Everything You Need to Know About New York – USI Affinity

New York: Your Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Big Apple

New York Empire State Building

Legendary actress Myrna Loy once said, "If you’re bored in New York, it’s your own fault." We couldn’t agree with Myrna more. With so much to see and do in New York, there's little chance of boredom; in fact, it's impossible to experience everything New York has to offer in one visit. There are more than enough reasons to visit the Big Apple, but what are the top things to see, do, and know about New York?

You’re about to find out. Let’s first start out by mapping the top 5 “boroughs” and neighborhoods in New York.

The Bronx

The Bronx is where hip-hop was born, where the Yankees became a dynasty and where you can find New York City's leading zoo and botanical garden. The real Little Italy is located in the Bronx on Arthur Avenue. This strip is filled with top-rated restaurants offering authentic Italian cuisine. Other notable Bronx attractions include art deco architecture with over 400 buildings, the largest urban zoological park in the U.S., City Island, which consists of a seaside community and has the look and feel of a small New England fishing village, and so much more. Ilovethebronx.com is a great site for a further look into this popular NY borough. 


No matter how hip it looks on TV, NYC's most populous borough is best experienced in person. Highlights include live music, Prospect Park, Nets basketball, Coney Island, and Sunset Park to name a few. With fall right around the corner, Prospect Park is a well sought-after destination to admire fall foliage. For the true Coney Island experience, head to Luna Park. The seaside resort overlooking the Atlantic Ocean has been New York City’s playground since the 1880s. Its iconic wooden boardwalk, built in 1923, affords some of the best people-watching in Brooklyn and is home to the original Nathan’s Famous, (which began as a nickel hot dog stand in 1916). 


Classic Manhattan – to sum up this borough, it’s world-class museums, fine dining, unforgettable views, the Flatiron District, Governors Island, Grand Central Terminal, Lord & Taylor, and of course the famous Madame Tussauds. When one visits Manhattan, a visit to Katz’s Delicatessen is a must. It’s a true step back in time. You grab a ticket at the door, wait in the scrum of lines to place your order with the gruff countermen—and their advice: “please don’t try to eat the whole pastrami sandwich in one sitting.” Manhattan is also the most densely populated of New York City’s 5 boroughs. It’s truly the heart of “the Big Apple” and iconic sites include skyscrapers such as the Empire State Building, neon-lit Times Square and the theaters of Broadway.


Famous for food from around the globe, Mets baseball, U.S. Open tennis, and one of the world’s most diverse cities, in Queens you really can experience it all. The famous song What a Wonderful World, sang by the one only Louis Armstrong was indeed conceptualized in Queens where Louis lived with his wife for more than 40 years. After both of them passed away, his home became a museum and a top attraction in the city for tourists. Nine miles east of Times Square you will find Forest Hills, Queens. It was here in 1954, among the red-brick Tudors and tulip trees, that local boys Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel began writing music together and became pop royalty. Not only is Forest Hills rich in history but it’s also home to Classic eats, vintage fashions and sports history.

Staten Island

With coastline attractions, picturesque parks and kid-friendly activities, Staten Island remains an unspoiled paradise right in New York City. A classic visit to the southernmost borough usually involves a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, followed by a quick stroll through the St. George Ferry Terminal and a returning boat ride to Manhattan. There are plenty of reasons to stay in Staten Island for the entire day though! Not only is it the greenest borough, with around 9,300 acres of parkland, but it's also one of the most historically rich, with ties to Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, the Revolutionary War and the abolitionist movement.

There are exciting things on the docket for Staten Island, too, including a major new attraction in the form of the New York Wheel, a soaring 360-foot Ferris wheel set to open in St. George in 2016. With its surplus of charming neighborhoods, cultural institutions, authentic restaurants and natural reserves, Staten Island provides a scenic daylong retreat from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.

As you can see the number of attractions, places to eat, and things to do in New York are countless. Some other top activities and attractions that are home to the “Big Apple” are:

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center
FAO Schwartz
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
Times Square
One World Observatory

Simply put, New York is filled with opportunities that are waiting for you to explore solo, with your partner, or your family. As the famous Alicia Keys sings: Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can't do, now you're in New York, These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you, Hear it from New York, New York, New York!



Pet Friendly Hotel Chains – Travel Insurance Services

Top Pet Friendly Hotels
Trump Pets

If your vacation simply isn’t the same without your pet at your side, we understand. It can be hard to leave your pets at a boarding facility or in the hands of someone else, especially if your furry friend suffers from separation anxiety.

A vacation should be stress-free on everyone – so, you’ll be happy to know that more hotel chains are making it easier and less expensive to bring your pets along. The pet-friendliest even extend the offer to other animals aside from dogs and cats to birds and reptiles. So cancel the pet sitter, pack the treats, and bon voyage!

Here is a list of the top pet-friendly hotel chains.

