9 Precautions to Take Before Travelling Abroad

Group of young backpackers waiting at an airline checkin counter for their boarding passes

Whether it’s your first time travelling abroad or you’re a well-seasoned traveler, leaving the country can be both a wonderful experience and a logistical challenge at the same time. The COVID-19 pandemic meant many people didn’t get a chance to travel as much as they wanted. So, if you’re feeling a bit rusty in terms of preparing for a trip, the Good Hands Advice team has prepared its list of nine precautions to take before traveling abroad.

  1. Ensure you have all necessary travel documents
    Many countries will deny you entry if your passport expires near your planned return date, so it’s important to have at least a six-month buffer. Although rare, some countries do require Canadians get a travel visa. The amount of time you’ll need to submit your visa application varies by country so it’s important to get this information well in advance to allow enough time to get your situation sorted out. We also recommend you photocopy all your travel documents in case they get lost or stolen. Have one set of copies with you while you travel (stored separately from the originals) and leave a copy with family or friends.
  2. Keep your eye on travel advisories for your destination
    With everchanging pandemic restrictions in place, it’s recommended that you stay up to date on any travel advisories for your destination. Some countries may not be currently accepting tourists to visit their country, others may have different vaccine requirements for entering. The Government of Canada provides updated information and advice on most countries and these advisories can impact your travel insurance. It’s best to check before booking the trip, before leaving, and periodically while on your trip.
  3. Consult with your doctor
    Book an appointment with your doctor or at a travel clinic to ensure that you are up to date with your vaccinations. It’s also beneficial to ask about country specific vaccinations you might need at your destination. It’s recommended to make the appointment at least four to six weeks before your departure date as some vaccines require several doses.
  4. Purchase travel insurance
    Insurance helps protect you against the unexpected. Costs related to lost luggage, health care, trip cancellation and the like can be very expensive and may require payment before services are even provided, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re covered. Our partner at TuGo has prepared an article that reviews what you should know about travel insurance before you travel this year.
  5. Ensure friends or family know where you’re staying and for how long and be mindful of social media activity
    In addition to sharing your itinerary, ask a responsible person to drop by your home regularly while you’re away to keep an eye on things. Besides collecting your mail, so your home doesn’t appear vacant, this person should ensure the home is secure and conduct checks to make sure there are no leaks in the plumbing or that other damage hasn’t occurred. This is something you should arrange to have in place at any time of year, no matter when you travel.
    Also be mindful of how you use social media during your trip. According to a recent Leger survey, commissioned by Allstate Canada, it was revealed that almost one out of three respondents who are active on social media (29%) say they post about their vacation plans before or during a trip. Be cautious as posting some of your travel pics online before or during your trip may announce that your home is (or will be) unoccupied, which could mean a risk for a break-in while you’re away.
  6. Review your home insurance policy
    It’s always a good idea to review your home insurance policy and contact your agent to make sure the arrangements you put in place for home check-ups are acceptable to your insurer in the event that something happens while you are away. The frequency that you’ll need someone to stop by your home can vary based on your insurer and policy, and other circumstances surrounding the state of your home.
  7. Register your trip with the Canadian embassy
    If any emergencies happen in the country you’re visiting, the Canadian government will be better able to contact you, provide you with pertinent information to your current circumstances, and help you leave the country, if necessary. It only takes a few minutes to sign up. The Government of Canada also has emergency contact information in the event you run into a serious problem.
  8. Look up the contact number for emergency services
    If you run into a situation where you need to contact the police, emergency medical services, or the fire department, time is of the essence. While we all know to dial 911 here, the same three digits might not be of any use where you are travelling. Look up emergency service contact information in advance and keep it with your important paperwork.
  9. Become familiar with local customs and laws
    Gestures and behaviours you might consider normal and friendly at home could be interpreted as rude or disrespectful in other countries; some could even land you in jail! It’s always a good idea to do a little research before you land in a new place.