t Rely So Much on Your Guidebook

“Why not” should be your motto, try to go off-the-beaten-path. You’re not obligated to visit a landmark because it’s a famous tourist place, it’s your trip, your time, your money. Your guide book is exactly that, a guide. Talk to locals, read other travel blogs, get lost…

14. Don’t Underestimate Visa Requirements

Not all passports have the same power. It would be a shame to get to your destination only to be boarded back on a plane because you didn’t produce the necessary entry documents. For travellers visiting multiple countries, it’s important to take into consideration the time and procedure to obtain a visa. It can become tricky to have to find the nearest embassy that will issue a visa and that’s not even accounting for last-minute requests. Be aware of the space left in your passport as it’s not always easy to renew it while abroad.

15. Trust Yourself and Just Go for It

If there is one thing to take away, it’s that travelling is not as intimidating as it looks. It is not as dangerous as how the media is portraying it. Finally, it is definitely not as expensive as what the travel industry wants you to believe. Learn from your mistakes and know that it’s those mistakes that help you grow as a traveller.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Understanding the Schengen Zone When Travelling to Europe

12 July 2018

Canadians exploring Europe have it easy when it comes to obtaining a tourist visa. For short-term Canadian travellers (trip length less than 90 days), there are no requirements in order to visit most European countries except having a valid passport. For those wishing to extend their stay in Europe, you must familiarize yourself with the Schengen area and its limitations.

What is the Schengen area?

According to the Government of Canada, the Schengen area is a zone in Europe in which countries have “agreed to create common entry and exit requirements in order to remove the need for internal borders. As long as Schengen area entry requirements are met, the agreement allows foreigners to travel freely between participating countries without having to go through border controls.”

In simpler terms, this means that as a Canadian you can visit any European country part of the Schengen area for a maximum length of 90 days. You can travel during this period without a visa and without having to present your travel document when you cross borders. Note that you still need to have a valid passport for the entire duration of your trip and that there might be arbitrary verifications on trains or at the check-in counter when taking flights.

What countries are part of the Schengen area?

Out of the 44 countries in Europe according to the United Nations, 26 countries are officially part of the Schengen area. They include: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Is it the same as the European Union (EU)?

No. Not all Schengen area countries are part of the EU, such as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

Additionally, there are countries that are part of the EU, but are not in the Schengen area such as Bulgaria, Croatia, the Republic of Cyprus, Ireland and Romania.

Following the “Brexit”, the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) will no longer be part of the EU. It is also not part of the Schengen Area. However, Canada being part of the Commonwealth means that Canadians can get up to 180 days on a tourist visa.

Finally, there are European countries that are neither part of the EU nor the Schengen area and they include: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and Vatican City. You can visit the Government of Canada website to obtain more information concerning the visa requirements for these countries.

Do all countries in the Schengen area have the same currency?

No. Only the countries part of the eurozone share the euro as a common currency. Schengen area countries that do not use the euro include the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland. Although it might be easy to hop from one of these countries to the next, you are still required to switch currency!

What are the limitations in terms of length of stay?

You can legally stay in countries within the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days during a 180-day period. Those 90 days don’t need to be consecutive. You are free to travel in and out of the Schengen area as you please, but every time you enter a Schengen area country, it will count towards your 90-day stay. Both the 90-day and 180-day counter start upon arrival to your first Schengen area country.

Here is a scenario to better understand the calculation. Alternatively, you can also use the Short-Stay visa calculator to determine the number of days you are allowed to stay in any of the Schengen area countries considering your previous stays in the Schengen area.

Scenario 1
You are planning to visit your family in Crete (Greece) for the summer and would love to travel to Italy and Croatia while you are in Europe.
Travel dates in Italy: May 28 – June 5
Travel dates in Greece: June 5-19
Travel dates in Croatia: June 19-28
Travel dates in Greece: June 28 – August 18

Total days spent in the Schengen Area: 75 days
Total days spent in Europe: 83 days

The days spent in Croatia do not count towards the 90-day visa allowance since it is not part of the Schengen area. The 180-day period starts from the arrival in Italy, on May 28 and extends until November 23rd of the same year. If you wish to subsequently visit the Schengen area during this time, you would only be allowed 15 days, capping the 90-day limit.

