Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Socks… check. Toothbrush… check. Non-Immigrant Type B Work Visa… check.

Aside from the typical stuff you cram into your suitcase such as shirts, shoes, clean underwear and a picture of Mr. Snickers, your beloved family pet, preparing for an extended vacation can be a bit overwhelming.  You have to figure out a way to pack four months worth of your personal belongings which is essentially your entire life into a suitcase that cannot exceed 60 lbs or whatever your airline sets as a restriction.  Chances are you are going to struggle with the zipper when it finally comes time to try to close the darn thing.  You may even resort to sitting on the top in a vain effort to make the contents magically decrease in size.  I will admit, I have resorted to this tactic more than once and my abused luggage is proof.  You may eventually breakdown and relent to packing a second bag even though the airline is going to charge you an exorbitant fee for doing so.  Don’t they understand that shoes alone can take up an entire bag?  Do they really intend to deprive your feet of comfortable and stylish footwear?  Yes, yes they do. And that isn’t even the overwhelming part because you aren’t just going on a vacation.  You signed up for an international internship in Thailand where you will be working in a Thai school as an ESL educational assistant for the next four months.  And therefore, all your personal items actually rank low on the list of priorities when it comes to ensuring that you have everything you are going to need for your trip.  Sorry Mr. Snickers. Whether you have actually signed up for an internship or not, the following information applies to anyone who plans to travel internationally for longer than three weeks.  Hopefully, your travel agent or tour company will be helping you with the logistics of it all since it can be confusing for a first time traveller.

 Pre-Departure Preparation:
□ Read the Travel Report for your host country, available on the Foreign Affairs & International Trade Canada website.   Check it often to stay aware of any potential issues that may arise while travelling.
 Consider registering with the Canadian government before you travel abroad.  The Canadian government offers this service in order that they may contact you and assist you in an emergency should it arise while you are in a foreign country, i.e. a natural disaster or a family emergency.
 Carry a Canadian passport that is valid well beyond the date of your anticipated return to Canada; keep a copy of the identification page separate from the original.  This is perhaps your most important piece of identification.  A passport is the only reliable and universally accepted identification document that proves your right to re-enter your home country.
 Obtain any required visas well in advance.  The type of visa required will vary greatly upon your destination, length of visit and the type of travel you are participating in be it leisure or work related so be sure to check with the consulate if you have any concerns.
 If travelling with children, carry documentation proving your right to accompany them (e.g., a consent letter or court order).
 Arrange for supplemental travel health insurance.  This is required by many travel companies as a prerequisite for participating in their program if your trip extends beyond a certain time frame.  Your current health insurance may not cover you outside of the country.
Leave copies of your passport identification page, itinerary, and insurance policy with friends or family.
 Anticipate financial needs, such as local currency, visa fees, within country transit costs, baggage fees, and departure tax.
 Check to see if any special electrical adaptors are required in order to use your electrical devices.
 Take care of health needs: vaccinations, prescriptions, medical certificates, supplies, extra eyeglasses.  Take extra care to document and pack any prescriptions to avoid hassle at customs.  Be sure to check with airlines to know what you can and cannot pack in your carry-on.
 Check whether dual citizenship is an issue for you.
 Carry an Emergency Contact Card with the coordinates of the nearest Canadian government office in your destination country.  This should be kept on your person at all times while travelling abroad.
 Obtain an International Driving Permit, if required.

Traveling with an Agency:
If you have arranged your program through a travel company, insure you also know any additional requirement for your trip.  With a service such as International Career Studies, you will also want to make sure you have the following information: 
Arrangements for airport pick-up service. 
Name of your in-country contact and program coordinator. 
Emergency contact numbers for your program representative. 
Where you will be staying for the first two nights during orientation and your subsequent accommodations once you settle into your program routine. 
Internship placement information regarding where you will be working, manager’s name, your job title, responsibilities, professional dress requirements. 

If you have any further questions about preparing for your trip abroad, feel free to contact the International Career Studies for tips and travel help or check out the FAQ section on the Canadian government’s website.





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