Things to do BEFORE your next Family Vacation

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You’ve booked flights and hotel and are ready to take off on your next family vacation. Or, are you? According to a recent survey by TD Insurance, the top things Canadians do once their family vacation plans are confirmed are:

  1. Print off your boarding passes and hotel confirmations,
  2. Research activities in the area,
  3. Check the weather for your upcoming trip, and
  4. Ensure your passport is ready to go.

Yes, these are all necessary actions that must be taken before your next family vacation, but what else are you forgetting to do?

Based on our past travels, here are 7 things you should consider doing before you leave on your next family vacation.

1. Notify your bank and credit card about your trip

Banks and credit card companies may put a hold on your account if they see unusual activity, so it’s important to let them know where you will be travelling. Your bank may believe that your card has been stolen if transactions occur in a foreign country.

The last thing you want to have happen while on vacation is a freeze on your access to money – that would not be good. Avoid future misunderstandings by taking a few minutes to call your bank and credit cards and inform them of your travel plans.

2. Bring some cash in the local currency

We’ve become so dependent on plastic and electronic transfers these days that we often find ourselves with limited or no cash. When we arrive at a new destination we typically look for an ATM at the airport, but sometimes it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes the ATM’s are broken or out of money. Sometimes you just don’t have enough time or you forget. That can be a problem if your taxi only accepts cash.

The solution is simple – bring some cash with you.

You’re usually fine with US dollars but it’s always a good idea to have some of the local currency, especially if you’re in a developing nation with limited infrastructure. We typically bring at least $200 USD and $100 in the local currency.

Related – 16 Things travel taught us in 2017

3. Protect your family. Get travel insurance.

Before every trip, even if it’s a short trip south to the United States, we make sure we have proper travel insurance. It’s too risky not to. We have friends and family who’ve injured themselves abroad and had to use their travel insurance, so we’ve seen firsthand the value of having travel insurance.

What is surprising is that TD Insurance recently conducted a survey and found that travel insurance was NOT in the top 5 considerations that Canadians think about before departing on their family vacation.

In fact, 36% of people who took the survey said that travel insurance is one of the last things they think about. That just doesn’t make sense to us, especially now that we travel with young children. The financial risks are too great.

Did you know you should also consider travel insurance if you plan to travel to a different province in Canada?

A common misconception is that your provincial health insurance is covered all across Canada. But, this isn’t necessarily the case.

Government health plans won’t cover certain emergency expenses, such as bringing loved ones to visit you in hospital or returning you home if you get sick or injured, and may not cover ambulance rides, so do your homework and make sure you’re protected before you go.

Many people already have insurance through their employer benefit plans, but sometimes that’s not enough. When planning, make sure you check your benefit limits and duration of coverage and buy additional insurance if needed.

If you don’t have insurance, and like to travel frequently, consider an Annual Plan. It’s the most convenient protection and providers like TD have annual plans that can cover you for unlimited trips of 9, 17, 30 or 60 days throughout the year.

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4. Bring snacks and food for the kids

One thing we’ve learned about traveling with kids is that they like to snack – a lot. It may seem like a no-brainer, but how much thought are you really putting into your snack supplies?

Air travel is not what it used to be. Nowadays, you can’t rely on the airline to provide food and snacks. If you’re sitting at the back of the plane there’s a good chance that the food you want will be all gone by the time the flight attendant gets to you.

Don’t risk eating crappy food because you didn’t plan properly. We like to bring protein bars, instant oatmeal, instant noodles, almonds and a few treats like lollipops and chocolate bars.

What about when you arrive at your destination? Do you have a long transfer after your flight? Are there stores or restaurants near your hotel? What time will you be arriving?

What about delays? What would you do if you arrived at an airport or hotel and no restaurants were open and your kids are starving?

We like to plan for the worst and hope for the best.

5. Prepare your home for your absence

It’s a good idea to let your neighbours know that you will be away for a few days. They can pick up newspapers or junkmail that collect on your doorstep – which can be a signal that you’re not home. They can also water your plants and keep an eye on things while you’re away.

Before you leave, make sure you turn off your heat or air conditioning. Unplug your electronics and turn off your lights (unless you choose to leave one or two lights on to make it appear like someone is home).

Have you heard about smart lights?

You can connect these lights to your smartphone and, while you’re away, you can turn them on and off so it looks like someone is still home.

6. Rent equipment so it’s ready when you arrive

When our boys were younger, we would rent baby equipment at our destination. This reduced our travel load significantly. The baby equipment would be ready and set-up for when we arrived at our hotel or apartment rental, which made travel day so much easier.

You can rent items like cribs, high chairs, car seats and strollers. Sometimes these can be rented directly from the hotel or car rental company, or you can use a third-party service.

These days it’s fairly easy to connect with local businesses and organize things remotely.

Related – Retracing our family story in Victoria

7. Consider grocery delivery service

Home grocery delivery is becoming more and more common. If your hotel room has a kitchenette (or if you’re renting an apartment) it’s nice to have food waiting for you when you arrive.

This service is really popular in destinations like Hawaii. You give the company directions on what to buy and they do the grocery shopping for you, bring it to your hotel room, and have it ready and waiting for your arrival. It’s really a great service for travelling families.

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What did we miss? What are your family travel hacks?

Share your thoughts in the comments below. Our readers thank you!

This post is sponsored by TD Insurance. All opinions expressed are our own.

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