Travelling abroad? Prepare ahead for a safe and happy vacation!

February 24, 2021

Ottawa Journal (Ottawa Journal (February 27 – March 02, 2021)
David Tilson, MP

Many of you may be looking forward to a well-deserved spring holiday, likely in a foreign and warmer place. Asking your neighbour to check your mail and signing up for Travel Insurance aren’t the only preparations you ought to be making before you leave. Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), reminds the lucky Canadians traveling abroad to be proactive in reducing the risks and increasing the chances of having a safe and enjoyable trip.

What should you be looking into? The consular website, www.travel.gc.ca, offers a wealth of advice for planning a safe trip. This includes the handy “Traveller’s Checklist” and helpful tips for travelling with children, for women travelling alone, plus other great advice to help you become a savvy traveller.

Of course, you are ultimately responsible for keeping yourself safe while abroad. However, if you’re a Canadian and you unexpectedly find yourself in the middle of a serious problem, trained consular staff posted at our embassies and missions across the globe are ready to assist you. They can provide advice and information for medical and legal services, can contact your relatives or friends at home, are happy to provide sources of information about local laws and customs, and can expeditiously replace a lost or stolen passport.

All that said, expectations have to be reasonable! Some interesting tales from the consular front lines were requests for tickets for The Oprah Winfrey Show, same-day tickets for a play in London, picking up a dog at the Beijing airport and taking care of it until the paperwork was sorted out, and last but not least, a request for consular officials to escort a mother-in-law out of a Canadian woman’s apartment in Cairo. There are certain things our consular officials will not be able to help you with.

Here’s everything you need to ‘know before you go’ in 3 easy-to-remember steps. Think of them as the 3 Rs of international travel:

  1. Read up on relevant topics such as safety, security, and local laws in your destination country by checking the Department of Foreign Affairs’ travel reports and warnings at www.travel.gc.ca (these warnings may affect your Travel Insurance).
  2. Register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service found at www.travel.gc.ca, which helps the government contact and assist you in the event of a real emergency.
  3. Reach Consular Services at the Emergency Operations Centre in Ottawa if you or another Canadian experiences problems abroad. Email contact: sos@international.gc.ca. Phone: (613) 996-8885.

Bon voyage!