I am often asked for travel tips as readers look for any information that will make their travels safer, more comfortable and hassle free.

Here are my top 10 tips to include in your travel planning.

  1. Take steps to stay healthy.

Travelers to high risk countries need to make sure they are up to date with vaccinations and other preventative medicines that can ruin more than just the holiday.

It is a fact that visitors to high risk countries will likely be hospitalized six times more than less risky destinations. It is recommended by Canada’s own Public Health Agency that even for Mexico, our most travelled to destination from Canada, visitors should be vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Measles, Influenza, and even rabies.

  1. Driving can be hazardous to your health.

While it is normal to fear natural disasters, protests, and threats of terrorism, the fact is that traffic accidents are the number one cause of tourist deaths and injury.

Likewise, the fact is that traffic accidents cause ten times more tourist deaths than diseases.

Local road conditions may not be up to the standards of Canada and often drivers in other countries are more cavalier.

Always wear a seatbelt when driving with someone else, and if you chose to rent a vehicle, get to know your routes well in advance. Gain local knowledge by asking as many questions as you can.

  1. Map out your surroundings in advance.

With the advent of MapQuest and similar tech options you can search out your resort and the area nearby.

Do this to gain a comfort level of where you will be staying as well as the tourist sites you may choose to visit.

By printing out the detailed map of those areas you can make your own decisions about how far afield you may wish to travel on your own.

  1. Leave copies of your driver’s license, credit cards, and passport with someone at home.

If these are stolen you want them replaced as quickly as possible. I often print an extra copy and keep it in one of the pockets of my luggage for the same reason.

  1. Prevent thieves at home from knowing you are away.

As the snow piles up on your driveway and doorway, and as newspapers remain untouched, sooner or later break-in artists will conclude your home is a safe haven for their misdeeds.

Have your driveway kept clean during your absence and curtail known deliveries.

  1. Make sure your insurance stays valid when you are away.

Many home policies have requirement that an absent home be inspected on a regular basis. Those going for long stay vacations really need to consult with their insurance agent to find out specific requirements for them. But even those travelling on shorter vacations should have someone go into the house on a regular basis.

Those with home security alarms will have ready proof of entry and exit times from the company should the need arise.

  1. Inform your credit card companies and bank of your travel plans.

There is not much more embarrassing than having your credit cards declined a few days after you have reached your destination.

It is common for credit card companies to do this when usage is being monitored at destinations other than your own.

International thieves are the scourge of credit card companies, and to protect you, they will try to reach you at your contact numbers to have you approve purchases out of your trading area.

If they cannot reach you, out of an abundance of caution, they will freeze your account.

  1. Make friends with your luggage

While we like to blame airlines for sending our bags to places unknown, often travelers see a bag of the same brand and colour as theirs and take it off the carousel as quickly as possible.

An hour or two later the mistake may be discovered, but it can take several more hours or days to reunite the two of you again.

There are hundreds of distinctive luggage tags available these days. Wrap around straps help keep your bags secure and provide for easier identification.

  1. Pack any medications you may be taking in your carry-on luggage only.

While it is good advice to take more medications with you than the days for which you will be away, do not pack them into your checked bags.

If they are liquids in containers that are larger than the amount allowed put them into smaller containers. It is a good idea to carry the prescription with you as well in case security has questions.

  1. Do your homework.

Visit the websites that will help ensure a worry free vacation. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority site is www.catsa-acsta.gc.ca . It will have the most up-to-date information for air travelers.

Atwww.travel.gc.ca you will find loads of information on every country.

Check www.publichealth.gc.ca for health risk information on the country you may be visiting. Visit the websites of your hotel, the city where you will be staying and the country you will be visiting to gain an appreciation of the places you will be at during your stay.

Finally check out guidebooks and review sites to get a better idea of how to better plan the finite details of your vacation.