That being said, it is always wise to include a little buffer in your itinerary just in case you encounter any delays, cancellations or any other unfortunate event.

Unravelling all these visa requirements and length-of-stay calculations can be quite confusing and can become a source of stress. Regardless of the time spent in Europe and within the Schengen area, avoid unnecessary worries by subscribing to a travel insurance plan. Call your travel insurance representative now to find the solution most appropriate for your specific needs.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Travel Risks and Misconceptions

12 July 2018

For first-time travellers, the prospect of venturing to a new country can be quite daunting. The media plays a very important role in that matter by feeding us with all the negative things happening around the world. If one was to believe all of it, the travel industry would go down in a minute. However, there is so much beauty to discover that it would be quite sad to let the fear of travelling keep us from exploring the world.

Yes, it is true that there are some risks associated with travelling, but the same could be said about staying home. The difference lies in the fact that we are in an unknown environment outside of our comfort zone. Luckily, many people have gone through the journey before us and have lived to tell the tale. Here are the most common risks and misconceptions in regards to travelling and how to face them.

“I won’t feel safe”

According to the news, it seems like no place is safe right now including home. Should this stop us from travelling? Of course not! There are regions that are definitely not advisable to visit. This information will be easily available on your government’s Foreign Affairs website. However, it should also be taken with a grain of salt. You shouldn’t cross off a destination because it has a regional advisory. Look at Thailand for instance, the South of the country should be avoided at all costs but it doesn’t stop the influx of tourists visiting the rest of this beautiful country. The key is to use caution and travel smartly.

There are preventive measures that you take at home that should be followed when going to another country. It is tempting to let go of inhibitions and drop our guards while on holidays. However, remember to keep your valuables safe, to stay low profile while trying to merge with the local culture, to avoid heated areas (especially at night or when travelling alone) and to use common sense. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home under the pretense that you are on vacation.

Help yourself by following these two guidelines:
– Get travel insurance before you leave for your trip
– Register yourself with your government in case of an emergency abroad or at home while you are away

“I could get sick”

There are many factors that can lead to illness while travelling. With basic precautions regarding food and water you will already be one step ahead. Book an appointment at a travel clinic a few months before your trip to make sure you have all the necessary immunizations for the region you will be visiting. You will also be prescribed medications such as malaria pills, antibiotics, etc., that could potentially be needed. Consulting a doctor abroad is actually not as scary as it might seem, especially with the help of your travel insurance agent who can assist you by finding the best medical care available. For little ailments and minor incidents, it’s always practical to carry a simple first aid kit including tablets, rehydration packs, bandages and hand sanitizer.

“I might get lost”

You don’t need to go too far to lose your reference points. Arriving in a new city, country or continent can be overwhelming. On top of that, there could be a language barrier. It’s surprising how one can even find their bearings in such context.

Getting lost is a very high possibility, but it’s also in those moments that you discover the most beautiful destinations and make the most memorable experiences. Of course, there are ways to overcome this fear such as:
– Planning your itinerary in advance, especially in regards to your arrival
– Getting a paper map of the area (normally available at tourism offices or even from the front desk of your accommodation)
– Using an app for offline maps (Google maps or Maps.me)
– Keeping a card/paper with the address written in the local language of the place you are staying at
– Asking locals for directions and recommendations

Common sense will once again be your best friend. Trust your instincts and don’t venture into areas that don’t look safe, especially when it’s dark. After feeling lost a few times, you will realize that it’s actually not that bad and it is to be expected. You will welcome the opportunities of getting lost only to discover new and exciting places.

In any case, the biggest risk to travelling is that you might catch the travel bug and will want to travel forever. There are so many beautiful things to see on this planet that it would be unfortunate to let those misconceptions stop you from exploring the world.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Guide to Travelling with a Pet

28 May 2018

Do you keep yourself from travelling because you cannot bear the thought of leaving your cat or dog behind? Why don’t you include your pets in your upcoming travel plans! At first glance, this might require more planning than a regular trip, but there is a growing trend for travelling with an animal companion. More and more options are available for people wishing to do so.

