Trip preparation: 9 things to do
Finally! You’re ready for a well-deserved vacation after a long hiatus.
There's so much to do before departure, especially given the health and safety measures imposed by COVID.
Here are 9 tips to make sure you don’t forget anything and leave worry-free.
1. What does your travel insurance cover?
COVID flipped travel and the travel insurance industry upside down.
More than ever, travel insurance is essential for coverage against :
- Emergency medical expenses abroad including those related to COVID
- Trip cancellation or interruption
Travel insurance coverage varies from one insurer to the next and from one credit card to the other. This is why you should always double-check what is and isn’t covered.
The essential proof of travel insurance
Did you know that some countries require proof of insurance coverage before allowing you in? This is true for Thailand and Cuba.
Upon arrival, you will have to show proof of emergency medical care coverage with a private insurance company. Failure to provide such a document may mean being unable to enter the country.
Before departing, ask your travel agent or go to the country’s official website to make sure.
Even if proof of insurance is not a requirement, pack it along with your insurance card. Both these documents will be very useful abroad, if only for the telephone number to call in the event of a problem.
How is your health?
Before departing, you must inform your insurer of any and all changes to your health, like :
- Symptoms (appearance, worsening, frequency)
- Illnesses (awaiting test results or official diagnosis)
- Prescription drugs (new, stoppage, change in dose)
- Scheduled operations and treatments
- Changes in health
Even if you feel like an Olympic athlete, your health must be stable prior to departure. Ask your insurer what their policy on the matter is.
2. When vaccination makes travelling easier
In Canada, vaccination against COVID is currently required to be able to board a plane, cruise ship or train, regardless of the destination. To gain access to these, you will have to satisfy the following conditions :
- Have received all recommended doses of a valid COVID vaccine
- Have received your last dose at least 14 days prior to departure.
- Wear a mask throughout your trip (except when eating, drinking or taking oral medication)
- Be COVID symptom-free
- Show a valid vaccination passport (without it, you will be denied access).
Be sure to check the vaccination requirements at your destination as well. Some countries will require a recent dose to be able to enter the country.
Proof of vaccination at your fingertips
Before departing, make sure your vaccination information is up to date in the app on your smartphone:
- Your full name
- The government or organization who administered the vaccine and who provided proof of vaccination
- The vaccine manufacturer or brand
- The date(s) on which the doses were administered
Print out a copy of your proof of vaccination and bring it with you. This will come in handy if you ever have a problem with your phone.
Once at the destination, proof of vaccination may be requested by local authorities when visiting tourist attractions or when entering public places like restaurants and bars.
If you are travelling outside Canada
You’ll need a Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination .
Here’s what it looks like:
Local authorities might require you to have your vaccination passport translated. Check before departing.
What if you haven’t been vaccinated against COVID?
You will be allowed to board a plan or train as long as you satisfy these two conditions :
- You must have a negative COVID screening test.
- You have an exemption from the carrier or a National Interest Exemption.
Canadian authorities will be very strict on fraud. Fines and sanctions will be imposed on those who falsify their proof of vaccination or test results.
One thing’s for sure, travelling abroad without being vaccinated is complicated, maybe even impossible.
3. Screening tests: mandatory or not?
When boarding a plane or train in Canada, you are no longer required to take a COVID screening test as long as you received all the recommended vaccines and doses. However, a negative result is a condition for entry in some countries (e.g. United States).
Therefore, one week before taking a plane, check whether or not you must take a screening test. If that is the case, schedule an appointment (at your expense) and present a negative test result at boarding.
Screening tests are mandatory to board all cruise ships. Check the requirements on the cruise operator’s website.
4. Learn about the measures at the destination
What are the health and safety measures in effect at your destination? Are curfews or self-isolation imposed? Are masks mandatory? Are certain establishments closed due to the restrictions?
You should be able to find the answers to these questions and more on the Government of Canada’s Travel and Tourism website. It has tons of useful information like :
- Local safety measures and countries to avoid
- Conditions for entering and leaving
- Local laws and customs
- Natural risks and climate
Consult this information before purchasing a trip in order to make a well-informed decision and before departing to see if any conditions have changed.
5. A new option: the ArriveCAN app
Before leaving, download the ArriveCAN application.
You will use it to provide mandatory travel information upon entry into Canada.
By the way, ArriveCAN online (FYI, not the mobile app and only at Vancouver International and Toronto Pearson) will let you answer customs questions. This can help limit your contact with people, which should help mitigate the spread of COVID at the airport.
6. What do you do with your medication?
Travelling with medication, whether prescribed or over the counter, can be complicated.
Medication that is authorized in Canada may be illegal elsewhere. How do you know? Contact a consular or foreign representative to check if you can bring yours with you.
Before departing, renew your prescriptions to make sure you have enough while away (get a few extra in case of delays getting back home). There are no limitations as to the prescription drugs and medical devices that can be taken on a plane.
Here’s what you have to keep in mind when packing your bags:
Leave your prescription drugs in their original bottle with the label.
Keep them in a separate bag. This will make it easier to present when going through security.
Bring a copy of your prescription. The trademarked or generic name of the prescription drug must be appear on it. This document will be useful in the event that your medication is lost or stolen, and you need to get more.
7. A travel alert for your credit cards
Some credit card companies recommend informing them of your trip dates and destination.
This simple gesture could avoid having your credit cards blocked for potential fraud.
Check with your company to see if a travel alert is required—some companies’ systems are capable of monitoring your transactions abroad, in which case you can rest easy.
8. Travel first-aid kit
Regardless of where you’re going, have a first-aid kit with you.
It must contain everything you need to treat minor injuries and illnesses—and prevent infection—when travelling.
Pack plenty of masks . Several face-covering options are available, but the government recommends medical quality masks for utmost protection. When purchasing one, check that ASTM F2100 or EN 14683 Type IIR appears on the packaging.
Now that you’re prepared, you’re ready for the big day.
Enjoy your trip!