How to choose travel insurance?

If you're reading this, you've probably done some research on travel insurance. It's usually the last thing to purchase before you finalize your trip. Now comes the hardest part: choosing which company and plan to buy. 

Choosing travel insurance can be a bit of a headache. But don't worry, we've got your back. Hopefully reading this can help you navigate through some of that stress. 

So let's get started!

Do I really need travel insurance? 

The answer is yes. It's always yes.

Why? 

Maybe you're one of the lucky ones that has never had to file a claim. But, if you're like me, then having travel insurance is a great money saver and can give you that peace of mind while you're on the road. 

When you travel, you can't really plan for what happens during your trip. Your flight might get delayed for a day, one of your bags might get stolen or you might end up in the hospital with a broken ankle. Anything can go wrong in a trip and it's nice to know you can rely on your travel insurance to cover your costs. 

What are the different types of coverage?

  • Trip Cancellation: Covers your costs if you need to cancel your trip before you leave. 
  • Trip Interruption: Covers you for any losses for trips that are interrupted/delayed after you leave. 
  • Emergency Medical: Covers any medical expenses during your trip. 
  • Baggage and Personal Effects: Covers any loss of baggage or personal items. 
  • Flight and Accident Coverage: Covers you if you umm, die while travelling. 

Which type should I get?

In the end, it's completely up to you which type of coverage you want. I prefer to get insurance that covers everything because you never know what will happen. A good rule of thumb is to always get emergency medical insurance. Nothing is worth more than your health. 

If you're risky and want to save a few bucks, you can choose the basic plan that only includes emergency medical insurance. 

How do I choose an organization?

Choosing a reputable organization to go with is the tricky part. When you look into different travel insurance organizations, you'll notice that there's a maximum amount that you can claim back. Research a few organizations to compare quotes. You'll want to go with a company that offers a really high emergency medical insurance claim that should also include emergency transportation home. 

Personally, I also like to go with a company that offers a high baggage claim because I have a habit of getting things stolen from me. 

Remember to read the fine print. Insurance companies are trying to make money, so know what they're willing to cover you for before you leave. It'll help you prepare for your trip. For example, there are some companies who won't file your baggage loss claim if your bag gets stolen off a bus since it was your fault you didn't keep a better eye on it. 

WHICH ONE DID WE CHOOSE?

It depends on how long the trip is and what was on the agenda. For some trips, we've gone with our banks or the airline we booked our flight ticket with. 

For our three-month SE Asia trip, I went with World Nomads. It's a reputable company with mostly good reviews. Just remember to read the fine print to know what they offer. You won't be able to claim any money back if you fail to provide any hard evidence. For example, this could be documents from the hospital if you get injured or a police report if you had something stolen. Also, some organizations won't cover an injury if you were doing a risky activity like mountain climbing. In that case, you would need to purchase a different travel insurance that covers those adventurous activities. 

What I liked about World Nomads, and why I chose it over my bank's insurance is because it has a high medical insurance amount. Plus, it covered the countries we were going to visit and the activities we wanted to do. 

Good luck choosing! And if you happen to stumble across a company that offers a really good quote for Canadians, let us know! 

Happy Adventuring!

 

What are the Do’s and Don’ts of Hiking?

When it comes to hiking, it’s always best to come prepared. Hiking can be a challenging activity, but it’s a very rewarding experience.  Over time we’ve figured out some do’s or don’ts that have helped us and may help you too!  

Do's

1)   Stay on the trail

Always stay on the marked trail since they’re created to maintain the environment. Conservation areas work very hard to protect the ecosystem while offering a chance for everyone to explore nature. But when you go off the beaten track, you can do enough damage in seconds that takes years to undo. Don’t veer off track! 

2)  Be prepared

Before you head out, make sure to research the trails and weather. Trails will vary in difficulty, so it’s good to find one that’s suitable for your fitness level. It’s also important to keep an eye out for the weather, so you can stay warm and dry.

Remember to pack enough water and snacks, a phone, a map, a first aid kit, rain gear, warm clothes and your ID. 

3)  Hike with a buddy or group

For your safety, never hike alone – especially in bear country. If your friend can’t join you, consider joining a hiking group instead. Anything can happen out on the trail and you may be many kilometers from any help. Having someone with you can save your life.  Plus, it’s always more fun to hike with a friend! 

