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These 5 Things Will Help You Choose a Safe Travel Destination

A little homework (and some common sense) goes a long way when travelling

Woman sitting at a table on a train writing into a small notebook on top of a map by her tablet, phone and sunglasses by the window in the daytime

Vacations will always go more smoothly if you do a little research beforehand. Will you need any vaccinations? Are there any travel advisories about the area you’re headed to? “Learn about your destination in advance,” says Stefano Maron, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada. “The better prepared you are before leaving Canada, the better your experience.” Here are five tips to keep in mind.

1. Research your destination

You’ve made a list of activities and restaurants, but you should also review local laws and restrictions. Start with the travel.gc.ca website, which includes specific information for families, women, seniors, LGBTQ2 and others. The Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories section gives details on health risks and cultural considerations, as well as safety and security info. Talk to people who have visited the destination for first-hand insight, or turn to a trusted travel agent for advice.

2. Use locals for reliable information

Cross-reference details found in magazines, books and websites by consulting the tourism and consular websites of your destination.

Blogs run by expatriates or residents are another great resource. Expatriates can provide an especially valuable perspective, since they have already had to adopt local etiquette, customs and traditions.

3. Trust your gut instinct…

Whether going solo or with a group, exercise the same level of caution you would at home. That means staying away from unknown areas, being wary of strangers and using reliable modes of transport.

4. …and pay heed to government-issued Travel Advisories

The Government of Canada identifies four levels of possible risk for a country or territory, taking into account such issues as political instability and health emergencies.

The highest two levels are: avoid non-essential travel (i.e., reassess your need to travel to this place) and avoid all travel (i.e., cancel your plans or leave while it is still safe).

5. Sign up for the Registration of Canadians Abroad Service

It’s free and easy to do online. The service will keep you updated should an emergency arise—think a natural disaster or civil unrest—in Canada or the country you’re travelling to.

Make sure to leave the name of your tour operator; flight information; hotel name, location and phone number; insurance details and itinerary with family or friends in Canada, Maron advises.

In addition, share contact details for the Emergency Watch and Response Centre and Canadian embassy or consulate at your destination with loved ones. You can also access these services on the go by downloading the Travel Smart app.

If you've already followed these tips on safe (and smart) travel

Make sure you’re travelling protected with CAA Travel Insurance so you can enjoy complete peace of mind.

Image credit: iStock/Tarik Kizilkaya