1. If you have diabetes or take medication using a syringe, get a signed letter from your doctor explaining that your syringes are a medical necessity.
2. Know the generic names of your medications so you can replace them if they are lost or stolen. Your medication will have a different brand name in another country.
3. If you have any life-threatening allergies, wear a medical alert bracelet and bring an Epi-pen kit.
4. Pack presents in carry-on luggage so they can be more easily checked by security.
5. Travel light. Take only what you need and no more.
6. Get the address of the local Government of Canada office for the country you plan to visit. These offices can assist you in case of emergencies. Find out if there are any travel advisories for your destination at the Foreign Affair’s Voyage Website.
7. Use covered luggage tags with your office address instead of your home address.
8. Make sure your children know their home address and telephone number. Show them where to go in the airport if you get separated, and review the procedure for dealing with strangers.
9. Give a family member or friend your travel itinerary and the contact information for your hotel. Make sure someone has your email address and the phone number of the local Canadian embassy as well.
10. If you are a single parent travelling with your children, make sure you have a signed letter of permission from the other parent. You could be barred from the plane if you are unable to prove you have the right to take your children with you.
11. Leave the bling at home and reduce your risk of getting robbed. The same goes for expensive electronics such as iPods and digital cameras. Buy some disposable cameras to use.
12. Do you really need your cellphone on vacation? Chances are you won’t get service. Opt for email to stay in touch with people back home. It will be much more economical.
13. Make photocopies of your passports, credit cards and other ID. Leave one copy with a relative at home, and keep another copy separate from your originals.
14. Travel with only one credit card. Bring a combination of traveller’s cheques and cash in small bills (American money is universally accepted). You should be able to use your debit card as long as the machine has the CIRRUS symbol. You will be charged for each transaction. Try to familiarize yourself with the local currency so your first transaction won’t be so confusing.
15. Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses as backup. You don’t want your vacation ruined because you can’t see anything.
16. Get adequate medical insurance, particularly if you are planning to do any high-risk adventure travel. Check your policy to make sure your medical expenses abroad will be covered as well as emergency evacuations.
17. Go easy on the sunbathing. It can be tempting to spend all day in the sun, but you don’t want your vacation ruined by a bad sunburn or sunstroke.
18. Motorcycles and scooters may seem like a fun way to travel, but leave them to the locals who are familiar with the streets and traffic rules.
19. Rent a car from a reputable company and check the small print on all contracts. Your hotel will probably have a car rental service.
20. Check with Be Aware and Declare, hosted by the Canadian government, to find out what you can and can’t bring back with you. You don’t want to be slapped with any heavy fines on your way through customs.