Viva the vacation of your dreams! Does your perfect getaway take you through charming villages, past noble castles, down scenic rivers or straight to the heart of haute couture?
Patricia Marques, Managing Director of Retail & Call Centre Sales & Operations at CAA North & East Ontario, offers everything you need to know about travelling to Europe this year, including the best travel tips, finding the best currency exchange rates, and how to navigate Europe's new travel visas coming into effect this fall.
Which European destinations are trending in 2023?
Patricia Marques: “While big cities like London, Paris, France, and Rome are still popular with many Canadian tourists, some European coastal cities are becoming more and more popular. Positano on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, the Greek islands, and the south of France are all great examples.”
Cruising through Europe is also on the rise, offering travellers more time to explore those charming European destinations. “River cruising allows travellers to have a more intimate cruising experience as most ships carry less than 200 people. And, because most river cruises travel at nighttime, there are more daylight hours to spend visiting ports of call.”
What is the best and safest way to exchange currency?
PM: “Currency rates are always fluctuating, so it’s best to go into the process with an idea of how much money you’ll need, and what rate you are getting. Most credit cards are accepted worldwide, but you won’t get the best rate when paying with your credit card abroad. You’ll have the choice to pay in Canadian or local currency. You’ll usually get the best rate when you choose the local currency.”
CAA Members can now exchange their currency with International Currency Exchange (ICE) a new CAA Rewards® partner. With ICE and CAA, you can pre-order your currency online and get the best rate with no fees.
Can you offer any “need-to-know” advice before we travel to Europe?
PM: “There’s a few things travellers should keep in mind before setting off to Europe. First, ensure all your documents are up to date and double check your passport expiry – make sure it isn’t expiring within six months of your trip. Next, get a travel insurance policy that suits your needs.”
Whether you’re looking for emergency medical, trip cancellation and interruption, baggage loss insurance or all the above, travellers enjoy peace of mind knowing they’re prepared for the unexpected.
“Another major step is to check current travel advisories for each country you’re visiting and what’s required to go there. For example, as of November 2023, Canadians travelling to Europe will be required to get a European travel visa.”
Wait, Canadians will need a European Travel Visa?
PM: “Yes, this new requirement for Canadian travellers visiting certain European countries will go into effect in November 2023. The ETIAS (European Travel Information Authorization System) is an electronic visa-waiver designed to pre-screen travellers to find potential security threats.”
Applying for an ETIAS online takes about twenty minutes. Travellers will need a Canadian passport, a credit or debit card to pay the fee, and an email address to receive your application results. If you’re traveling with children, you’ll need to send a separate application for each child under 18. Once you’ve received approval, your ETIAS will be valid for three years. If you travel to Europe often, you will not need to reapply each time, if it’s within the three-year period.
Once we reach our destination, what is the best way to get around?
PM: “In Europe, the methods of transportation are endless. You can rent a car, take a cheap flight, hop on a train or take a cruise! Europe offers several low-cost airlines and train transportation, so there’s a way to get around no matter what your budget may be. If you opt for a cruise, you will get to see several countries, taste different cuisines, and experience different cultures – all on the same trip!”
Is this the year you’ll finally jet off on that dream European vacation? Book an appointment with one of CAA North & East Ontario’s travel consultants today to plan the perfect itinerary and get competitive travel insurance to protect you along the way. Get a travel insurance quote online or call 1-800-267-8713.
CAA Travel Insurance is underwritten by Orion Travel Insurance Company, a CAA Company. Certain exclusions, limitations and restrictions apply. Subject to change without notice. A Medical Questionnaire is required if you are 60 years of age and older. Quotes are valid for 30 days.
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