Preparing to travel abroad? Look over this section, do some homework, and you'll be set.
- Check Your Passport: Make sure it's valid, preferably for at least 6 months after arrival at your destination. Fill in the next-of-kin page. Make a couple photocopies of the identification page; carry one and leave the other at home.
- Get A Country Travel Report: Visit www.voyage.gc.ca and find out all about your destination country ? information about safety, customs, climate, and more, tailored to Canadian travellers.
- Make An Itinerary: Where will you be on each day? Have you confirmed transportation and accommodations? Have you given a copy of your itinerary to a friend or relative at home?
- Make A Budget, Mind Your Money: How much will you need? For what? (Forgetting anything?) How much do you have for that matter? Cash, credit, traveller's cheques? When and how will you get local currency? Emergency/backup money?
- Get Travel Insurance: Getting sick or hurt sucks. Getting sick or hurt in a far-off land can really be bad. Getting sick or hurt abroad without health insurance? well, you get the idea. Insuring your baggage and travel tickets can also come in handy.
- Investigate Visas: Do you need one for your destination country? Apply early!
- Mind Your Medical Needs: Visit a physician and find out about any necessary vaccinations, and other things you can do to stay healthy during your trip. If you've got prescription drugs, carry a copy of your original prescription and an extra copy in case you run out ? or if someone gets suspicious. Extra contact lenses and glasses can be a life-saver too.
- Get Your International Driving Permit: If you want to drive in a foreign country, this makes it possible by showing you've got a valid licence in your home country.
- Get Ready To Come Back: Make all your arrangements for return before you leave, if possible. And if you're planning on bringing things back, do your research on customs and prohibited/restricted items. Keep the necessary receipts during your trip.
- What do you want out of your trip? What do you expect? Does it make sense to expect it? For example, think about climate: many regions experience a rainy season; if you're on an equatorial adventure and expect three weeks of sun, make sure you don't end up with twenty-one drowned days.
- What cultural differences should you be prepared for? How might it feel to deal with them? What hidden implications might they have? Discovering all this is part of the adventure, but you should find out key points in advance: you don't want to arrive in an Arab country and be surprised by the need for women to wear modest clothing.
- Know yourself. Are you cautious or reckless, spontaneous or a planner? What might be your biggest challenge during your trip ? taking risks, or preventing yourself from taking stupid ones; meeting people or getting taking advantage of? Do you like trying new foods? Ask yourself honestly all these questions and more. Of course, the experience is going to teach you a lot about who you are, but having a few ideas off the start and shaping your trip accordingly can't hurt.
- Aim to arrive at a new location during daylight. It's easier to get your bearings, more things will be open, and you'll have a better chance to get settled.
- Reserve accommodation, especially during popular travel times. Seat-of-your-pants can be fun too, and you'll no doubt experience it at some point; but reservations are just so darn practical they have to be mentioned.
Now that we've got a better idea of the shape of the trip, we've got a good base for knowing what to bring.