Strong Dollar… Strong Travel Outlook for Summer 2013

The strong Canadian dollar is fuelling a surge in overseas travel–both to the United States and farther afield–and it’s only going to increase.  So if you need a passport, file for it early if you don’t have one yet, and get your travel insurance lined up soon. Just remember to let your insurer know if your health changes.

According to the Globe and Mail, federal increases in duty free rules, allowing Canadians to double the value of items they can bring back from the U.S. on their two-day or more shopping trips, are sending record numbers of Canadians to U.S. retailers.

Overnight travel to the U.S. hit 1.95 million last September, the highest number since Statistics Canada started keeping such records back in 1972.  And the numbers just keep increasing.

With the summer travel season approaching, Europe also looks like a strong destination for Canadians, whose dollar has appreciated slightly against both the euro and the British pound.

The sad news is that the price of Canadian passports has risen sharply, as we wrote in this space a few weeks ago, but at least you can now get a passport to last 10 years and when you amortize that price over the length of its validity, it’s still not a bad deal—though it’s still fair to ask why Canada’s passports are so much more expensive than those of other countries.

As for travel insurance, prices have risen only marginally this year and there are more vendors selling products than ever, but you need to be absolutely sure you deal with an agent who specializes in travel insurance and can sell you something that fits your individual needs, and doesn’t just pull a ready-made item off the shelf.  That can be worse than no insurance at all if you ever have an emergency.

Also make sure you carry proof of travel insurance with you, preferably in the same safe place you carry your passport.  More and more countries are now requiring you to show proof of adequate (not just any, but adequate) insurance before they let you into the country.  Don’t take chances.  Take your policy with you and get it early enough that you can be sure you have the time to complete the medical questions properly.

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