QUEBEC CITY, July 21, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - With summer in full swing, tens of thousands of Quebecers are getting ready to take a well-deserved vacation break. Whether they'll be taking to the road within the province, making a hop south of the border, or flying overseas, CAA-Quebec reminds holidayers of the importance of proper planning. Here are 10 helpful tips to ensure safety and peace of mind while on vacation.
- Set a realistic budget
When choosing a vacation destination, there are several factors to consider that can affect the initial travel budget. It's important to set sensible, well-defined limits (in French) on how much to spend per day, and to not exceed them: cost of accommodations, meals, attractions, gasoline, plus amounts for emergencies or impulse purchases.
- Buy travel insurance: a must
Unfortunately, no traveller is immune to an accident or illness, which is why it's essential to have sufficient travel insurance coverage when staying outside Quebec. According to CAA-Quebec's annual survey of members' summer vacation plans, 13% of travellers planning to go out-of-province did not have emergency medical care protection, and among young people aged 18 to 24, the proportion increases to 43%. Travel insurance is not a luxury, and its cost (generally very affordable) should be included in any vacation budget if one does not have any protection of this nature. Insurance can also prevent plenty of financial headaches if a problem should crop up.
- Plan an itinerary
Before taking to the road, it's important to plan a detailed itinerary so that the driver is well aware of the route—especially if it is several hundred kilometres long. Getting help from a travel counsellor, having route maps prepared (or creating one's own), and using a GPS unit are all great ways to help ensure a problem-free drive and avoid unnecessary stops along the way.
- Have all the right documents to hand
Before packing their bags, all vacationers must make sure they have proper ID, an international driving permit and travel visa, if necessary, and all tickets required for the trip. The key document is the passport, which regardless of destination or transportation method is the best piece of identification to travel with. And if travelling outside Quebec with a minor but without both parents present, a consent letter can be invaluable.
- Have the vehicle inspected
CAA-Quebec recommends conducting certain routine checks to ensure a safe ride: general mechanical condition of the vehicle, condition and pressure of the tires, fluid levels (oil, engine coolant, brake fluid, windshield-washer fluid), and proper operation of the headlights and taillights. A visit to a trusted garage a few days before departure will take only a few minutes, but can prevent all sorts of hassles—the same is true where a well-stocked emergency kit is concerned.
- Take proper care of the car battery
Contrary to popular belief, winter is not the most strenuous season for a vehicle battery: the intense heat of summer can damage it and drain its charge 33% faster on average. A vehicle's battery therefore needs plenty of TLC in summer: avoid recharging electric devices in the car or letting the radio run with the engine off. It's also a good idea to check the condition of the battery before leaving on vacation. In the case of an electric vehicle, this caveat is all the more important: very hot weather limits the distance that can be covered with a full charge.
- Get plenty of rest before taking the wheel
Slightly more than one in five (21%) fatal collisions on Quebec roads are caused by tiredness at the wheel. On long-distance trips, it's essential that the driver be fully awake and alert. One key to this is to stick to snacks and light meals. And when signs of drowsiness do appear, there's only one solution: pull off the road in a safe location and take a nap—usually, a few minutes will be enough. Lowering the window or turning up the sound system, on the contrary, will not alleviate fatigue in the slightest.
- Obey the local rules of the road
Highway codes elsewhere in Canada and in the U.S. are not the same as in Quebec. Drivers must therefore be extra aware, obey all speed limits, slow down in work zones, and courteously share the road with all other users. In addition, CAA-Quebec reminds the public that all motorists are required to obey the so-called "move over" law, in Quebec as well as in almost every jurisdiction in Canada and the U.S., when approaching an emergency vehicle, a surveillance vehicle or a tow truck.
- Be careful
When travelling, caution is a must. Never carry large amounts of money, for example. A credit card is best for expensive purchases; using an ATM in a dimly lit area should be avoided and cash should be kept in a money belt or similarly secure pouch. A theft can happen in no time and place the vacationer in an unfortunate predicament. Better safe than sorry!
- Prepare the home
A few hours before leaving, it's an excellent idea to unplug all electrical devices (washer, dryer, TV, radio, etc.) except the refrigerator and freezer, turn off the water heater, properly lock all doors and windows, shut off the water supply, and arm the alarm system, if there is one. It's also wise to be discreet on social media when it comes to the fact that the home's occupants will be away! And to give the impression that someone is at home, CAA-Quebec recommends some simple solutions: have someone cut the grass, ask a neighbour to park their car in the driveway and pick up the mail, give a trusted person a spare key, and notify the insurance company that the family is away.
CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides automotive, travel, residential and financial services and privileges to its 1,280,000 members.
For further information:
Communications Advisor and Spokesperson
514 861-7111, ext. 5478
Cell.: 514 717-4040