Scheduling an Appointment with the Vet

If you plan to travel outside of your home country, schedule a visit with your vet and share them your itinerary. Some destinations require animal health certificates; see the list of countries available online on the website of the Government of Canada. Your veterinarian will assess your pet’s health, administer the necessary vaccines (including rabies) and perform blood tests. Your animal health professional can then complete and sign the Canadian International Health Certificate for Dogs and Cats.

Choosing the Appropriate Pet Carrier

Whether you travel by car or by plane, you will need to transport your pet in a carrier. It is important to purchase the bag or cage a few weeks ahead of your departure to allow your pet to get accustomed to it. The carrier must meet the requirements of the Animal Air Transport Association. Here are some tips to help you pick the appropriate travel carrier for your pet:
– The container must provide adequate ventilation without the animal being able to stick their head or legs out.
– The material of the container must be strong and should not consist of wire mesh or fibreboard.
– The container must have a secure opening mechanism to prevent any accidental opening.
– The space for your animal should be large enough for it to stand, lie down and turn around.

You should write the notice “Live Animal” on the carrier and add your pet’s name, your destination, your contact information and your email. Take a picture of your pet (with your smartphone for instance) and save it for the duration of your trip in the event that you get separated.

Booking your Accommodation

Whether it’s a hotel, an Airbnb rental or a campground, you must ensure that the type of chosen accommodation allows pets. Some places provide “pet-friendly” packages which facilitate your stay by offering rooms with direct outdoor access. Bring enough food along with all necessary items for the comfort of your pet.

Travelling by Plane with your Pet

Make air travel easier by selecting flights with the least number of layovers. You should know that each airline company has its own set of rules for transporting animals. Certain companies might not allow pets aboard, so it is important to validate this information prior to booking your flight.

Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, SouthWest, United and Virgin America are examples of air carriers that allow pets on board. Normally, pet-friendly airlines offer three options: in the cabin of the aircraft (for pets of suitable size and weight), in the luggage compartment or in the cargo space.

Some airlines might require for the pet to be at least 10 weeks old for any air travel. Be aware of the surcharge imposed for having your pet on board. This fee can range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. Note that guide dogs can travel in the cabin for free.

Abstain from giving your pet a tranquillizer unless it was initially prescribed by your vet. As soon as you’ve reached your destination, open the pet carrier to examine your pet. If you notice anything abnormal, write down the symptoms with the time and date and visit a veterinarian immediately.

By taking all these precautions, air travel is really safe for your pet. It will all be worth it when you can finally soak up the sun on the beach or hike mountains with your best feline or canine friend.

Taking your Faithful Companion on a Road Trip

Can you picture yourself in your car, with the music blasting and your dog sticking its head out the window with its ears flapping in the wind? As much fun as this sounds, while driving on the highway you should avoid this type of behaviour for the health and safety of your dog. Some animals do get road sick, therefore it’s preferable to test out their tolerance before embarking on a long trip. You can gradually ease them into an upcoming road trip by taking them on short car rides. If you plan on crossing a land border, make sure to have all the appropriate and up-to-date documents for your pet.

Getting Travel Insurance

Whether you are travelling with or without a pet, subscribe to a travel insurance plan to cover anything unexpected. Contact your travel insurance representative and share the details of your trip in the early stages of travel planning.

Preparation is key when it comes to travelling with a pet. Now, you have everything you need to hit the road with your beloved animal. Get your camera ready to capture all those priceless memories!

Article by Nomad Junkies team

10 Things You Should Know Before Your First Solo Trip

28 May 2018

You dream of exploring the world, but you feel like no one around you shares that urge to travel. The saying “It’s better to be alone than in bad company” makes so much more sense when you are travelling. If you’re ready to leave and pursue your wildest dreams, go ahead, do it on your own. Solo travelling is one of the most rewarding things you can experience. Forget about any obligations you might have or making compromises! Just follow your rhythm and do whatever pleases you. Here are a few tips to help you on your first solo trip:

1) Accept that it is okay to be scared

Fear is probably the biggest obstacle to overcome for a lot of people thinking of travelling on their own. Feeling apprehensive about stepping outside of your comfort zone to face the unknown and solitude is completely normal. This unfamiliar emotion will give way to a cascade of unanswered questions on your first solo trip: Will I be able to make new friends? I’ve never sat at a restaurant alone, will it be uncomfortable? Will I be safe? What happens if I get sick?

