Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Destination Weddings - Are you ready to depart?

Written By Jaime Valdes-Riench, owner of Travel & Events with Style

You booked your trip months ago and now the time has finally come to depart on your destination wedding or your dream honeymoon, but the question to ask is, “Has anything changed between then and now?”  The answer often is, “Yes!” in some form or another.  Travel is one of the things that you should expect the unexpected.  In one moment you hear suggestions that you should only take carrier-on so you don’t lose your luggage, and then we hear the news and we are told you are no longer allowed to take carry-on on the plane.  There can be nightmares of the long line ups at security and new procedures they implement everyday to insure air travel is safe.  Now, how do you fit in with it all?  How will it affect you directly on your up and coming trip?  Because your destination may be far from home make sure you have taken the extra steps to make sure you have all your bases covered.


Make a list and check everything off as you pack it:   This simple practice is worth the while.  You have so much on your mind and you don’t want to forget anything.  Making a list and checking it off as you pack it will ensure you have everything you need and will make for a great holiday!

Did you purchase travel insurance:  If you ask anyone who does not purchase travel insurance and why they don’t you often get a few answers such as “I’m young and healthy, I don’t need it”, “nothing ever happened to me before, why should it now?”, or “If I buy insurance I am just planning for the worst!”.  Being prepared is never a bad thing.  For the minimal fee it costs you, it truly is worth it.  And with current packages available now, there are even clauses that they can fly you home if something happened to a loved one that wasn’t travelling with you.  Also, note that some countries such a Cuba have made it mandatory as an entrance requirement to have travel insurance.  You hear it all the time, but it does come down to peace of mind.

Your passport and travel documents:  Believe it or not there are still countries that do not require your passport as an entry requirement, but they are few and far between.  Even though they may exist, it is always strongly recommended that you travel with your passport in hand.  It was designed primarily for travel, thus it covers all the main details needed in order to travel.  Also, entry requirements of countries change on a dime, this ensures you are ready if per chance the country you are visiting changes entrance policies.  As for travel documents, always make sure they are packed in your carry-on or on your person and are ready for check in.  You don’t want to be halfway to the airport wondering if you left your ticket on the coffee table.  Remember that you should have verified your name spelling at the time of booking and it has to appear the same as your passport.  Something that often gets forgotten is that you should not book yourselves under your new married name unless your passport already reflects it.  You can not change to your married name without your marriage certificate and an ID with your new address.  So trying to do it last minute is not always possible.  You will not be allowed entrance if the name does not match and once a ticket is issued it very difficult to almost impossible change it.  Charter companies are more flexible with name alterations, but it is extremely difficult to change regular schedule airline flights (i.e. Aircanada, WestJet, etc.).  Be proactive not reactive.

Double check the location you are planning to visit:  If you are leaving to another country, re-familiarize yourself with the countries entrance requirements, health risks, social risks, and suggested vaccinations.  Also, if you are transiting another country, remember to check that countries transiting requirements as well.  A recommend website for Canadian travellers is Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada www.yoyage.gc.ca and also check the World Health Organization www.who.int

Recheck baggage limitations:  Baggage has been scrutinized in a large way since October 11, 2001 (911) and we have seen changes happen literally over night.  A lot of travellers will try to stand their ground and insist that their travel agent told them 6 months ago this would be allowed.  What they do not realize it is the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority makes their discretion according to current events which occur quickly and must be implemented immediately.  Before you depart, a suggested site would be:  www.catsa-acsta.gc.ca to see what changes have been implemented so you can anticipate for longer than usual wait times in order to clear security.  It will also advise if there are any changes to baggage requirements such as limited amounts of medications or no liquids allowed in carry-on luggage.  The time you save in security can mean relaxing prior to flight to literally running aboard or missing your connection all together.

If carry-on luggage is allowed, plan for the unexpected:  If you are allowed to take carry-on with you, making the extra effort of taking a few extra items that can sustain you if you where separated from your luggage.  This can make the difference of being more comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.  Now considering the limitation of liquids in carry-on luggage may limit what you can bring aboard, but bringing a change of clothes, a change of shoes, a small amount of necessary medication, a few snacks, and possibly reading material can make the extra long layover a little more bearable.

On the day of travel: When it is time to check in, check-in for international flights and charters 3 hours prior... really!  Legally international carriers and charters can and will deny you boarding.  If your flight is at 5:00am and they request you check-in at 2:00am it is understandable that you are dreading the commute at 1:00am to the airport, but a suggestion can be to rent a hotel room at the hotel that is attached to your airport terminal.  Then you can just role your luggage in prior to check in verses the long commute if there is one.  It simple is a decision of cost (for the hotel room) vs. comfort.

Always consider the holidays and peak seasons when travelling:   Security often can take longer during certain times of the year and may require longer waiting periods.  Also if there is an alert out, this will increase line ups everywhere in all airports.  It is a good idea to make these time considerations so that these early check in times are not be as uncomfortable as they could be. 

Planning ahead can make a world of difference.  Taking the few extra steps are worth it and will keep your mind focussing on the important things, each other, the trip, and how much fun you will have!