So you’re ready to firm up some vacation plans (whether it’s for business or pleasure) and you can be the most seasoned traveler or a complete novice, if you’re not fully equipped with the right tools to make travel prep easier, travel anxiety will follow. Preparation is always key to providing you a stress-free trip, from start to finish. You’re headed on a vacation to relax and enjoy; make sure to take care of all the details – big and small – and make this a trip of wonderful memories!
There are lots of little things to organize before a trip and you’ll feel a lot better if your paperwork is organized well in advance.
- Is your Passport up to date?
- Did you contact your Credit Card companies and Telco company to advise them you’re traveling?
- Insurance cover suitable for your destination?
Tips: Keep important documents together and make a couple of sets of photocopies to be kept separately.
Make sure your bank ATM and credit cards will work in your destination although getting some foreign cash may be the wisest choice, especially for emergencies.
If you’re pressed for time, CIBC Foreign Cash Online is a great service!
CIBC Foreign Cash Online is an incredibly convenient service that allows you to order the currency you need online before you travel, and the best part… it’s delivered free, straight to your door or your branch, anywhere in Canada. It can also be picked up at the Toronto Pearson Airport location (T1 international departures, post security) before you take off!
Existing CIBC clients can use the Foreign Cash Online services through Online Banking, by clicking “Order Foreign Cash” from the left hand navigation pane. This experience is fully integrated and allows clients to order within a few simple clicks – even better, their account is debited right away!
Non-CIBC clients can also order Foreign Cash Online via CIBC’s eCommerce portal http://www.fx.cibc.com. This eCommerce solution provides non-clients with the same number of currencies and delivery methods.
CIBC Foreign Cash Online works to provide customers with innovative and convenient ways of ordering/receiving their foreign currency. CIBC is the only financial institution to offer this complete suite of delivery options: with CIBC Foreign Cash Online you have access to over 75 currencies representing 90 countries. Now, not only can you have cash delivered to Toronto Pearson airport, but you can purchase it last minute on your way out of the country as well!
Whether you are a CIBC customer or not, using the service is easy and you are all set anytime you need foreign cash!
Enter the contest for a chance to win $1000 CAD until January 31, 2016. (Read rules and regulations on contest site.)
There’s one item that is a true travel life-saver and it fits right in the palm of your hands: Your Smartphone! Whether you’re just in the beginning stages of travel planning or already at your destination, here are some MUST-HAVE apps that will save you time, money and sanity on your next trip!
Never forget anything again with this app! PackPoint will organize what you need to pack based on length of travel, weather at your destination, and any activities planned during your trip.
- Packing Pro by Quinn Genzel ($3.49)
Packing Pro is a mobile app made for list makers (like me!). It helps you remember what to pack and can also serve as evidence of what you packed if your luggage were ever lost. It has plenty of sample lists of items to pack for different types of travel, or you can create your own and tick off items as they go into your luggage. This is especially an excellent tool for parents who are packing for multiple family members before leaving on vacation.
Get your little ones prepped and excited for their trip or just keep them busy during a flight with this fun game that will have them thinking they’re a mini travel packing pro!
Comparing Rates & Research
- SkyScanner (free)
SkyScanner’s mobile app has such a Free wonderful search interface for finding cheap flights. Look for a flight on certain dates from your home airport to anywhere in the world based on where it might be inexpensive to fly during that time. You can then adjust your search using a wonderfully intuitive and interactive graph to find the cheapest surrounding dates to travel. SkyScanner partners with a site called ebookers.com for the actual sale, and note that SkyScanner’s prices appeared for me in U.S. dollars while ebookers’ showed up in GBP. The company makes separate apps for hotel and car rentals.
- Expedia (Free)
Expedia has been long known as a travel search, information, and booking website, but its mobile apps have some unique deals. Using the Expedia iPhone app or Expedia Android app, for example, you might uncover a few exclusive discounts on last-minute hotel bookings. The app lets you book car rentals and search for activities in travel destinations around the world.
- TripAdvisor (Free)
TripAdvisor is one of the most best online sources for travelers, particularly because it has in-depth reviews of hotels, restaurants, and sites to see. Photos uploaded by other users are also helpful for getting a glimpse of a place from an unbiased point of view. TripAdvisor is one of the richest resources you’ll find because it has a huge and active community.
- SeatGuru by TripAdvisor LLC (Free)
When on long-haul international flights, having a comfortable seat can make all the difference, especially if traveling with kids. And while many seats may look identical on the airline’s seat map, some can have annoying limitations. Unfortunately, for us travelers, airlines don’t make this clear when picking seats online or at the airport, leaving some stuck with shoddy spots.
