It was Friday January 28th 2011 and I was skiing at Blue Mountain and my phone rang. I couldn’t answer it, so I let it go to voice mail. When I got to the top of the hill, I listened to see who called. It was my daughter who was teaching in Cairo Egypt. Thank goodness she called right back. She had a bit of panic in her voice and she had to tell me, she was heading out of Cairo to Alexandria, because a revolution had started in Cairo Egypt. Of course, as her Mom, panic struck for a moment. I wanted to ask her a ton of questions, but time was limited, and she said she would contact me the next day when she got to her destination. The whole country had been shut down from any technology and our normal way of communicating was through apps like WhatApp were not available.
The kicker part of this whole ordeal, my husband and I had purchased tickets Monday January 24th 2011, to Cairo to visit her in April 2011. Now what?
I learned a few things during this stressful time, and it has become beneficial in my education about travel insurance.
- Registration of Canadians Abroad
The first thing I did when I spoke to my daughter the next day, was to ask her if she was registered with the Canadian Government for travel. Of course, she didn’t know. I did some digging and found out about a very helpful website for Canadian travelers. I recommend registering with them while travelling to any destination. That way the Canadian Government can provide important information in preparation for emergency (such as natural disaster or civil unrest) for the country for which you are registered. From the devastating forest fires in Australia to the virus out break in China, it is so important to be up to date with your travel plans.
- Watch for travel warnings
The next thing I did was find out about my flight that I had booked a day before the revolution started in Cairo Egypt. I had sufficient trip cancellation coverage through my credit card and called to get the flight cancelled. My flight was 3 months away, so they told me I had to wait until 1 month prior to my departure date for travel warnings to Egypt. Travel warnings are listed through this Canadian government website www.voyage.gc.ca . Once March rolled around, there were still travel warnings to Egypt and I was able to get a full refund for my flights. When I looked at the warning for February 2020 there are quite few, and I would highly recommend visiting this site before you travel.
- Any changes to your health can void your travel insurance policy
There have been so many travel insurance denials shared through the media lately and the latest tragic story from December 2019 is of a young man who travelled to Thailand and was denied travel insurance coverage at first. CTV news has been following his story about his trip to the emergency room in Moncton New Brunswick before his trip. He went in with flu symptoms and because they linked his flu symptoms to a headache, he was denied coverage at first with his travel insurance. He did eventually get the okay from the insurer, but it was a painful experience for the family to go through. I would highly recommend calling your insurance company if you have been to the hospital or had any changes to your health prior to your trip. As you can see it is imperative to take this seriously.
- Know your baggage allowance and fees
If you’re like me, I tend to over-pack. I have been working on that, but sometimes I want to bring that extra pair of shoes etc. Last year I purchased a luggage scale, so I don’t have to get on a scale with my luggage and do the math. The average weight for a checked bag is 50lbs. The airlines are now charging extra fees for checked bags even if they are within weight. Last year while travelling to Germany on my way home I was surprised to be charged 90 euros for my bag, but on the way there I was only charged $30 Canadian. The night before I tried to book everything, but because I was using an air line affiliated with Air Canada I had to pay the partners fees. I learned from this experience to book directly through the airline and not a third party, as I was not treated in the same manner.
- Know the carry-on rules for liquids
This past week, my husband went on a trip with a friend and they decided to only use carry-on luggage. He told me he was held up because he hadn’t followed the rules to put all his toiletry items in the little plastic bag. His whole bag was searched, and he was held up. This could have been avoided if he knew the rules ahead of time. You can take toiletries or other liquids that are in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces (100ml), and they must all fit in a one quart (one liter) clear zip top bag. This includes liquids, gels, and aerosols. If you must pack more toiletries than these allowances, you will have to pack them in checked luggage.
My daughter did survive Egypt and later went on to Vietnam, where I had the opportunity to travel there with her. Since she now lives in Germany, my travelling has increased so understanding these basic principals before I travel has saved me much aggravation.