Travel Tips: Strange US laws Canadian travellers should be aware of

Heading south of the border? Enjoy your trip and stay out of trouble by studying these strange and wacky laws currently on the books in the United States.

Reader’s Digest recently put together a list of strange laws in the US.

Here are a few of them:

  • Don’t wear your pants low: In Albany, Georgia, it is illegal for you to wear your pants or skirt three inches below your hips, showing your skin or underwear. If you’re caught, you may be fined $25. Pull up your pants; keep your cash.
  • Sit down while drinking: Standing with friends on a patio and enjoying a beer is a common sight among Canadians, especially those on vacation. However, in Texas, it is illegal to take more than three consecutive sips of beer while standing. This is only one of many strict drinking-related laws in the state.
  • Be careful who you flirt with or tickle: The fun police are out in full force in Virginia. Here it’s illegal to tickle a female. Tickling Elmo is okay!
  • Don’t share your food: It’s common for people to share their meals, especially when travelling and trying out a new restaurant. However, don’t do this if you are in Oklahoma. It is illegal to take a bite of someone else’s hamburger.
  •  Deep Doggy Doo-Doo in Vegas: If you plan to visit Las Vegas, you are better off leaving your furry friend at home, unless you plan on walking it early in the morning. It is now illegal to walk your dog on the Las Vegas strip outside the hours of 5 a.m. to noon.
  • No Singing in the Sand in Florida: Canadian bathing beauties frequenting Florida take note – literally. It’s illegal to sing aloud in public while wearing a bathing suit.
  • Who knew that your choice of footwear could cost you big bucks. In Cleveland, Ohio it’s forbidden for women to don patent leather shoes. The reason? The shiny leather could reflect a woman’s – ahem – underwear or private parts for all to see. Canadian fashionistas take note when selecting your wardrobe’s accessories.

These wacky laws are a great reminder always to research the location you will be travelling to, even if you will be in a familiar country like the US.

The other thing you should research before travelling is your travel insurance coverage options.


Travel insurance and why you need it

Travel insurance and why you need it

If you plan to go abroad, even on a day trip to the United States, you should purchase the best travel insurance you can afford before you leave Canada. Your travel insurance should include health, life and disability coverage that will help you avoid large expenses, such as the cost of hospitalization or medical treatment outside Canada. If you are flying, being insured for flight cancellation, trip interruption, lost luggage and document replacement will save you from major disruptions and additional costs. If you are travelling by car, make sure you have driver and vehicle coverage in case you have an accident abroad.

During a short vacation on a Caribbean island, a Canadian developed a severe form of pneumonia and had to be admitted to hospital. His health deteriorated, and he was transferred to intensive care and placed on a breathing machine for more than a month. Without insurance, he had to make arrangements with the hospital to pay a bill that amounted to more than $20,000.

You can purchase travel insurance through your travel agent, insurance broker or your employer’s insurance provider. Your credit card company may also offer travel and health insurance. Regardless of how you obtain travel insurance, it is very important that you understand the eligibility requirements, terms and conditions, limitations, restrictions and exclusions of the policy.

Why you need travel insurance

Your Canadian insurance is almost certainly not valid outside Canada. Your provincial or territorial health plan may cover nothing or only a very small portion of the costs if you get sick or are injured while abroad. For more information, contact your provincial or territorial health authority. Hospitals and clinics in some countries have been known to refuse to treat patients who become ill or who have had an accident and who do not have adequate travel health insurance or the money to pay their bills. You could face years of debt paying off the costs of treatment for an illness or accident you suffered abroad. The Government of Canada will not pay your medical bills.

Young travellers may think they don’t need insurance because they’re young and healthy. But accidents do happen. While walking along a beach on a Caribbean island, a Canadian tourist in her early 20s had an accident that seriously damaged her spine. Her family had to raise funds to pay for her medical evacuation.

Travel advisories and insurance policies

No matter where in the world you intend to travel, make sure you check the Travel Advice and Advisories twice, once when you are planning your trip and again shortly before you leave. If a Travel Advisory is issued for your destination, after you make your travel arrangements but before or during your trip, it may affect your travel health insurance or trigger your trip cancellation insurance. Make sure you understand any terms and conditions in the policy in regard to travel advice and advisories from the Government of Canada.

Some insurance companies will not honour medical claims made for injuries suffered in a country for which the Government of Canada has issued an official Travel Advisory. Coverage for injuries resulting from war may also be limited. Insurance policies often have exclusion clauses stipulating regions and/or activities that will not be covered.