4)  Watch your time

Be sure to keep an eye on the time when you’re on your hike. At the beginning of the hike, you’ll have more energy and can finish more of the trail in a shorter period of time. However, as you continue to hike, you’ll get more tired and slow down. Because of this, it’s always better to plan extra time for breaks.

If you happen to be hiking after the sun goes down, make sure to pack a flashlight or headlamp to help you see in the dark. 

Don't

1)   Don’t deface, damage or disturb any property or wildlife

When you’re on a trail, don’t vandalize any property or damage wildlife. As the saying goes, “take only photos, leave only footprints.”

2) Don’t litter. Pack out what your pack in. 

Whatever you bring onto the trail, you should also take out with you. It helps to bring a small garbage bag so you can keep track of your trash.

3) Don’t tackle a trail that’s too difficult

Sometimes it’s the difficult trails that offer the most beautiful views, but you have to remember that your safety is key. If you get too tired from the trail, head back to the beginning of the trail and try again when you’re feeling better. Trust us: we’ve had to turn back a few times. 

4)  Don’t underestimate nature

Depending where you’re hiking, the weather can change in an instant. Storms can be dangerous if you’re in the middle of nowhere without shelter. So make sure to keep an eye out for weather changes. If you know that there’s going to be a big storm, avoid heading out to a trail.

If you happen to hike in an area with bears, it’s really important to make a lot of noise to let a bear know of your presence. Also, remember to carry bear spray with you at all times on the trail – you never know when you may have to use it!  

We hope these tips are helpful for your next adventures! 

Happy Adventuring! 

3 Ways to Make Hiking Fun

If you're a new hiker, it might be challenging to get used to being on the trail. But don't worry, we have you covered with these three tips on how to make hiking a fun activity. 

1)   Have a positive attitude

Honestly, the best way to enjoy a hike is to bring a good attitude. Having a happy spirit on a trail makes all the difference. Hiking isn’t an easy task, especially if you go on a long hike through hills with many rocks and roots to avoid. Sometimes you might get too tired, your body will ache or you’ll get one too many insect bites.

Remember to think about the beautiful views you’ll come across and the accomplishment you’ll feel when you finish the hike. Plus, when you finish, you can reward yourself with a treat! My favourite is ice cream. Yum!

2)   Bring a canine companion

Whenever we visit a dog-friendly park, we love to bring Cee’s furry friend Caelum. He’s a 3-year-old Siberian husky who loves stepping into nature as much as we do.

It’s nice to have a pooch to encourage you when things get tough. Remember to be realistic about your dog’s endurance since some trails are easier than others. Don’t forget to pack treats and water for them!  

3)   Hike with a buddy

If don’t have a dog to hike with, don’t worry about it. You just need to bring a friend along. Explore the area to make new memories together.

We always hike with each other and help motivate one another when the trail gets rough. We’ve done hikes that lasted from 30 minutes up to nine hours. Having a companion is really helpful on the longer, more strenuous hikes. 

We hope this information is helpful for your next adventure! 

Happy Adventuring!

Hiking Tips: What to Wear and Pack

When we first started hiking a few years ago, we didn’t pack very well, nor were we very prepared for what we’d encounter.  We hoped for the best and went from there! But as our obsession for exploring grew, we started investing in more stuff that made our adventures a little easier. 

We know that if you’re new to hiking, it might be a little overwhelming to head to the trail without being completely ready. Don’t fret: we’ve got you covered with these tips for when you start your adventurous journey.

2014

2016

What to Wear:

1) Sturdy Footwear

Whether it’s a pair of running shoes or hiking boots, it’s important to make sure you have a sturdy pair of footwear. Some trails are easy on your feet but others can be filled with tons of rocks and tree roots that you can trip on. So, it’s much better to have shoes with support to help protect you from these hazards.

Don’t feel pressured to purchase an expensive pair of hiking boots if you’re just starting out. Any pair of runners will do the trick for a short hike. But if you’re doing long hikes in difficult terrain, then it might be good to invest in pair of quality hiking boots.

What we use: Salomon Waterproof hiking boots.

2) Pants/Shorts

This can be a pair of comfortable hiking pants, athletic tights or trousers. While pants will keep your legs protected from hazards like poisonous plants or insect bites, shorts are good to keep cool on hot days and offer more mobility.

3) Shirts

It’s ideal to wear shirts that are moisture wicking, but you really just need any comfortable top that offers flexibility. On some hikes, we find ourselves needing to use a rock or tree root to help us climb up the trail. Tops with more movement allow us to get around obstacles better!

