Author: TravelSafe Clinic

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Tips For Flying South for the Winter

Birds of a Common Feather:
Tips For Flying South for the Winter

When people hear the term “Snowbird” they often envision shuffleboard, early bird specials, Canasta, white shoes and ubiquitous and endless games of Bingo. Images of George Costanza’s vociferous and vituperative parents kvetching about their cantankerous neighbours at Del Boca Vista, the fictitious retirement community in Florida also comes to mind.

The truth is that “snowbirding” is a lot cooler than it used to be! Baby Boomers are a youthful bunch and are changing the idea of what it means to head south for the winter! About 1.3 million lucky Canadians head south for the winter, avoiding the pitfalls of our rather harsh Canadian winters–trading in snow, sleet and freezing temperatures for sun, warmth, and relaxation, and this number is on the rise as more Canadians reach retirement age.

Whether you are a seasoned snowbird or thinking about joining the great Canadian migration, the following snowbirding Tips will help you reside successfully down south!

Healthy Enough to Travel?

The most important thing to determine before you plan on traveling south for the winter is your level of health and health care needs. Before embarking on a lengthy trip, be sure to consult your doctor for a checkup, and be sure to keep all of your medical records, and prescriptions. You’ll also want to do a little research and make sure that you know the locations of hospitals and medical centers near you.

It’s also a very good idea to book a pre-travel consultation with TravelSafe, to determine if the location(s) you are traveling to requires you to have a vaccination or immunization.

When you have booked your trip, you’ll want to secure a travel insurance policy, as medical treatment could cost you thousands of dollars if you don’t have a snowbird travel insurance policy. Make sure to spend some time researching insurance policies that are right for you and don’t be afraid to shop around.

Show Me the Money!

Before you head south, make sure that you have access to your finances. The easiest way to ensure you can manage your finances and pay bills is to set up an online banking account. Your local bank branch can help you set one up if you are unsure of how to do it. Another good idea is to set up pre-authorized bill payments so that you don’t have to worry about missing any payments while you are away from Canada. It’s also one less thing to think about!

Securing your Home

When you are away from your home for an extended period of time, it’s imperative that you secure it! Here are some helpful hints:

  • Ask a close friend, relative or trusted neighbour to check in on your home while you are away.
  • Put a hold on your mail. Click on the link to access the Canada Post website to manage your mail.
  • Check that all windows and doors are securely locked and that your home security system is armed.

High Tech Options

These days there are many easy and relatively inexpensive ways to keep an eye on your home while you are away, giving you peace of mind while soaking up the rays! Check out the following wireless options:

Blink Home Security Cameras  

Blink cameras detect motion in your home and send alerts with HD video and audio right to your smartphone.

Nest Indoor Camera

The Nest Cam Indoor security camera is designed to help you look after your home and family – even when you’re away. With 24/7 live streaming, a versatile magnetic stand, person alerts with Nest Aware and one app for all your Nest products, Nest Cam Indoor helps you keep an eye on what matters. From anywhere. With Nest products, you can even control your thermostat, doorbell and smoke and CO alarm!

Canadian Snowbird Association

For extensive and comprehensive resources for all things snowbird related, including important tax and travel insurance information, visit http://www.snowbirds.org. 

 

Have Fun!

Congratulations to all new and veteran snowbirds! Enjoy your time down south!

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Passport 101

 

There’s something singularly exciting about receiving a new passport. That precious little blue book represents the freedom to travel to far off places in relative safety.

Its new pages are the blank canvas on which we’ll paint our travel dreams: a destination wedding in Bali, an African safari, a spiritual retreat on the banks of the Ganges–the possibilities are as wide and vast as the world itself!

 

Canadians on the Move!

Clearly, most Canadians feel the same way about their passports, as, according to Macleans.ca, 65% of us have a valid passport. Indeed, we are a people on the move, and having a passport is becoming increasingly important, as it’s required for travel to most countries in the world, but can also be used as a form of identification for various purposes in Canada as well.

 

Whether you already have a passport or are thinking of getting one, the following passport information may be helpful!

 

Avoid the Passport Panic Attack!

There are few things more panic inducing than being about to leave for your vacation, opening your passport, and realizing that it’s expired! To avoid this travel nightmare, always make sure to check your passport expiry date before you book your vacation! This is certainly not a travel detail you want to overlook!

 

Optimally, you should renew your passport within 6 months of its expiry to avoid any complications or delays that could occur. Better safe than sorry!

 

Urgent Passport Processing

While passport expiry dates should ideally be checked months before booking a vacation, there are circumstances where you realize your passport may be days or weeks from expiring before your trip. If this is the case, don’t panic; you can use the urgent and express passport renewal option.

  

Processing Times for Urgent and Express Service :

●      urgent pick-up: By the end of the next business day

●      express pick-up: 2 to 9 business days

  

How to Apply for Urgent and Express Service

-an airline, bus or train ticket

-a written declaration, if travelling by car

-a travel itinerary showing travel proof of payment

-proof of illness or death in the family requiring immediate travel

Additional Fees

For urgent or express service, you will need to pay an additional service fee along with the regular passport fee. These include:

  • urgent pick-up:

fee: CAN$110

processing time: by the end of the next business day

  • express pick-up:

fee: CAN$50

processing time: within 2-9 business days

 

Your passport is a very valuable document, so when travelling it’s important to remember the following:

  • Never give out your passport information
  • Always keep a photocopy of your passport, and scan a copy of it in case it is misplaced, lost or stolen
  • Keep your passport in a safe place at all times
  • When travelling, keep your passport in a hotel safe or on your person
  • Be careful whom you show your passport to when travelling
  • Keep your passport covered or in a holder to protect it from water damage and wear and tear.

 

I’ve Lost my Passport. Now What?

The most important thing to do if you lose your passport is to  report it immediately. As soon as it’s reported, it is no longer valid and cannot be used for travel. If you are in Canada, you can call the passport office or visit a passport office near you to begin the process of getting a new passport issued.

If you are travelling outside Canada and lose your passport, report it to the Government of Canada office nearest to where you are.

For more information, go to http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/passport/security/lost-stolen.asp

Armed with a valid, unexpired passport, you’re ready to fill those empty pages with bucket-list world adventures! Let’s go!

 

Works Cited:

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/passport/index.asp

https://on.bluecross.ca/travel-insurance/travel-tips/436-important-facts-and-information-about-your-canadian-passport

Before you travel, protect your health.

TravelSafely with TravelSafe Immunization Clinic

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