If it feels like everyone you know is travelling or planning a trip these days, it’s because they likely are. There has been a significant increase in flights over the past year and it’s unlikely to slow down as we head into a typically busy time of year for travel. Don't leave yourself with FOMO— embrace that travel itch! Get back to trip planning, but keep in mind, you're not the only one feeling this way.
Add Extra Time to Your Travel Checklist
Give yourself lots of time. You’ve probably been told before that it’s a good idea to give yourself plenty of time at the airport, and this advice rings even more true now. Airports have increased the recommended time you need upon arrival. Keep this in mind when you’re creating your travel checklist based on where you're going (domestic or international) and where you live.
Consider who and what you’re travelling with, too: If you're travelling with family or just lots of golf clubs, you might want to include even more buffer time.
How to Pack a Carry On
Many people are opting to forego checked baggage due to airline issues. No one wants to be without their items when they're travelling —it's a big inconvenience. So, consider re-examining what you really need to bring and be selective with your choices.
The big takeaway here is simple: pack lighter. You could be one of those people that bring five pairs of pants when you're really just going to wear the one pair on repeat while you're away. Resist the urge! Use a packing checklist for travel to slim down your list of must have items for your luggage and consider going carry-on only. There are great tutorials online for how to be super-efficient with that carry-on bag space. Here are some other tips to keep mind if you’re wondering how to pack a carry on:
- Consider what might be at your destination that you can use so you don’t need to bring it. If you’re staying at a hotel, you can use the hotel provided shampoo and conditioner.
- Roll your clothes! Save on wrinkles and space by rolling your clothes.
- Use packing cubes. These not only help you organize your items but can be great space savers too.
- Plan your outfits in advance. Pick out items to bring that you can mix and match. Wear your bulky running shoes onto the plane and pack those light flip-flops for the beach.
- Check the weather! Sometimes your beach vacation can end up unseasonably cool (or warm), especially these days. Knowing what to expect can help you ditch—or pack—that denim jacket.
- Pack items that can be multi-purpose; that you can dress up or dress down or that you can layer or unzip.
- Consider what you can pick up at your location. For example, if your trip destination is Italy in July and you want to include some linens to keep cool and in-style, know that there are countless local boutiques that often sell reasonably priced pieces of clothing that will fit the climate perfectly. If you can afford to wait, consider what you might be able to purchase there (and it doubles as your souvenir, too).
Stay In the Know
Travel in 2023 and 2024 looks different than it did throughout the pandemic. That isn’t to say there aren’t things to prepare for. There are new strains of COVID that continue to circulate. Maintain general precautions, such as washing your hands and using common sense when feeling unwell. Also, stay up-to-date with any travel advisories in effect for Canadians for your destination.. The Government of Canada travel advisories are a singular source of information to consider when venturing abroad.
Preparing for Potential Cancelled Flights
Picture this: You’re at the airport three hours early and just sailed through security with your expertly packed carry on. Your travel documents are stored in your bag and you’ve got time for a long coffee shop line-up. You can rest easy now that you’ve also remembered the biggest travel checklist must-have: trip cancellation insurance.
The most important thing to pack is—and lucky you, it doesn’t take up much carry on space at all—GMS Trip Cancellation Insurance. Focus on enjoying that vacation you’ve been waiting for knowing that they’ve got you covered for unexpected costs or lost or damaged belongings. In addition to your trusty insurance, keep the following things in mind:
- Know Your Rights as a Passenger: The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has implemented Air Passenger Protection Regulations that outline these rights. You’re entitled to compensation, rebooking, and other assistance depending on the specific circumstances.
- Stay In Contact with Your Airline: Download airline apps or follow their social media channels for real-time notifications. Sign up for flight alerts and monitor the status of your flight regularly. Do this ahead of time with reliable (and free) WiFi.
- Act Quickly: Instead of joining lengthy queues at the airport, try reaching out to the airline's customer service through their phone or online channels, too. Pro tip: if you booked with a credit card, often they have concierge services as part of your membership. Give them a call and see if they can do some leg work for you while you have boots on the ground!
- Be Flexible: Airlines usually offer rebooking options in the event of cancelled flights but know your options. Ask about alternative flights and consider flexibility with your travel dates and times. Airlines often prioritize rebooking passengers who are flexible with their plans. Also, look into another airline.
- Document Everything: Keep a record of all your interactions with the airline, including names, dates, and times of conversations (emails and screenshots, where applicable). This documentation will be valuable if any disputes or claims arise later.
- Don’t go Hungry (and get “Hangry”): Some airlines also offer meal vouchers or reimbursements-- but some do not. Understand the compensation policies and keep your receipts for any expenses incurred. Remember, airlines may have limitations on the amount they’re willing to reimburse, so be mindful of your spending.
Dealing with a cancelled flight can be stressful, but it’s important to remain calm and polite throughout the process. Airlines are more likely to assist passengers who exhibit understanding and patience. At the end of the day, with the right amount of preparation and patience, your next trip can be smooth sailing!