Use our helpful travel tips prior to departure
to be completely prepared for your vacation.
You will find information on vaccinations, sun safety and much more.
Preparing for Your Vacation
Get information well before your leave
Some reliable sources for useful travel information are your
travel agent, a foreign destination travel guide, or you can
contact us and we will provide information on your destination
prior to your departure.
If pre-departure time is short, foreign consulates have a wealth of travel information.
For addresses, consult the Travel section of the daily newspapers or the following Web site: http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/world/embassies/menu-en.asp
Once you have decided on a travel destination, visit a travel clinic to find out what vaccines are mandatory or recommended for your destination.
Ensure that you and your children are vaccinated against potentially dangerous illnesses and that your vaccines are up to date. Several common vaccines can now be administered in a single injection.
Consult the following Health Canada Web site for a list of travel health clinics across Canada. The site is updated regularly. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/travel/clinic_e.html
Be aware: Being vaccinated should not preclude
being careful. Take measures to avoid insect bites, bacteria, and
contact with indigenous animals. Ensure you are well equipped with
insect repellent, a long-sleeved shirt, pants, closed shoes, a
mosquito net, etc.
Expectant Mothers should always consult their doctor prior to travelling. Your doctor will verify your state of health and advise you of activities or foods to avoid if you are travelling outside of Canada.
Although most major airlines allow pregnant women as passengers
until the 36th week of a normal pregnancy, most travel insurance
contracts will only cover pregnancy up to the 31st week
First Aid Kit
Always carry a first-aid kit to treat minor injuries when travelling.
Your kit should include these basic items: bandages, compresses, adhesive tape, scissors, antiseptic, antibiotic ointment and a sling.
Be advised, if you have a pair of scissors or even a metal nail file in your carry-on luggage, it will be confiscated at customs. Place your first-aid kit in your checked baggage, which will be stored in the airplane baggage compartment.
Travelling with a Chronic Illness
- Consult your doctor at least four months prior to your departure to ensure that your illness is well under control. If you are over the age of 55, visit your doctor at least seven months prior to departure. Failure to consult your physician may result in the refusal of any future insurance claim.
- If you take medication on a regular basis, you must have proof of its required use. The best proof is the original prescription label or a copy of the doctor’s prescription. Bring more medication than you should need, and store it in more than one piece of luggage in case of lost or stolen baggage.
- Avoid trying to save room in your baggage by placing all of your medication into one container. Customs regulations are strict. Your medication must be in its original container with the label indicating that it was prescribed to you. Ask your pharmacist to provide you with medication in two properly identified containers.
- Medicalert - Do you suffer from diabetes, asthma or epilepsy? Wear a bracelet that immediately lets medical staff identify your condition if you become ill. Visit the Medicalert web site http://www.medicalert.ca
- Medical certificate – If you require a syringe to administer medication, you must present customs officials with a signed certificate from your doctor attesting that this material is reserved for personal and medical use. Make sure that you have enough syringes. Also, if your medication contains narcotics, such as migraine headache tablets, you must supply an attestation from your doctor.
- Fragile health. People who are highly susceptible to getting the flu should consult a doctor prior to departure.
- Avoid walking barefoot on the beach. Keep your sandals on to play or walk on the beach to avoid injury, burns and infections.
- Medical clinics outside of Canada – Call
us for the addresses of health centres able to provide services for
specific conditions. We can quickly locate a properly equipped
institution close to your vacation site.
Avoid Accidents and Illnesses while travelling
- Get a good night sleep prior to travelling
Eat a well balanced meal, avoid white wine, coffee and carbonated beverages
Keep head movements to minimum
Focus on the horizon
Avoid tobacco or cooking odours
Avoid reading while in motion
On a boat, stay at the closest spot centre of gravity
In a car, sit in the front seat
In an airplane, select a seat in the middle of the aircraft
Many products are available without
prescription in different formulas. Consult your pharmacist to
ensure that this type of product will not cause a drug interaction
with any prescription medication you may be taking. If you relieve
your little aches and pains with over-the-counter drugs, make sure
they are permitted in a foreign destination.
