Travel Checklist for Canadians Heading South

10 Item Checklist for Canadians Heading South

10 Things to Remember for Canadians Heading South

10 Item Checklist for Canadians Heading South

The joy and relief of a trip down to the tropics

We Canadians are pretty resilient when it comes to snow and cold. In fact, many of us even enjoy the long winters and take full advantage of the skiing, sledding, skating, snowshoeing and snuggling season.

But even the most seasoned winter enthusiast can’t argue with the immense joy and relief of a trip down to the tropics as February and March drag on up north. From the moment the warm sun hits your pasty, vitamin D deprived skin, there’s no question you are in paradise.

As much as we may romanticize the idea of hopping on a plane at a moment’s notice when the weather forecast gets too gloomy to handle, international travel in the 21st century is not that simple.

So to ensure your escape to the coconut scented south goes off without a hitch.

Here is a quick checklist:

10 things to remember while traveling to the Caribbean

1. Vaccinations

We’re putting this first because too many people neglect it. We all think it can’t happen to us, it isn’t really a requirement and life is busy! Who has time for vaccinations?

You know what you definitely don’t have time for? Hepatitis.

Many health clinics, CLSCs and even pharmacies offer travel vaccinations. Most of these vaccines are not covered by medicare, but some are covered by insurance and all are worth the investment when you think about the very serious illnesses they protect against.

Get your dang shots, people.

2. Passport expiry date

There are some dates that just creep up you. Christmas, tax time, your mom’s birthday… and your passport expiry. Even if you’re sure it’s up to date, double check. That’s not a surprise you want at the airport.

Also, some countries require the expiration date to be at least one month after your expected date of return. Some go as far as six months.

If it’s time to renew, consider investing in the 10 year passport, and put a reminder in your calendar a few months before the expiry date so you’re prepared for next time.

3. Money

Change money to local currency before travelling. Some countries will surprise you on arrival with a tourist visa that must be paid for in local currency. They usually have an ATM, but the charges will be very high.

Bring your interac or credit card only as backup, but play it safe and get cash before you go. As a bonus, using cash can help you stick to a budget without having to give it much thought.

4. Safety & hygiene basics

You won’t always be able to find the products you need or want when you arrive. And hotels don’t always provide enough.


Bring shampoo, body wash and other toiletries you want with you, and don’t forget plenty of high SPF sunscreen and a first aid kit. If you’re travelling to a country that isn’t well equipped, ask your doctor or pharmacist about what emergency medications and supplies you should bring.

10 Item Checklist for Canadians Heading South

5. Book or ereader and playing cards

Be prepared with activities for the plane and airport, but also for downtime and bad weather while on your trip.

In the dead of winter, all we can think about is soaking up as much sun as possible during our always-too-short vacation. But remember that bad weather can hit anywhere, and some days you might just want a quiet afternoon in a hammock with a good book, or to enjoy a card game with fellow travellers at the lobby bar.

6. Balls and frisbees

No, this isn’t the dog park. It’s the beach! And there’s only so much excitement to be had jumping the waves or burying your partner in the sand.

A frisbee and un-inflated beach ball don’t take up much room in your luggage and provide lots of fun for friends, family and any new friends you make along the way! If you have the space, consider bringing a soccer or volleyball, or even a couple of badminton rackets along too.

7. Yoga mat

For yoga, if that’s your thing. In fact, there’s something truly peaceful and renewing about morning yoga on the beach.

But there’s more to a yoga mat than yoga. If you go exploring different beaches and trails, there isn’t always a good place to sit and rest. A yoga mat solves that perfectly. It’s also great for covering a lounge chair to prevent the dreaded thigh lines, makes a decent impromptu buffet table for beach picnics, and if you use a yoga mat for laying out on the beach, you keep your towel dry and sand-free.

8. Water purification bottle or tablets

It’s so important to drink plenty of water (pina coladas don’t count!) when down south. We don’t always realize how strong the sun is, and need to drink more water than we do at home. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, remind yourself to take regular hydration breaks as nothing ruins a vacation quite like dehydration.

That said, many tropical countries don’t have safe drinking water. And even if the water on your resort is safe to drink, once you leave the resort, you don’t have the same reassurance.

Buying bottled water is one option (and some hotels provide it free), but you can also purchase personal water purification bottles or purification tablets so that safe drinking water is always an option.

If you go the bottle route, remember to look for one that provides purification and not just a filter, as a filter doesn’t necessarily get rid of dangerous bacteria and pathogens.

9. Prepare to go out of your comfort zone

Yes, you’re heading south to rest and relax. But wouldn’t you also like to expand your horizons a bit too?

If you’re in a safe country (you can check Canadian travel advisories here), venture outside your resort to discover how the locals live, work, play and eat. If you’re in a developing country, book some guided excursions (on our most recent trip, we discovered it’s cheaper to book these on the plane). If you prefer to stay on the resort, plan to try a new activity that excites you like snorkeling, parasailing or even a dance lesson!

10. Positive attitude and respect

Sometimes things don’t go as planned or move as fast or efficiently as they might in Canada.

Remember that many of these countries rely heavily on tourism, so when staff say they are doing the best they can, they really and truly are. Stay positive, enjoy the sun, and be respectful of the people and resources of the country you’re visiting.

And remember that you are on vacation and not trying to catch a flight to Toronto to make your 11am meeting. Relax!

Canadian checklist for traveling on vacations

Bon voyage!

Now that you’re well prepared, you can stop thinking about polar vortexes, blizzards, arctic blasts and weather bombs, and start thinking about gloriously warm sunshine. Bon voyage!

Yet if you decide to stay in Montreal for the winter, you might want to check out some indoor activities.

To be well prepared for the Canadian winter you might want o check out the best options to dress up.