 4) Rain Gear

In cooler and rainy weather, it’s important to pack a jacket. Make sure it’s waterproof with a hood to help protect you from rain or hail. If you get one with pockets, you can keep your phone or camera in for easy reach!

If you don’t have a rain jacket, you can also use a poncho to keep dry, but it’s not as comfortable.

5) Hat

On sunny days, it’s always a good idea to bring a brimmed hat to protect your face from the sun. But personally, I usually just wear a headband to keep the hair out of my face.  

 

What to pack:

1) A Small Backpack

 You don’t need to invest in anything fancy, but it’s nice to have a small and lightweight backpack to carry all of your things. Having one with more pockets is useful for organizing everything, but not necessary.

 2) Sunscreen and Insect Repellent

It’s important to protect your skin from the sun as well as insects. There’s nothing worse than coming home with a sunburn and insect bites all over your skin. It’s not fun.

3) First Aid Kit

It doesn’t hurt to keep a simple first aid kit on you. You can either buy one or make your own. We made ours with bandages, alcohol wipes, medical tape, scissors and gauze. Getting scrapes and cuts happen all the times, so we found it’s helpful to be prepared when that happens.

4) Electronics

Bring a camera or phone to take awesome photos from your hikes. Make sure your batteries are fully charged before you start. A phone is also extremely useful in emergency situations, should one come up. 

 5) Water and Snacks

Hydration is key for any hike! Always bring plenty of water on a hike, especially if it’s a hot day. On longer hikes, we like to bring snacks like fruits, nuts, peanut butter sandwiches, beef jerky or protein bars to keep our energy up. But if that’s not your taste, bring something that’s easy and tasty to munch on!

Happy Adventuring!

What to do when your passport is stolen while travelling

As a traveller, your passport is your most valuable possession. It's the only reliable and universally accepted travel identification document that proves you can return to your home country. It's the one thing you don't want stolen. Trust me. 

While travelling in Costa Rica, my backpack was stolen off of a bus. We were taking public transit from San Jose to La Fortuna since it was a fairly inexpensive transit option. The experience was heartbreaking since I lost everything important - my passport, my money and my electronics. 

1) Don't beat yourself up

How could I be so stupid? Why didn't I keep a better eye on it? Why didn't I keep my passport on my body? I'm guilty of this, but these questions aren't going to do you any good. The experience has already passed. So, there's nothing you can really do about it now. Asking these self-deprecating questions will only make you feel worse about yourself.

Just because some jerk stole your stuff doesn't make you a bad person. These inconveniences happen all the time. You just need to focus on how you're going to deal with it. 

2) Call your national embassy

After you manage to calm yourself down, you need to call your national embassy. Let them know that your passport was stolen and that you'll need an emergency one to get back home. They'll ask you for two non-familial references that they can call to confirm your citizenship. Once you make it to the embassy to pick it up, you'll have a pay a decent amount to get it processed. 

If you had your credit cards stolen as well, make sure to cancel them as soon as you can. Within a span of two hours, this jerk spent $2000 on my card. Because I told my bank right away, I didn't have to pay it back. Also, if you had anything else stolen, make sure to get a police report so you can claim insurance! 

3) Have fun on your trip

Nothing ruins a trip faster than a mopey person. Seriously. Having your passport stolen sucks, but it's not the end of the world. You're alive, have all your limbs and your health intact. 

You need to keep your attitude up. So don't let this passport-stealing jerk spoil your trip. We continued with our plans and hiked up a volcano, relaxed in a hot spring and drank coconuts on the beach. 

Plus, look on the bright side, you get to come home with an interesting story. 

Why You Should Travel

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

-Mark Twain

As a recognized traveller and author, Mark Twain has spread insight on the charm of travelling around the world. In today’s society, we can summarize his quote into one word: Wanderlust. For those who have not heard of this term, it's nothing new. Wanderlust has long been used to describe the strong desire to travel and explore the world. You may know some people who never feel the desire to leave their home. They’re happy to stay in the city they came from, the couch they sit on and the routine of their life. Then there are people who can’t sit still, love to explore outside and spend their time searching for new places to experience. Whether you call it wanderlust, a love for adventure or curiosity, one thing remains the same: there is a deep desire to explore that cannot be fulfilled, no matter how many journeys you take. For those that experience wanderlust, there is always something new to push you out of your comfort zone. 

