The key to stress-free international travel is being prepared. Whether it's for an overnight trip or a months-long sojourn, this handy pre-trip checklist will help you when planning a trip so you can travel with confidence.
Practice Due Diligence
Make sure you're carrying an up-to-date passport since some countries require a minimum expiry date of six months from the date of your expected return to Canada. Check if your targeted destination requires a travel visa, which should be secured well in advance.
If you need to drive or rent a car, check if an international driving permit is necessary.
Besides researching the must-sees and must-dos of your travel destination, it's also important to familiarize yourself with the local customs and regulations. Take note of what isn’t acceptable for attire. For example, avoid wearing camouflage-style clothing on many Caribbean islands. Be aware of forbidden words or offensive gestures.
Ensure Travel Security
Check for any travel advisories online, before going abroad. Besides information on safety and entry and exit requirements, you'll find important information on local laws and culture, as well as any recommended vaccinations. If you have a dual citizenship, check if it will be an issue in the host country. Take down the contact information for Canadian embassies and consulates in the event of an emergency abroad.
Make copies of your passport identification page, travel visa, travel insurance policy and itinerary (including tickets and reservation numbers). Keep one copy stored in a different part of your luggage should you lose the originals, but also leave a set with family or friends. If your party includes children, bring documents that support your role as parent or guardian.
Sign up for travel health insurance that covers the entire length of your stay. If you have health care needs, make sure you bring your medical supplies and that any prescriptions are in their packaging. Carry photocopies of your prescriptions, noting the generic drug name should you need a refill abroad, plus bring any documents supporting your need of them.
Away for a long period of time? Take care of your home by stopping newspaper delivery; having the post office hold your mail; arrange for the care of your pets, plants and lawn; empty the refrigerator of foods that would spoil while you're away. Be sure to also turn off your washing machine taps; lock all doors and windows; and leave a spare key and your itinerary with someone you trust.
Cash or credit? Have a rough estimate of the local currency needed for basics like public transportation, street food or departure tax. Choose to bring along a credit card, such as the no-annual-fee President's Choice Financial Mastercard®, which lets you earn PC Optimum points* with every dollar spent, as well as bonus points with a PC Travel services purchase1. Whichever card(s) you carry, remember to set up a travel alert with the issuer to avoid any interruption of service due to out-of-country activity.
Follow a Packing List
If you know your general itinerary, pack appropriately. Besides the essentials (consider quick-drying travel undergarments and socks), your international travel checklist should prioritize versatility when it comes to clothing, choosing pieces that permit mixing-and-matching or layering versus strictly unique outfits. Packing cubes are great compression-type zippered organizers that can maximize space by reducing the volume of items like sweaters or jackets.
If you need corrective lenses, consider bringing an extra pair of eyeglasses in addition to your supply of contact lenses or the pair you're wearing.
Remember to pack the correct chargers and a universal travel adapter/converter, if necessary, for your electronics. Download language, map or direction apps in advance. Bring extra camera memory cards, extra batteries and a portable charger for long days out.
Make sure your carry-on toiletry bag is compliant to take on your flight. For example, remember, all liquids must be in 100ml or smaller containers and fit within a 1-litre clear zip-top bag. Double check with your airline prior to packing. Bring sunscreen or mosquito repellant if skin protection is needed.
Ensure your luggage dimensions and weight are within your carrier's limits since each airline has its own restrictions. This will help to ensure you avoid racking up any additional costs associated with paying extra for heavier luggage.
Finally, always carry a pen when flying internationally to fill out any customs and immigration forms.
Pro tip: As much as it's nice to go hands-free on a flight, take a carry-on or an overnight bag with at least one set of clothes, some essential toiletries and any medication. Besides saving on time spent at baggage claim, checked bags typically do not have fees and guarantee that you won't have a lost bag, it promises that you'll have some items to use on your vacation while you wait for the arrival of any delayed luggage.