Before You Fly
A Little Planning and Research Can Go a Long Way
Many airlines have stopped asking flyers to reconfirm flights 24-72 hours in advance, but it’s a good idea to call to make sure that nothing has changed. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the news for events that may impact your journey.
Passports and IDs
For domestic air travel, all adult passengers (over 16) must present some form of government-issued photo identification. A valid driver’s licence or health card will work. For travellers under the age of 16, it is suggested that an original birth certificate or non-government issued ID such as a student card be presented.
Visitors to the United States must have a valid passport. For international air travel, all passengers, including children, must have a valid passport. Read Passport Please, our guide to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
Check with your travel agent, diplomatic or consular missions about the visa requirements for the countries you wish to visit. Make sure you apply in plenty of time. The Consular Affairs website has a list of countries that you need a visa to travel to.
Research the Country Travel Reports well in advance to find out about safety and security conditions, health questions and entry requirements for your destination(s).
Carry only as much local currency as you need for cab fares and a meal for example. Research your destination thoroughly as some countries do not accept travellers’ cheques. Although you may be able to withdraw money from your bank account via ATMS, they may not be available in out-of-the-way places.
You might already be covered by your credit-card company, house insurance or auto club. Check with them before buying cover. In any event, read the fine print. Some travel insurance plans include overseas medical coverage; some just cover personal property and transportation expenses. Be sure to check with your current medical insurance provider to see what is covered.
Avoid as much hassle as possible by making copies of all important documents before you go and storing them in a safe place on your journey. To be extra safe, leave photocopies at home with somebody you can get in touch with in an emergency.
Every hospital has guidelines on vaccinations you need to take for the particular region you are traveling to. Proof of immunization is a requirement for entering some countries. Anti-malarial medications may have to be started weeks in advance
Packing for your flight and airport security
The golden rule when it comes to this is to pack your bags, take everything out, leave half of it on your bedroom floor, and pack again. When it comes to airport security, find out what you can take with you and what is banned. Be relaxed about undergoing security checks, be prepared to slip off your shoes and get a doctor’s note if you have metal in your body.
Passengers are allowed to bring liquids, gels and aerosols through security screening as long as the items are packaged in containers with a capacity of 100ml / 100 grams or less, and that the containers fit comfortably in one Ziploc bag with a capacity of no more than 1 litre. The approximate dimensions of a one litre/quart bag are 15.24 cm x 22.86 cm or 20 cm x 17.5 cm. Passengers are only allowed one bag each.
Baby formula, baby food, milk and juice if a child aged two years and under is travelling are all allowed.
Liquid prescription medicine with a name that matches the passenger’s ticket or boarding pass, and other essential non-prescription liquid medicines continue to be permitted and are exempt from the container size restrictions. They do not need to be in a plastic bag.
To speed up the screening process, passengers should place all liquids, gels, and aerosols from their carry-on bags into the trays provided at the beginning of the screening process. When possible, passengers should have documentation supporting a medical condition.
Feature Image: Jason Kuffer