Crisis Management


Let’s face facts: There are times in your travels when things are going to go awry.

The trick is to be armed with these few simple tips on document safety.

1. Travel.gc.ca/travelling will help you find pre-travel information on countries you’re thinking of visiting, so you can nip problems in the bud.

2. Head to travel.gc.ca/assistance/embassies for a list of embassies and consulates that provide services to Canadians abroad, in case things are looking dire.

3. Visit ppt.gc.ca if you lose your passport. This site is also good for fraud alerts and information on identity theft.

4. Always travel with both electronic and paper copies of your complete travel insurance plan.

5. Keep jpgs of your passport and driver’s license, plus all medical info and insurance info, tucked away online on Google or Dropbox or some kind of cloud.

6. Always look on the bright side. There’s bound to be one somewhere.


Manage Pee Breaks

Pee Break

Pee breaks on the road can be a challenge. Don’t be caught with your pants down.

I will not soon forget the first time I saw someone use one of those old-fashioned public pissoirs in Amsterdam. I thought: seriously? Isn’t Europe a first-world place? Gross. Since then, I have gone to the bathroom in places I would rather forget. My new mantra: Get over yourself and get on with your business. Here are a few tips:

1. Always take advantage of a washroom when one is available, even if you don’t think you have to go.

2. Be mindful of your water intake if there is even a remote chance of getting stuck in traffic. (I once flew to Montreal with a bursting bladder, because the plumbing at Billy Bishop Airport was malfunctioning that morning and there was turbulence the whole way.)

3. Carry a few sachets of disinfecting wipes in your day pack. Good for skinned knees, too.

4. A small bottle of hand sanitizer is great for sharing with the group/kids.

5. Pocket extra napkins from the lunch table, in case you need them later.

6. Keep a few coins on you in case the toilet has a toll. Or an attendant.

7. When presented with facilities that are not what you’re used to (i.e. holes in the floor), just roll with it. At least you’ll get a good story out of it.

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Empower Women

sustainable tourism

Help make tourism sustainable for everyone involved, including the communities you’re visiting.

Show your support of International Women’s Day. The amazing people at G Adventures’ Planeterra share these tips:

1. Research your destination in advance to find small businesses that support social causes for women.

2. Eat at local independent restaurants whenever you can. The hospitality industry spreads wealth throughout the developing world unlike any other industry.

3. Support the micro-entrepreneurs—the women you see selling food, working at markets or making their own wares. Pay fair prices that value the time spent on the crafts.

4. Support non-profit organizations, as many will focus on women’s empowerment, education, training and human rights.

5. Experience local culture by going with home-stay accommodation.

Visit Planeterra.org.

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Travel Companionship


Nobody wants to go on holiday with you? Gee, I wonder why. Consider that you may be a complete pill to travel with. Is it time to clean up your act?

1. Be on time for the trip. No one wants to guess if your alarm went off or not. Travel is stressful enough without you adding to it right out of the gate.

2. Don’t be any of these things: whiney, fussy, grumpy, bossy, shirty – any of the ill-tempered words that end in “y.” Just calm the hell down.

3. Never complain unless it’s warranted. See “whiney.”

4. Never fixate – on how awful lunch was, on what to buy your mom, on a bad night’s sleep. Fixaters – rhymes with haters – distract others from enjoying their experience.

5. If travel plans change, just go with the flow. Dealing with the unexpected is all part of the adventure.

6. Learn how to nap. See “grumpy.”

7. Learn how to shut up. Especially if you talk to yourself.

8. If you need some time alone, say so. And encourage your companion to do the same.

P.S. This is not a mean post.

Avoid Traveller’s Diarrhea

Traveller's diarrhea

Sadly, booze doesn’t kill bacteria. Here’s how to avoid traveller’s diarrhea.

1. Three little words: “No ice, please.” Only consume ice that you know has gone through a water-purifying system.

2. Drink bottled water, and make sure you witness the cap being unsealed (the same goes for beer).

3. Stick to cooked foods and be wary of salads and raw vegetables that may have been washed in unclean water.

4. Don’t eat unpasteurized milk or cheese.

5. Eat just the fruit that you can peel yourself.

6. Iodine drops and chlorine tablets can be purchased at camping stores if you think you bottled water may not be available where you’re headed.

7. Dukoral is available from the pharmacist counter without a prescription. Consult your doctor first, and follow the directions carefully.


Navigate the Language


With the exception of a few places (not mentioning any names!), people like it when you at least try to speak in their native language.

1. Buy a couple of different language apps for your phone and practice with them well in advance of your trip. (Read the reviews first.)

2. A pocket phrase book can be pulled out at lunchtime not only to help order food but to refresh your phrases for the afternoon’s shopping trip.

3. Don’t be afraid to try; people will appreciate your effort. Practice on tour guides, restaurant servers and passers by.

4. The five must-learns include: Yes, and no, hello and good-bye, please and thanks, where is the toilet, two beers please and may I have a receipt, please?

5. You should also learn how to count to 10. (In case you need to order 10 beers.)


Save or Splurge?


Just like clothes-shopping, memorable travel experiences come with a high-low mix. Here’s how to save or splurge like a pro.

1. Stopover in Minnesota? Save at a discount hotel chain.

2. Stopover in L.A.? Splurge at a boutique hotel on the beach.

3. Spending a fortune on flights? Save on the hotel (or rent an apartment).

4. Quick business trip by yourself? Save with a web deal, then splurge on a nice meal or a massage.

5. Taking your parents? Splurge on Mom; play it by ear with Dad.

6. Taking the kids? Save as much as you can. (They won’t care.)

7. Backpacking for a week and dog tired? Splurge on the thread count.

8. Never likely visiting your destination ever again? Splurge on something memorable.


Avoid Pickpockets


If you’ve ever been rolled on the street before you know how utterly soul-sucking it is. Here’s how to avoid pickpockets.

1. Carry your wallet in a front pocket, with the opening facing down.

2. Be alert in busy areas. Pickpockets target train stations, bus stops, crowded street corners and street performances.

3. Be wary of diversions: If someone tries to get your attention or brushes up against you, make sure your hand is on your wallet.

4. Turn backpacks into frontpacks.

5. Carry handbags across your body or under your arm, with the flap facing your body.

6. “Snatch-and-grabs” are considered violent crimes. Just let them have it.