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Travel Tools

Before You Go

Before you jump on a plane or pack your bags, there are some important travel details you need to know.

Are you going somewhere that immunization is required?
Have you thought about cell phone use?
What about the best seat on the plane, or tracking your flight?
Here you can discover these tools and test them out so you’re extremely prepared for your upcoming holiday!

Tips for a Safe and Successful Trip
Follow Silvia on Her Smart-Travel Adventure Abroad

To celebrate her 40th birthday, Silvia decides to take a trip abroad. She’s never been outside of Canada, so she speaks with a travel counsellor, who helps her choose a destination and provides useful tips. Silvia is interested in Brazil, where her parents were born. The travel counsellor advises Silvia to:

  • Check the Consular Services website, www.travel.gc.ca, for safe-travel information and read the Brazil Travel Report.
  • Purchase travel-health insurance.
  • Consult with a travel-health expert, especially since she’s going to a tropical region.

Silvia finds a wealth of information at www.travel.gc.ca and learns that she should take the following steps before leaving Canada:

  • Sign up on-line for the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.
  • Make sure there is no Travel Warning for her destination.
  • Ensure that her passport will be valid for at least six months beyond the data of her anticipated return to Canada.
  • Obtain a tourist visa, which is required for all visits to Brazil.
  • Find out if she is a dual national, since she may have acquired Brazilian citizenship through her parents (she reads the Dual Citizenship booklet on-line to learn more about this complex issue).
  • Subscribe to the free Travel Updates service to get the latest information on her destination.
  • Print a copy of the Traveller’s Checklist for important reminders of what to do before going abroad.
  • Map out a travel itinerary and budget.
  • Note contact details for the Consular Services Emergency Operations Centre (613-996-8885; sos@international.gc.ca).
  • Leave copies of her passport identification page, itinerary, and insurance policy with friends or family.
  • Purchase local currency before arriving at her destination, so she can pay for taxis or other small expenses, and also confirm how much currency she is allowed to bring into the country.
  • Check whether her bank and credit cards and travellers’ cheques are accepted in the destination country.
  • Check whether an international driving permit is required.
  • Learn more about the local culture by reading the Country Profile for Brazil.

Silvia decides to visit a travel-health clinic, since the Brazil Travel Report mentions an increase in dengue fever and a recent outbreak of yellow fever. A travel-health expert gives Silvia advice on appropriate precautions to take:

  • Consult the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Travel Health Advisory at

www.travelhealth.gc.ca for more information on how to protect her health while in Brazil.

  • Make sure her childhood immunizations (measles, polio, tetanus, diphtheria) are up to date.
  • Bring extra medication or supplies in their original packaging, as they may not be available abroad, and carry a doctor’s note for prescription medications.

While Silvia is packing her suitcase, her mom stops by and urges her to:

  • Keep an eye on her luggage to ensure it’s not tampered with and make sure she complies with all airport security requirements.
  • Stay in touch with family and friends in Canada while she’s abroad.
  • Take copies of safe-travel publications, such as Bon Voyage, But…and Her Own Way (available at www.travel.gc.ca).
  • Learn some key phrases in the local language to enhance her experience and make her trip go more smoothly.

Silvia arrives in Brazil and meets up with her cousin Gabriel, who gives her some helpful tips on how to stay safe.

He suggests that she:

  • Be aware of her surroundings not look conspicuous, and avoid showing signs of affluence (like expensive jewellery).
  • Stay away from large crowds to avoid pickpockets and the possibility of getting accidentally caught up in an illegal demonstration.

During her stay, Silvia decides to visit Iguazu Falls, near the border with Argentina and Paraguay. She double-checks the Brazil Travel Report, which advises Canadians to:

  • Exercise a high degree of caution at all times and avoid travelling alone, especially at night, when visiting border areas.
  • Cover up and use insect repellent to prevent mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever.
  • Avoid swimming in fresh water to reduce the chance of exposure to water-borne diseases.

