Over the years I have had the good fortune of travelling to many countries. Most of the time the reason for a trip was work related. I needed to participate in a multi day meeting, visit an apparel factory or attend a trade show. Sometimes, I would tag on an extra day or two to see some local sights. But I never really considered myself a classic traveller. While I have been to many places, unfortunately, my memories are focused around hotels and restaurants.

Looks like a lot of land covered on the map! I should probably find a better tool, because I have not been to most of Canada or the USA. Technically, I have ticked off Canada, the US and Mexico representing 75% of North America, but I could travel the rest of my life and not really have seen it all. I should also say that these are the countries I have travelled to, not just stopped in and transferred planes. That is another list, I suppose.

Anyway, because I have mostly ticked the box on the customs form for ‘business’ rather than ‘leisure’, there is so much about travel I am quite new at discovering. In my research phase I began to realize that the Canadian government offers loads of great information to travellers. Of course they cover all the expected topics, but even offer advice around what to pack!

In preparation for our visit to the travel clinic for a few extra shots, I made a list of all the countries we are booked for and planning to visit. Using the Government of Canada website, I did a final check on the travel advisories. And I created a database of the different local emergency services and Canadian Embassy or Consulate or High Commission offices. (While this is clearly all available online, I want an easy to reference version which doesn’t require an internet connection.) Then I wondered, why are there different office names for essentially the same service?

To start, the people who are sent from one country, like Canada to another country, like Spain are called a diplomatic mission. When these people are sent to the capital city, like Madrid they are located in an embassy and the head of this group is called an ambassador. This is different from a city like Barcelona, which is not the capital of Spain. In that case, the people from Canada will work in a consulate office, being headed up by a consular. Among the commonwealth nations, the diplomatic mission, located in the capital city like London, is called the high commission and the head of this group is called the high commissioner. In the case of a high commission, there will not be an embassy. There is a bunch more detailed information around the work that is performed in these different offices and the importance of the different heads.

Suffice to say, for a traveller, it is only nice to know that there are local services to support, should the need arise. In some cases, Canada will fill its need for service with Australia, under a special agreement of shared services between the 2 countries. Canadian officials provide consular assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through more than 260 points of service in 150 countries and through an emergency watch and response centre in Ottawa. Given this commitment from our government, combined with our careful selection of destinations, I am very comfortable with the support and services available to us while travelling. Something I have never really thought about as a business traveller and that might have been naive.

If we were to drop in to say ‘hello’ here are the offices en route:

  • High Commission of Canada in London, Kuala Lumpur
  • Embassy of Canada in Lisbon, Rome, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Amman, Athens
  • Consulate of Canada in Barcelona, Hong Kong
  • Consulate of Australia in Denpasar, Bali
  • In Morocco and Croatia, the cities we will visit do not have any representation, (I don’t think we will make it to Rabat or Zagreb).

While I have always wanted to work in a foreign embassy office, until today, I didn’t even know what the office did in a host country, let alone what the work would be like. All my life, I thought it sounded so glamorous! Now that I know a little more, I still would love to be posted as a foreign diplomat, I think. To some countries. There is probably a long list of Canadians wanting those jobs!

If we make it to all the places on our list, my global map will look something like this:

If I am fortunate enough to spend another year travelling in the future, my daughter and I would like to head straight South through Mexico, Central America and South America. All the Spanish-speaking countries. But, I need to stay focused on the task at hand! Still so much to do as we ready ourselves for the adventure ahead.

I welcome:

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Christine Westermark

I am working on a movement to empower women to practice creativity everyday, in every way we can. I believe this will be able us to realize our full potential in all facets of our lives. Be bold! Join, start or share in this social movement.
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I’ve always wanted to work for a diplomatic mission

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