House Call Dr. Zach’s travel check­list

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usu­ally ar­riv­ing within 24 hours. Be­cause the money never ac­tu­ally crosses the border, and the cur­rency con­ver­sion is done us­ing the real (non-marked-up) ex­change rate, the lower fees means the son can save up to 80 per cent on what he’d pay to trans­fer the money through a bank. Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, send­ing $5,000 would cost the son C$49.50 in fees, a sav­ings of more than $100. Go to www.trans­fer­wise.com or down­load the app.

THE CRA IS WATCH­ING

Last year, it came to light that any­time we cross into the U.S. by land, sea or air, our per­sonal data is cap­tured and shared with the U.S. De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity. If you thought that was a Big Brother-like in­va­sion of pri­vacy, you won’t be happy with Bill C-21 – an Act to Amend the Cus­toms Act. This leg­is­la­tion will al­low the Cana­dian Border Ser­vices Agency (CBSA) to share the data it col­lects, not only with U.S. bod­ies but also with our own Cana­dian Rev­enue Agency. On the sur­face, this leg­is­la­tion is meant to se­cure our bor­ders by cut­ting down on il­le­gal immigration and smug­gling. But by track­ing your move­ments every time you cross into the U.S. – whether it’s for a one-day shopping ex­cur­sion or a four-month win­ter va­ca­tion – the leg­is­la­tion will al­low the CBSA to col­lect your bi­o­graphic data as well as note the date you leave Canada, where you’ll be go­ing in the U.S. and the date you re­turn, and share it with the Canada Rev­enue Agency (CRA). The tax­man will use it to keep closer tabs on snow­birds who spend more than their 182-day yearly al­lowance in the U.S. Over­stay­ing your wel­come, in­ten­tion­ally or not, could mean a claw­back on your so­cial ben­e­fits (EI or GIS pay­ments, for ex­am­ple, could be af­fected) or, even worse, could mean you have to file a U.S. tax re­turn. Think the CRA is un­sym­pa­thetic? Try ex­plain­ing your mis­take to the IRS. The over­rid­ing im­pli­ca­tion of this leg­is­la­tion is that snow­birds should be acutely aware that their move­ments are be­ing tracked very closely and should make every ef­fort to learn the res­i­dency rules and abide by them. Bill C-21 is cur­rently be­fore the Se­nate and will likely re­ceive Royal As­sent by the end of the year.

2 HOUSE CALL By Dr. Zachary Levine PLAN AHEAD

A check up on your med­i­cal check­list, be­fore you go. 1. Be in­formed Make sure to know your prov­ince’s rules for health in­sur­ance and know the lim­i­ta­tions of your health in­sur­ance and get full cov­er­age for when you’re away. 2. Prac­tise pre­ven­tive medicine Go to your doc­tor to dis­cuss any health is­sues where you’re go­ing and how to avoid them. Ask what ad­just­ments need to be made to your med­i­ca­tion sched­ule or dosage while away (due to travel, time change, diet dif­fer­ences), visit other health-care providers be­fore you go, such as your phar­ma­cist, your den­tist and your op­tometrist. 3. Do your re­search Learn about the re­sources at your desti­na­tion and have a plan if you need med­i­cal as­sis­tance. 4. Take out the guess work Make a list of your med­i­ca­tions (in­clud­ing over-the-counter med­i­ca­tions and vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments), doctors and med­i­cal is­sues to bring with you in case you need med­i­cal as­sis­tance; carry a med­i­cal alert bracelet or card to in­form the med­i­cal staff of any med­i­cal con­di­tions, al­ler­gies, emer­gency

con­tacts or other im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion in case you can’t. 5. Con­sider things you may need Depend­ing on your health his­tory (anal­ge­sia, anti-nau­sea med­i­ca­tion, al­lergy med­i­ca­tion), make sure to have all health and hy­giene essentials in your carry-on, such as painkillers, antacids and Band-Aids. 6. Al­ways keep all your med­i­ca­tions in your car­ryon Make sure that you have enough for the whole trip, as some med­i­ca­tions are not avail­able in dif­fer­ent places. 7. Be wary Make sure that your med­i­ca­tions are not con­trolled sub­stances else­where (such as opi­ate anal­gesics) and, if so, have a let­ter from your doc­tor stat­ing that they are needed and pre­scribed. 8. Make it eas­ier For those with mo­bil­ity is­sues, look into spe­cial ser­vices. Air­ports and air­lines have care­givers who can act as es­corts and trans­port peo­ple who have dif­fi­culty walk­ing. Make ar­range­ments for wheel­chairs, guide dogs and spe­cial seat­ing. 9. Stay fit Any flight more than four hours in­creases your risk of blood clots, which can be a deadly prob­lem. To re­duce risk, dis­cuss the pros and cons of baby As­pirin with your doc­tor be­fore fly­ing, stay hy­drated dur­ing the flight and get up and walk dur­ing the flight. 10. It sounds like a no-brainer, but be safe while trav­el­ling And that in­cludes prac­tis­ing safe sex when abroad – use bar­rier con­tra­cep­tion (con­doms) to help de­crease the spread of sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions. Dr. Zachary Levine is an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor in the fac­ulty of medicine at McGill Uni­ver­sity Health Cen­tre and med­i­cal correspondent for AM740 (a ZoomerMe­dia prop­erty).

