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Check your passport

Planning a March break escape? Now is the perfect time to run through what should become an annual travel checklist. Start with your passport. Is it time to renew? Keep in mind that some countries require your passport to be valid for three to six months after your planned exit date – and it can take up to 20 days to process a renewal. To find out the rules for any country you’re considering, visit travel.gc.ca/destinations and look under entry/exit requirements for each destination.

Survey your points

Complete an audit of all your loyalty programs: flight, hotels, online booking sites and so on. Are any points close to expiring? Are you sitting on any bonuses that must be used within a certain window (such as annual free hotel night)? Do you even remember all of your passwords? At the very least you’ll keep points from vanishing. Better yet, maybe you’ll discover you’re closer to that free vacation than you thought.

Review credit cards

Is your credit card giving you the most bang for your travel buck? If you’re frequently overseas, check how much you’re paying for foreign transactions. What types of insurance coverage are provided? (Cards vary wildly on that front.) If you’re paying for an annual companion voucher, are you actually using it? Also, are there perks you haven’t been taking advantage of such as free lounge access and booking discounts? Read that fine print.

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Backup documents

It’s always smart to be prepared for a worst-case scenario when travelling. Make photocopies of your passport, write down credit card details along with their toll-free numbers and set up a list of passwords. Depending on what you’re comfortable with, leave a copy at your home, with a trusted friend or family member or in the cloud. If something goes missing, knowing you have that info easily available will be one less thing to worry about.

Clean out your dopp kit

If you keep a toiletry kit packed and ready to go, take a few minutes to go through it. Medications lose effectiveness over time, so it might be worth replacing any painkillers or other pills. Skin care and cosmetics also have a shelf life. If you have mini sizes in original packaging, look for a symbol on the label that looks like a jar with an open lid: The number inside is how many months it’s good for after opening.

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