Ring in Spring: Travel Tips for March Break

Avoid delays and unexpected hassles before your next flight. Expedite your next visit to the airport with these helpful hints.

Spring is upon us at last! Although the traces of winter may hang on into April, the return of sunshine and warm weather is drawing closer. For many Canadians eager to shake off the chill during March Break, a trip south may be tempting.

If you count yourself among them, there is a lot to prepare for as you get ready to fly to a warmer destination and rejuvenate in the sun. There's luggage to pack, travel insurance to buy , and preparing your home, so it's protected while you're away.

Every year, thousands of Canadians weary of winter set their sights on the March Break holiday. Toronto's Pearson International Airport estimates more than 140,000 travellers will pass through its terminals to board a flight in early March; well over the usual number of people who visit the airport on a typical day. No doubt all airports across the country will be busier than usual. Are you ready for the crowds? What about going through airport security clearance?

Every passenger must pass through security clearance before embarking on their trip, but the process can be time-consuming. It pays to prepare, so you don’t miss your flight. One way to ensure you pass through security stress-free is to brush up on the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority’s (CATSA) travel-related tips.

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Give Yourself Ample Time to Board Your Flight

Generally, it's recommended that you arrive at the airport at least two hours before a domestic flight, and three hours before flying to another country.

Remember the 100 ml Rule

If you want to pack any liquids, aerosols, or gels into your carry-on luggage, be aware there are restrictions. These products must be in a container no larger than 100 millilitres (100 grams/3.4 ounces), and can all fit into a clear, closed, resealable plastic bag with a capacity of no more than 1 litre. Each passenger is allowed to board a flight with one, clear resealable plastic bag.Don’t Travel on an Empty Stomach

It's a common misconception that you're not allowed to bring food with you. The truth is you are permitted to bring solid food items such as sandwiches, cookies, fresh fruit and granola bars in your carry-on bag to eat on the plane. However, it's best to eat it all before landing. If you want to bring non-solid food, like yogurt, pudding or peanut butter, these items will have to adhere to the 100 ml rule above.

Are you travelling with a child under the age of two? Essentials like baby food, milk, formula, water and juice are exempt from the 100 ml limit; however, you must declare them when going through the screening process. These items should be packed in your carry-on for easy access and inspection.

Bring Appropriate Toys to Keep Your Tots Entertained

Pack toys for your children in your carry-on to help them feel comfortable and keep them entertained while on-board your flight but leave toys that look like weapons at home.

Keep Your Electronics Nearby

It's generally recommended that you keep fragile or expensive items with you in your carry-on baggage. Electronics like cellphones, MP3 players, e-readers, handheld gaming devices and tablets do not typically need to be removed from bags when going through the security checkpoint. However, laptops do need to be unpacked and placed in a bin. Although permitted on board, air carriers may vary when, or if, they can be used while in-flight.

What You Wear to the Airport Matters

What you wear may affect the time it takes you to get through security if you set off the alarm on the walk-through metal detector. You'll get through security screening faster if you:

  • Limit the jewelry you wear to the basics: earrings, watches, and rings
  • Remove hidden body piercings before you leave for the airport
  • Avoid wearing clothing, shoes, or belts that have any metal (buttons, studs, arches, steel toes, buckles etc.)
  • Dress comfortably in easy-to-remove outerwear, jackets, and belts

Avoid Financial Ruin: Get a Travel Insurance Policy

While the tips from CATSA can help expedite the airport security screening process, it's also important to remember that no matter where your plane lands, you have your travel insurance policy handy along with your passport.

Travel insurance is not a nice-to-have, it's a must-have. The Government of Canada encourages travellers to purchase travel insurance because:

  • Your provincial health care insurance is almost certainly not valid outside of Canada. While some provinces or territories may offer varying levels of coverage for out-of-country emergency medical services, the amount of coverage they provide is wildly insufficient to cover the costs of hospitalization or seeking emergency health care in another country. For residents of Ontario, there is no out-of-country emergency medical care through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) as of January 1, 2020
  • If your provincial or territorial health care plan provides coverage for emergency medical services in another country, it will not pay for your medical expenses upfront
  • Foreign hospitals can be very expensive and may require immediate cash payment. You could face years of debt paying off the costs of treatment for an illness or accident you suffer abroad. That debt can be financially devastating
  • The Government of Canada will not pay your medical bills

When you're away from home, even a small accident or illness can become a crippling medical expense. For example, treatment for something such as a broken arm can cost thousands of dollars.

Also, check the Canadian government’s travel advisories before you depart. Your travel insurance company may not pay for a medical claim you make if you choose to travel to a destination for which the government has issued a travel advisory. It is best to check with your travel insurer about your policy before you leave Canada if the government issues an advisory for your destination.

Don’t risk your health and your wealth. Be safe and get the customized protection you need that caters to your vacation plans. Make your March Break getaway a memorable one for all the right reasons by taking a few minutes to compare travel insurance quotes and policies for free before you leave Canada.

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