La Quinta

In regards to the pet-friendly scene, La Quinta is one of the big dogs. With more than 830 U.S. locations, only four don’t allow pets. Those locations are: San Antonio Conference/Medical Center, Manhattan and Queens, New York, and Monterey, California. La Quinta also allows up to two dogs or cats per room at no extra charge, which is uncommon, compared to some of the other pet-friendly hotel chains. Their pet policy nationwide is simple:

• Cats and dogs are accepted in all guest rooms (unless prohibited by law).
• Up to two domestic pets allowed per room.
• Housekeeping services for rooms with pets require pet owner be present or pet must be crated.
• No fees or deposits are required

Kimpton Hotels

There's pet friendly, and then there's Kimpton – and they make that very clear on their website. Welcoming not just dogs but any pet that can fit through the door, the boutique hotel chain with 59 properties in the U.S. shows its dedication to furry (and feathery, and scaly) friends by not charging guests extra to bring an animal.

Amenities such as pet beds, concierge lists of nearby pet-friendly restaurants and parks, and a complimentary nightly wine reception where pets are welcome make Kimpton the friendliest of the pet-friendly hotels chains. Not traveling with a pet but need some company? Kimpton will outfit your room with a friendly pet fish for your stay. If that’s not enough, here are some other ways that Kimpton honors your furry pals:

• Your pet is welcomed by name. Sometimes, our Directors of Pet Relations might be there to greet you with a tail wag.
• A selection of hotel amenities and extras including plush pet-bed loaners in your guest room, food, water bowls and mats.
• A concierge list of nearby pet-friendly restaurants, parks, groomers and pet boutiques.
• Door hangers alert other hotel guests and staff that your cat, dog, or other beloved pet is in the room.
• Courtesy bags for walking your dog.
• Nightly complimentary wine reception — pets are welcome to join the party!

Best Western
With more than 1,600 hotels that accommodate pets, Best Western aims to keep costs low and options open. Pet-friendly properties allow two dogs (up to 80 pounds each) in each room. Some hotels also allow other pets, including cats, birds, monkeys, and snakes. Best Western hotels charge a maximum of $20 per day, with a maximum per-week charge of $100. Some properties also charge a refundable damage deposit. 

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts 
For the up-scale pet traveler, owners must check out Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. Fairmont has a specific love for dogs. So much that they have their own Canine Ambassador program that brings a little puppy love to lobbies including the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston and the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. But pet owners can bring their own four-legged best friends too. Policies vary by property but are clearly outlined online. For instance, at the Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown, dogs stay free and are lavished with treats handmade by the hotel's Executive Pastry Chef, while at the Battery Wharf in Boston, pets under 25 pounds cost $25 and receive a pet bed and food and water bowls.

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts 
Not all Four Seasons hotels and resorts accept pets, but those that do offer an experience yours won't ever forget. The luxury brand offers small dogs and cats (usually no more than 15 to 25 pounds) in-room amenities like beds, water bowls, and piddle pads, and concierges at pet-friendly locations have plenty of helpful tips about local dog parks and more. Properties that accept animals tend not to charge for the option.

Some other great hotels that truly cater to pets include:

Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe
Trump International Hotel & Tower, Chicago
W Hotels
Hyatt Regency, Scottsdale, AZ

 Lastly, if you’re looking to browse pet friendly destinations worldwide, bringfido.com is a fantastic site to check out. You can search top destinations, dog air travel, pet services, attractions, restaurants, events, apartment rentals, and so much more. This site truly brings together everything pet related. 


Uber vs Lyft: Which Is Best For You – Travel Insurance Services

Uber vs Lyft: Pros and Cons
Uber vs Lyft

If you have never used Uber or Lyft but have always had a curiosity as to how they stack up against each other, you aren’t alone.

We break down the two industry leading ride-sharing services to find out who has the edge in the battle of Lyft versus Uber and we will also help you identify which ride-sharing service is best for you. 


Lyft and Uber are very similar in cost. While both ride-sharing companies offer a range of expensive, premium rides in luxury SUVs and limos, a basic ride will cost you about the same in Lyft as it will in Uber. While costs vary across different cities for Uber and Lyft, rides are generally $1 to start or $1.50/mile, and $0.25/min.

A common rule-of-thumb in regards to cost is $2/mile or 20-30% cheaper than traditional taxicabs. Rides are slightly more expensive in cities with higher ride-demand like LA, San Francisco, and NYC. It’s easy to see how a simple ride down the street can be affordable and convenient, while a lengthier trip can quickly add up in cost. From an overall cost standpoint, Uber and Lyft come out about equal, so it’s really up to the passenger and their discretion.

Surge Pricing

One thing we would like to point out is surge pricing or what ride-sharing companies refer to as “Prime Time.” At high-demand times and locations, the cost of a Lyft or Uber ride can significantly increase. For Lyft, "Prime Time" can increase the cost of a ride by 25 to 200%. For Uber, surge pricing can increase the cost of a ride by as much as 7 to 8 times the cost.

Uber is notorious during this time for having their surge pricing being more difficult for the passenger to notice prior to requesting a pick-up. Lyft's prime time, on the other hand, is not as easy to miss. It’s important you understand that requesting a ride after a busy football game, during Fourth of July weekend, or on New Year’s Eve will most likely cost you more.


