A toy plane in hands

Travel safely

The key to enjoyable and worry-free travel lies in developing and maintaining safe travel skills. There are tools available to help you make informed choices, from choosing your travel destination to adapting your travel habits for a particular region. While it might first seem overwhelming, the Canadian government site travel.gc.ca is a gold mine of information, no matter where in the world you intend to visit.

Using the Government of Canada’s website wisely to enjoy safe travelling

Follow the advice and advisories about travel destinations

I refer every patient I see in my travel health clinic to the Canadian government’s website. When you use it and choose a country from the dropdown menu, the first thing you’ll see is the government’s risk level advisory for that destination. I often hear people complain that there are a lot of warnings and that they are upsetting.

It’s true that the four levels of risk advisory can be frightening. But I tell people to go beyond the warning at the top and read the entire entry, because the advisory may apply to the entire country, a particular province or territory, or even to a specific neighbourhood. So, they are often less unsettling than they first appear.

The two highest levels of risk advisories are used by the government when Global Affairs considers that the potential risk to Canadian travellers is very serious. If you intend to visit a country whose risk advisory is high, remember to contact Blue Cross travel insurance to see if your coverage for travel there might be affected.

Registration of Canadians Abroad

On the travel.gc.ca website, you’ll easily find a link to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service. I recommend it to all globe-trotters because it provides you with an appreciably enhanced level of security. It will take a few minutes of your time to enter some personal data and information about your upcoming travel. Once you’ve done your initial registration, subsequent use of the service is quicker because you will only have to enter your new itinerary to update your profile.

As a registered user, you will receive warnings should an emergency arise in the country that you are visiting. These are sent automatically to you whenever the Canadian government is worried that Canadians’ safety might be compromised.

Additional useful information

For every country on the list, the government provides a lot of useful information you’ll want to read:

  • Entry/exit requirements: tells you exactly what documents you’ll need for travel to and from a particular country
  • Laws and culture: informs you about the laws and local customs to help you be aware of what not to do while visiting
  • Natural disasters and climate: has information on prevailing weather seasons when storms are likely or on things like regions prone to earthquakes

Finally, the publication Her Own Way – A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide has a wealth of information for women travelling on their own or in a group. It describes especially well the reality of travelling alone as a woman. The document Travelling with Children is really useful for young parents.

The Government of Canada travel website is an invaluable tool that you’ll want to consult before every departure and it offers travellers and their loved ones an added resource for travelling safely.

And with Blue Cross pre-travel assistance services, you get useful information for your safety abroad.

Gabrielle Asselin