Read the following information from Canada Foreign Affairs and the International Trade Department website in regards to drugs permitted at: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/consular-e/drugs_travel_menu-e.html
- Traveller’s diarrhea. –Even if the
water at your travel destination is drinkable, your system may not
be used to the micro-organisms it contains. Don’t risk
drinking tap water; drink only bottled spring water, and only from
bottles that have been opened in front of you. Avoid beverages with
ice cubes or crushed ice. If, after having consumed water, you
become nauseated or have violent and persistent symptoms of
gastroenteritis, go the nearest hospital IMMEDIATELY.
Avoid salad bars and foods that may be washed with contaminated water. Always avoid raw foods and fruit that cannot be peeled such as grapes and various berries. Carefully peel fresh fruits and vegetables.
Avoid foods from street vendors. The golden rule: peel, cook or avoid.
- Be careful at the beach. There may be a good
reason no one else is swimming in the water. Ask for information on
safe places to swim.
- Ask if there are Jellyfish in the area – Never swim when jellyfish are around.
- Beware of lakes. As a general rule, avoid
swimming in fresh water lakes or ponds. They often contain
parasites that can penetrate the skin.
- Don’t risk Water Shock. A very common
and dangerous phenomenon, it can occur when your body, heated by
the sun, comes abruptly in contact with cold water. It can cause a
violent reaction that could lead to a heart attack. Enter the water
Protect yourself and your family
- Take the time to acclimatize once you arrive at your destination (this also goes for the first hot days of summer at home), take it easy the first two days. Don’t overexert yourself during the hottest times of the day.
- When in the south, do as the locals. If people aren’t working between noon and 3 p.m., there is a reason. Slow down, after all you are on vacation.
- Showers or a dip in the pool or ocean will help lower your body temperature and help avoid heatstroke.
- Wear light-coloured and loose clothing, as clothing protects you better than any suncreen. White reflects the heat; black absorbs it. Cotton and linen are the most comfortable under the sun. And the tighter the fabric weave, the better protection from the sun.
- Wear a hat, preferably one with a wide brim to shade your ears and neck. Wear sunglasses that filter UV rays.
- Prevent dehydration that can lead to serious health
problems. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink
water. Your body requires up to 2 litres a day and up to 6
litres if participating in sports in the sun or
perspiring. Avoid alcohol, particularly beer, which is a
diuretic. Mosquitoes are also attracted to individuals with alcohol
in their systems.
Children and Seniors
- Children and seniors dehydrate faster and are more susceptible to heatstroke. Ensure that they lower their body temperature by cooling off in the pool or ocean, or have them take a shower often.
- Dress them in light pale colour cotton clothes and protect
exposed areas with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 for
- Insist that they wear a hat, not a baseball cap, since the
latter doesn’t protect the ears or neck. They should also
wear shoes, particularly on the beach.
- Children should always wear a hat and good quality sunglasses
to protect their eyes.
Sunscreen is essential, especially for children as skin cancer can take up to 15 years to develop.
- The sun protection factor (SPF) should be at least 15 for
adults, 30 for children.
- Look for the Canadian Dermatology Association logo on your
sunscreen/ sunblock products. The logo appears only on products
that meet their protection standards.
- Ensure that all sunblock products contains both UVA and UVB
- Don’t wait until you get to the beach before applying
sunscreen; apply it before you leave for the beach.
- Swimming may remove your sun protection. Reapply after swimming
or use a waterproof product.
- Don’t forget sensitive areas of the face like the ears,
neck, lips and around the eyes. Use a hypoallergenic product or one
for sensitive skin. Sunburned eyelids can result in painful
- Remember that the water, sand and concrete reflect the
sun’s rays. Stay under a parasol at the beach and at the
- Children must now have a passport issued in their names. The
International Civil Aviation Organization recommends this measure
for children’s security. If your children are registered on
your passport, it remains valid until its expiration date however,
if your children are flying alone, they need to have their own
- It is highly recommended that adults travelling without their
partners and with their children carry a notarized legal document
signed by the other parent or the legal guardian authorizing the
trip. This will avoid problems at customs. This document should
include the names of the children and the name and address of the
parent or guardian.
