Is travel on your mind? After three years of travel restrictions, Ontarians are ready to pack their bags. Research from the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) finds that 68 per cent of survey participants plan to travel within Ontario, 51 per cent intend to travel within Canada, 47 per cent are packing their bags for international trips.
Whether planning a summer road trip, a beach getaway or gearing up to explore historic cities, travel is a big investment.
If you’re stressed about getting back to travelling, you’re not alone. TICO also finds that 71 per cent of travellers believe travel is more complicated following the COVID-19 pandemic. With ever-changing guidelines, stories of delayed flights, lost baggage, and busy airports, it is no surprise that travellers feel pressure while planning a vacation.
But your next vacation does not have to be a cause of worry. A little planning and some help from the experts can make travelling easier. We asked CAA Travel Consultants Robin Grohs and Lesley Scharf to dish tips and tricks to help you travel with peace of mind. Here are six ways to ease the stress of your next vacation.
Do your homework
When it comes to planning the perfect vacation, research is key. Spend time finding the right destination based on what you want from your trip. Decide on the activities and attractions you want to do. Are you planning a beach getaway? You may want to find the best snorkelling spots, like checking out the reef at Ningaloo, Australia’s fringe reef. Or perhaps you prefer to ride the waves and surf, and your beach vacation will take you to the swells that Playa Grande on Costa Rica’s north pacific coast offers. Knowing what you want to do and see on your holiday makes choosing your destination easier.
Research the transportation options at your destination before picking your accommodation. You’ll want to find a hotel close to what you want to do and visit, with convenient transit options. Figure out public transit hours and what rideshare options like Uber or taxi companies are available. Once you understand how to get around best, you will know what areas you want to stay in. For example, one section of the city might be within walking distance of everything you want to do or near a major train station that stops at popular attractions.
Spend time researching what documents you need for your travels. If you are heading to Europe, remember that you may need a European Travel Information Authorization System (ETIAS) visa waiver, depending on which countries you plan to visit. If you plan to rent a car, you may need an International Driving Permit and a rider on your travel insurance. Double-check the expiry date of travel documents and your passport. A little research goes a long way, ensuring you are well-informed.
Trust the experts
Planning the perfect vacation can be overwhelming. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. “Working with a CAA Travel Consultant makes planning and booking your future trips seem effortless,” says CAA Travel Consultant Robin Grohs. “We have a wide variety of knowledge for what is going on in the industry; our personal experiences and information from past clients help us help you.”
CAA’s travel experts can handle everything from helping you find the best restaurants to helping you choose the perfect insurance policy that fits your needs. Working with an expert means you get to craft a unique itinerary that is tailored to your interests.
As Consultant Lesley Scharf explains, your travel agent can even help you take advantage of insider perks exclusive to Members with trusted travel partners worldwide. “Life is expensive enough these days; booking with a CAA Travel Agent ensures not a penny is wasted,” Scharf says. “Our expertise will help you experience your dream come to life.”
Plus, your travel consultant will be there for you every step of the way. If you need to cancel or your trip gets interrupted, they will help you adjust and support you. “We are here to help make sure the trip we help you plan goes smoothly, and if there are any hiccups, we are here to smooth them out,” Grohs says.
Get travel insurance
According to TICO, 65 per cent of travellers are worried about protecting their travel investment and are primarily concerned their trip may be cancelled for things beyond their control. “Time and money are two things we don’t ever want to lose,” Scharf says. “The feeling of being safe goes hand in hand with the excitement of your travels.”
But what kind of coverage is the best for you and your needs? That’s where a travel agent comes in. “As agents, we always highly recommend making sure you have both medical and travel insurance coverage for all your trips,” Grohs says.
CAA’s emergency medical insurance protects you while you’re on vacation. If you need to see a doctor, are involved in an accident, or even have the stomach flu, emergency medical insurance will ensure you get the care you need. “It’s for all those medical needs we do not plan for,” Grohs explains.
To help curb the stress around changing (or cancelling) plans, CAA Travel Insurance is a great way to help offset the costs and uncertainty if you face a cancelled flight, medical emergencies, and lost or stolen luggage. Plus, CAA Members get a 20% discount* on travel insurance, making it even more valuable.
Travel insurance provides peace of mind so you can focus on making the most of your vacation.
With 59 per cent of travellers feeling that quarantine requirements are their top concern when planning a trip, staying informed on travel advisories will help ease the stress of planning. Use the Government of Canada’s travel advisories while planning to learn about any health or safety concerns in the areas you visit. The travel advice and advisories section can keep you informed on requirements, guidance and advisories that may be in place for your destination.
Beyond travel advisories, you’ll find information like contact numbers if you need emergency consular aid or even the vaccinations recommended for your destination. You’ll also find advice for women, media workers, or members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community while travelling. Read about entry and exit requirements for places you plan to visit and find information on cyber security threats you may encounter while abroad and things to look out for.
Things don’t always go right, so adapting is important. With the right travel insurance coverage and the help of a travel consultant, changing plans when needed can be easy.
While travel insurance can be a big help, it does not cover everything. When travelling, you should know the cancellation policies for everything you booked, such as attraction tickets, flights and hotels. “The travel industry is constantly changing, and so are the rules,” Grohs says. “We go over the policies and penalties with everyone we book to make sure they know what they are booking and what the penalties can be.”
Take time to learn the cancellation policies and fees for your bookings. No two policies are the same; some require you to cancel by specific dates. So, you’ll want to know what is involved when altering your bookings.
Maximize your luggage
Ease the stress of extra bags and heavy suitcases by being mindful about what you pack. Travelling with less or lighter luggage can make navigating ports, airports, and train stations easier. Also, consider the terrain where you are travelling. Europe’s steep hills, stairways and cobblestones can make wheeling your heavy suitcases changeling.
Before you pack, research the climate of your destination and the recommended clothing for the activities you will do so you know what you need to bring. When selecting outfits, select versatile items that can be re-worm or layered to get the most out of your vacation wardrobe.
Next, list all the essential documents and tickets you will need. Put together a folder where you can find everything quickly without rifling through your luggage to find tickets, boarding passes, or documents. You should also leave space in your suitcase for an emergency health kit with essential supplies to prevent illness, treat minor injuries or sickness, or manage pre-existing medical conditions.
Vacations are the ultimate way to disconnect, recharge, and get a new perspective. While planning a vacation can be overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Working with an expert like a CAA Travel Consultant can help you travel like a pro without the stress that often comes with booking a holiday.
CAA Travel Insurance is underwritten by Orion Travel Insurance Company, a CAA Company. Certain exclusions, limitations and restrictions apply. Subject to change without notice. A Medical Questionnaire is required if you are 60 years of age and older. Quotes are valid for 30 days.
*Applies to CAA Members in good standing (CAA Membership dues paid in full by Membership expiry date). Up to twenty percent (20%) savings applies to the total premium excluding applicable taxes. Minimum premium applies. Subject to change without notice. Excludes Visitors to Canada Insurance. CAA Everyday, Classic®, and Plus® Members save 10%. CAA Premier® Members save 20% at CAA Stores or by calling 1-800-267-8713. CAA Premier Members save 10% and earn 10% in CAA Dollars® when booking online.
®CAA trademarks are owned by, and use is authorized by, the Canadian Automobile Association.