3 RE­THINK YOUR FAVOURITE DESTI­NA­TION If you’re a snow­bird who just can’t quit the tra­di­tional spots, here’s a fresh look at some old favourites By Ian MacNeill

Florida For an “off-the-beaten-track” stay in Florida, try the Emer­ald Coast in the North West. White beaches, seafood and fish­ing are eas­ily found in one of the many ar­chi­tec­turally unique and his­tor­i­cal sea­side com­mu­ni­ties. It’s like liv­ing like a lo­cal without the win­ter crowds.

Ari­zona Go be­yond Phoenix and Scotts­dale. With av­er­age day­time Jan­uary tem­per­a­tures of 18 C or more, Tuc­son is a good choice for those look­ing for lo­cal charm and cul­ture. The city has adopted a Dark Sky Or­di­nance to con­trol light pol­lu­tion to en­sure spec­tac­u­lar starry, starry nights.

Texas Real es­tate prices may be up south of the border, but US$189,000 will still get you a two-bed­room condo over­look­ing the pool on South Padre Is­land. Cal­i­for­nia Think­ing of buy­ing in Palm Springs? Check it out first. Longtermlet­tings.com has a va­ri­ety of prop­er­ties avail­able in the US$1,500 a month range. Bonus: the Palm Springs In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val runs Jan. 3 to 14. Mex­ico The beaches of Puerta Val­larta are not your thing? When it comes to art and cul­ture, San Miguel de Al­lende is hard to beat, and you can find one-bed­room apart­ments in the US$800 a month range, but re­serve early be­cause it can get com­pet­i­tive for hous­ing. Bonus: Fes­tive Car­naval – a “move­able feast” – runs Feb. 27 to March 5.

… And, yes, Canada

There is a strong con­tin­gent of you that has been pick­ing Canada as your top desti­na­tion for late fall and the hol­i­day sea­son, ac­cord­ing to Vir­tu­oso, the lux­ury travel ad­vi­sor group that tracks Cana­dian trav­ellers’ habits. Our Zoomer Travel Sur­vey also found that you’re cool­ing on go­ing south – nearly 10 per cent of you dropped the U.S. to sec­ond place from this time last year (a first in our 10-year his­tory).

With that said, may we sug­gest the Okana­gan? It’s an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar desti­na­tion for snow­birds, es­pe­cially from the Prairies. Not only does it of­fer much milder win­ters (it’s in a de- sert, af­ter all, with av­er­age temps hov­er­ing be­tween 1 and 10 C from Jan­uary to March) and you don’t have to buy ex­pen­sive travel in­sur­ance. In the win­ter, ho­tels empty out, and sur­pris­ingly af­ford­able longterm rates come into ef­fect.

You can stay in a one-bed­room suite with full kitch-

en at the Wa­ter­mark Beach Re­sort in Osoy­oos start­ing

at $1,650 a month ( wa­ter mark­beachre­sort.com) or across the lake at the Wal­nut Beach Re­sort start­ing at $1,000 a month ( wal nut­beachre­sort.com). For the ac­tive, there’s ski­ing – we’re par­tic­u­larly en­am­oured of Apex Moun­tain, ( apexre­sort.com) – and for the food­ies, there’s wine. Nk’Mip Cel­lars over­look the lake and val­ley. Op­er­ated by the Osoy­oos In­dian Band, it’s one of our favourite lo­ca­tions for sip­ping and sup­ping. Plus there are good hos­pi­tals in all ma­jor cen­tres, in­clud­ing Pen­tic­ton, Kelowna and Ver­non.

For new des­ti­na­tions on where to go next, go to ev­ery­thing­zoomer.com/ trav­el­club/ad­ven­tur­ous-snow­bird.

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