Selecting travel health insurance

Carefully research your needs and verify the terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and requirements of your insurance policy before you leave Canada.

When assessing a travel health insurance plan, you should ask a lot of questions. Does the plan provide continuous coverage for the duration of your stay abroad and after you return? Does it offer coverage that is renewable from abroad and for the maximum period of stay? Does the company have an in-house, worldwide, 24-hour/7-day emergency contact number in English and/or translation services for health care providers in your destination country? Does it pay for foreign hospitalization for illness or injury and related medical costs and provide up-front payment of bills or cash advances, so you don’t have to pay out of your own pocket?

Be sure to ask whether the plan covers pre-existing medical conditions. Ask the company to explain the definition, limitations and restrictions of any pre-existing conditions and tests and treatments you may have undergone.

  • Make sure you get a written agreement that your pre-existing medical condition is covered, or you could find your claim “null and void” under a pre-existing condition clause.
  • Be aware that the agreement must also include a stability clause stating that for you to be covered for any pre-existing medical conditions you must have no changes to or new medical conditions, symptoms or medications during the stability period prior to your trip.
  • The agreement should include a compassion clause stating that an inaccurate statement may not invalidate the entire policy, and a change of health clause.

And ensure that the plan provides for medical evacuation to Canada or the nearest location with appropriate medical care and pays for a medical escort (health care provider) to accompany you to and from your destination.

Ensure that deductible costs are clearly explained in the plan. Plans with 100-percent coverage are more expensive but may save money in the long run. The plan could cover health care provider visits and prescription medicines, or emergency dental care or emergency transportation, such as ambulance services. Check whether it excludes or significantly limits coverage for certain regions or countries you may visit.

Finally, ensure that the plan covers the preparation and return of your remains to Canada if you die abroad.

Gabrielle had insurance that lapsed three weeks before she was involved in an accident. Her Canadian family had to raise $300,000 over a three-day period to cover the costs of medical treatment and evacuation. Fortunately, she survived, but her family is left with a hefty debt to repay.

Meeting the terms of your insurance policy

It is your responsibility to know and understand the terms of your insurance policy. Read the fine print carefully and ask for help, if necessary, to fully understand the eligibility requirements and definitions, terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions of the policy.

The information you provide must be accurate and complete. If you have any questions about the application and your medical history, including prescription drugs, tests and other treatments, contact the insurance company and ask them to clarify the issue in writing.

Obtain approval from your insurer before undergoing medical treatment. Routine health checkups, non-emergency care and cosmetic surgery are rarely covered by travel health insurance. Insurance companies may also exclude coverage for mental health disorders, drug- or alcohol-related incidents, or extreme sporting activities such as bungee jumping and rock climbing.

Get a detailed report and invoice from the doctor or hospital before leaving the country where you have received medical treatment. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get the proper paperwork from thousands of kilometres away. Always remember to submit the original receipts for medical services or prescriptions received abroad. Keep a copy of the documents for your files.

Carry details of your insurance policy and tell your travel agent, a travel companion, and a friend or relative at home how to contact your insurer.

Source: Government of Canada

Preparation is Key for a Rewarding Snowbird Travel Season

Press Release:

TORONTO, July 20, 2016 – Spending the winter in the sunny south sure beats contending with the ice and snow of our Canadian winters. If you are truly going to enjoy the fruits of the snowbird lifestyle experience, preparation is key. The most important consideration is your health and that of your loved ones.

Canadian Snowbird Association (CNW Group/Canadian Snowbird Association)

Some people regard travel medical insurance as an added expense or luxury, but the Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) and its medical travel insurance provider Medipac Travel Insurance warn that even small, unexpected medical issues can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

“Today, travelling without supplemental health insurance is akin to gambling with your life savings,” said CSA president Bob Slack. “Provincial government health-insurance plans do not cover full medical expenses outside of Canada and 85-95% of any medical bills will usually be your responsibility.”

Many people feel that they are adequately covered through their credit card or an employer benefit plan but, often, these have restrictive limits and conditions and should not be depended upon without a careful reading of the actual insurance policy.

The Canadian Snowbird Association urges all travelling Canadians to obtain travel medical insurance before leaving Canada. For the 24th consecutive year, the Canadian Snowbird Association has endorsed the travel medical insurance packages of Medipac Travel Insurance.

Medipac Travel Insurance is pleased to announce that the Early Bird Travel Insurance® discount is now available.

Early Bird purchasers receive an immediate discount of 5%, and if you qualify, you can earn up to a 10% Claims-Free Discount. Medipac has also increased their Loyalty Credits. Medipac clients can receive an additional 1% discount for each year travelled with Medipac for up to eight years; another potential 8% premium reduction.

