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!

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?

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”.

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?

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.

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

Snowbird insurance is never frozen in time

26 December 2017

Whether or not to take out medical insurance when you are a retired traveler is a question that is becoming less of an issue in 2018. Travel insurance is perceived as must-have protection for any Snowbird traveler, whether they are traveling for a short or a long time. Irrespective of the destination, be it Florida, Arizona, or Mexico, the reality of health costs abroad is a serious consideration. Bad experiences shared between Snowbirds or dramatic situations that have made the headlines, they are recurrent problems. Canadian retirees now better understand the financial risks of hospitalization in the United States or elsewhere.

Every year, many Snowbirds think about their next trip, either in the initial phase of budget planning or as a last-minute decision. The choice of travel insurance invariably arises.

Fewer retired travelers now perceive travel insurance as a useless expense. The most refractory still argue the following reasons for not taking out travel insurance:
– They only predict a short stay;
– They are in good health;
– They do not think they will have new complications to a pre-existing state of health;
– They will not participate in risky activities;
– The insurance premium is too high, and they prefer to take the risk.

The reality of travel can quickly catch up with such travelers. A traffic accident, a fall, food poisoning, or the unforeseen occurrence of a health problem, are all events that are covered by travel insurance.

Conversely, a traveler with insurance will be ensured of having medical coverage in good standing for the duration of their stay abroad. However, meeting the eligibility criteria and accurately completing the medical questionnaire and without omission, is not a guarantee of absolute protection.

Snowbird travel insurance should reflect the state of health at all times

When establishing the travel insurance policy, it does not constitute a fixed protection in time. A travel insurance policy must reflect the pre-existing medical conditions as well as any medical conditions known on the effective date. The date upon which the policy is taken out could be several weeks or even several months before the travel insurance cover starts.

The answers to the medical questionnaire formulated on the subscription date will not always remain the same if the medical questionnaire was requested again on the effective date of the insurance. Indeed, any change in the state of health between these two dates potentially modifies the answers to the health questionnaire.

It is the insured traveler’s responsibility to contact their broker or insurance representative to inform them of any change in their state of health between the date of subscription and that of their departure on vacation. Whether it’s a medication discontinuation, a change in dosage, an emergency room consultation, or new symptoms diagnosed, it is imperative to make sure that the traveler remains eligible for the insurance cover. Some changes will have no impact. Others may cause an increased insurance premium due to the change in the period of stability for a particular medical condition. Failure to comply with this requirement could result anything directly or indirectly related to this medical condition being excluded from the insurance cover.

If a claim is made on the policy during the stay abroad, the insurer will consult the Canadian medical record of the insured. It will have consequences even if the nature of the health costs incurred is unrelated to the undeclared change in health status that occurred prior to departure. The consequences could be that the insurer will not non-reimburse the cost medical treatment incurred.

Incidence during a trip covered by two separate insurance companies

When a Snowbird opts for coverage consisting of an annual insurance and a single-trip insurance policy, each underwritten by a different insurer, a point of vigilance requires attention.

When the second insurance policy becomes effective, all medical events or changes in the state of health occurring during the period of cover provided by the first insurer is counted for the second insurer. It is, therefore, imperative to contact your broker or insurance representative during your trip. The second insurer must be told what happened during the first insurance period. Otherwise, the risk of exclusion from insurance benefits is possible.

Travel insurance never covers all situations

After making all the arrangements so that the travel insurance accurately reflects their medical history, the Snowbird traveler must keep in mind certain clauses of their insurance policy. Most travel insurance for Snowbirds establishes a list of exclusions. Some situations ensure that a claim will not be honored such as:
– Failure to submit a police report, or proof of purchase in case of theft or loss of material property;
– Any accident caused by intoxication;
– The visit to a country that is deemed to be a high-risk destination;
– Participating in some extreme sports;
– Etc.

Each traveler must take the time to read all exclusions from its contract. They can discuss these provisions with their insurance broker to understand the scope and implications depending on their destination, or the activities planned during their trip.

The retired Snowbird is invited to carefully read their certificate of insurance and the insurance policy. Understanding all the terms and conditions protects them from misunderstanding their medical protection. They must be proactive at the slightest change concerning their medical file. Their insurance broker is there to adjust the travel insurance to maintain eligibility and the highest level of medical coverage.

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

5 Things to Consider Before Moving Abroad

28 November 2017

Travelling to a destination and making the commitment to move your entire life there are two completely different things! When visiting a new country as a tourist, you only get to scratch the surface of what the place has to offer. You might spend your time exploring landmarks, doing some sightseeing of popular tourist attractions and eating at top-rated restaurants.

Alternatively, moving abroad, whether for work, for school, for fun or even for love, gives you the opportunity to truly absorb the essence of a destination and fully integrate as a local citizen. It’s a chance to reinvent yourself with all the challenges and rewards that come with it.