So, Silvia takes Gabriel along with her. While Silvia is taking photos at the waterfalls, her backpack is stolen. Luckily, she has taken the following precautions, as suggested on the Consular Services website:

  • Carry photocopies of the passport identification page and visa.
  • Secure original travel documents, money, and other valuables and conceal them in a money belt.
  • Carry extra eyeglasses in case the main pair is lost or broken.
  • Report the incident to the local authorities.

Silvia and Gabriel stop at a roadside restaurant on the way back from Iguazu Falls. Silvia wisely takes Gabriel’s advice to:

  • Not drink the local tap water and order bottled water instead.
  • Peel all fruits and vegetables and avoid dairy products and undercooked meat to minimize the chances of illness.
  • Pay for the meals in cash, as credit and debit card fraud is a problem, and such cards should be used sparingly.

On her way home, Silvia decides to stock up on her parents’ favourite drink- cachaça. She follows the advice of the Consular Services publication Bon Voyage, but…, which states:

  • Canadians can bring back up to 40 ounces of liquor.

She also wants to take a rare rainforest plant home with her, and Gabriel’s buddy, João, asks her to bring back a present for a friend of a friend in Canada. Silvia then recalls the following advice:

  • Never carry endangered species across international borders.
  • Never take a package for someone else across a border.

Upon arrival at the airport in Canada, Silvia is happy that she has taken the advice of her travel counsellor, family, and Canadian Consular Services, allowing her to enjoy a safe and successful trip.

  • For additional safe-travel advice, be sure to visit www.travel.gc.ca… and bon voyage!

Embassies & Consulates

Immunizations

International travel can take you to places where immunization is required or strongly recommended. For a list of suggested vaccinations and arrangements that should be made, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.  If you’re unsure of anything at all, book an appointment at a travel immunization clinic near you.

Click here to search!

Cell Phones

Are you travelling outside of your country? If you’re with a group of people and get separated, cell phones are a blessing to have. However, roaming charges in the US and internationally can add up quickly – not to mention any text messaging you send or receive can be calculated at international fees as well! There are a few options to relieve the stress of a massive phone bill when you return. If you need to stay in contact with your group, you can purchase pay-as-you-go phones from a number of providers, such as Net10. Through your cell phone provider, you may be able to add international/US minutes and texting to your phone for the duration of your journey. There’s also the option of purchasing a SIM card for your smart phone for travel in the States that would allow you to add pay-as-you-go minutes as well.

If you’re going to be somewhere for an extended period of time and don’t want to be taking your cell phone, there is the option of communicating through services, such as Skype, via computers with microphones – you can video chat as well if you have a webcam on the computer. If you’re taking your laptop with you, scope out potential internet cafes, or places with wireless internet that you can hook into and chat with your friends and family that way. Best of all, Skype is free if both users have computers, and extremely cheap if you’re calling a landline from your computer.

One area that we recommend you investigate is if your carrier has an option for you to have them disable your roaming ability, some carriers allow you to stop and start data roaming ahead of your departure. Sometimes, even if you have set your phone programming to not allow data roaming, you will get dinged. In addition, even if you have Wi-Fi where you are going, you must disable your data roaming or you will have a nasty surprise.

Flight Tracker

When you have a plane to catch or an important passenger to pick up, a flight tracker app is an essential tool for your mobile phone. You can use it to keep an eye on your departure time, confirm when that special someone is arriving, or even check a plane’s position in the air. These flight tracking applications let you track the status of any flight arriving or departing the United States or Canada. In addition, they provide updates on flight arrival and delay times, and remaining time en route for departed flights, updated every 5 minutes. You can also view additional flight details including departure time, aircraft type, current altitude, and current groundspeed, along with the forecasted weather conditions for your selected destination.

There are numerous applications to choose from for various price points. Two options that are available for iPhone, BlackBerry, android and palm devices:

Seat Guru

Seat Guru is an application that allows you to find the best possible seat on the aircraft you’ll be taking flight in. It’s also the top resource for in-flight amenities and other airline information. Start exploring today!