The Medipac Early Bird Travel Insurance® discount is only available until August 8, 2016.

SOURCE Canadian Snowbird Association |


The Selfie Effect: Are Your Vacation Pictures Putting You at Risk?

The Selfie Effect: Are Your Vacation Pictures Putting You at Risk?

Press Release:

MONTRÉAL, While Quebecers look forward to the summer months and vacations, many are unwittingly putting their homes at risk by posting their absences or whereabouts on the internet. A new Allstate Insurance survey found that almost one quarter (23 per cent) of polled Quebecers have in the past posted on their social media accounts that they were away from home. Poll findings also showed that over half (52 per cent) of the 18 to 24 age group have shared that they were travelling on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and 43 per cent in the 25 to 34 age group have done the same.

“Although it can be so much fun to share our travel experiences with others, oversharing is a trend that can potentially put the safety of your home at risk,” says Patrizia D’Ignazio, Allstate Agency Manager. “Allstate Insurance would like to remind Quebecers to think twice before announcing their travel plans online in advance, or during their trip.”

Travelers may know basic home safety procedures when away, like having the mail and newspaper deliveries temporarily stopped or picked up by someone they trust, or installing an automated lighting system. What they might not take into account is that all these efforts could potentially be wasted if they publish that they are away from their home on vacation on social media sites! This summer, 33 per cent of polled Quebecers said they plan to take at least a couple days’ vacation during the construction holiday period which runs from July 24 to August 6.

“When making travel plans, remembering to lock the front door and turn on the alarm system – if you have one – is one thing, but oversharing on your social media pages without the necessary precautions is to be avoided,” says Francisco Randez, TV and radio host, social media and travel expert.

You don’t have to stop sharing, just be mindful of when and how you share
With the increasing popularity of social networks, today’s cybercriminals are using information easily available to them online to plot break-ins on their potential victims’ homes. In the era of social networking, geolocation – the identification of the real-world geographic location of an object such as a mobile phone or computer terminal – can be blamed for break-ins and Google Street View is fast-becoming a sneaky tool used in planning burglaries. Most people provide a wealth of personal details such as their workplace location, people with whom they have relationships, their vacation timing and their address, and that can be putting them at risk.

According to the survey, sixty per cent of men and just over half of women (51 per cent) do not always deactivate their geolocation on their mobile device (smart phones or tablets) while travelling. ”Travelers may be excited to post a countdown leading up to a trip or getaway or that they are en route or have arrived at their destination, but they need to be mindful of what, when and how they share online,” adds Randez.

Make it a family affair
The younger generation with access to mobile devices should also be kept apprised of potential risks. They may be putting the family home in jeopardy by sharing private information on their whereabouts and travel plans. Almost half the survey respondents (43 per cent) have children with active social media accounts and one third of parents (33 per cent) are not in the habit of monitoring what their children post on their social media accounts. The poll also shows that 11 per cent of parents aged 35 to 44 do not regularly check their children’s social media activity. In teaching children further about the proper use of social channels, parents can help keep their homes safer from thieves who may be monitoring them online.

Top safety tips for homeowners on vacation
To help protect travelers from social media-savvy burglars, Allstate Insurance has partnered with Francisco Randez, TV and radio host, social media and travel expert, to offer some topline safety tips.

On social media

  • Be aware of your use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks. Do not publish your vacation departure dates on your social media accounts and remind your children not to do so either. Even if you are careful and only a few friends can see what you post, it is possible that some of your contacts have much less rigid security settings.
  • Check the privacy and security settings of your social media accounts, and use them to determine who has access to your personal information. You can set the parameters according to the highest possible level of security to protect your personal information and know which “friends” can access detailed personal information rather than “everybody” or “friends of friends.”
  • Before posting pictures, ask yourself if they reveal too much information.
  • Avoid posting photos with geotagging. Most smart phones and many digital cameras automatically record the exact location where a photo was taken. If you view this photo online, geotagging can reveal the street address or that you are far away on vacation, making your home a target. Disable geotagging functions and remove geotags on your older pictures using photo editing software.
  • Set an example and teach your children and other family members to be careful online.
  • Consider saving your photos for posting once you return home instead of throughout the trip, making it clear you are back home.

The full list of Francisco Randez’s safety tips for homeowners on vacation can be viewed here.

About the Survey
The survey was conducted by Léger Marketing between June 13 and 16, 2016 via a provincial omnibus online survey among a representative sample of 1,007 Quebecers. The margin of error is +/- 3.1% or 19 times out of 20.

