An enjoyable holiday begins with careful preparation long before you pack your bags.

Learn About Your Destination

If you plan to travel outside of Canada, check the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade travel website to find out more about your destination.

Choosing a Travel Agent

Travel professionals are licensed or registered in some jurisdictions. Check with your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office. Here are some questions to ask before choosing a travel agent:

  • Has the agent completed a training program?
  • Has he or she travelled widely?
  • How many years has the agency or operator been in business?
  • Does the agency or agent belong to a travel agents’ association or related organization?

Many agencies belong to professional travel or trade associations. Members must usually meet certain requirements for training, staffing and financing. Here are the names of a few of these associations:

Dealing with firms that are affiliated with these groups does not guarantee that you won’t have problems, but it does give some measure of security.

Purchasing Travel Services Online

You may also purchase travel services online, without using a travel agency. See “Online Shopping” for advice on being a smart online shopper. It is important to note that online travel services may not offer the same protection as a travel agency should you encounter problems with travel arrangements you booked online (if the company goes out of business, for example). Always read the fine print before purchasing, since some offers might include very limited restrictions on modifications or cancellation. Also check with your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office or travel industry association about rules that apply where you live. For example, in some provinces, online travel companies have to be registered members of the provincial industry association in order for consumer protection laws to apply.

Check Your Insurance Needs

While most holidays go smoothly, it makes sense to be prepared for problems that may arise. Think about what would happen if you lost your luggage or became ill in another country, or your tour operator or airline went bankrupt. Smart travellers protect themselves from financial loss or other problems by getting the right insurance.

  • Be warned that in some countries, health services cost much more than they do in Canada. Once you travel outside Canada, you are responsible for any medical and hospital costs that exceed rates set by your province or territory. You would be wise to buy additional medical coverage to pay for the difference.
  • Many health and accident insurance policies do not cover every circumstance or medical problems you already have, such as a heart condition. Read the policies carefully.
  • Check with your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office to determine whether there is a consumer compensation plan where you live, in case your travel agent or other travel supplier defaults or goes bankrupt. Depending on where you live, you may want to obtain insurance against possible failure of the travel services supplier.

Review Your Insurance Coverage

Before you buy travel insurance, check what coverage you already have since you may have coverage you are not aware of. For example:

  • Your personal property insurance may cover lost or stolen luggage.
  • Your car insurance may provide collision and liability coverage for rented automobiles.
  • Your credit card may offer baggage, medical and other types of insurance.
  • Your provincial or territorial health care plan gives some medical coverage while you are out of the province or territory. If you are going to be out of the province or territory for more than three months, check with your provincial or territorial health care plan to see whether this will affect your coverage.
  • Your existing private health care insurance plan may also provide for out of country health expenses. If it does, be sure to check what expenses it covers and for what amount.

By reviewing what coverage you already have, you can determine what additional insurance you may want to get.

Air Travel

Here are some things you should know to help eliminate unnecessary delays when going through airport security and to help you have a safe trip.

  • Know how early you should arrive at the airport. Check with your airline, because check-in times may vary by airline and destination. You may also want to call the airport to ensure your flight is on time before heading to the airport. Flight delays or cancellations may occur.
  • Find out how many pieces of luggage you are allowed to take with you and how much each piece may weigh. Checked and carry-on baggage limits vary by airline and destination. There may also be fees for checked luggage.
  • Pack your own bags; never let someone else do it.
  • Make sure electronic devices such as cellphones, laptop computers and portable or electronic games are charged and ready to turn on for inspection when going through airport security.
  • There are restrictions on what you may have in your carry-on luggage, including liquids, sharp objects and non-prescription drugs. Find out what restrictions are in place before you go to the airport. Check all airports from which you will be departing. If you have packed a restricted item in your carry-on, you will be required to leave the item behind at the airport before boarding the aircraft.
  • Pack prescription medication in its original, labelled container and carry all medications in your carry-on baggage along with details of your condition and treatment. It is important to carry it with you in case you require it during the flight or if your luggage is lost. It is also wise to carry a copy of your prescription with you, especially for international travel and be aware of any side effects of the drugs you may be taking before taking your flight.

