Winter, second winter, spring (ish)…. and GO! The warm weather is almost here and for many Canadian families, that means the coveted summer travel season is about to begin! Especially if you’re vacationing down south this summer, here are my best tips for ensuring that your travel plans go swimmingly (see what I did there?) and in the safest manner possible.
1. Take the time to research your destination. Sure, you’ll want to do the basic things, like scoping out the accommodations, dining options and recreational activities. However, especially when travelling with young ones, you’ll need to do a little bit of a deeper dive.
Here’s a checklist I always like to keep in mind, especially if I’m considering a Caribbean destination:
1) Is it safe to drink the water?
2) What vaccinations are needed prior to travel?
3) In case of an emergency, what are the health care options?
4) Is child care available, and at what cost?
5) What are the entry and exit requirements?
6) Is there a Canadian consulate office close by?
7) What is the local currency? (And, do I absolutely need to bring cash?)
… Well, do I need to bring cash? It depends. If I’m vacationing at a resort where I’ll want to leave tips and gratuities for exceptional service, I’ll normally bring about $100-$150, usually in one- and five-dollar bills. But that’s it. For everything else, I use my Mastercard!
A credit card is the safest and most reliable way to spend while travelling. Mastercard is accepted around the world, and cardholders are always protected from unauthorized transactions if a card is lost or stolen. These benefits are applicable to all Canadian Mastercard cardholders, whether the card is used domestically or abroad, and fraud protection is available for purchases made online, via mobile device or on smart home devices, too.
The best part? I always have a detailed record of my vacation spending when I get home!
2. Purchase adequate travel insurance. Unfortunately, accidents, illnesses and family emergencies can happen. Travel health insurance can ensure you don’t get stuck with large medical bills, and trip cancellation/interruption insurance is essential in the event your trip needs to be cancelled or postponed due to an emergency. These insurances can be purchased online, through a travel agent or through your bank. If you travel often, you may even want to consider an annual plan, which can cover you and your family for an unlimited number of trips during the year.
Of course, many credit cards come with built-in travel and car rental insurance benefits! If you have a travel or rewards credit card, like the World Elite Mastercard, you’ll receive travel protection in the form of travel medical/accident insurance, trip cancellation insurance, baggage delay insurance and more.*
Having travel protection through your credit card will often allow you to forgo purchasing separate travel insurance for each trip, and often, the annual fee is much, much less than you’d pay for a separate annual travel insurance plan. It’s definitely worth looking into! NOTE: Always read your cardholder agreement to be sure of what is covered, how much is covered, and if any exclusions apply.
3. Make sure your first aid kit is top notch. Look, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a travelling pharmacy when we go away. But you know what? I’d rather be safe than sorry, and there’s no such thing as being over-prepared when you’re a parent. I used a standard fabric lunchbox – it fits perfectly in carryon luggage and is large enough to store everything I need – and before each and every trip, I ensure I do the following:
a) Replace all expired and soon-to-expire medications. On a cruise, during the night, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is not the time to discover the fever-reducing medicine expired last month. I check the expiration dates of all prescription and over the counter medicines, as well as items such as rubbing alcohol and sanitizer, antibiotic ointments and allergy medications.
b) Pack several formulations of the most important meds. For fever reduction and pain relief, I keep both children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen on hand. For allergies, antihistamines are staples in my first aid kit as they provide fast, effective symptom relief for allergies and allergic reactions.
c) Assemble a wide selection of bandages. Take an inventory of bandages and gauzes to ensure there’s a variety of sizes, shapes and adhesive strengths. While my boys love showing off a Disney-themed bandage on fingers, remember that a flexible fabric or durable protection bandage is better for knees and elbows.
d) Replace the battery in the digital thermometer. It’s 2019, so I’m assuming that most moms own a digital thermometer. (If you don’t, please buy one.) Taking a child’s temperature – and receiving an accurate result – can mean the difference between snuggles and reassurance or a trip to the emergency room while in a foreign country. Always make sure you have a working digital thermometer; you’ll never know when you’ll need it.
In the worst-case scenario where you or your child may need to see a doctor, many Mastercard credit cards offer emergency medical coverage anywhere in the world to you, your spouse and your dependent children, when traveling with either parent. And, if you need money in a hurry, Mastercard Global Service helps you with reporting a lost or stolen card, obtaining an emergency card replacement or cash advance, finding an ATM location and answering questions on your account.*
This summer, how will you make memories that will last a lifetime? If family travel is the plan, I wish you a safe and fun vacation and encourage you to check out Mastercard’s travel tips to ensure you are protected when traveling!
This post is sponsored by Mastercard. The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own.
*Confirm your coverage with your bank/issuer as travel, insurance and other card benefits may differ by card type.