Another aspect of ride-sharing services that people tend to think about is the safety of the ride. Lyft and Uber drivers are required to have their own car with up-to-date insurance and a valid driver's license. You can also rest assured in knowing drivers must pass a DMV background check, criminal background check, and car inspection. For Uber, drivers must be at least 23 years old and have a 4-door car, 2005 or newer. For Lyft, drivers must be at least 21 years old and have a 4-door car, 2003 or newer.

Lastly, both companies use a rating system to quickly throw out any bad drivers from the system. Of course, there is a risk with anyone who steps inside a car, but when compared to the average driver on the road, it's safe to bet that Lyft and Uber drivers are among the safest. It's important to note that Lyft has a much higher percentage of female drivers and passengers.

The Experience

If you’re looking for a front-seat, engaging, and fun ride, Lyft is generally your choice. Uber drivers are more likely to open your door and dress well, whereas Lyft drivers are instructed to greet you as a friend with a high-five. In this category, Lyft takes the trophy, as many Lyft rides sport fun themes such as the Harry Potter Lyft, the Trivia Lyft, the Karaoke Lyft, the Cookie Lyft, and many other themes.

The App

For drivers and passengers, both the Lyft and Uber app are accepted as user friendly, and more importantly, functional. Both apps allow you to request a ride, plug-in an address prior to pick-up, watch your driver navigate to your location on a map, and submit ratings with an electronic payment at the end of your ride.

The Uber app allows passengers to see the real-time cost of their ride whereas, the Lyft app tends to have a more fun feel, with fireworks displayed after a high tip is given (the Uber app seems to have a more professional layout). The most recent Google Play Store reviewers gave the Lyft app a 4.3 (out of 5) star review and the Uber app a 4.1 star review. On iPhone's App Store, both the Uber and Lyft app have a solid 4 stars.

As you can see, Lyft and Uber tend to be similar in all categories that we have broken down. Both allow you to request a ride, get picked up, and arrive at your destination fast all while paying with your smart phone and voilà, DONE!



Best Travel Apps – Travel Insurance Services

10 Best Apps For Frequent Travelers
Travel App

When you’re on the go, your best friend and resource can be your phone. With so many apps to choose from, how can you really know which app is the best? If you’re a frequent traveler or getting ready to travel, we have narrowed down the best travel apps that are a must-download.
With the holidays coming up too (yes, summer is sadly coming to an end,) we did a little extra research to nail down the most essential and reliable travel apps.


First and foremost, TripIt is FREE. This travel app ranks at our number one spot because it allows you to be your own travel agent and plan every detail of your trip. From car rental to lodging to restaurants—you can construct custom itineraries by hand, or simply forward the email confirmations of your flight, rental car, train tickets, and hotels to plans@tripit.com and watch TripIt construct the itinerary for you. If you’re looking to go the extra mile with TripIt, try TripIt Pro.

TripIt Pro does way more than just organize your travel plans. It also alerts, monitors, notifies, tracks, and shares — so you're always in the know, on the go. Sure, you might be able to find some of these features in other apps and sites, but with TripIt Pro you get them all in one place so you can snag the best seat, find flights, track your points, get real-time flight alerts and notifications. There is a TripIt Pro cost which is $49 a year and the first 30 days are free of charge. For a more detailed comparison chart on TripIt vs TripIt Pro, check it out here: https://www.tripit.com/pro/comparison


Swackett is a great app for checking the weather prior to traveling. This trendy app opens with a standard current local weather page that has the basic information, current weather warnings, and seven-day forecasts. If you swipe your finger to go to the next panel, you'll see that report interpreted in several fun ways: fashion (featuring current weather-appropriate wardrobe recommendations), lifestyle (indices that tell you whether it's a good day for fitness, driving, stargazing, sailing, and more), health (indices for allergies, sinus headaches, migraines, asthma), and trivia (world weather records). This app not only gives you the weather but health and lifestyle suggestions too making for a great combination.

Receiving a 4/5 star rating, Swackett is also free and was recently featured as a Best New App on iTunes and on the TODAY Show (NBC)


Not only is Wikihood fun to say, it’s one of the highest rated apps in the iTunes store, and blows away many traditional travel guides by organizing and displaying all of the Wikipedia information for any place in the world. Simply start the app, enable geolocation and it creates a stream of historical buildings, famous sites, public transit, noted bars, restaurants and parks which are sortable by distance, relevance and ratings.

Wi-Fi Finder by JiWire Inc.

No matter where you go – whether you’re travelling for business or for pleasure, chances are you could benefit from being able to find the nearest Wi-Fi hotspots, and fast. Wi-Fi Finder is just the app you need, delivering easy to read maps of your area, with every available Wi-Fi source labeled and filterable by paid/unpaid, type of locale, etc. Over 30,000 people have reviewed Wi-Fi Finder and provided a solid 5/5 star rating.