Visit the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) for more information on passenger and baggage screening.

To view a complete list of useful tips related to air travel, visit the Transport Canada website.

Air Travel Complaints

After first attempting to resolve an issue with an air carrier, you may file a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) if you feel carriers have not complied with their tariff, or feel it is unclear, unjust, unreasonable or unduly discriminatory.

The Agency helps hundreds of individuals every year to resolve their disputes with air transportation service providers. As an economic regulator, the Agency ensures air carriers are meeting the legislative and regulatory requirements under the Canada Transportation Act, other Canadian regulations, as well as international conventions and agreements.

The Agency can address complaints such as:

  • baggage issues,
  • flight disruptions,
  • tickets and reservations,
  • denied boarding (for example, due to overbooking),
  • refusal to transport (because of late arrival or because of missing travel documents),
  • fares and charges,
  • cargo (like animals), and
  • loyalty programs if they are owned by the carrier (this excludes Aeroplan® and Air Miles®, which are independent).
  • Air fares and cargo rates on monopoly routes (within Canada, the Agency can investigates complaints and monitors airline prices on monopoly routes)
  • Accessible transportation (the Agency resolves complaints and works to ensure that air carriers remove undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities).

Although the Agency can handle many complaints in the areas of air transportation that are regulated by the federal government, there are some disputes that it cannot handle, such as:

  • the quality of food that is served to you, or
  • the manners of the transportation provider’s employees.

In all cases, the Agency assesses your case against the carrier’s tariff—the contract between you and the air carrier that includes the terms and conditions of carriage. An air carrier is free to set the terms and conditions contained in its tariff so long as the terms and conditions meet certain legislative requirements.Tariffs are required to be:

  • clear;
  • just, reasonable, not unduly discriminatory;
  • applied by the carrier; and
  • consistent with international agreements or conventions to which Canada is a signatory.

People wishing to make a complaint about an air carrier may do so via the Agency’s informal complaint handling process by complete an on-line complaint form.

Other Ways to Travel

For your trip, you may also choose to travel by sea or land (including rail, bus or auto). To find more information on any of these forms of travel, contact Transport Canada.

Renting a Car

A car rental company takes a risk every time it hands over the keys to one of its vehicles. The rental agreement is, as a consequence, a complex contract. It is important to read that contract carefully and to understand what you are agreeing to and what your obligations are. You should also consider your insurance needs ahead of time.

The most important insurance is third-person liability. This covers any damage you may do to another person or their property if you have an accident. Third-person liability does not cover any damage to the vehicle itself.

Third-person liability insurance should be automatically included in the car rental contract. If it is your first time dealing with a particular firm, you should ask about third-person liability and how much coverage you are getting. Some consumers may want more coverage than what is normally provided.

If you own a car, your existing insurance policy may cover third-person liability on any other vehicles you drive, including rentals. This will be specified in your insurance contract, but a quick call to your insurance company will also give you the answer.

The most common way to cover damage to the vehicle is to purchase something from the car rental company that is typically called a “collision damage waiver”. Consumers who only rent occasionally may decide the waiver is woth purchasing. If you rent more often, there are two alternatives. You can ask your regular insurance company to add rental car collision coverage to your regular policy. You can also ask your credit card company about collision coverage on car rentals you pay for with their credit card. Collision coverage is usually conditional on your obeying the conditions in the rental agreement.