Luckily, our world is a large place. Your adventure can either start at home or across the ocean. With travelling becoming cheaper, safer and quicker over the years, there are many rewarding reasons to travel regardless of your age. 

1) Travelling changes the way you understand the world. 

If you never go beyond the city limits, you would have a hard time imagining anything outside of your comfort zone. From sunsets over oceans and monkeys swinging through rainforests, to volcanoes erupting in the distance, there are many beautiful experiences to enjoy. 

While many people may be comfortable with different cultures, what we experience every day is only a portion of the real diversity in the world. Travelling will expose you to these different cultures, different animal and plant life, different climate, geography and different ideas and experiences. Ultimately, these experiences that will shape you as a person.

2) Travelling enhances your educational skills and knowledge. 

Being able to explore the Irish castles, walk through the trenches of Vimy Ridge and examine the architecture of the Colosseum for yourself can change your outlook of the experience. You'll want to learn more about the history and geography of these artifacts. How long ago was it built? What did they use to build it? What purpose did it serve? Now, these places will no longer be pictures from a book, but memories for you to share with others. 

3) Travelling pushes you beyond Your limits. 

Have you ever needed to learn Spanish so you could figure out directions to your hostel? Have you ever had all of your things stolen in a foreign country? Have you ever had the chance to climb a mountain, hike a volcano or swim with sharks? 

Travelling will put you a variety of situations, both good and bad. It's a gamble really, you never know what's going to happen when you're on the road. But sometimes, that's the best part of it. It's these crazy situations that make you realize that you can do things you never thought possible. Pushing yourself and conquering your fears is a good thing to learn at any age. 

The toughest part about travelling: Priorities

Many people avoid travelling because they think it costs too much. Well, travel is not an issue of being rich, rather it's an issue of priorities. Graham Hughes, the first man to set a world record for visiting every country without flying, started off like everyone else. When he was asked how he could afford to travel so often, he answered: “How can you afford your rent? How can you keep a dog? How can you have children?”

Having a budget, eating street food and travelling with the locals are just some ways to make travel affordable. Obviously, some people prefer comfort and security, so it's natural for them to work hard, stay at home and take a vacation once in a while. However, if you want to see the world, do it while you’re young so you can "rush into that thrill head first and wake up every day looking for new challenges, new places and new friends." The toughest part of travelling is deciding to go.

Picture this

When you look at a scenic calendar, do you ever notice the photographs of landscapes like the sand dunes of the Sahara desert, the peaks of the Rockie Mountains or the moon overlooking a rainforest? After admiring the picture, reality sets in and you go back to doing whatever it was before. I bet many of you can relate to this experience: “I wonder what it’s like to be there”.

So, stop “wondering” and start “wandering!"

-Cee

Vacation Versus Travelling: Do You Know the Difference?

Many people often interchange vacation and travelling. However, they represent two separate ideas. The former signifies luxury, comfort and relaxation. Picture an all-inclusive resort in the Bahamas where you sip on strawberry daiquiris and lay on a beach all day. It could be a trip to Las Vegas with your buddies where you have a night you won’t remember. It could even be a weekend getaway with your partner to the vineyard to sample different wines. Ultimately, a vacation symbolizes a recreational time to relax and de-stress from your hectic life at home.

Vacations are fun and a great way to experience a different culture or lifestyle with minimal risk. Everything is usually pre-planned to eliminate stress and optimize enjoyment. You can go sightseeing, eat delicious foods and relax on a beach while drinking from coconuts. It's the perfect way to unwind from your everyday life. 

On the other hand, travelling refers to a journey across distant locations. It's stressful, exhausting and uncomfortable. It could be a global backpacking trip across different countries, a cross-country road trip or an athletic adventure tour around the world. Travelling reflects self-development through experiencing the unknown, confronting unexpected barriers and learning about unfamiliar cultures. It can be very challenging mentally and physically and may push you to the edge. 

Travelling is never planned completely, which can lead to an exciting adventure. You never know where you’ll end up. You might be sitting on a gorgeous beach overlooking rock formations one day and the next day could be spent hiking up a volcano. Plans can change in an instant, so you're forced to go with the flow. Because of this, it offers a sense of liberation that you won’t experience anywhere else. You gain a tremendous amount of perspective which makes it a very rewarding experience. 

In the end, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. It’s based on personality, time and money. Some people want to forget about their everyday stresses by relaxing in luxury while others crave adventure. 

To each their own.