Travelling is a rich and rewarding experience but it requires preparation—a whole lot of it! Whether you’re travelling for leisure, work, as a volunteer, or something else, the health and safety of you and your loved ones should be the number one priority. Here are 10 health and safety tips to tick off before embarking on your next adventure abroad:
Tip #1: Use the free Registration of Canadians Abroad service provided by the Government of Canada.
If an emergency or crisis occurs in the country you’re travelling to, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, government officials will alert you with important instructions, updates and information regarding the emergency. This is a free service provided to Canadian citizens. It’s quick and easy to register online.
Tip #2: Be aware that some vaccinations and medications require weeks to take effect.
First, it’s extremely important to know which vaccines and medications should be considered for the country you’re travelling to. From traveller’s diarrhea and waterborne illnesses to deadly diseases such as rabies and typhoid fever, the health risks you’re exposed to while travelling can vary from country to country. In some cases, you are required to provide proof of yellow fever vaccination for travel to and from certain countries.
It’s also very important to book your travel health appointment in advance. Some vaccinations and medications require time to take effect (days or even weeks), and sometimes you will need to schedule multiple follow-up visits to receive booster shots for maximum protection.
If you’re planning a trip, book an appointment with your Passport Health Travel Medicine Specialist in order to take the necessary health and safety precautions.
Tip #3: Make multiple photocopies of your passport pages and have important information handy.
If you lose your passport while travelling and need to visit the Canadian embassy, it will be very helpful if you can present them with a photocopy of your passport.
Carry photocopies of your passport with you in different places (i.e., handbag, suitcase, wallet, etc.). Ask a trusted friend or family member to keep a copy with them too. In addition, it is strongly recommended that you share a detailed itinerary and contact information with someone who is not travelling with you.
As a safety measure, memorize the following information, if possible:
- Your passport number
- The country’s emergency phone number
- The contact information for the Canadian government office(s) abroad
- The phone numbers of your emergency contacts who are not travelling with you
- The phone number of your travel insurance provider and your member number
- Your credit card details
Tip #4: Ensure you have a four-digit credit and debit card PIN
Travellers are often surprised when they discover that some countries’ ATM machines are restricted to a four-digit Personal Identification Number, or PIN. If your card’s PIN is longer than four-digits, you could face complications when attempting to withdraw money during your trip. Before travelling, ensure you update your credit and debit card PIN and call your providers to notify them of your travel plans.
Tip #5: Do not assume your current insurance plan provides you with travel insurance.
Before booking your ticket, consult with your insurance provider to gain a good understanding of exactly what is covered in case of an emergency during travel and if there are restrictions. Do not gamble with your life—ensure you have appropriate coverage prior to travelling.
Tip #6: Apply for required travel documentation in advance.
If your passport date is near expiry, you may be rejected from entry into another country—even if it hasn’t expired yet. It can take up to 20 business days to renew your passport depending on the method you choose. Express and urgent services are available at some locations but may cost you extra fees.
In addition, ensure you apply for any required country visas in advance. Any delays in the processing of your visa can cost you your trip. When applying for visas online, be wary of visa scams and ensure you are visiting a reputable website.
Tip #7: Don’t rely on suitcase tags.
At best, losing your suitcase can be a minor inconvenience. At worst, it can be a major setback. Print two separate pages with your contact information, home address, hotel address and hotel phone number. Place one inside your suitcase where it’s easy to spot, and one in the outer pocket. In the event your tags get ripped off, airport staff will have a chance at returning your luggage to you.
Carry essentials and a change of clothing in your carry-on, and never pack any valuables in your suitcase.
Tip #8: Book transportation in advance when possible.
If you plan to travel far distances within your destination country, consider booking bus and train rides (especially overnight ones), and domestic flights in advance. Depending on where you’re travelling and the time of year, these can fill up days or weeks in advance. Do not risk being stranded in an unfamiliar area.
Tip #9: Research, research, research!
Corruption and kidnapping may be common fears but it’s petty crimes such as pickpocketing and overcharging that are more likely to dampen your trip. Do your due diligence and thoroughly research your destination. Here are some suggestions:
- Familiarize yourself with the country’s local currency. Know the average cost of everyday items and always ask for the price before you commit to making a purchase.
- Is theft a common crime? Pack a handbag with straps that cannot be cut easily and consider bringing a waist security pouch so you can carry your passport and emergency money undetected beneath your clothes. If smartphones are not a common luxury, be very careful when using yours in public.
- Get to know the country’s law. Minor offenses in Canada can be punishable by imprisonment or even death in other countries.
Tip #10: Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and insect repellent.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there is evidence to suggest that Zika virus is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitos. If travelling to countries affected by Zika, strict mosquito bite prevention measures should be followed.
We recommend using insect repellent that contains the active ingredient DEET. Trusted brands are available at your nearest Passport Health clinic.
Are you planning your next trip?
Schedule an appointment at your local Passport Health clinic so you can take the necessary health and safety precautions, and receive customized travel advice. Our Travel Health Medicine Specialists will provide you with the help you need to stay safe on your journey. Book your appointment today.
"10 Health and Safety Tips to Tick off Before Travelling Abroad is republished with permission of Passport Health."
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