Environmentally Responsible Consumer Tip:

Consider that travelling by train or bus is much less damaging to the environment than travelling by plane or car. For instance, estimates of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions, in grams, per passenger, per kilometer (based on actual number of seats filled) for planes and automobiles are almost twice the estimates for trains and buses. (Source: Environment Canada, 1995 estimates)

Transport Canada


Tower C
Place de Ville
330 Sparks Street

Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0N5

Telephone: 613-990-2309
Phone (TTY): 1-888-675-6863


344 Edmonton Street

Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3C OP6

Telephone: 204-983-3152
Toll Free: 1-888-463-0521

British Columbia

620-800 Burrard Street

Vancouver, British Columbia  V6Z 2J8

Telephone: 604-666-3518
Fax: 604-666-7255

New Brunswick

Regional Headquarters
95 Foundry Street

Moncton, New Brunswick  E1C 8K6

Telephone: 1-800-387-4999



Suite 300
4900 Yonge Street

North York, Ontario  M2N 6A5

Telephone: 416-973-9820
Fax: 416-973-9907


Office 638
800 René Lévesque Boulevard West

Montréal, Quebec  H3B 1X9

Telephone: 514-283-5722
Fax: 514-283-8234

Canadian Transportation Agency

15 Eddy Street

Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0N9

Telephone: 1-888-222-2592
Phone (TTY): 1-800-669-5575
Fax: 819-997-6727


Provincial and Territorial Consumer Affairs Offices


Service Alberta, Consumer Contact Centre
3rd Floor Commerce Place
10155-102 Street

Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4L4

Telephone: 780-427-4088
Toll Free: 1-877-427-4088


British Columbia

Consumer Protection BC
#307-3450 Uptown Blvd
PO Box 9244

Victoria, British Columbia  V8W 9J2

Telephone: 604-320-1667
Toll Free: 1-888-564-9963
Fax: 250-920-7181



Consumer Protection Office, Manitoba Justice
302-258 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3C 0B6

Telephone: 204-945-3800
Toll Free: 1-800-782-0067
Fax: 204-945-0728


New Brunswick

Financial and Consumer Services Commission
225 King Street, Suite 200

Fredericton, New Brunswick  E3B 1E1

Toll Free: 1-866-933-2222
Fax: 506-444-4494


Newfoundland and Labrador

Service NL
PO Box 8700

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador  A1B 4J6

Telephone: 709-729-2600
Toll Free: 1-877-968-2600
Fax: 709-729-6998


Northwest Territories

Consumer Affairs, Department of Municipal and Community Affairs
5201-50th Avenue, Suite 600
PO Box 1320

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories  X1A 2L9

Telephone: 867-767-9161 ext 21022
Fax: 867-873-0309


Nova Scotia

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Public Enquiries
Mail Room, 8 South
Maritime Centre
1505 Barrington Street

Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3J 3K5

Telephone: 902-424-5200
Toll Free: 1-800-670-4357
Fax: 902-424-0720



Consumer Affairs, Department of Community and Government Services
3090 – 9th Street
P.O. Box 440

Baker Lake, Nunavut  X0C 0A0

Telephone: 867-793-3303
Toll Free: 1-866-223-8139
Fax: 867-793-3321



Consumer Protection Ontario, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Box 450
1201 Wilson Ave, Station A

Toronto, Ontario  M3M 1J8

Telephone: 416-326-8800
Toll Free: 1-800-889-9768
Phone (TTY): 416-229-6086
Phone (TTY) 2: 1-877-666-6545
Fax: 416-326-8665


Prince Edward Island

Consumer Services, Department of Justice and Public Safety
Shaw Building, 4th Floor
95 Rochford Street
PO Box 2000

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island  C1A 7N8

Telephone: 902-368-4580
Telephone: 902-368-4550
Toll Free: 1-800-658-1799
Fax: 902-368-5283



Office de la protection du consommateur
400 Jean-Lesage Boulevard, Suite 450

Québec, Quebec  G1K 8W4

Telephone: 418-643-1484
Toll Free: 1-888-672-2556
Fax: 418-528-0976


Consumer Services, Department of Community Services
307 Black Street

Whitehorse, Yukon  Y1A 2N1

Telephone: 867-667-5111
Toll Free: 1-800-661-0408 ext. 5111
Fax: 867-667-3609