For those travelers hitting the roadways, GasBuddy will be your closest friend. Cut your travel costs with this app to find all of the cheapest gas stations close to you. GasBuddy actually displays a map of your area, with the gas stations clearly tagged, and even displays the cost of gas per gallon for each one. This free mobile app has been reviewed highly with 4.5/5 stars and users love the chance to win $100 in free gas every day. With every reported fuel price, you earn 200 points. Exchange 1,000 points in the app for an entry in GasBuddy’s daily draw for $100 pre-paid gas cards. Sounds like a pretty good deal to us! 

Sit OR Squat Restroom Finder

Road Warriors- how many times have you been in a strange, unfamiliar place and needed to find a restroom, and pronto? Any traveler who’s had this experience knows that finding a place to squat can either make or break an outing. Using Sit OR Squat by Charmin, you can:

-Search and view public restrooms near your current location on a map or in a list. Map results with an interactive, location-based map.
-Register using Facebook Connect to Rate, Add, Upload Pictures, and Bookmark bathrooms.
-Rate restrooms by choosing “Sit” (you enjoyed the bathroom) or “Squat” (it could be better) and provide your relevant experience and honest opinions, including pictures.
-Add public restrooms to the database by entering basic location information and optional details like pictures and features.
-Filter results by choosing specific features such as Open Now, Sit-or-Squat Rating, Family
-Bookmark your favorite locations or map out locations for an upcoming trip.

Happy Hours

The true travel bargainer’s dream come true. That is, if you love to find the best deals on a cocktail or appetizer. The app displays the best food and drink deals going on near you at any time each day. You can filter results in a number of ways including by day, time, location, type of cuisine and special features like free wi-fi and outdoor seating. Each city is sponsored by a local zine, for example New York is powered by Village Voice and Austin is powered by GoTime. (Only in the U.S. for now.)


A more popular app that you may have already heard of and hailed by some as the best travel application out there, Yelp is a user-generated database of restaurants, bars, gas stations, cobblers, blacksmiths, and more. Search for nearby vendors by type, distance, price and hours of operation. The app lets you browse reviews, add photos, quick tips and draft reviews, which can then be finalized by logging onto their website. Yelp is undoubtedly the largest and most accurate database of local restaurants operating in the U.S., Puerto Rico, France, Germany, Ireland and the U.K.


For those that love to travel abroad or are traveling abroad for the very first time, Currency is a great app that you WILL want to download. Currency has been the #1 currency converter for iPhone since 2008, launching as one of the first 500 apps in the App Store. Providing up-to-date exchange rate information for over 100 currencies and countries, you can see why it’s fantastic for watching foreign markets. 

Packing Pro

For the organizer at heart, Packing Pro is a mobile app made for list makers. It helps you remember what to pack and can also serve as evidence of what you packed if your luggage were ever lost. It has plenty of sample lists of items to pack for different types of travel, or you can create your own and tick off items as they go into your luggage. The $3 app may seem like overkill to those who have packing down to a science already, but it can be an excellent tool for parents who are packing for multiple family members before leaving on vacation.



How To Get TSA Pre-Approved – Travel Insurance Services

Getting TSA Pre-check Status


Have you traveled with someone recently who was TSA prechecked? While you’re stuck in the TSA line, your traveling partner breezes right through without having to take off their shoes. I bet you began thinking “why wasn’t I prechecked?” “How can I become prechecked?” We are here to break down these common questions for you.

If you could get an upgrade from economy to business class, you'd do that, right? Well, getting TSA Precheck is basically the preflight upgrade equivalent, and it's something that every American citizen who flies often should consider getting.

Here's everything you need to know about TSA Precheck.

Travelers can actually enroll in the Transportation Security Administrations TSA Precheck program Over 4,000 travelers per day now sign up, which enables low-risk travelers to move more efficiently through select screening lanes at 133 U.S. airports. TSA Precheck requires you to pay an $85 application fee and complete an in-person interview at one of more than 330 application centers around the U.S. If you’re approved for TSA Precheck, you’ll be given a Known Traveler Number (KTN).

Within a couple weeks, you’ll receive your official ID card by mail. TSA Precheck status is valid for five years and allows you to keep your shoes, light outerwear and belt on, and to keep your laptop in its case and your 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in your carry-on.

For international travelers, even more of a no-brainer is Global Entry (GOES), which allows you expedited security when returning from international trips. The Global Entry application process is the same as TSA Precheck, except for the application fee, which is $100.00.

If you are a U.S. citizen, you can apply online then visit an enrollment site to provide identification and fingerprints.


• Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and cannot have been convicted of certain crimes. If an applicant has a record of any of the crimes identified in the eligibility requirements, they may choose not to apply, as the application fee is nonrefundable.
• Interested applicants must visit an application center to provide biographic information (name, date of birth, address, etc.), fingerprints and valid required identity and citizenship/immigration documentation. Applicants also have the option to pre-enroll online to provide basic information and make an appointment before visiting an enrollment center.
• Nonrefundable application fee of $85.00.
• After completing enrollment, successful applicants will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) via U.S. mail after approximately 2-3 weeks or may check online after five business days.

