Travel Advice for the Holiday Season: Insurance, Car Rentals and More
‘Tis the season for travelling! With the holiday season getting into full swing, December is one of the busiest months for Canadians travelling, both within the country and to warmer destinations elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans may not work out as intended due to factors beyond your control. But whether you’re flying back home, or taking the family on an exotic trip for a sun-soaked holiday vacation, there are some basic things you can be aware of to make sure your trip goes smoothly. Here’s what to keep in mind so that your holiday travel plans go off without a hitch:
- Make Sure You Have Travel Insurance: This is essential, particularly if you’re planning on a trip to the United States or elsewhere. Travel insurance can cover a variety of things depending on the policy you get, including medical insurance, cancellation or interruption insurance, and even annoyances like lost baggage.
- Be 100% Clear About What Your Travel Insurance Covers You For: You can’t be too thorough about what your travel insurance policy covers or doesn’t cover. If you’re not clear, don’t hesitate to speak to your insurance broker to clear things up – it’s always better to be well-informed beforehand than to be left with unpleasant surprises.
- Research Your Accommodations Thoroughly. In the modern Internet age, it’s easier than ever to find good hotel deals, or alternative accommodations, like renting out an apartment in your destination. Just make sure that you do your homework on the place where you’re staying. Check on previous reviews, both good and bad, and take a few minutes to look beyond the first search results page to see if it reveals anything. Otherwise, you may find that your accommodations do no not match up with what was promised.
- Be Careful of Advance Booking Bargains. Some places offer big discounts for pre-paying your accommodations. But carefully note the restrictions before you pay up – some discounted bookings may come with the caveat that there are no cancellations or refunds available. If something were to come up before you travel, you could be left on the hook for that cost – especially if you don’t have any form of cancellation insurance.
- Renting a Car? Know What Your Credit Card Covers. Rental car companies love to use insurance as an upsell. But many credit cards come with some form of rental car insurance on them. Depending on the card, that may be sufficient for you. Familiarize yourself with your card’s terms and conditions, and if the legalese is too much to cut through, give your credit card company a call to get it in plain English.
- Watch the Local Weather Forecast, Check on Your Flight Status, and Arrive Early. Being aware that there’s a big winter storm projected to roll in on your travel day can give you a much better sense of timing on your travel day, like how early to depart for the airport, or whether to make alternate arrangements from what you had originally planned. It’s easy to check up on your flight status and see whether it’s been delayed or cancelled. Also be aware that many airports experience longer-than-usual security lines and check-in lines at this time of year and plan accordingly.
- Always keep your bag in front of you and in your sight at the airport, train station, or terminal. This is frequently announced over the loudspeakers, but some people still don’t get the message. If you leave your bag behind your chair, it only takes a moment for an agent to grab it and take it to security, and the process of getting your bag back could put you well off your schedule. Don’t take that chance and keep an eye on your bag at all times.
- Be cautious of cab drivers when you arrive at your destination. The majority of taxi drivers are just good, hard-working people, but there are always a few bad apples in every bunch. And in some exotic destinations, arriving tourists can be like a golden ticket. One way to protect yourself from price gouging or your driver taking a long route to your destination: ask a few different drivers, if possible, for a rough estimate of how much it will cost to get your destination. Also, make sure that you’re using a licensed cab company when you arrive at your destination.