Weekend Reading – Top travel tips edition

Weekend Reading – Top travel tips edition

Welcome to a new Weekend Reading post: my travel tips edition.

You can check out other recent posts below:

This recent Weekend Reading edition offered up some ideas and thoughts about what my semi-retirement plans might look like – and some considersations about the current retirement landscape in Canada.

This is what we accomplished related to our financial goals in 2022.

Weekend Reading – Top travel tips edition

For some of you, based on the emails and comments I get on this site, you’re seasoned travel veterans.

I took my first flight when I was a teenager. I’m guessing by now I’ve flown close to 100 times in my life.

I still get a kick out of air travel.

I don’t travel often for work any longer due to my role so most travel now and hopefully in the future will be fulfilling some semi-retirement dreams.

In the beginning, you tend to make a lot of travel mistakes. Travel savviness is born from experiences.

Inspired by some travel to South Florida this week, here are some of my top travel tips before some Weekend Reading articles…

Weekend Reading - Top travel tips edition

Not my boat, just one of many small crafts in the area! 

1. Select a good airline

Sounds simple enough but if you’re going to book a discount airline then expect discount service. Not all airlines are created equal. Also, consider booking directly with the airline that gives you a chance for any upgrades or credits if/when travel plans change.

2. Arrive to the airport early

Another simple but easily understated good rule of thumb. Running late for a flight, trying to scurry yourself through baggage check-in then security will only make you, airport staff and other travellers around you anxious. No need for that. Instead, plan ahead. We tend to factor in at least arriving two hours in advance of departure for any international flights. Always factor in some buffer time to travel to the airport, getting around traffic or construction issues. Some planning on your part is the prudent play here.

3. Travel light

If you can, avoid checked luggage. We did that for this trip for almost a week to sunny Florida.

The reality is, while most airline carriers probably try to handle baggage with care checked bags can get damaged, delayed, lost or stolen. Not checking any bags at all avoids this issue altogether, just be mindful of carry-on size and weight limitations. If you must check bags, keep those as small and light as possible.

A few years ago, when my wife and visited New York City for a long weekend vacation although we checked one medium-sized bag we also made sure to save lots of room in that bag for NYC clothes purchases. If you’re travelling for longer than a week, consider packing only a few clothes and take advantage of local dry cleaners or laundromats. My last tip on luggage, ensure to pack some essential toiletries, one fresh set of clothes and all your important travel documents in your carry-on bag(s). That way, if checked luggage does go AWOL you can at least survive on those essentials for a few days as needed.

Before anything might go missing, take pictures of your luggage on your cell phone. If your bag gets lost, this will help identify it more easily and speed up the process of having your travel insurance reimburse you.

4. Bring a small backpack or slingbag

By travelling with a small backpack (something like 20L or so), you will be forced to pack light and avoid carrying too much stuff. Humans have a natural tendency to want to fill space so if you pack light you’ll avoid this bias. Using a small backpack or slingbag is perfect for day trips once you arrive at your destination. Small backpacks or slingbags store easily, they can be a great home for water and snacks, and you store hats or other essential items for the beach – if you are near one! 😉

5. Get a seat upfront

On every flight I’ve ever been on, the in-flight service starts at the front. So, whatever snacks, meals or beverages your carrier offers, you’re almost assured to get the best of what they’ve got if you’re close to the front of the plane.

6. Own a no-fee FX credit card

Don’t give banks your hard-earned money. Keep that for yourself and spend it on your travels. Get a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. 

7. Always carry a lock

If the room safe doesn’t work, if there isn’t a room safe option at all – small locks come in handy. Carry a small combination lock or use a lock with a key when you travel to keep valuables safe. 

8. Carry the local currency

Sometimes, credit or debit machines just might not work. When in doubt, carry some emergency cash just in case. 

9. Carry a basic first-aid kit

Accidents and small cuts happen so be prepared. We always take some band-aids, antibacterial cream, and ointments for minor cuts and scrapes. 

10. Take earplugs and bring an eyemask. 

Snorers are everywhere. Sleeping near light can be difficult. Sleep is very important. Enough said!