If you’re truly looking for a more pleasurable, faster travel experience, there are certainly advantages to becoming TSA prechecked. So, plan your travel with confidence and enjoy a more predictable experience.



Complete Fiji Vacation Guide – Travel Insurance Services

Your Complete Guide To A Great Vacation in Fiji

Bora Bora

“Aruba, Jamaica, Oooooo I want to take ya to Bermuda, Bahama, c’mon pretty mama. Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go. We’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow”…sound like a familiar tune from the famous Beach Boys? Not once did they mention the island we are about to mentally take you to, though.

Famous for its soft coral diving, white sand beaches, pristine natural environment and those overwater bungalows that are often seen on reality shows-yes, that’s right, we are talking about no other than Fiji.

Fiji is often associated with people’s bucket lists and we can see why. In the heart of the South Pacific, Fiji is home to 320 tropical islands perfect for weddings, honeymoons, families, business incentives, milestone anniversaries, and so much more.

When to Visit Fiji

The best time to visit Fiji is during the winter dry season. This season takes place from April to early October and is the time of year when the humidity is lower, there is less rainfall and comfortable temperatures. November through March can be very hot, and rain can be expected. The time to visit really depends on your reason for traveling. For those interested in diving or surfing, Fiji's winter months are the best time – for the biggest breaks and the best visibility. For land activities such as hiking, biking or rainforest trekking, the cooler, drier winter months also make for a more pleasurable time.

Getting to Fiji

Fiji may seem like it’s far away, but getting there is actually easier than people may think. Fiji’s national airline carrier has regular flights from many international destinations. If you‘re coming from the U.S. and flying to Fiji you can use search engines such as Expedia and Kayak to search. Nadi International Airport is located on the island of Viti Levu and has the airport code NAD. One thing to keep in mind when flying to Fiji is, you do cross the International Date Line. Adjusting your arrival and departure dates may be a consideration when booking your trip.

Airlines that travel to Fiji include Air New Zealand, Qantas, and Air Pacific to name a few. You will want to check these websites to compare airfares as these airlines sometimes have special rates or offer economical package deals that include both airfare and hotel stays.

Where to Stay

Every year, all kinds of travelers visit Fiji, and there’s a place to stay for everyone. From five star resorts that offer world class dining and facilities, to affordable hostels and island resorts that offer eco-tours or just a fun atmosphere. For the luxury traveler, check out Likuliku Lagoon Resort and Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. If you’re truly looking to escape to a spacious hideaway nestled around crystal clear lagoons, stay in one of these two top resorts. They both offer over-water bungalows or private on-shore villas that stretch along semi-private beaches.

For the casual traveler or a traveler with family, check out the Sheraton Denarau Villas, Fiji Beach Resort & Spa by Hilton, and Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa. These resorts offer something for everyone from Kid’s Clubs to the spa. These resorts are also a little more affordable and offer several dining options. Whether you’re looking to relax in a hammock, watch the sunset over the beach, tee off, sail at dusk, or prepare for a meeting – these resorts will meet your every need.

What to Do

One of the most enjoyable activities to do in Fiji is, well, nothing. When life offers you beautiful white sandy beaches lined with the bluest water and clear sunny skies – embrace it! Would you have a problem with spending your day in a hammock or at the swim-up bar? Always remember, you’re on Fiji time.

The water is pleasant year round in Fiji-and full of beautiful fish and coral. Adrenalin Fiji has plenty of thrills for the whole family, whether you want to surf, dive, cruise, fish or even fly. More options for families traveling to Fiji include being resort side. Fijian resorts are known for their friendliness and brilliant kids’ programs. Most run from sunrise well into the night, giving mom and dad plenty of “us” time.

A true must-do in Fiji is the Falls of Taveuni, otherwise known as Fiji’s Garden of Eden. More than 80 percent of it is protected within the Bouma National Heritage Park, and it beams with rare orchids, prehistoric tree ferns, tumbling waterfalls and natural water slides. Don’t miss the Tavoro waterfalls, a 60-foot horsetail of white water that cascades into an emerald pool and is easily accessible via a flat, grassy trail.

Other top activities in Fiji include eco-tour’s, sailing cruises, helicopter flights, firewalking, visiting the Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool, and Zip Fiji to name a few.

Fiji is a place to step back in time. A place that hands you the time to relax, re-assess and appreciate the things that really matter in life – health, family, a partner, nature and a sense of perspective. Fiji will have you not wanting to say “moce!”In Fijian, this means goodbye. So instead say “bula,” (hello) and take a trip to the South Pacific!


Is It Safe To Travel To Greece? – Travel Insurance Services

Is It Safe To Travel To Greece?


Greece has always been a tourist hot-spot, and with political turmoil in Athens and its economic reputation taking a hit, Greece still remains a premier-league travel destination. Rich in history, fabulous beaches, nightlife, amazing coastline views, and the REAL gyro –we can see why Greece remains a sought after country to visit.