- Inform the airline that you are travelling with children. Most
airlines will try to make the children’s trip more enjoyable.
Travel agents and airline staff can help you reserve the most
practical seats for your family.
- Ensure that your children have something to drink during
take-off and landing to prevent discomfort from the change in air
- Desert Excursions – If you are going on
an excursion into the desert, regardless of the reason, the
duration, or the time of year, you should always take the
- Warm clothing temperatures can drop drop below zero after sunset, even in the summer months.
- A blanket
- Cereal bars
- At least one gallon of water per person
- Photoallergic dermatitis is an allergic
reaction to the sun; a rash appears on exposed skin, resulting in
an itching sensation. If you suffer from this problem or if you are
ultra sensitive to the sun:
- Avoid sun exposure during peak hours, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Use an SPF of at least 45.
- Some substances may reduce the development of a rash. Consult your doctor AND your pharmacist: an antihistamine may be helpful.
- Some drugs and products can provoke skin reactions when
the skin is exposed to the sun. They are photo sensitive, which
means they react to the sunlight.
- Avoid perfumes and perfumed creams
- Many drugs can also provoke these reactions: antibiotics, antidepressants, contraceptive pills, heart medication, anxiety mediation and some dermatological products
Travelling with Children
- When renting a car outside of Canada, bring a car seat that meets the North American safety standards with you
- Make the trip fun for everyone: visit the municipal library or bookstore and bring a few books on tape that the whole family can enjoy while traveling
- Plan for frequent stops to allow everyone to stretch their legs: this will prevent driver fatigue and children can burn off some excess energy
- Bring along sugar-free and caffeine-free snacks and drinks. Fresh fruit, whole-wheat crackers, raw vegetables, cheese, nuts and raisins and fruit juice or spring water are some good examples
- Keep games, toys, books and music in the car. If the kids are busy, the driver can better focus on the road
- If your children are used to having a nap, plan to travel during naptime to keep them on a schedule and make for a less stressful trip
- Avoid smoking in your car, especially if your children suffer from motion sickness
- A child under the age of 2 may travel on your lap, however children over 2 must occupy their own seat. If your baby weighs less than 12 kg (25 lbs.) and cannot sit unassisted, you can request a skycot. Request it when reserving your tickets. Skycots are only available on large planes
- If a family member has food allergies or if your children are fussy eaters you can request special meals, including children’s meals, from the airline at least 24 hours prior to departure
Arriving at your destination
- Give your children a card that lists the address of your destination while on vacation. Tell them to keep it with them at all times. If they get lost they will be able to find you
- Each day, select a meeting place in case someone gets lost
- Show your children how to use a foreign telephone and ensure
that they know the name and telephone number of the person or place
to call if they get lost
Helpful guide for Snowbirds
- Do you have a chronic illness? Using the Blue
Cross medical questionnaire, your doctor can provide our Medical
Director with an assessment of your health condition. If your
illness is under control, it may be covered. You are under no
obligation to complete this questionnaire. However it is
recommended to determine whether your condition can or cannot be
covered. You will be covered in case of accident or illness not
related to your condition. For more details, contact us at
- Chronic illness? Bring more medication than you would
normally require. Bring an additional one week
- Identify your baggage –How many black or
navy suitcases do you see on the baggage carrousel? Identify your
baggage in a distinctive way: a ribbon, sticker, tag, or
- Did you know that seniors are more sensitive to the sun
and dehydration that the average person? Prevent
heatstroke and overexposure by drinking lots of water and
protecting your skin. A beach umbrella, sunscreen, bottle of water,
large hat and sandals should brought to the beach daily
- Avoid foot injuries. Wear sandals at all times
to prevent injuries from sharp stones, broken glass or
- When in Rome, do as the Romans. Wherever you are, avoid looking like a tourist. Before buying souvenirs, look at the locals and adopt their mannerisms and appearance when walking around town. They do not carry cameras around their necks, or large amounts of money. Keep your camera in a bag, and pay for purchases with credit card or debit so you do not have to carry large amounts of cash