Travel Essentials

Booked your trip and don’t know what to do next? Here is a detailed check-list of everything you need to do before you travel, from entering a new country to getting home in one piece.

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PASSPORT

Make sure your passport is valid because some countries will not let you travel if your passport expires within 6 months. Also determine if there are any visa requirements to purchase prior to your trip or upon arrival. Some countries also charge arrival and departure taxes. It’s a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport with you in case you lose the original because it will make the recovery process a lot smoother.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

This is a big MUST. Do not leave your country without travel insurance. Just seeing a doctor in a foreign country can cost as much as $200. You never know what could happen, so spend the extra money and buy insurance. For those on a budget, medical insurance is the bare minimum a traveller should have.

CURRENCY

It’s a good idea to get cash in the currency of your travel destination before you leave, and this can be done at any local currency exchange. American dollars are accepted in most countries, but don’t bring your loonies and twonies; save them for when you grab a Timmies upon arriving back in Canada.

CONTACT THE BANK

Make sure you let your debit and credit card companies know that you’re travelling. The last thing you want is for your credit card to be declined when you’re in a third world country and have no way of contacting the bank back home. Make sure they know when and where you’re going to be travelling. It’s also important to ensure that you’ve got some room in your budget to spend a little money during your visit.

FIRST AID

Talk to your doctor before travelling to see if there are any vaccine requirements, health concerns that need to be addressed, etc. Stock up on all the medications and health care items you might need and keep them together in a convenient place.

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Drugstore check-list:

  • Advil/Tylenol
  • Imodium
  • Gravol
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe Vera gel (not cream)
  • Bug spray
  • After-bite
  • Band-Aids
  • Wet wipes (always carry these on you)
  • Large Ziploc bags
  • Tide Packets (dish-washing detergent)
  • Padlock
  • Plug/voltage adapter (if applicable)

PACKING

Keep it light! I know we get excited while preparing for holidays and feel the need to bring our entire wardrobe, but lets be real – you only end up wearing less then half of the things you bring. You need to leave some room for all the stuff you’ll purchase while on your trip, so keep it simple.

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 Packing Check-list

  • 2 shorts
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 4 tank tops
  • 2 swimsuits (ladies, three words: mix and match)
  • 2 cute dresses (ladies)
  • 2 nice shirts (gentlemen)
  • 1 pants
  • 1 sweater
  • 2 sandals (flip-flops for the beach, fancier ones for dinner and dancing)
  • Running shoes or sneakers with a closed toe
  • Rain jacket (depending on the season)
  • Beach bag or small backpack
  • Minimal toiletries

Wear your pants, a t-shirt, sweater and running shoes on the plane and use your beach bag or backpack as your carry-on to save space!

APPS TO DOWNLOAD

Dropbox – Once you connect to WiFi you can upload all your pictures and videos from your phone to Dropbox, which connects to your computer at home. This way you can free up space on your phone while you’re away and not lose anything.

Google Maps – You can plan your trip by marking your destinations on your computer before you go and it will sync to your phone.

Shazam – Make sure to pick up all the cool songs you hear on your trip with Shazam, which works without WiFi.

I Tube – Once you’ve picked up all these new, cool songs, you can download them from YouTube onto I Tube when you’re connected to WiFi. Once the music has been downloaded to your phone, you can play the music anywhere directly from your device.

Google Translate – You can get stuck in situations where no one speaks English; this translator has saved me many times.

Duolingo – If you want to learn the basics of the language spoken in the country you’re about to visit, duolingo is a free and effective app that you can use to learn a new language. It’ll keep you occupied if you have a layover at an airport.

MagicJack – You can call anywhere in North America for free as long as you’re connected to WiFi. Do not use your phone to call home unless you have purchased a travel package because you will come home to an extremely large bill that you can’t afford, especially after taking holidays.

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Dry Bag

These are very handy to have when you decide to go on a boat, cross a river, etc. Keep your stuff dry!

Speaker

Sure you can find places on the beach that play music, but what if you’re the only group of people on a secluded beach? Music is essential.

Journal

Keep a journal of your travels, whether it’s through a blog or with a paper and pen. Keep track of everything you’ve seen and done.

Book

Bring a good read that you don’t mind trading for another. Lots of travellers leave books behind at hostels and you might meet people you want to trade with. Carrying a lot of books can weigh down your bag, so keep it light.

Airplane Blanket

You would be surprised how many times I’ve used my FREE airplane blanket on overnight buses or in hostels. Keep it in your bag just in case.

Unlocked Phone

This only applies if you’re travelling for over a month. You know those old phones you may have sitting around at home collecting dust (like a Blackberry)? Make sure it’s unlocked and bring it with you. You can purchase sim cards cheaply and keep in touch locally; it comes in handy.

If you’re travelling on a budget, I recommend purchasing a “text and talk” travel package. Contact your local provider for prices. Always turn off your data while travelling or else you will get charged for roaming.

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Stephanie Marcantonio

A cultured traveler with integrity and common sense. Stephanie, born and raised in Ottawa, enjoys all aspects of the suitcase life. She loves hot climate, soaking in cool new culture, eating great food and meeting fantastic people from all over the world. Stephanie holds her diploma in Travel and Tourism and has molded her career and personal life to revolve around just that; Travel.