About Allstate Insurance Company of Canada:
Allstate Insurance Company of Canada is one of the country’s leading producers and distributors of home and auto insurance products, including usage-based insurance, serving Canadians since 1953. The company strives to keep its customers in “Good Hands®” as well as its employees, and has been listed as a Best Employer in Canada for four years in a row. Allstate Canada is committed to making a positive difference in the communities in which it operates and has partnered with organizations such as the Old Brewery Mission, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada), United Way, and Junior Achievement. To learn more about Allstate Canada, visit For more safety tips and advice, visit


SOURCE Allstate Insurance Company of Canada

What’s your foreign exchange personality?

What’s your foreign exchange personality?

Canadians are confidently making travel plans to the U.S. this year, according to a 2016 RBC U.S. Travel Poll, and some are doing so by limiting their upfront costs of foreign exchange.

Half of Canadians (50 per cent) won’t let the low value of the Canadian dollar prevent them from travelling to the United States, while 13 per cent have decided to cancel plans entirely. Two-thirds of Canadian travellers (66 per cent) say they prefer to use cash while in the United States, the survey found.

“Canadians travellers use a wide variety of tactics when it comes to U.S. dollars, how they acquire them and how they spend them, during trips to the United States,” says Alain Forget, director, U.S. Business Development, RBC Bank (U.S.).

When planning their cross-border travel, over half of respondents surveyed (54 per cent) say they do not exchange their money in a lump sum at their bank in Canada prior to their trip; one-in-three (33 per cent) use their Canadian credit cards while in the U.S. and another one-third (27 per cent) admit to looking around the house for U.S. money left over from their last trip.

When Canadians return home, the majority (63 per cent) keep the unspent U.S. dollars at home, rather than re-exchanging the money or depositing the leftover funds.

“Consider adding a cross-border bank account to your travel checklist to help you stretch your money with every U.S. trip. A bonus: you can earn interest on your leftover U.S. dollars, rather than keep them at home until your next trip,” said Forget.

Forget offers three other tips to help Canadians travel smarter and take advantage of the U.S. dollar:

  • Consider U.S. plastic: Using cash is one of the best ways to stick to your budget. But a U.S.-based credit card is a smart option to avoid foreign transaction fees on bigger purchases.
  • Avoid small change: Don’t be among the 13 per cent of Canadians surveyed who watch the exchange rate closely and only exchange money on better days – it’ll likely cost you more in the long run if you exchange small amounts. The more money you exchange at once, generally the better the rate you will pay.
  • Set a realistic budget. Two-in-10 Canadians (23 per cent) say they plan to cut back on shopping, dining or entertainment when in the U.S. By listing all the items you plan to purchase during your trip, such as food, entertainment, accommodations, or gas if you are planning a road trip, you’ll be able to have a better sense of how much money you’ll need. As a rule of thumb, tack a 30 per cent premium to your budget for the span of your trip. But keep in mind that costs in the U.S. are generally less than in Canadawhich gives a boost to your budget planning.


About RBC U.S. Travel Study 2016
These are some of the findings of an IPSOS Reid poll conducted between February 22 to February 26, 2016, on behalf of RBC. For this survey, a sample of 1,004 Canadians who have traveled to the U.S. in the last two years from IPSOS’ online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of IPSOS online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian travellers been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

Royal Bank of Canada is Canada’s largest bank, and one of the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management, insurance, investor services and capital markets products and services on a global basis. We have over 80,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices inCanada, the U.S. and 36 other countries. For more information, please visit‎

RBC helps communities prosper, supporting a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments, sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. In 2015, we contributed more than $121 million to causes around the world.


10 iconic and ironic places for true Canadians to visit this summer

10 iconic and ironic places for true Canadians to visit this summer

In honour of Canada Day and the unofficial start of the summer travel season, wants Canadians who are sticking close to home this year to visit these 10 off-beat places for a full dose of Canadiana. Take advantage of the Canada Day Sale on to save up to 50 per cent  on room rates on select hotels in Canada’s most popular destinations** or kick off yoursummer coupon and get 11 per cent off your booking price.

