5 tips for summer travel planning


Before you hit the beach this summer, make sure you’ve done all your homework to ensure an enjoyable trip. Above, kids in Aruba hit the waves with abandon. (Julia Pelish/

Advice from Rod Charles Deputy Editor

Going on vacation is fun. Planning one, however, can be a chore.

There are so many things to consider before you leave — pets, children, airport taxes, medical emergencies. Managing the tasks involved with your getaway isn’t all fun and games and if you haven’t taken the time to think things through thoroughly, then your actual vacation may not be fun and games either. has compiled five tips for summer travel planning so that your next vacation is one you’ll always want to remember.

1. Budget. Start early and research those deals. Understand your needs and goals. Don’t wait until the last minute to look for those money-saving deals. is a great place to start as we point to several packages and offers in our “Deal of the Day” features, which are determined entirely by our editorial staff, without any influence from advertisers. You can find the best discounts to some of the finest hotels, attractions and activities in the country. We let you in on deals on everything from a stay at Le Place d’Armes Hotel in Montreal to a Laughter Package at Century Plaza Hotel & Spa in Vancouver, to wilderness getaways in Algonquin ParkManitoba, and Yukon.

Take the time to find out if there any packages or offers available for the places you want to visit. Research opportunities to save money. Plan your trip ahead so that you are not struggling to get things organized at the last minute.

Always assume you’re going to need more money than think, especially when it comes to shopping and eating. Children, seniors or those with special needs may need extra attention or care. Assume there will be unexpected costs from taxis, car rentals, emergency pharmacy purchases, airplane food and airport improvement fees. Always budget above and beyond.

Too many people make the mistake of just saying “we’re going on a relaxing vacation” without determining what those words mean to them. Are you looking for a romantic escape, hoping to get back to naturetake in a show or embark on a European adventure? The earlier you can determine the kind of vacation you want and where you hope to go, the easier it will be to research those deals and ensure you get what you want out of your holiday.

2. Plan for your human and furry children. If you have children, you need to consider destinations with options ideal for young people. Besides being home to a natural attraction that the kids will love, Niagara Falls has several hotel packages for the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark. Another good idea for planning a vacation that children will love is building your getaway around an event like the PNECNECalgary Stampede or a professional sporting event. Remember not every location is child-friendly.

Another consideration is pets. Some hotels offer packages that are pet-friendly. If you’re hoping to bring your furry friend along with you then be sure and take the time to research which hotels and attractions are pet-friendly. And don’t make the mistake of assuming that you will just be able to leave your pet at a kennel. It isn’t always an easy thing to find space and even if you do find a kennel available, your dog may not like it. The point — know your pet and plan accordingly.


3. Make sure your passports and licences are in order. If the vacation you want is a fishing trip, then you will need a fishing licence. In Ontario for example, if you are planning on going fishing you must have an Outdoors Card and fishing licence tag to fish, unless you’re buying a one-day licence. A One-day Sport Fishing Licence will cost you $12.95. An outdoor card will cost you $ 9.68. You can purchase these online.

If Ontario residents wish to both fish and hunt, they must apply for an Outdoors Card (hunting/fishing version), which provides for both privileges. For information on this option call the Outdoors Card Centre: 1-800-387-7011. Understand that by law, even if you want to put a line in the water at a cottage, you’re obligated to have a fishing licence.

When it comes to passports, many people don’t realize that some countries will not accept a passport if it has less than six months left on it. Countries love when you visit, but they want to make sure that you’re going to leave. Do you need to renew your passport? If you do, this isn’t something that you want to leave until the last minute.

4. Medication and Insurance

Organize vaccinations and deal with medical issues before you leave. Remember, some vaccinations need time to work. Don’t assume you’ll just be able to find a doctor on the road when you need one.

Always travel with more medication than you need. The 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland caused chaos for flights over the Atlantic for several days. When the Carnival Cruise Ship Triumph broke down at sea this spring, the stories of raw sewage seeping down the walls was what got the media’s attention. What didn’t get as much attention was the fact that many people had run out of medication and were really struggling without their prescriptions — on top of everything else.

Daily Beast: “They were running out of medicine. There was a huge line of people — some people with diabetes were running out of insulin, and mothers with babies were running out of diapers.”

Always, always carry a minimum of five extra days medication with you on any trip you take.

Another thing to consider is insurance. Managing Editor Adrian Brijbassi wrote a terrific article called “How To Deal With Travel Insurance Pain”, a must-read for anyone planning to travel. One interesting thing Brijbassi mentioned is even a trip to another province may require purchasing medical insurance.

Brijbassi: “Yes, Canada has universal health-care, and we’re lucky it does, but it’s the provinces that cover your needs, not the federal government. So, you may need to add coverage when travelling outside of your home province as well. Check with your province’s health-care policy, and with your insurance company.”

 5. For crying out loud, have fun. The ultimate mistake is to come back from vacation more frazzled than when you left. Don’t laugh, it happens a lot more than you think.

Make sure you’re able to do what you want because it’s your vacation. Whether its spending time by yourself, going to a club, visiting an amusement park with the kids, or just chilling poolside with the person you love — whatever that something is — plan your schedule accordingly and make sure you do it. Never make the assumption that you’re going to have a relaxing time and do what you want to do just because you’re on vacation.

You’ve taken care of the planning, now let the plan take care of you. Let go, relax. Make great memories and enjoy those wonderful moments in the sun.

Rod has previously worked for and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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