The first step is to acknowledge those concerns. Good planning and experience will ease your mind. Travelling solo is the perfect opportunity to make new friends from all over the world, but it’s also a great way to learn how to appreciate solitary moments. Don’t let your fears paralyze you and keep you from travelling. Limit unexpected things that could come up by getting travel insurance. Adventure awaits, go find it!

2) Pick your first destinations wisely

Some destinations are more suitable for solo travellers. Meeting other people is really easy in popular places like Southeast Asia, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand and Portugal. Be conscious of the type of accommodation you choose. It’s much harder to make new friends in a 5-star hotel than it is in a youth hostel for instance. The key is to select guesthouses, B&B’s or lodges that have a common area and that organize tours and activities for their guests. Plan ahead and do some research so you don’t end up in a place where you’re surrounded by couples or families.

3) Prepare your arrival carefully

No plan is the best plan! However, before your departure it is suggested to lay out general ideas or guidelines instead of trying to detail everything. Travelling solo allows for a greater flexibility and the possibility to change your itinerary if something (or someone) more interesting comes along.

On your first solo trip, it is recommended to at least organize your arrival. Is a visa required or do you have to provide proof of onward travel? Find out all you need to know prior to your departure. Make a detailed plan, from the moment you step out of the plane until you’ve checked in to the hostel/hotel you booked in advance. The last thing you want is to look lost and vulnerable when you leave the airport. Search online for the best way to reach your accommodation from the terminal. In a few countries, there are certain types of taxi or public transit that are safe, while other are not recommended. In order to help you negotiate and avoid getting scammed, find out beforehand the average price for a ride.

4) Travel light

By limiting the weight of your luggage you will be able to maximize your mobility. Split your travel items in two categories:
1- In your handbag or day pack: keep your passport, your bank cards and any other valuable object (camera, laptop, cell phone, …).
2- In your suitcase or backpack: put everything else in there.

There is one golden rule to remember: keep your smaller day pack with you all times like your life depends on it … never let it go! Make sure to always keep an eye on your backpack, although clothing is a lot easier to replace than credit cards. If you need to use the restroom, but you find your backpack too cumbersome, search for friendly-looking travellers to watch it for you. Don’t forget to carry your precious little bag with you.

5) Carry a book with you

A book is also a wonderful travel companion. Whether you’re at a restaurant or on long rides, you will never be alone with a book in your hands. No one will bother you while you read, but you can always put it down if someone approaches you and you enjoy the conversation. Books can quickly become heavy and annoying to carry, so it’s not a bad idea to look into a Kindle or any other e-reader.

6) Make up an imaginary friend or a lover

There’s no need to shout from the rooftops that you’re travelling alone. As a safety measure, avoid telling everyone you meet that you are on your own. In some countries, cab drivers are known for trying to take you to a different accommodation or inventing stories about your hostel/guesthouse being closed. The best excuse is to say that you absolutely need to get to the initial destination because you are meeting with friends or your partner. You can even go as far as making up names and nationalities to be more believable!

7) Stay connected with your friends and family

Don’t spend 24/7 on Facebook! The reason why you travel is to live in the now, not to be constantly connected to your smartphone. Force yourself to interact with your surroundings and the new people around you.

Since you’re travelling solo, transfer your estimated itinerary to your family in case of emergency. There’s no need to send the details down to the minute, but keep them loosely informed of any bigger journey. If you plan to go completely offline for a few days, like during a trek in the Himalayas in Nepal, notify your emergency contact that you won’t be checking in until a certain point in time.

8) Get over your shyness

Learn how to speak to strangers. Meeting other travellers and locals often enough starts with a smile and just a few words. Be curious and ask questions to initiate a conversation. What’s their name and where are they from? Ask where they travelled before and what’s the next stop. Since most travellers share similar travel routes and itineraries, this makes for great talking points.

One of the most convenient ways to meet people is to join activities like cooking classes, guided tours, pub crawls, yoga classes…

9) Trust your instinct

Whatever happens, stay sharp and alert. If you have a bad feeling, trust your gut; take the next cab, look for another hostel or double back if you need to. If in doubt, listen to that inner voice and avoid any unnecessary risk. You don’t have to rationalize that feeling, you’re free to change your mind at any time when you’re travelling solo. Follow your intuition to make smarter decisions and don’t ignore the red flags.

