Going on a trip

  1. Learn about your destination
  2. Gather your travel documents
  3. If you're travelling with a child
  4. Check your insurance
  5. Exchange some currency before leaving

You've been thinking about this for a long time. You've budgeted and saved your money and soon, in just a few more weeks, you'll be in Italy, Bali or Peru. Just a moment—there are a few other important things you need to check on to make sure your trip is hassle-free. Don't wait until the last minute to do these things!

Customs requirements for gaining entry and for exiting are not the same for all countries. Some require special visas that you have to obtain in advance.

Also, people don't always realize that vaccination is an essential part of any trip abroad, even if you go to Mexico or Europe. First, make sure you're up-to-date on recommended vaccines in Canada (including diphtheria and tetanus). Then, check which immunizations are recommended or required in the country or countries you're visiting. Don't wait until the last minute because some vaccines require boosters. The recommended minimum time to get vaccinated is 6 weeks before departure.

Learn about the laws and customs of the country you plan to visit. Check its geopolitical situation to see what security measures you should take when you arrive.

Your travel agent should provide you with this information. See also information provided to travellers by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

Useful links

Make sure your passport is valid. Some countries require a passport to remain valid for at least 6 months after the end of the stay.

Leave the following information with your loved ones, for use in an emergency:

  • Your travel itinerary (with the phone numbers of where you will be staying).
  • A copy of your ID page on your passport and travel insurance
  • A way to contact you in an emergency.

Take the following documents with you:

  • Copies of important documents (visa, passport, airline ticket, etc.). Keep these separate from the originals.
  • Your medical documents (proof of vaccination, medication and prescriptions, information about your allergies etc.).

Obtain, if needed:

  • International Student Card
  • Youth hostel membership card
  • International Driving Permit

Useful links

When you're travelling alone with a child, customs and immigration may require supporting documentation confirming that the child is allowed to travel abroad. This is to help prevent abductions.

To avoid being delayed at the airport or border, bring a letter of consent from the absent parent and a copy of legal documents regarding custody of the child.

Make sure your child always carries ID, in case you ever get separated.

Useful links

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada: Children and Travel

It's essential to carry travel insurance if you want to avoid hefty doctor bills in case of injury or illness abroad.

  • If you have group insurance at work, check to see whether it includes travel insurance. Some credit cards also offer this protection: check with the issuer.
  • Check whether your home insurance contains a clause that covers your vacation activities.
  • Check whether your car insurance contains a rider covering rental cars in North America.
  • If you intend to travel by car, check whether your car insurance includes roadside assistance.

Find out what insurance coverage comes with your credit card.

Useful link

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada: Travel Insurance - FAQ

Tools and tips

Budgeting your vacation

A budget is your best friend when it comes to getting the most out of your well-deserved vacation.

Read tip - Saving for your vacation

Go to your financial institution

  • Purchase foreign currency.
  • Ask whether the ATM in the country of destination accepts your debit or credit card.
  • Choose a 5-digit PIN for your credit card, so you can obtain cash advances, if necessary.
  • Ask for a second debit card, if necessary.

Use a prepaid card

You can also get a prepaid card, a new payment method that combines features of:

  • debit cards, as funds on the card belong to the cardholder
  • credit cards, as it gives you access to global payment networks

Make sure your prepaid card is:

  • reloadable and linked to a prepaid account
  • linked to a payment network found throughout the destination country (e.g. Visa or Mastercard)

Be aware of the fees associated with the use of your card (reloading, transaction, ATM withdrawal fees).

Make sure you are covered in the event of prepaid card fraud or theft.

Make sure your card has chip technology.


  • You don't need to carry large amounts of cash.
  • You can get local currency at ATMs linked to the card's payment network.
  • You can get additional cards linked to the same account. People travelling with you can use it or keep a spare card in case of loss.
  • In some cases, you're covered in the event of fraudulent use of your card.
  • Some cards have chip technology, making them more secure.
  • The card is linked to an account: you don't lose your money in the event of loss or theft of the card.
  • Helps you stay within your trip budget: you can't spend more than what's available on your card.