15 Things You Should Know Before Travelling the World

12 July 2018

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

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

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

1. Take Your Time!

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

2. Don’t Bring Too Much Stuff

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

3. Be Smart With Your Money

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

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

4. Purchase Travel Insurance

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

5. Keep Your Belongings Safe

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

6. Stay Healthy

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

7. You Might/Will Get Sick

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

8. Be Flexible Learn to Adapt to Your New Environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle/Negotiate

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

12. Keep a Journal and Take Pictures

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

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

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

14. Don’t Underestimate Visa Requirements

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

15. Trust Yourself and Just Go for It

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

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Understanding the Schengen Zone When Travelling to Europe

12 July 2018

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

What is the Schengen area?

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

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

What countries are part of the Schengen area?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the limitations in terms of length of stay?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Travel Risks and Misconceptions

12 July 2018

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

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

“I won’t feel safe”

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

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

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

“I could get sick”

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

“I might get lost”

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

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

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

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

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Using Your Credit Card Abroad: Everything You Need to Know

22 April 2018

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

1- Travel Insurance

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

2- Bank Fees

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

3- Credit Card Fraud

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

4- Pre-Departure Checklist

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

5- Safety

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

Article by Nomad Junkies team

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

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