Apply those simple safety guidelines: don’t walk alone at night, avoid alleys, ask your hostel about safer neighborhoods and if needed, join other travellers to go out for food or drinks.

10) Travel Insurance will give you peace of mind

Mishaps and misadventures can make the best stories provided that you’re adequately insured. In the event that you need to consult a doctor while you’re abroad or you need to deal with having your passport stolen, you want to make sure that you picked the right travel insurance. In a state of panic, you want to be able to quickly reach your insurance broker. Choose a recognized and reliable insurance company like Escapade Travel Insurance which offers more than 30 travel insurance solutions to suit your needs regardless of the type of travel or your health profile. Travelling doesn’t have to be stressful, you simply have to be prepared.

After all, the hardest part of travelling alone is making that initial decision to leave. Now more than ever, there are thousands of people travelling on their own. Travelling solo will open you up to new experiences, it will allow you to reconnect with yourself and it will bless you with unforgettable meetings. What are you waiting for?

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Everything You Need to Know When Planning a Road Trip

28 May 2018

Have you ever dreamt of driving down Route 66 with the windows down and the music pumping from your car speakers? Road trips are a statement for freedom and getting lost, only to discover beauty in hidden corners of the world, which are otherwise not accessible. You probably have fond memories of driving with your parents for the summer holidays, playing games to make the journey more bearable or memories of getting your first car to go on your first big road trip for a weekend getaway with friends.

Nowadays, there is a large movement called Vanlife. People transforming old campervans or school buses, so they can live independently on the road. This type of trip might not be suited for everyone but there is something very rewarding about waking up in a different location every morning in your house on wheels.

Regardless of the means of transportation you pick, there are general guidelines to follow when planning a road trip. Here are a few tips to make your next adventure even more memorable.

Plan a rough itinerary

Without necessarily knowing exactly where you will stop and when, it’s a good idea to get a general sense of your final destination and end date. The time available for the trip will greatly influence the route you choose. Be aware of weather conditions if you plan to travel in winter for instance. If you are not equipped for that type of weather, you might want to avoid mountainous regions that can still have snowy roads. While it might be hard to visit every single sight, or take part in all the activities offered on the way, try to pick a few that are non-negotiable and try to navigate an itinerary around them.

Go Old School And Get a Paper Map

The majority of people will either use Google Maps or Maps.me (for offline access to maps) on their mobile devices or use a GPS navigation system. However, what happens when the phone runs out of battery or your beloved GPS runs into a no connection zone? This is when you will be happy to have your foldable map. For a little twist on your adventure, get a road atlas which can be very practical when wanting to go off-the-beaten-path. You can contact your Automobile Association (like CAA in Canada) for personalized road trip itineraries and route maps. On that note, it’s advisable to get a membership in case you ever need roadside assistance. To stay on the safe side, don’t forget to get a travel insurance if you decide to travel outside your home province or even abroad.

Get a Complete Car Tune Up

Before you hit the road, if you plan to use your own vehicle, make sure to visit your mechanic to have a full check up on your car. Once there, you can ask for a quick training to get the basic know-how of your car. Learn which fluids to stock up on and how to check/refill them, how to replace a tire or windshield wiper, which actions to take when a light appears on the dashboard, how to check tire pressure, etc. This new knowledge will be invaluable on the road!

Decide On Your Sleeping Arrangement

There are so many options available when travelling by car. If you’re mostly into plush and fancy, this might require a bit more research as not all roadside accommodation options will be 5-star worthy. From cozy Bed and Breakfasts or shady motels to naturesque camping spots, the choice is yours! Better yet, why not opt for the comfort of your own vehicle? Of course, if you are rolling in your own campervan, no worries at all! Keep in mind that your only challenge will be to find a quiet place where you are allowed to spend the night. Just imagine getting woken in the middle of the night by an officer ready to send you back on the road. Since showers will become a luxury, consider getting a gym membership with multiple locations where you can use their facilities to freshen up. Another option would be to use rest areas with public showers.