Many people are wondering if visiting Greece right now is a good idea now that Greece has voted “no” again to European Union austerity measures. Tourists are conflicted as to whether it’s safe to travel to a country in the middle of a financial crisis, and understandably so.

The truth is, Greece is still a safe country to travel to.

Tourists are not targets of violence because of their nationality or status as visitors, and the Greek tourist destinations always feel safe. Protests and demonstrations are usually localized in the center of Athens, around the Syntagma square. Needless to say, if there are no demonstrations, Syntagma square is a safe place to be.

The financial crisis may be making life difficult for most Greeks but if you’re a budget traveler, traveling to Greece right now is just for you. Hotel prices are down and roads outside of Athens are extremely light given the high gas prices. All the things you’re looking for when planning a trip to Greece like the mouthwatering food, deep-blue water, ancient history, and striking scenery are all there…at a cheaper price.

The most relevant piece of information that travelers need to be alerted of if traveling to Greece right now is to avoid all political conversations with locals. No matter how strongly you feel about your political ideas, or how close you think your politics are to that of the locals, it would be best to gracefully exit any such conversations from the start. Instead, turn the conversation to the history of the Greek people and you’ll enjoy instant popularity.

Although political protests are a common occurrence in Greece, Europeans are quick to hit the streets when they want to raise their collective voice. When violence has broken out, it's been between police and protesters, not bystanders...and certainly not tourists out for a stroll. Protest rallies are generally scheduled in advance. Your hotelier can tell you if anything’s likely to be happening during your visit so it’s easy to steer clear of any unrest.

Greece has, it seems, more than its share of troubles right now. Still, the Greek culture is optimistic by nature. Most believe that they'll get through these tough economic times. Regardless of the economy, the olives remain just as tasty, the water just as blue, and the sun – like the Greek people – just as warm.


Tips For Finding Cheap Flights – Travel Insurance Services

How To Find Cheap Flights
Cheap Airfare Image

Whether you're headed on a trip for pleasure with a spouse, family, friends or business, there's a good chance you're going to be flying. Despite the rigmarole with checking baggage, parking your car and going through security, it's still faster and more convenient for long distances than any other type of transportation.

Finding airfare that fits into your budget can be a challenge. You might find two seats on the same plane that vary up to hundreds of dollars in price. No one wants to overpay for a flight. I'm sure you'd much rather have the extra money for your business or to go on exciting excursions on your vacation. Deals are out there, you just have to know how and where to find them as making the wrong choices while you shop for your vacation can cost you big time.

Here are our top tips for finding cheap airfares.

1. Research Using the Right Websites

Many travelers head straight to the airline’s site when preparing to book their flight. If you’re looking at prices on an airline’s site, you’re missing the bigger picture. You could save more money flying a different date, and typical airline sites don’t make it easy to compare. You might save more with another airline entirely, too.

Instead of a small window of options, try Google Flights which allows you to search for tickets on multiple departure and arrival days to see what day has the best deal. You can also see a calendar of the lowest fares, search for a general region and see a map of specific flight prices, or go with “I’m feeling lucky” and let Google plan your dream trip. The site also includes a whole host of features that beat out any human travel agent. Other high ranking booking sites include Skyscanner, Airfare Watchdog, and Hipmunk.

2. Buy On the Right Day

There are so many theories as to what day and time of the week you should buy tickets. Of course, no one can seem to agree on the day or time. That’s why sites like Kayak and Yapta can help. Kayak is useful as it allows you to see a price trend box in the left-hand column. It tells you whether to buy or wait on Kayak’s confidence level. If you become curious as to how it made its decision, you can click the box with the lowercase “i.” Remember that just because you got a low ticket price doesn’t mean it won’t go lower. The good news is many airlines will refund you the difference if the price drops a certain amount after you buy.

If you don’t have time to scour ticket prices every day, Yapta can be your best friend. Yapta keeps an eye on your tickets and alerts you when the price drops. With annual savings on Yapta being $334 per user on average, that means you can put your savings toward a better hotel, a few nice dinners, or just keep it in your bank account.

3. Be Flexible

While seats usually get more expensive the later you book, the deals actually get better. If you're self-employed, retired, have a really understanding boss or simply don’t care when you depart, then you can get some amazing rates if you cruise enough deal sites. Last-minute deals are usually advertised through third parties and built entirely to fill the seats that might lose the airline money.

Be aware that it’s getting harder to search airfares based on flexible travel dates now that many sites (Orbitz, Hotwire, Travelocity and Expedia among them) have eliminated their flexible-date calendars. But, again, Kayak ranks high among offering a flexible date search. You must register as a user to see it under "more search options,” though. Another site to keep on your radar is Adioso, a flexible travel site that you should be using but probably aren’t because of its
“under the radar” approach.

4. Sign Up for Airfare Alerts

One of the easiest ways to track airfares is to sign up for airfare alerts. Many travel websites offer e-mailed airfare alerts that let you know when fares go down, and they all have some sort of offer. Try doing a browser search as well, for "airfare alerts" and you'll see what's available. They all work a bit differently, so sign up for more than one.

