While Snowbirds Rest, Teachers Play: What Travelling Teachers Need to Know

We all know that winter is prime time for Snowbirds to fly south. But, for teachers across Canada, summer is the perfect opportunity to travel, travel, travel! Whether backpacking through Europe, adventuring in Asia, or relaxing on a beach in South America, travelling teachers need to study up on how long-term travel could affect their health, their wallet, and their travel insurance.

If you’re a teacher eagerly anticipating your summer vacation, take a break from marking and ask yourself the following questions well in advance of your trip…

Is my passport valid 6 months beyond the date I will enter the country I am visiting? Certain countries will stop you from passing through customs if your passport is expiring relatively soon. Check this very important detail, and if necessary, get to the passport office ASAP. Renewing your passport can take up to a month, so don’t delay!

Do I need any vaccinations? Depending on which part of the world you are travelling to, a vaccination may be crucial to your health. Never assume you’re fine without one! Look into it: Check a reliable resource, ask your doctor, and then make an appointment at a travel health clinic early enough for the vaccination to take effect. You know what the experts say: It’s cheaper to prevent illness than to treat it.

Does my travel insurance include coverage for non-emergency medical expenses, like check-ups or prescription top-ups? If you are planning to be away the entire summer, this little detail could affect you in a big way. Because travel insurance is designed to cover unexpected emergencies, your check-up or dental cleaning may have to wait until you get back. If you would rather the peace of mind that accompanies a more comprehensive travel health plan, contact your insurer to find out what your options are.

Am I heading overseas to help a community in need? If you plan to spend your summer teaching in a part of the world that doesn’t have much funding for education, think about what else they may not have funding for: the standard of medical care you’re used to at home. Volunteering in developing parts of the world makes it all the more important to find a travel insurance plan that includes everything you need—in this case 24/7 emergency assistance and coverage for transportation to an appropriate medical facility.

Am I going on an all-inclusive beach vacation or taking part in adventure travel? Whether you’re spending your summer holiday jumping out of airplanes or simply enjoying unlimited drinks in the sun, there are two main things you need to know: (1) Regular travel insurance may or may not cover high-risk activities, like skydiving. (2) Travel insurance will not cover medical expenses related to over-drinking. If you’re not sure what to think, read the fine print on your policy, ask your insurer, and… know your limits!

Am I travelling with children? Crossing a border with children brings with it a whole new set of rules and regulations. Make sure you know what they are so that you aren’t denied entry into the country you are visiting. Border officials are enforcing these rules more and more to help put a stop to international kidnappings. Read the five rules for travelling with kids.

Can I bring a pet along? Unless you are renting a summer home, lugging your pet around from place to place is just plain cruel. Most animals would not be able to handle the stress of being on the go all the time. If you plan to stay in one place with your pet, make sure to double check all of the details: how much it will cost to fly with Snowball, what vaccinations he needs to enter the country you are visiting, and whether or not your travel insurance includes a pet return benefit if you have to be transported home due to a medical emergency.

Do I have any pre-existing medical conditions? If your answer is yes, read your travel insurance policy over and over until you are clear on all of the exclusions and limitations. Check the fine print or call your insurer. Find out: Are there any exclusions that will negate coverage for your condition? Have there been any changes (e.g., change of medication, dosage, treatment, or diagnosis) recently? Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure. If you withhold information on the medical questionnaire and end up seeking medical treatment while travelling, your claim for reimbursement could be denied.

While your students study for exams, take some time to study the information in this article (and elsewhere on this website). The summer months may find you off of your teacherly duties, but now it’s time for you to learn something new! Travel insurance can be tricky, but as long as you inform yourself and ask the right questions, your summer vacation should be all that you’d dreamed it would be… and more!


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