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Traveling abroad is an excellent way to expand your horizons and gain respect for the world around you. That said, these trips often require tedious planning before your departure.
If you’re planning to leave Canada for the first time, use these six tips to make your life easier.
1. Obtain Your Passport
The most important step in traveling abroad is to get a passport. Passports are necessary if you’re flying to another country, so obtaining this travel document should top your list. The United States allows entry by land or sea with an enhanced passport or a traveler card from NEXUS, FAST or SENTRI. Still, it’s better to save yourself the trouble and get a passport.
Canadians can start the passport application process by filling out the forms online. With the paperwork, you’ll need to send proof of Canadian citizenship, passport photos and a few other documents required by the government. You can send your documents in the mail or drop them off at a Service Canada Centre.
2. Research Currencies
Canadian dollars are terrific in your wallet, but they’re only helpful within the country. Before traveling, help yourself by researching the currencies of the countries you wish to visit. Carrying cash and coins is beneficial for quick transactions, so find a bank or airport kiosk where you can exchange your money.
Researching currencies can also assist in picking travel destinations. Selecting a country where the Canadian dollar is strong mitigates the travel costs and makes your cash go further. For example, the Canadian dollar is worth about 195 Argentine pesos. Thus, a trip to Buenos Aires is much more affordable than you may have thought.
3. Contact Your Credit Card Company
When you leave the country, you may tell your friends and family to alert them while you’re gone. You should extend the same courtesy to your credit card provider.
Most companies provide benefits like fraud protection, meaning they’ll freeze your credit cards if they detect activity in another country. Contact them before you depart and let them know the days you’ll be gone so they know when to flag your transactions. Notifying your credit card carrier isn’t typically required, but avoiding hassle while on vacation is best practice.
4. Prepare For Jet Lag
Traveling more than an hour away from your time zone throws your brain off. Imagine traveling from Toronto to Tokyo, which is 13 hours ahead. Arriving in Tokyo at noon will feel like bedtime because your Toronto-accustomed brain thinks it’s 11 p.m. If the time difference is drastic, take a few days to prepare for jet lag.
The easiest way to prepare is to set your clock to your destination’s time zone. If traveling to Japan, change your phone to Tokyo time and start the adjustment early. You’ll likely still be tired from the plane ride, but your transition to local time will be more seamless. Jet lag symptoms often include fatigue, nausea and dizziness, so it’s better to experience these conditions at home than on vacation.
5. Make Traveling More Accessible
With passports and boarding passes, international travel is already complicated, but it can get more challenging if you have disabilities. However, you can make your trip more disability-friendly by preparing before your departure day.
For example, one preparation you can make is to pack duplicates. Leave your toothbrush and shampoo at home — instead, pack a bag with duplicates of all your toiletries ahead of time. When you prepare for vacation, you only need to grab the bag and go without worrying.
6. Be A Mindful Traveler
International travel brings unique experiences you may only get once in a lifetime, so it’s essential to be a mindful traveler. Savor every moment and treat the destination carefully as if it’s your home. Some ways to travel mindfully include:
- Journaling: Find time to journal and document your experiences while abroad. Take note of the sights and smells you encounter to recall when you reminisce about your trip.
- Transportation: Take advantage of public transportation whenever possible to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Shopping: Try to avoid the tourist traps owned by large companies. Instead, search for local businesses to benefit the community more directly.
Having Fun Outside The Country
Earth is about 197 million square miles, so take time to see as much of it as possible. International travel lets you become more well-rounded by experiencing other cultures and meeting wonderful people.
If you’re leaving the country for the first time, it can be intimidating. Use these seven tips to make your trip easier.
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