One thing to note: These sites use essentially the same airfare data provided by the airlines' computer systems or ITA Software [what does ITA stand for?] (which is now owned by Google), so they won't include discounted promo-code fares, and they don't include Southwest Airlines. Airfarewatchdog, however, includes handpicked fares from Southwest in its Fare Alerts. Using social media, like Twitter is also an immediate way to be alerted of great deals. @Airfarewatchdog’s Twitter account posts unusual airfare deals every day of the week and alerts followers to promo codes and other airfare deals.

5. Consider Making a Stop

Sometimes booking a flight that has a connection as opposed to flying nonstop can save you money. But you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it. If it’s hundreds of dollars then yes, but if it’s just $20 do you really want to increase your chances of getting delayed or stuck? And be sure to avoid making connections in airports that have a terrible on-time track record like San Francisco, Chicago O’Hare or all of New York’s airports.

As you can see, bargain hunting can be a time-consuming process but it can certainly payoff in the long run. 

Happy and safe travels! 


Labor Day Getaway Ideas – Travel Insurance Services

With our days of sun and swimsuits being limited and soon replaced with changing leaves and light jackets, Labor Day weekend is the ideal time to treat yourself to a break. And, if you’ve already been on a vacation, who says you can’t get away again?

There are several places to spend Labor Day weekend. It truly just depends on how far you want to travel, and what you want to do. Labor Day destinations can include beaches, cities, countryside, or simple small town USA. Although Labor Day weekend falls after many kids have returned to school, it offers one last opportunity to end the season on a high note.

Here are four fantastic places where you can get away in end-of-summer style.

September in Orlando, Florida can’t be beat. It’s a month when hotel rates are at their lowest of the year and crowds have thinned with the back-to-school season. Everyone is aware that Orlando is home to Walt Disney World and several other theme parks, but Orlando also offers many dinner shows, sightseeing adventures, outdoor activities, and other attractions that can be enjoyed by all ages. Some ideas in and around Orlando include: Kennedy Space Center Tours, Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Orlando, Legoland, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, and Discover Cove to name a few.


September also kicks off the fall color season in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. With clear skies and cool weather, the Pigeon Forge area of the Smoky Mountains is ideal for outdoor activities. You can enjoy a wide range of happenings including music & variety shows, recreational activities, museums, white water rafting, horseback riding, Dixie Stampede, and so much more. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a wide range of exciting things to see and do as well, including Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country Waterpark.


When you think of an all-inclusive resort, is Pennsylvania the first place you think of? Probably not, but the Skytop Lodge in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains has been welcoming families since 1928 and offers a huge choice of activities over the Labor Day weekend, including zip-lining, kayaking, archery, tennis, boating, biking, rock climbing, and hiking. There’s also an excellent supervised children’s program, and golfers get a bonus that’s virtually unheard of: unlimited greens fees. This is the place to be for Labor Day Weekend, and events starting on Friday, September 4th include fall-themed activities for the whole family to enjoy: a beer and wine tasting, family fun grilled pizza with an interactive demonstration, live music, and a delicious Labor Day classic menu.

Skytop Lodge

Boasting the world’s longest front porch is the Grand Hotel, set on storybook Mackinac Island, Michigan. This iconic summer resort has been a favorite of vacationers since 1887. If you’re looking to take a step back in time this Labor Day Weekend, Mackinac Island will give you just that. What makes this area unique? Motorized vehicles are prohibited and folks get around on bikes and horse-drawn carriages instead. The Grand Hotel offers myriad ways for families to enjoy not only the resort, but the island as well. From biking to horseback riding, to swimming in the 220-foot pool, a Labor Day Weekend in Mackinac Island won’t disappoint. You won’t want to miss The Annual Labor Day jazz weekend either, which is a wildly popular musical event, featuring an impressive line-up of jazz and gospel artists.

The Grand Hotel


Why You Should Visit Arizona – Travel Insurance Services

Why should you visit the state of Arizona? Our very own Mattie Little tells us why.

Mattie grew up going to Arizona on family vacations and fell in love when she was in the 6th grade. She fell in love so much that she left her home state of Ohio and went to college at Arizona State University. Upon graduation, Mattie realized her heart was near family in Ohio and moved back, but her love for Arizona stayed strong and since then she visits every year.

Arizona Pinnacle

She shares with us her most recent experience to the desert, along with where to eat, where to stay, and what to do in the cities of Phoenix and Scottsdale!

Where To Eat?

I think everyone can agree that no vacation is complete without having some good grub! Trying new restaurants that aren’t in your home state are fun and truly make the vacation experience whole. One of Mattie’s most favorite restaurants in Arizona is Oreganos. If you’re looking for a mouth-watering pizza, a good salad, and an ice-cold beverage, Oreganos is the place to go! An original Chicago style pizza joint, Oreganos offers thin crust, stuffed, or pan pizzas, wings, salads, pastas, calamari, and so much more. The atmosphere takes you back in time as Sinatra, Martin, and Big-Band music stream through the entire restaurant.