Perhaps you might have this romanticized fantasy of living in a foreign country, perpetuated by countless movies and books, where you’re sipping a coffee in Paris, joining an Ashram in India or surfing barrels in Australia. However, the reality is that moving abroad requires a large amount of planning, preparation and organization.

Here are five things you need to consider prior to making your big move:

1. VISA

First, you will need to research the visa requirements. Establish how you will spend your time in your new host country to evaluate the type of visa necessary. For instance, Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35 have the possibility to legally work abroad with a Working Holiday visa thanks to Canada’s reciprocity agreements with many countries. Check International Experience Canada for more details on how to apply.

However, if volunteering is what you have in mind, you could be subjected to the same immigration laws than someone working for an actual wage. In that respect, allow sufficient time before your departure to research those specific visa conditions.

Since not all countries operate with an equal level of efficiency; plan this step ahead of time. Applying for a visa can quickly become an administrative nightmare especially when having to deal with foreign bureaucracy. Remember to use patience and understanding during that process. This essential step should go hand-in-hand with subscribing to a travel insurance plan. Call your travel insurance agent to find the best solution for your upcoming expatriation.

2. HOUSING

Begin your search for housing solutions before you arrive to help reduce the stress associated with this step. Allow yourself to get your bearings by staying at a hotel/guesthouse for the first few days while you explore the different neighborhoods.

If your belongings are not following you on this journey, look into serviced apartments or shared accommodation which are already furnished. This minimizes the commitment while enjoying all the amenities of a full home setting. Search for local Facebook groups to help you in this process using keywords such as “Take Over my Lease”, “short-term rentals” or “roommates wanted”. Forums for expats and classified ads in the local newspaper are also a great starting point for finding your new home away from home.

It is likely that you will have to provide one or two months worth of rent as a security deposit, so keep this in mind when budget planning. You should also put aside a small “setting up” fund to cover expenses such as bedding, bathroom supplies and kitchen utensils. Regarding utilities, you should inquire beforehand if electricity, water and Internet are included or if you need to set it up on your own.

3. SAFETY

You can only call a place home once you feel safe and sound there. There are many factors to evaluate the safety of a destination. Check the political climate as an indicator of potential political unrest in the country. You can easily find this information on your government’s foreign affairs website.

Other aspects to consider are the weather and the likeliness of natural disasters. Some regions of the world are more at risk for monsoons, floods, hurricanes, volcano eruptions, earthquakes, etc. These events being so unpredictable, you must ensure that you have a valid travel insurance which will cover you in the case of such a catastrophe.

Finally, familiarize yourself with basic local safety precautions. Inquire about less safe neighborhoods and practise the same level of safety as you do at home. Avoid walking alone at night, don’t expose your valuables in public and use your common sense for any other situation. Pick a destination where you know you will feel comfortable and at ease as moving abroad would be quite unfulfilling if you had to spend all your time locked inside your house.

4. COSTS

It can be challenging to establish the perfect budget for living abroad. As a rule of thumb, you want to have, based on your destination, at least $6000 saved up as an emergency fund. This will help cover your needs until you are settled in and money starts coming in again.

Depending on your chosen accommodation option, relocating to a new country involves moving costs. Since airlines will charge substantial fees for any overweight luggage, consider having non-urgent items shipped to you by freight or boat.

Websites like Numbeo can help you evaluate the cost of living by comparing the prices of different destinations. It also provides indicators such as housing, health care, traffic, crime and pollution.

5. SETTLING IN

Moving to a foreign country requires flexibility to adapt to this new life you are creating for yourself. Things will be different and it might be challenging at times, especially if you are faced with a language barrier. You might feel lonely, isolated and find it harder to make friends. Those are all normal feelings experienced by the majority of new immigrants and expats. There are ways to make the transition of moving abroad smoother and minimize the culture shock.

A few months before your departure, you could attend a language school. Just by acquiring a basic proficiency, you will be able to navigate your way around more easily. Once there, you could also register for language classes offered to new immigrants. Not only will you connect with people dealing with the same struggles as you, it will give you the confidence to interact with locals in their mother tongue.

Another way to meet people and make new friends is to volunteer for an organization which mission you endorse. More options include inviting colleagues for drinks or coffee outside of work, signing up for a workout class at your local gym, attending meetups or couchsurfing gatherings or joining an Expat support group on Facebook. The possibilities are endless as long as you keep an open mind. On top of raising your general happiness level, creating a strong social network will help to settle down in a new country.

If living abroad is something you wish to experience at least once in your life, gather your strength and courage and make the move: book that flight, apply for that visa and find the perfect travel insurance plan for your needs. Don’t let small roadblocks intimidate you, instead imagine this exciting new life spent discovering and embracing a new foreign culture. Remember that if all else fails, home is not as far as you think it is.

Article by Nomad Junkies team