It’s a painful sight no one wants to witness at the airport: watching everybody board the plane as one person is left behind on the wrong side of the gate.
For university student Ian Poulin, a sneaky restriction left him grounded after airport officials informed him his passport needed to be valid for three months in order to fly to his destination. The delay meant forfeiting his $900 ticket and buying a second one once his passport issues were sorted a few days later.
Several countries, such as Germany, The Netherlands, and France, require passports to be valid for three months after time of entry, while other countries, including Singapore, China and Brazil, insist passports be valid up to six months. Although government and travel agencies provide information on what’s required for travel, few actually consult these resources prior to booking, which can occasionally result in travel turmoil.
Overlooking small travel details can often be a costly mistake, resulting in departure delays or hefty fees. Before packing your bags and getting ready to go, here are 10 things to double-check before heading off to the airport:
1. Be aware of travel advisories
Political unrest, nuclear fallout, and disaster zones exist, and we typically want to avoid these while on vacation. Check with the Government of Canada’s advisory list to see which countries are unsafe for travel and or require special caution while visiting.
2. Check the weather conditions
You’re not going to want to spend a beach vacation inside taking shelter from a tropical storm, so find out what typical weather conditions you can expect when you’re planning on being away from home.
3. Make sure you’re immunized
Fortunately, Canada does not have to contend with diseases such as dengue, typhoid or yellow fever. However, your destination might not be as lucky. Visit a travel clinic to inquire about which vaccinations or preventative drugs you should receive prior to travelling. Vaccinations can often require several injections or need to administered several weeks before they become effective, so be sure to leave enough time before you depart to ensure you’re protected properly.
4. Pay for travel insurance
Whether you’re headed across the border or around the world, traveller’s insurance is an absolute must. Think of it as a small fee for peace of mind, knowing that you’ll receive the care you need should a medical emergency unexpectedly arise.
5. Understand the terms of entry
Just because you show up at a country’s doorstep doesn’t mean they have to let you in. Understand the terms under which a country will admit you, particularly around visa requirements. Although many countries will allow Canadians to apply and pay for a visa upon arrival (if required at all), numerous countries require an application be submitted in the traveller’s home country ahead of time. Additionally, double check how long your term of entry is valid for. Countries such as Thailand allow visitors to stay for two weeks if entering by a land crossing, or 30 days if flying in.
6. Money makes the world go ’round
Although carrying large amounts of cash while travelling in not advised, make sure to have some currency with you when you first arrive at your destination. If you’re planning on using a credit card or debit card, check with your bank ahead of time to ensure they will be compatible wherever you’re travelling. Tip: Check if your card has the Plus symbol on the back.
7. You can’t take that with you
By now you’ve likely heard it time and time again: you can’t take that with you! This doesn’t just apply to liquids over 100 millilitres; the ice pick you happened to pack or the hazardous materials that are no-brainers to leave at home. Countries restrict a multitude of items from entering their borders. Counterfeit goods, local food and products made from endangered species are examples of items you’ll likely have to surrender to the fine folks at immigration, followed by hefty fines to ensure you don’t do it again.
Not all voltage is created equally, which unfortunately may lead to a smartphone shorting out, a hair straightener sizzling or a device dramatically dying. Check which voltage is available and what plug you will require at your destination. Canadians can use their electronics without fear in the United States and in the Caribbean, but take note when travelling outside of North America.
9. Those pesky roaming fees
Although checking e-mail, Facebook or Instagram is a habit for many, it might cost you big bucks while on vacation. Be sure to turn off data roaming before leaving the country and rely on checking your social network using WiFi when it’s available, or by purchasing a travel plan.
10. Beware of the language barrier
If you plan on landing and making a beeline to your hotel, speed up the process by making sure you have its address and phone number information written out in the local language. Many travellers assume that locals will speak English, which can lead to confusion and frustration when trying to explain where exactly you need to go. Additionally, before jumping in a cab, be sure to agree on what the fare will be to get you there. You may also want to bring a pocket calculator to help you haggle if you’re not speaking a common language.