If you’re looking for an authentic American restaurant, Houston’s is the place to go. All entrees at Houston’s are prepared daily from scratch, and the atmosphere is modern but provides a touch of history making this establishment one of a kind. From their famous French dip, to slow roasted rotisserie chicken you can’t go wrong with any item on the menu. Mattie, and her entire family’s favorite dish though, are the fall off the bone barbeque ribs paired with a side of coleslaw and French fries.

Lastly, there are two words when you head to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area that you may hear of, and hear of for good reason. Culinary Dropout. From the chefs on the line with silver-studded ears and mohawk hairdos, to the inked-up, decked-out bar staff mixologists, Culinary Dropout serves the very best in unique gastro-pub fare. Culinary Dropout is an exciting atmosphere with an outdoor area specifically for bean bags and ping pong. That’s right, while you’re waiting on delicious, warm pretzel bites or a local beer, you can grab your friends and play a round of bean bags! You can’t go wrong with the buffalo chicken meatballs or a piled-high turkey pastrami sandwich on of course no other than a pretzel bun.

Culinary dropout

Phoenix and Scottsdale offer so many unique, amazing restaurants. There are too many to even write about but to sum up Mattie’s favorites here are a couple more spectacular restaurants and some that offer breathtaking views. BLT Steak at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn & Resort, Sassi Italian, Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar, Blanco Tacos & Tequila, and The Breakfast Club.

Where To Stay?

Now that you’re aware of the best restaurants in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Mattie shares with us the best places to stay. Whether you’re looking for a resort with 4 pools and a lazy river, or a quaint casita overlooking boulders, there are a multitude of options in the desert.

If you’re looking for the ultimate desert oasis, look no further than the AAA Five-Diamond Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. From four top ranked restaurants, six sparkling pools, an 18 hole championship golf course, and an innovative spa with a private rooftop pool, the Scottsdale Princess truly is a gem in the desert.

Situated on 316 acres in the Sonoran Desert, the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa offers a variety of activities designed for all ages. This resort truly offers a one-stop vacation haven and has 5 outdoor pools and a lazy river. The surrounding and local area also offers off-site fun with biking, hiking, miniature golf, shopping, and much more.

If you’re looking for a more low-key stay away from the high-end resorts, try Hotel Valley Ho. This downtown urban oasis is a short walk from hundreds of shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Originally built in 1956 and fully restored, this hideaway in the desert honors its past with mid-century modern style. Hotel Valley Ho also caters to pets and there is no additional charge. Your pet will be offered a food and water bowl, doggie treats, a “pet in room” door hanger, pet cleanup bags, and two lush courtyards.


With so many places to stay in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, it’s hard to choose which properties to highlight. Other great hotels and resorts include The Phoenician, W Scottsdale, Hyatt Regency Gainey Ranch, and Firesky Resort & Spa.

What To Do?

Where to begin with the number of things to do in the desert: To start, an early morning hike is a must! Mattie’s top 3 places to hike include Camelback Mountain, Pinnacle Peak, and Piestewa Peak. The views of each one of these mountains are spectacular. Camelback Mountain offers 2 trails for the experienced hiker looking for an intense and difficult anaerobic hike as well as a trail where you still get a great workout, but not as strenuous. Pinnacle Peak is the most popular hiking destination in the valley because of the spectacular views and accessibility. The trail is 1.75 miles, 3.5 round trip and is a moderate hike for beginners and experienced hikers alike. Piestewa Peak is another fantastic hike and is a 2.2 mile out and back trail. Beware though-this hike is rated as difficult but very rewarding when you reach the top of the peak.

Mattie Hiking

Love to shop? Scottsdale is a shopping lover’s dream. To name just a few of Scottsdale’s finest shopping paradises- Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall, Scottsdale Quarter, and Kierland Commons. Here you will find an array of stores to choose from. Of the three, Scottsdale Quarter is the newest and offers high end stores and dining.

For a fun way to cool off, everyone visiting Arizona must take a trip down the Salt River for Salt River Tubing, Arizona’s floating picnic situated in the Tonto National Forest. That’s right, grab a tube and choose from 2-5 hour trips floating down the river. You can attach a cooler to your tube and have your food and drinks right at your fingertips. Occasionally you will run into a couple of small rapids which will send you floating more rapidly, and guaranteed you will laugh until you cry. With the mountains surrounding you, and wild horses running free in the river, this will truly be an unforgettable experience.

Salt River Tubing

Not only do Phoenix and Scottsdale offer a variety of activities for vacationers, but the state of Arizona as a whole offers so many things to do. For a few other suggestions, take a day trip to Sedona and slide down the famous Slide Rock. Experience the true Wild West and head to Goldfield Ghost Town in the Superstition Mountains, or head to Old Tucson and take a step back in time to the old west town made famous as the location for more than 300 movies and TV shows. Oh! And of course, who could forget the Grand Canyon?

Slide Rock