Tropical Diseases: What You Need to Know About Dengue

4 December 2017

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

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

What Is Dengue?

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

Where is Dengue Endemic?

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

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

How to Prevent Dengue?

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

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

Recognizing the Symptoms of Dengue?

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

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

How to Treat Dengue?

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

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

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

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

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

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Travel Insurance

12 September 2017

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

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

Here are the Most Common Questions Regarding Travel Insurance:

Is Travel Insurance Mandatory?

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

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

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

What Types of Travel Insurance Are There?

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

What Is Not Covered by Travel Insurance?

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

Am I Already Covered by My Credit Card Company?

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

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

When Should I Subscribe to a Travel Insurance?

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

How Much Does It Cost?

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

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

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

Avoid getting sick while traveling

27 August 2017

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

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

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

1- FOOD

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

2. WATER

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

3. BASIC FIRST AID

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

4- MOSQUITOS

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

5. TEMPERATURE

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

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

Article by Nomad Junkies team

8 Things You Shouldn’t Do While Travelling

14 July 2017

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

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

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

2. Be Disrespectful to Your Host Country and Their Customs

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

3. Leave Without Getting a Proper Travel Insurance

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

4. Do Anything You Wouldn’t Do at Home

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

5. Be Unaware of Your Body Language

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

6. Take Pictures of People Without Their Permission

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel Budget Planning Like a Pro

14 June 2017

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

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

What You Need to Consider Before You Start Planning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Smartphone or Camera? What to Bring While Travelling?

20 February 2017

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

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

Factors to Consider Before Taking a Decision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Trekking: 7 key questions to prepare for your adventure

1 February 2017

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

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

1. What are my motives?

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

2. What are my skills?

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

3. What will the weather be?

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

4. How long will my adventure be?

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

5. What is my budget?

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

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

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

6. What kind of equipment will I bring?

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

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

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

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

7. Am I covered?

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

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

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Demystifying the concept of medical conditions

24 January 2017

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

What is a condition of medical eligibility?

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

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

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

What are the medical conditions subject to exclusion or restriction?

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

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

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

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

What if one of these conditions affects them?

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

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

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

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

What medical information should I know before contacting my broker?

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

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

– Why you take them (it controls what);

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

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

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

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

7 things to plan before you travel

22 December 2016

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

1. Obtain an international driving license

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

2. Join the list of Canadians Abroad

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

3. Subscribe to travel insurance

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

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

4. Choosing the right equipment

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

5. List of your possessions

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

6. Note the addresses and important phone number

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

7. Check the expiration date of your passport

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

Article by Nomad Junkies team

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What to do in case of theft while traveling?

16 December 2016

You are on a trip to Bali with friends to start surfing, sunbathe on paradisiacal beaches and immerse yourself in the Indonesian culture. Returning to your hostel, you realize that the locker in your room, where you left your wallet, your laptop and your camera, was vandalized… The padlock was cut. Your valuables are gone!

How do you react? Where do you start in order to get your stolen items refunded? To avoid panicking unnecessarily, here’s what you need to do step-by-step in the event of a theft:

Procedure in case of theft

1. Stay calm. It is useless to let stress take over. While these are items that have significant monetary or sentimental value, you have to keep your calm and focus on the positive. After all, your life is not in danger, and you did well to have subscribed to a travel insurance.
2. Check that it is theft. Sometimes you move your items from your suitcase to your day bag and you simply forget that you moved them. Before crying wolf, you must take the time to check out what is missing. You can also ask your friends who share your room or your neighbors of the same hostel to check if they were also robbed.
3. Make an inventory of what was stolen. Write a list of items that disappeared while your memory is still fresh. Add as much detail as possible in writing, such as the age and model, in the case of electronic devices.
4. Inform the management of the hostel. Go to the reception of your accommodation and ask to speak to the manager. Explain the situation calmly.
5. Call your insurance agent. Your agent will ask you for more information and it will send you a claim form to complete.
6. Get a police report. You must go into a police station and obtain an official report summarizing the theft. This is a key document for a refund of the missing items. If this is totally impossible, check with your insurance agent for insurance covering the loss of objects.
7. Send the police report to your insurance agent. Once you get the famous police report, you send it immediately to your insurance agent. You can email it by scanning the document, or by fax or mail.
8. Get your refund check. Once the documents are approved by the insurer you will receive a refund check according to the conditions of your travel insurance contract.

Experienced traveler tips:

● Take a picture of your passport, your travel documents and your valuable items in addition to noting the serial numbers of your electronic devices before going on a trip and send the to yourself by email. In case of theft, it will simplify your claim process. Click, click!
● If your passport is stolen, you must immediately inform the nearest passport issuing office. It is possible to get an emergency travel document or a temporary passport in case of urgent need. More information on the Government of Canada’s website.
● If you had your credit card stolen, you must quickly inform the company that issued the card. Your card must be canceled as soon as possible. Your credit card company will guide you in the process of obtaining a new card at home or while traveling.

It is not the end of the world to have items stolen while traveling, but it is certainly not pleasant. You should just know what to do and keep cool. After all, you should congratulate yourself for taking out travel insurance before you went! Well done!

Article by Nomad Junkies team

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