More Weekend Reading…

Tawcan recently higlighted the problems with Algonquin Power (AQN) – a favourite utility with many Canadian investors. Is the dividend safe? I don’t think so myself but I will continue to hold it for a bit. Sometimes a dividend cut is absolutely the best thing for the company’s health.

As the current calendar year winds down, and as a new year approaches, Cashflows & Portfolios offered up a solid list of tax tips for retirees to consider.

I enjoyed this wrap of the week from Dividend Hawk including a long list of articles about stocks and ETFs to consider owning and why now for them. 

Thanks very much to MoneySense for including yours truly in this comprehensive list of best personal finance newsletters!

Stack your inbox with the best free personal finance newsletters for 2023

Ben Carlson asked: is real estate a better investment that stocks?

From Ben, consider three things before going all-in on real estate over stock market equities:

  1. Concentration. It’s difficult to diversify with a single property (or even multiple properties). 
  2. Illiquidity. While you do receive cash flows in the form of monthly rental payments “you can’t spend a home or trade it in as easily as you can with stocks and bonds.”
  3. Potential Headaches. Owning a rental property involves finding tenants and fixing stuff when it breaks. 

Dale Roberts shared some core ETF portfolios that have really delivered over the years.

I’ll be back with my latest Monthly Dividend Income Update next week now that I’ve received the following recent Canadian bank dividend raises:

  • TD – 7.9% increase
  • NA – 5.4% increase
  • BMO – 3% increase
  • RY – 3% increase
  • CM – 2.4% increase.

Have a great weekend!


My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

19 Responses to "Weekend Reading – Top travel tips edition"

  1. Hi Mark, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Wise (https://wise.com/ca/). Although they’re not free, the FX charges seem to be less than other credit cards and you’re able to hold multiple currencies on one card. Could be useful for fequent travelers.

  2. Excellent advice re carry on luggage – we always do this for all trips if airplanes are involved, no matter the length of the trip – longest trip so far has been 6 weeks – no problem – in reality a 45 day trip is really just 15 three day trips 🙂 – adjust accordingly.

    Maybe another column could deal with travel insurance ?

  3. Excellent tips for traveling Mark ! if I might add make sure you screen your taxi driver before you take a ride 🙂 last month we went on a trip to Cancun with sunwing and the flight was perfect but the taxi ride from airport to the resort was horrible we almost fainted 🙂 so I had to have my first drink in the lobby to regain consciousness 😛

  4. Home Trust Visa Privilege has a no FX fee. (Usually 2.5%)
    I think no credit card fee also.
    Also, just search on line.
    That’s how I got the Home Trust one.
    Wise/formerly Transferwise also has one.
    Happy Trails, Ian

  5. Hi Mark, Hope you are enjoying your time away! Thank you for this post. Where can I find more information about credit cards that don’t charge FX fees?

    1. Hi JF 🙂

      Here you go…some I like but some I don’t:


      (Brim is OK but I wouldn’t pay the $199 annual fee = too much).

      This one below is better than Brim but you’d need to travel lots to take advantage of the other perks:

      We use this one to be honest:

      1. No FX fees per se since you get 3% USD cash back 🙂
      2. $0 annual fee.
      3. Membership to airport lounges so you can enjoy them for a small fee.

      Hope that helps!

        1. I have had a Home Trust Visa for a number of years, it is zero cost and has no foreign exchange cost added on. I always check when I get my bill and the conversion rate is the same as the Interbank rate on that date.
          It has its customer service flaws, but has saved me a lot of money over the years.

  6. The saying is “If you have time to spare, travel by air” LOL
    That has never been more true than the last year with delays and cancellations seeming to be the norm rather than the exception
    Distance makes it the only option in most cases.
    I did a lot of Montreal-Richmond Hill (ON) back in my road warrior days.
    It was six Hrs. door to door. Taking the plane was almost as long as it was an hr. to get to the airport, an hour ahead of the flight, an hour flight another 1 1/2 hr to get to the hotel. And then I had to count on other people to get me around. So in this case I much preferred driving.


    1. If you’re going to travel far, air is the way to go. I’ve done VIA1 a few times and enjoy that, and would consider VIA1 for any Toronto <> Montreal trip. Or Porter airlines too. 🙂


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