Winter: Three essential things snowbirds should know

Every winter, flocks of retired Canadians head south. Too often, however, they overlook some important considerations to protect themselves before taking flight. In fact, a recent survey commissioned by American Express Canada found that only 29 per cent of Canadians 55+ purchased travel insurance for their last trip -- and one in three said they do not plan to purchase it next time.

To make sure your belongings and your health are protected for the duration of your vacation, Susan Misner, co-founder of the popular blog, Golden Girl Finance, emphasizes how important it is to educate yourself before travelling. Here are her three essentials to ensure a safe and stress free trip:

Know how long you can stay – Countries have various regulations for length of stay. For example, Canadian retirees can stay in the United States up to eight months a year, if they own a U.S. home or sign a long-term rental agreement.

Cover yourself for emergencies – You can't predict travel mishaps or emergencies, but you can plan for them. Don't assume the insurance you have through your credit card is enough. Instead, find a travel insurance plan like those offered through AMEX Travel Insurance, which can be customized to meet your unique needs and budget.

Have required travel documents – You'll need to prove to border officials you have the means to support yourself during your stay and you are planning to return. Carry a recent Canadian bank statement, receipts for property tax or rent paid, and a pre-booked, return ticket if you have one.



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