Smart planning for your winter getaway

Ensure you have the right travel insurance in place so you'll have a worry-free vacation...

A winter getaway could be just what you need — a few precious days when family fun and new adventures become memories that will last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, sometimes those memories include an unscheduled trip to a doctor or an emergency room. Just in case, you should consider packing these few simple rules in your winter vacation survival kit.

• Travel to another country

Before you leave, check on possible health risks in the country you plan to visit. Find info on specific diseases, health conditions and any recent health-related warnings on the Public Health Agency of Canada website (travelhealth.gc.ca).

Depending on your destination, you may need medications for the prevention of malaria and/or other local health hazards. It usually takes a while for immunizations to do their job so get to that clinic as soon as possible to find out what is required for your destination of choice. You might also be advised to bring along medications that are easy to get over the counter in Canada but could be hard to find in a foreign country.

• Travel insured

Ensure you have the right travel insurance in place so you’ll have a worry-free vacation. Provincial health care plans don’t cover all the costs of a sickness or injury in another country. You can easily get out-of-country travel insurance from most credit card companies but keep in mind they may impose stipulations, such as using their card to pay for travel arrangements.

• Travel smart

While you’re enjoying your vacation, there are a few simple measures you can take to stay away from health issues. When it’s hot, drink plenty of water through the day. Waiting until you ‘feel thirsty’ is too late and dehydration can set in quickly. Always use sunscreen, whether you’re in direct sunlight or not. Apply it early and often.

Health experts recommend avoiding drinks containing ice cubes and salads or other uncooked food that may have been washed in local tap water. Drink only purified water that’s been boiled or disinfected or commercially bottled water in sealed containers. Avoid stomach upsets, diarrhea (the most common health problem for travellers) and other health issues by following this simple rule: Boil it, cook it, peel it or leave it!

Your particular healthy travelling rules are best discussed with a medical professional, just as your healthy financial plan is best discussed with a professional adviser.

In everything you do, it pays to seek out the best advice and act on it. Have a great trip!

J. Kevin Dobbelsteyn is a certified financial planner with Investors Group Financial Services Inc. His column appears every Wednesday.

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