I have recently moved to Canada and had to deal with a fair share of challenges before being able toget to Canada. You can get up to date status of my story here. But as I mentioned in one of my previous articles, growing up watching Bollywood movies, I, like many other 90s kids had fantasized about moving to a developed country. The tall building structures, fantastic scenery, fast cars, and larger than life roles of our protagonists in these movies created an image that was hard to forget. So following my dreams and considering myself to be a protagonist in this story, I decided that pandemic or not, I had to be in Canada. Whatever happened next is history, but the lessons learnt through the process have taught me a lot. In the next few articles and videos, I will be sharing these lessons with you as well so that you may learn from my mistakes.
In case you are more into videos or want to listen to the tips while travelling, feel free to click on the video below.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Tip # 1
It goes without saying, given the new normal, but my tip number 1 would be to stay safe and only travel when it is essential for example if you are travelling to move to a new country like myself or to start a new job etc. Obviously physical distancing would be your best step. However, physical distancing only works at airports and many airlines do not have a physical distancing rule applied inside the plane as you will most like be sitting right next to each other. Please carry at least a couple of masks with you in case one falls down or gets dirty in any way. Masks are an added protective layer that may prevent others from being infected with COVID-19. Given the important role masks play in our safety and in the safety of people around us that they should be included in our civic duty.
Tip # 2
My tip # 2 is also related to your safety. I would recommend that you carry a hand sanitizer with you. Keep in mind that any surface you touch can have COVID19 and therefore it is obviously better that you keep your hands sanitized before you touch your face. Similarly, use the sanitizer once you put your boarding pass, passports and other documents in the bag. These documents exchange hands multiple times since your check-in at the airport to your boarding on the plane and therefore can be a host to COVID19. You can obviously get more cautious and use sanitary wipes to rub your armrests, seats, food trays, charging ports or any other surfaces that you may touch during your flight.
Tip # 3
For international travel, you will generally be allowed two checked luggage bags of 23kgs each so a total of 46kgs in checked luggage per person. Please make sure that these bags are not more than 23 kgs. You might get away with a couple of kgs of weight but it depends on the person in charge and some of them can be really rigid. So, I would recommend you get your luggage sorted beforehand. You will also be allowed a hand-carry of 7 kgs so you can move some of your things around for efficient allocation of space.
Tip # 4
In case you know that you have more luggage than the allotted limit, I would recommend that you buy the additional capacity online, from the comfort of your home. It’s nearly always much cheaper to simply book extra hold luggage in advance if you think you might tip the scales at the boarding gate. I am sure that almost everyone who has ever packed a bag knows that keeping within the limits of weight or size is the trickiest part of packing. Airlines also know this and therefore, they try to help you wherever possible. Most of these airlines offer up to 50% discounts on booking the extra luggage beforehand. These extra luggage options can be bought for a “kilo” or “by “piece”. Also, do understand that baggage fees have become complex and confusing over the years and therefore, it is better to read and understand the fee structure for your chosen airline beforehand. Failing to understand these charges can damage your travel budget. Trust me, I learnt it the hard way…
Tip # 5
Due to COVID, my guess is that not all of the terminals of your airport will be operational and therefore, it will take longer for the people to check-in. I would recommend that you reach the airport at least 3 to 4 hours prior to your flight. This will ensure physical distancing and will also help in case you need to shuffle your stuff between bags and hand carry etc.
Tip # 6
The flight to Canada is a long one. It is at least 14 hours from Pakistan, India and the Middle East etc. and can take up to 26 hours if there are layovers. so plan accordingly. There are multiple entertainment options on the airlines but I don’t think anyone can watch videos for 14 hours straight. Therefore, do carry a book or something that can help you pass the time. A neck rest, earplugs, noise-cancelling headphones and sleep-masks are a few things I would definitely recommend as you will need them at some point. Your body and brain will thank you for every small comfort you can provide, and the inconvenience of packing and carrying these around is dwarfed by the misery of 15 hours in flight with crying children, pilot announcements, engine noise, and a major cramp in your neck. So, Gear up.
Tip # 7
If you are coming to Canada for the first time, keep your Confirmation of Permanent Residence and Passport safe but easily accessible. This way you will not lose them and also will not have to spend extra time going through your hand-carry just to find these two items. Plus also write down the serial numbers of any equipment that you are bringing along like laptops, tablets and mobile phones. You may be asked to provide these details for the record at the immigration booth. I personally was not asked for these details but a few people have told me that they were asked. So it’s better that you are prepared.
Tip # 8
As the world is going through a difficult time and everyone is taking steps to stay safe, please take the 14 day quarantine period seriously. For the quarantine, you can use Airbnb, hotels, personal residence or a family home. But the main point to consider is that your living space should not be shared with anyone else. So if you are planning to book an Airbnb, please make sure that you filter out the results with shared spaces. Although, in my personal experience, I have seen people get away with shared laundry and kitchen space — I would not recommend that. I say this because the safety of your loved ones is more important than a few hundred dollars. Therefore, please stay safe and maintain distance. Just in case you are planning to use Airbnb, you can use my link. You will get up to $CAD53 using this link. Free money!
Tip # 9
It will take a few days for you to get a cell phone number. The delivery of SIMs takes around 10 days due to COVID. So you will have a hard time without a number. My recommendation would be to get your international roaming service switched on before coming to Canada. The next important step is to order a SIM before coming to Canada. You can plan it to be delivered a couple of days after your arrival in Canada. This will help you get started very quickly. I am making a video and writing a blog on the best carrier options. I will link here once it is released in the next few days.
These were my top tips for travelling to Canada during the pandemic. Share this with anyone you know who can use this information.
If you are coming to Canada and have questions like your quarantine plan, soft landing or taking Uber to your destination etc., you can go through the article here. I have discussed the seven (07) most important questions and explained them in light of my own experience.