The first thing I want to mention before I get into the topic of the day is that no two people research and prepare for a trip in the same way. There are many methods of undertaking research, and it’s up to you to find the way that works best for you. What I’ve done is compiled a bunch of things to think about that will hopefully help kick start your brain when it comes to travel research, and I’ve also compiled a list of useful resources for you to consider once you decide to start undertaking the actual research portion your journey.
I’ve taken what I think are the most important topics for travel and split them up into segments for this post: Currency, Travel, Food, Climate, Clothing, Communication, Legal, and Medical.
Currency is kind of a huge deal, especially if you’re heading to a country you’ve never been to before. You’re going to need to figure out what the currency looks like, what the denominations are, what the exchange rate is like, and even how that compares to your home currency (how much do things cost at your destination?). You’re also going to need to figure out how to get your cash changed into the currency of the place you’re traveling.
In my experience, I’ve found it’s a lot less of a headache for me to convert my money at the bank I go to. They have one of the cheapest rates around, and they’re usually pretty good about currency conversion, but there is a downside to this. The bank I deal with only has a certain amount of each currency on hand, and if I want more than they’ve got, I’m going to have to wait for them to order it in.
Ultimately, I’d recommend using your bank. They’ll usually give you the best exchange rate (at least they do in my area), and banks deal with money all the time. It can be a fairly painless process with your bank, especially if you’re already established with them.
This is pretty much the reason you’re here. When it comes to travel, it’s more than just hopping on a train, plane, or bus and heading off. You need to consider not only how you’re getting to your destination, but what transportation is like at your destination as well. How are you getting to your accommodations? How are you getting to the spots you want to visit? The how of how you’re getting there is extremely important. If you’re heading to some far off destination that no one’s heard of or doesn’t have massive infrastructure like a lot of major cities do, busses and taxis might not necessarily be available. On top of this, you also need to be aware of any local travel advisories at your destination. Is the area in conflict? Have roads become inaccessible? Are they still allowing foreigners in?
Luckily, if you’re Canadian, I have a couple of awesome websites for you to check out. I’m going to go ahead and throw these up in the resources section of the website for you to bookmark so you can refer back to them as you need them.
The Travel Advice and Advisories are the Government of Canada’s official source of destination-specific travel information. They give you important advice to help you to make informed decisions and to travel safely while you are abroad. No matter where you plan to travel, make sure you check the Travel Advice and Advisories page for your destination twice: once when you are planning your trip, and again shortly before you leave. Safety and security conditions may change between the date you book your travel and your departure date.Government of Canada Travel Advisories Website, https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories
Information supplied by CTA:
- Local safety and security conditions and areas to avoid
- Entry and exit requirements
- Local laws and culture
- Possible health hazards and health restrictions
- Natural hazards and climate
- Where to find help while you are travelling abroad
Registration of Canadians Abroad is a free service that allows the Government of Canada to notify you in case of an emergency abroad or a personal emergency at home. The service also enables you to receive important information before or during a natural disaster or civil unrest.Government of Canada Registration of Canadians Abroad, https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration
If you have any questions, they have a handy little FAQ section available
This category is fairly important. Everyone needs food to survive, but in this day and age, with all the food sensitivities and allergies, one needs to keep in mind that not all food is edible for everyone. Take a serious look at the types of dishes that are common in the area you’re traveling to. Take a look and see if substitutions are allowed (some countries don’t allow them). What are the common ingredients used in the staple dishes of the area?
If you’re like me and you don’t have any food sensitivities or allergies, try adopting the mindset of “I’ll try anything once”. Just because a certain dish doesn’t look appealing to you doesn’t mean it won’t taste absolutely delicious. Hell, that’s how I fell in love with two of my favourite dishes: curry, and sushi.
If you do have allergies or sensitivity to certain ingredients or types of food, you may have to plan out where you are going to eat, and what you’re going to eat while you’re there. Make a list and carry it with you. If you’ve got a smartphone, try using a planning app, or even a simple note-taking app to make these notes. If you don’t have a smartphone, pen and paper should work just fine for keeping notes.
If you can’t find a list of dishes or ingredients within the dishes, gauge the atmosphere and see if asking the person who’s getting the food for you. IN a lot of places, asking about the dishes is completely acceptable, but on the flip side of the coin, this can get you stares in certain places, as it can be considered rude. Figure out what the local customs are in the place you’re going to and try to act accordingly.
Ultimately, if you’ve got an allergy or sensitivity, and asking about food or ingredients is seen as rude, try to default to something safe; something you know is okay. You can always get food later at a place where you know you can eat the food.
Part two is coming. See you on the road!