Following the catastrophic events in southern France and the upheaval in Turkey, Canadian travellers need to re-assess plans, schedules, itineraries, and safety precautions.
Although we normally urge you not to let terrorists rob you of your rights to travel freely, visit family, enjoy your vacations, and enrich your senses and mind, the incidence of terrorism over the past seven months simply can’t be ignored. You need to add another layer of security to your plans.
We suggest the following…
Check your official Canadian government travel advisory service at least once a day for security updates or warnings, and heed its advice: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories . Not doing so may imperil your safety and invalidate key benefits of your travel insurance. Also consider registering your travel itinerary with the Canadian government online at https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration. This can be an invaluable back-up plan if communications break down and you can’t get in touch with family or loved ones.
When making your travel plans, get some form of trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and ask your insurer to explain the details of your coverage. Most Canadian providers of travel health insurance can also provide trip cancellation options. In these tumultuous times, you need the flexibility to be able to change or cancel plans at the last moment without risking lost deposits or pre-payments for airfares, tours, hotel reservations, or other pre-planned activities. Also ask your travel insurance agent about “change of mind” policies that allow you to cancel trips for any reason, no questions asked. Some policies allow cancellations only for certain listed situations. Make sure you know those conditions. And carry proof of travel insurance—you may be asked to show it at border crossings.
Travel insurance plans also provide you with emergency assistance contacts that can be invaluable in case you are involved in a sudden or unexpected civil upheaval that puts you at risk—such as the events in Nice or Turkey. (The Canadian government has just raised the Avoid all Non-Essential Travel warning for Turkey, which means you go at your own risk, and certain restrictions on your travel insurance may be activated. Check with your travel agents if you have not yet left for Turkey. And if you are already there, it would be best if you arranged to leave as soon as possible. But do it in an orderly fashion. Don’t panic.)
If travelling anywhere in Europe, be prepared to show your passport or visa (if applicable) at border crossings. Over the past few years this has not been necessary because of reciprocal border crossing arrangements between most European nations. But the Middle East migrant crisis and the continuing series of terrorist events have forced many EU countries to reinstate border crossing procedures. And these can be snapped into place virtually overnight, so remain prepared and, above all, be patient.
If you’re visiting popular tourist sites, try to avoid large groups, which could be primary targets for terrorist activities. It may be safer to tour on your own or with a private guide or small group. And stay within well-traveled areas. This is not the time to go looking for “local hotspots.”
Stay tuned to local media, and check out your planned daily activities with hotel concierges and visitors’ desk advisors. They can inform you about trouble spots to avoid in their communities.
Check in with your home base frequently, at least every couple of days, and designate a home contact that can serve as your central domestic messenger.
Needless to say, I hope, leave those hockey jackets and t-shirts emblazoned with maple leaves at home. You may be patriotic, but don’t turn yourself into a target. Blend in. Don’t stand out. You’re going to be recognized as a tourist anyway, but don’t make an issue of it.
And make sure you have access to plenty of cash, preferably in the local currency. U.S. dollars are best as a backup. The loonie is nice, but keep it for use at home. As always, cash is king.
Your smart phone can help you stay in touch with local Canadian consulates or embassies, but don’t expect them to do much more than give you advice. In times of trouble, they’re stressed too. And they are not ATMs or travel agents.
And, most important, if a place or situation doesn’t look right, go with your instincts and stay away. And if you see something, say something.
To purchase travel insurance for your upcoming trip, visit Ingle International.