1. Roll up the rim at Canada’s first Tim Horton’s donut shop (Hamilton, Ontario)
You could buy a coffee and a donut for 10 cents each when the first Tim Horton’s opened in 1964 on the corner of Ottawa and Dunsmure in Hamilton. It might cost you a bit more today, but make a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the double-double to show your Canadian pride. Average HPI hotel price in Hamilton in 2015: $137

2. Marvel at the world’s largest beaver (Beaverlodge, Alberta)
Canada’s highways and byways host a menagerie of giant roadside attractions meant to lure travellers for a visit. The tiny town ofBeaverlodge, Alberta, about 30 minutes west of Grande Prairie, boasts the world’s largest beaver statue, a loving tribute toCanada’s national rodent. Average HPI hotel price in Grande Prairie in 2015: $148

3. Drop the puck at the birthplace of hockey (Montreal, Quebec)
Hockey is such a potent symbol of Canada that several cities claim to be its parent, but the first indoor game played with written rules was at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal in 1875. The original rink was long ago replaced by a parking garage, but today’s hockey fans can take tours year round of the Bell Centre, home to the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. Average HPI hotel price inMontreal in 2015: $160

4. Ride your horse to the RCMP Academy (Regina, Saskatchewan)
Since 1885, every Mountie that wears the Red Serge gets his or her basic training at the RCMP Academy, Depot Division, in Regina. Visitors can watch daily parades or the rousing Sunset-Retreat ceremony that is performed weekly in the summer. A tour of the RCMP Heritage Centre on site is also a must. Average HPI hotel price in Regina in 2015: $139

5.  Visit the home of two of the Greatest Canadians (Kingston, Ontario)
What do Canada’s first prime minister, John A. MacDonald, and hockey commentator Don Cherry have in common? Both men, who were voted by fans of the CBC as among the 10 Greatest Canadians of all time, once lived in Kingston, Ontario. The city that is halfway between Toronto and Montreal also happens to have been Canada’s first national capital. Average HPI hotel price inKingston in 2015: $142

6. Tip your hat to the Fathers of Confederation (Charlottetown, PEI)
Canada wasn’t forged in war or revolution, but in a series of conferences attended by guys with big, bushy beards. If you fell asleep during that part of history class, then head out to Charlottetown to spend some time at Province House National Historic Site to get a refresher course on how this country came to be. Average HPI hotel price in Charlottetown in 2015: $158

7. Feel tiny at the polar bear capital of the world (Churchill, Manitoba)
Canada’s most ferocious predator is the polar bear. Normally, these giant carnivores roam the Arctic ice looking for seals to eat, but during the summer they congregate on the shore. Large numbers of them are notably concentrated near the northern Manitobatown of Churchill where visitors can get up close with these marvelous creatures. Average HPI hotel price in Winnipeg in 2015: $136

8. Rock the boat at the Canadian Canoe Museum (Peterborough, Ontario)
They say Canadians know how to make love in a canoe, but don’t test that theory at the Canadian Canoe Museum. Instead, learn about how this First Nations watercraft helped early explorers chart this vast nation and open it up for the fur trade to today become a fixture on cottage lakes across the country. Average HPI hotel price in Toronto in 2015: $155

9. Be sweet with maple syrup (King’s Landing Historical Settlement, New Brunswick)
Nothing is more Canadian than the maple leaf. Species of the tree grow in every province. Sugar maples are best for producing maple syrup with Quebec and Ontario being Canada’s biggest suppliers of this sweet treat, but don’t forget New Brunswick where a spring visit to the sugarbush is an annual tradition. Get a taste during your visit to King’s Landing Historical Settlement, a recreation of a 19th-century village. Average HPI hotel price in Fredericton in 2015: $135

10.  Immerse yourself in First Nations culture (Whistler, BC)
First Nations people are the original Canadians. You can interact with their living cultures in different ways all across this land, but for something especially engaging, spend some time at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. Part museum and part art gallery, this spectacular centre highlights the heritage of the Squamish and Lil’wat aboriginal people.  Average HPI hotel price in Whistler in 2015: $215

With a selection of more than hundreds of thousands Canadian properties available to book on, there are accommodations for every taste and budget in any of the places mentioned above, no matter how big or small. is encouraging travellers to share their most memorable hotel accommodations on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the #ObviouslyCanada hashtag.

* The HPI is a regular report on hotel prices in major destinations across the world, tracking the movement in prices that people actually paid for their accommodation and providing valuable insight into the reasons behind these changes. The data is drawn from bookings made on the hundreds of thousands of hotels on the websites worldwide.

**Book by July 1, 2016 for travel until July 15, 2016. Rooms and prices subject to availability at the time of booking. Discount is only available at participating hotels and may require a minimum night stay. The discount is based upon the total hotel priced excluding taxes and other fees. Discounts are subject to availability and may be discontinued without notice. Additional restrictions and blackout dates may apply.


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