Whether you’re at the airport or on the go, SeatGuru is the must-have travel companion for everyone who flies. Optimized for your iPhone and iPod Touch, the free SeatGuru app lets you access over 700 seat maps from approximately 100 airlines. It features advice and insights drawn from tens of thousands of passenger reviews, so you can always find the best possible seat for your flight.
The SeatGuru app allows you to find and compare low airfares from the major airlines, low-cost carriers, as well as the leading online travel agencies. You can also set up flight alerts that monitor your flight departure and arrival times and other related flight information.
Plus, with the latest app update, you can explore our redesigned seat maps for the most searched airlines, see seat photos submitted by other flyers, and upload your own seat photos and reviews.
- HotelTonight – Last Minute Deals & Bookings by Hotel Tonight Inc. (Free)
HotelTonight is an easy way to book hotels in a hurry either for the day of or up to seven days in advance. Simply download the mobile app, set the city where you need accommodations, and you’ll be greeted with a list of unsold rooms. After you’ve decided on a place, book it through the app using your credit card.
Because HotelTonight gives you a list of unsold hotel rooms that might otherwise become a sunk cost for companies, you can score some pretty great deals.
- Airbnb (Free)
This is a new favourite of mine I discovered last year. When I travel, I always like to immerse myself in the culture and act more like a local than a traveler. When I stay in Paris, I stay at my friends place, or as he calls it, his pied-a-terre. He typically just rents it out to trusted friends and family. He recently listed it on Airbnb and has had tremendous success with it!
If you’re hunting for the place with the lowest price or craving a more local experience, then start searching for pads on Airbnb. It’s likely you’ve already heard of this site—or its competitor HomeAway—but maybe you weren’t aware that the service allows you to not only rent out private and shared rooms but full apartments, condos and houses, as well. This makes it a great option for business travelers, too, when the prices at the chain and boutique hotels are beyond your budget. Also great when traveling in groups or with the kids!
Unlike a hotel, however, it’s up to the host of the property to accept or decline your reservation so don’t wait to use this site until the day you need a place to stay. Instead, set up a profile a month or two before your travels, which will give you time to verify your account and ask your friends for recommendations. These activities will increase your chance of successfully booking your top choice for accommodations.
- Maps.Me (Free)
The Maps.Me mobile app lets you browse around the globe, zoom in on any region or city, and download a detailed map of that area to use offline. You’ll see an option to download just the map or the map with directions enabled to get you from point A to B without an Internet connection. What I like about Maps.Me is the great level of detail on maps for lesser traveled places, which isn’t well mapped by Google Maps. It’s a must-have travel app for those who wander off the beaten path.
- Uber (Free)
Getting around a foreign city can be a royal pain, especially if you don’t speak the language, don’t have any currency, or don’t know the etiquette rules for tipping or haggling. Uber eases all these pains and others. With this car service app, you can request a car and tell the driver where to pick you up by dropping a pin on a map. The app gives you a fare estimate for a ride to your destination, and the driver can see it on the map, too. When your ride is over, Uber charges your credit card the right amount, and you don’t have to tip. Uber is worldwide, with service more than 50 countries.
- Converter Plus (Free)
International travelers know that currency converter apps are a dime a dozen. Converter Plus offers to convert much more than just money, however. If you need to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, or kilos to pounds, Converter Plus can do that, too. This handy mathematical app also contains a tip calculator and is highly customizable, so you can keep the converter templates you use most at the fore. This would be great to also use beforehand when deciding on how much foreign cash you want to order!
- OpenTable (Free)
Grab a dinner reservation in less than a minute with the OpenTable app. I use this all the time with great success and it’s widely used in major cities in the U.S., Canada, as well as London.
It lets you find restaurants that meet your criteria, see opening times, read reviews, and make reservations online at no charge. It’s a great restaurant resource when you’re in any city, but especially while traveling.
- Yelp (Free)
Oh how I love this app. Yelp is an extremely popular app, used widely by tons of folks, which is super helpful! If you show up at a destination and want to find a decent cup of coffee or craving sushi within walking distance, Yelp will probably do the best job. While some other travel apps have plenty of recommendations from other travelers, Yelp is more likely to be used by locals. It’s especially good with restaurants, but Yelp can also help you find auto repair shops, health clinics, and other places you might need to visit unexpectedly while on a trip.
Wishing you a safe, stress-free and memorable trip!