I really want to go to the ICOP meeting this year, so I’m starting early to put things in order to make that happen. Today, I got out the old passport to see if it is still valid and I got to thinking about the many things I’ve learned about international travel over the years. I decided to share some of them with you.
First of all, yes, you need a passport to travel to Canada or you need one of the other acceptable forms of ID, such as:
· U.S. Passport Card: This U.S. Department of State-issued ID is valid for entry into Canada by land or sea, though not valid for international air travel.
· Enhanced Driver's License (EDL): EDLs indicate both citizenship and identity. Valid for entry into Canada by land or sea, though not valid for international air travel. As of January 2009, only available in Washington and New York states, but coming to Vermont. See individual state licensing departments for more info.
· NEXUS Card: A partnership between the Canada and U.S. border services that pre-approves entry for travelers by land, sea or air between Canada and U.S. An added benefit is designated and faster lanes at border crossings and airports. Application process involves interview and fingerprinting. Both U.S. and Canadian citizens apply through U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Whatever your ID you will want to make a photocopy of it to take along. Put this copy in a different piece of luggage. You may even want the copy to include your driver’s license or any other document you would be in trouble without, should it get lost or stolen. Remember to copy front and back, if appropriate. This habit has saved me before!
If you decide to drive - check Wait Times at the border crossings, especially if you have more than one option for crossing the border into Canada, as is the case near Niagara Falls - http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/bwt-taf/menu-eng.html
Exchanging Currency – As a rule, exchanging money through your bank ahead of time is the way to get the best rate. However, a great and convenient option is a prepaid travel card. AAA offers one that is accepted internationally. If the card is reported stolen or lost, your remaining balance is guaranteed. Traveler’s checks are no longer the safest way to take money to a foreign country.
This prepaid travel card can be used to withdraw cash from ATM’s or as a visa charge card. For any transaction the going daily exchange rate is applied, but there is an additional 3% charge when the transaction involves a change in currency. However, consider 3% of $1000 is $30, well worth it to me for the security and convenience.
Packing your suitcase – Your clothes will have the least wrinkles, if they are rolled, rather than folded. It is also an economical way to pack your suitcase and seems to accommodate more items.
Although these items could be purchased if you were stuck at an airport or in an emergency, I always make sure my carry-on luggage contains one change of clothes, including underwear and socks, and of course my hygiene kit.
Just talking about travelling is getting me in the spirit and I will next explore how I can incorporate a side trip to Niagara Falls into my travel plans for Toronto this summer…
Submitted by Lydia Dimmer