Pack Up the Essentials

As with any trip, the less you pack the better! You might be tempted to stuff your car to the roof, but just remember to keep it light. There are items that you should absolutely pack:
• First aid kit for minor injuries
• Basic tools like jumping cables (if you don’t have them already)
• Camping materials (if you don’t plan to stay in hotels and want to cook by yourself)
• Enough water and snacks for the whole trip
• Rope (in case your car gets stuck or to use as a clothing line)
If you have a smartphone, there are many interesting apps that you can get like Roadtrippers, Hidden Place, GasBuddy and many more.

Last but not least, a road trip is not complete without the perfect playlist: Pick your favorite songs to set the right mood, roll your windows down and unleash your inner Sheryl Crow while singing “Everyday Is a Winding Road”.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

7 things to plan before you travel

28 May 2018

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 numbers

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

Using Your Credit Card Abroad: Everything You Need to Know

22 April 2018

Gone are the days of using traveller’s checks while visiting a new country. Nowadays, we avoid the hassle of converting foreign currencies by using mostly plastic money. Although there are still a few remote places around the world where you will need cash, you should be able to get around by using credit cards while travelling.
Here are a few things you should know before travelling with a credit card.

1- Travel Insurance

Most people believe that it’s unnecessary to get a comprehensive travel insurance because they are protected by their credit card company. While this is true in some cases and for a limited number of days, it is advisable to contact your travel insurance agent to make sure that you have full coverage for your entire trip. As any purchase made with your credit card, flights and hotel reservations might be protected with your card in case of trip cancellation. Get all the information from your issuing bank before your departure to avoid any surprises during your trip.

2- Bank Fees

It’s worth shopping around for a bank that has no withdrawal fees when using foreign ATMs. Those fees can add up quickly when both banks charge you. It’s important to note that ATMs located in airports and in central tourist hubs have higher transaction fees. If possible, stay away from those. When using your credit card abroad, your bank will automatically charge you its own exchange rate, which is not always the most competitive. Also, while in some countries it’s illegal to do so, a lot of places will charge you an extra percentage for paying with your credit card instead of paying cash. It’s normally around 3-5%, so make the extra effort of calculating, if withdrawing money or using your card makes more sense. Lastly, be aware that doing a cash advance at an ATM with your credit card might incur extra interest fees.

3- Credit Card Fraud

Always give your bank a call before your departure to inform them of your expected whereabouts. This little step will ensure that your card doesn’t get blocked because of suspected fraudulent activity. On that subject, be extra vigilant with credit card fraud when using an ATM machine or a card machine in a shop. While entering your PIN, always hide it with your other hand and keep an eye on your card at all times. If you think that you are a victim of fraud, have your bank’s hotline number accessible to quickly cancel your card. As an extra protection, consider having two different cards from two different issuing banks in case of theft, loss or fraud. Some cards like AMEX are not accepted everywhere so it’s good to have another card that you can use in those instances. If all else fails, carry a small amount of cash, preferably USD, as a backup payment method.

4- Pre-Departure Checklist

While you get ready to leave for your trip, check the expiry date of your credit card, especially when travelling long term. Having a card shipped across the world can be quite the hassle. For all your important documents, including your credit card, keep a paper copy and an electronic copy on your computer or cloud. Leave a copy of all these important documents with a trusted person back home. If possible, increase your credit card limit before leaving in case of emergency. Remember that just because you have more money available, it doesn’t mean that you should use it all. Having that extra protection will give you peace of mind if ever you need to purchase a last minute flight ticket for instance.

5- Safety

As with any other valuable, keep your credit card safe while traveling by always having it on your person, either in a money belt or in your daypack. You should also consider getting a RFID blocking wallet to protect your personal data. Leave your card in the safe of your hotel when you know you won’t be needing it during the day. If possible, do not bring it with you on a night out where it can be easily lost or forgotten. One last piece of advice, before leaving an ATM machine or a shop, make sure you take your card back.
Using a credit card while traveling is probably considered the most convenient method to pay for stuff and make reservations online. Keep these tips in mind the next time you go on a trip for safe travels, but don’t forget to have fun while discovering a new destination.

Article by Nomad Junkies team