Tuesday 16 June 2015

What can I take into Canada? Luggage and Travel insurance

I'm off to Canada tomorrow for 3 weeks, staying with Catherine Burden, my twitter buddy and penal for the past 5 years, supporting me, through friendship, from my move from the UK to South Africa and now to Dubai.

I'm not providing any links for this post as carry on and checked in luggage restrictions and customs clearance do vary from airline to airline and airports. I'd hate to provide information that is updated by the time someone clicks on the link.

I'm flying with Emirates and have a rather generous luggage allowance of 2 x 23kg suitcases, cabin bag and handbag. I am not used to packing a 23kg suitcase, as my normal routes are usually 1 x 30kg and as an expat I value the additional 7kg allowances, especially when I travel with documents and gifts for family back home. Without all the additional items, I was able to pack a 23kg case with ease, which includes gifts for Catherine and family, wash bag (I usually purchase these items on arrival to allow for extra weight) walking shoes, suitable clothing for camping and kayaking, rain wear (which I'm looking forward to) and birthday presents that I've been given to open during my stay. I will have plenty of room to bring back gifts and I can always check in my hand luggage case if necessary as I've packed a large handbag I could use for carry on.
Following airline regulations I've packed tweezers, nail scissors and other sharp items in the front pocket of my checked in luggage.

My case is by the door, I'm checked in and I've even selected my clothes for the morning. The rest of my pre flight/travel time will be spent, as always, watching Air Crash investigations and Border Control (Canada)

Hubby has a copy of Catherine's address and full names of family members and phone numbers. My gifts include food and wooded materials from the UK, South Africa and Dubai.

I fly alone, I a single, 43 year old woman, travelling from the Middle East/Africa, with multiple entry exit stamps, current and 2 expired visas in my passport. I get stopped, searched, swabbed on every flight I take, every time. I must match a profile.

Having watched Border Control Canada, I've realised I'm ideal for stopping at the border.

I will be issued with a Declaration Form and I will tick to declare the food and wooden gifts, sea shells and tea. They are all permitted goods, there is also a restriction to weight, but I have to declare them or I could face them being confiscated and issued with a fine. I am allowed to take in 200 cigarettes and either 1.5 litres of wine or 1.1 litres of alcohol, duty free.

I don't need a visa to visit Canada as I'm British, my only concern is my return trip as my visa is for residency and not work, several times I've been questioned as to whether I'm allowed to travel on my own and what my intentions are on arrival and why I'm not starting or ending my journey in the UK.

Our medical insurance in South Africa covered us for trips abroad, including to the UK, technically we are not entitled to NHS services as expats and have been out of the UK for 5 years, we don't pay taxes. (we fill in a self assessment tax return form every year though) Our actual travel in regards to delays, cancellations etc is covered by our credit card. So this year I actually had to purchase travel insurance and it was a mine field. There was the time hubby and I went to Las Vegas for a week and 'forgot' to purchase any insurance, so it's an area we've now planned with care.

It's very easy to select the cheapest option, but you really need to take care, especially if you know what activities you'll be taking part in.

For example Catherine is taking me camping, we will be travelling to the camp site via the water, in a kayak. The basic travel insurance does NOT cover me for kayaking/canoeing unless with a qualified instructor and in an organised group....who would've thought eh? I've purchased annual insurance Worldwide to include Canada and the USA. I will be spending 30 days in South Africa later this year and have another trip planned to the UK. I'm also hoping I'll be travelling with hubby to Turkey and we'll be off to Oman for a visa run when the youngest son visits in July.

It's worth noting that most travel insurance covers you for 21 days per trip on an annual policy, so I made sure the policy I purchased covered me for multiple trips up to 31 days and worldwide included Canada and the USA.

I will get my money worth's from the insurance though, touch wood I've never lost a case, but hubby and the kids have had theirs delayed and/or items missing and cases damaged on arrival. Hubby has required emergency medical care outside his country of residence, but as he travels with his employers this is covered for him automatically. I, however, have an excess to pay for none emergency's.

My last 2 things to do are:

Email Catherine a copy of my Insurance.
I always insist our visitors give me a copy of theirs, who knows if I had a serious accident how costs would be covered in the interim period if Catherine was unaware of who I was insured with. Although medical care is free in Canada, I'm not Canadian.

Call the banks.
They need to know I am travelling overseas and will be using both my UAE and UK banking cards.


  1. Sounds as though you've got everything covered... I guess you're an experienced traveller after so many trips during recent years. Wishing you and Catherine a fabulous trip x

    1. thank you Izzie, Catherine has lots of lovely plans for us

  2. Accident and emergency is government funded here but that could change in the future. After that though you want insurance for recovery and day to day medical.

    1. i've never had to use holiday/travel insurance but i dread to think how much it would cost if i had an accident