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July 06, 2016

5 questions to ask before you travel

There are five questions you should ask yourself to make sure you don’t end up stranded on a trip without the items, resources or support you need.

We all want to avoid forgetting something important when we travel. After all, who wants to end up in the middle of an excursion, stranded, without the items, resources or support we need?

So, before embarking on an adventure, ask yourself these five questions.

1. Have you let your credit card company know you’re travelling?

With the aim of protecting their clients from fraud, credit card companies track suspicious activity. This means it is your responsibility to let them know when you’re travelling, so they don’t see your card being used in a strange place, think your information has been stolen, and put a freeze on your account.

“Skip the hassle and make the call before you go,” says Heather Greenwood Davis, a travel columnist and feature writer who is about to set off on a one-year, round-the-world trip with her husband and two young sons. “There are times when I’ve forgotten to call and had no problems, and times when checking into a hotel late at night has become a nightmare because they couldn’t get authorization.

“For my upcoming trip, I’m also reaching out to our bank so that we don’t run into any ATM issues.”

2. Have you packed important items that may be hard to find?

“No one wants to over-pack, particularly if it’s a long trip, but check with your health professionals about what you might need to carry,” says Greenwood Davis. In less medically advanced countries simple things like over-the-counter painkillers and stomach medication might be tough to find. “The rule of thumb is to bring the things that you can’t live without.”

3. Have you consulted a travel doctor?

Travel doctors are an important part of the planning process that shouldn’t be left to the last minute. “Your family doctor shouldn’t be your last stop,” says Greenwood Davis.“There are some places that will require you to have your shots or take your meds weeks in advance. Popping in to see someone the night before your scheduled flight could derail your plans and risk your health.”

4. Have you told your family where you’re going?

Leave a copy of your itinerary — including departure/arrival times, flight numbers and hotel addresses — with a reliable family member or friend.

“Sometimes people are so focused on the exciting adventure in front of them, they forget to make sure things are nice and tidy at home,” says Greenwood Davis. “But even if you’re planning on only being away for a short period of time, it’s important that someone knows exactly where you’re supposed to be when, and has the authority to make decisions at home on your behalf.”

“Leave a copy of your full itinerary and contact information with someone at home, as well as a copy of your passport information and important documents such as contact information for your health insurance provider so if you do run into trouble on the road, they can send something to you quickly.”

5. Have you ensured you have adequate travel insurance?

Many credit card companies offer a basic level of travel insurance, but make sure to check the fine print to ensure you’re fully protected.

“We’re lucky in Canada: healthcare is as easy as walking into your doctor’s office or dialling 9-1-1,” says Greenwood Davis. “I’ve been in situations in the United States where care was easy to get, but paying for it was a nightmare, as well as in countries where I wasn’t sure I could trust their diagnosis. Make sure you know what your travel insurance covers.”

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