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In 2015, Canadian travellers made more than 29 million trips to international destinations. So to ensure the fullest enjoyment of your time abroad, here's how to be prepared for all eventualities.
Enroll in the Registration of Canadians Abroad program. This free service allows the Canadian government to contact and assist you if you have an emergency abroad or a personal emergency at home. Also check out the mobile app where you can ask questions and share your experiences.
Assess the risks. This will depend on where you’re planning to go and on current events — travel risks can change overnight. You’ll want to avoid political protests and demonstrations, so check to see if an election is up-coming or if there’s been major political unrest in the area. And consult with a travel doctor before you go to avoid diseases like malaria or dengue. The Government of Canada provides up-to-date travel advisories for all countries.
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Let others know your itinerary. Email a copy of your itinerary to family and friends at home. Check in regularly to let them know you’re safe. And let your bank and credit card company know when and where you’ll be travelling so your account doesn’t get frozen. Also, the Canadian government advises you should have a return ticket ready.
Get traveller’s insurance. Look for an international traveller insurance package that includes health, medical, and evacuation coverage. If you’re seriously injured or ill, you’ll want to know you can get back home quickly and safely.
Copy important documents. If you lose your important documents, having an electronic copy will make it easier to replace them. Scan all documents (passport, ticket, insurance, driving permit, credit card, etc.) and send them to yourself using a web-based email account.
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Safeguard your data. Ensure your mobile devices are password protected; backup all data on your mobile devices in case you need to wipe them remotely. Don't get so absorbed in your phone that you're not paying attention. A thief can quickly grab a phone out of your hand and be gone in a crowd. If you use a public computer, be sure to delete your browsing history and cookies, and don’t forget to log off.
Be aware that the data you carry on your electronic devices can put your privacy and data security at risk. The information may also be grounds for you to be refused entry into a country. Consider carrying devices that are specifically for travel and not linked to your personal accounts and data.
Know the local money. Figure out the monetary conversion and where you can safely change money. Make sure your credit card and/or debit card will work in the country you’re visiting, and be prepared with more than one way to pay.
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Keep the address to your accommodation. Take a photo of your accommodation and its address to store in your phone, but also keep it written somewhere safe. Everyone in your group should carry the address.
Travelling with kids? Keep a recent photo of your kids on your phone for emergency identification. Each child should carry a photo of you and some form of identification. The Canadian government offers extensive tips for travelling with children.
Respect local customs and laws. Learn some basic phrases in the local language. Dress appropriately; standards of modesty vary widely, depending on where you travel. Learn about hand gestures. A ‘thumbs up’ may convey a very different message in Greece than it does in Canada. Displays of public affection may be frowned upon or even outlawed in some countries. A cultural or religious offence can turn into a legal nightmare. The Canadian government provides cultural insights into many countries—do your research before visiting a new country.
Eat, drink, and be cautious. The Centers for Disease Control provides great information for travellers about food and drinks. As for consuming alcohol and/or drugs, the Canadian government has some sound advice as well.
Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, leave immediately.
If you meet someone on the internet, verify their identity before agreeing to meet in person. If you do meet up with them in person, take a selfie with them and send it to your friends on Facebook. Let them know where you are and what your plans are.