Travel pic 15 Safety Tips for the Adventurous Traveler

by Kyla Stelling 

When you’re on a travel adventure, you don’t want unforeseen safety mishaps to interrupt or stifle your fun. From planning your trip to purchasing supplies, there are a number of ways you can ensure your safety while traveling to remote destinations. Here is a list of safety tips for those who are traveling to off-the-grid, exotic locations. 

Planning and Preparation

Before you book a flight, research the region you want to visit. It is important that you know as much as you can about your location so you can plan accordingly. For example, if you are traveling to a rainforest, you should know the weather conditions that you’ll encounter while there since they have frequent flooding during their rainy seasons. Plan around the anticipated or seasonal weather conditions, so you can enjoy the best parts of your beautiful, rugged location without unexpectedly finding yourself in the midst of a natural, weather-based disaster. Also, research the necessary vaccinations you may need whenever you plan to visit an exotic and off-the-beaten-path location. Use the State Department’s website to see if your exotic and remote location has been given any travel warnings related to natural disasters, political situations or health conditions.

Securing Things at Home

Once you’ve planned your trip, set up arrangements to secure things at home during your absence. You’ll want to ensure the safety of your home while you are off in distant lands. Make use of home security systems and monitoring devices, like Nest Secure, that will keep guard when you’re not home. You can monitor the state of your home through the Nest app, which is accessible by Wi-Fi and connects to Nest Cams for visual checks. In addition to your home, you’ll also want to protect your bank and personal information from theft while you’re away. Frequent travelers are at a higher risk of identity theft and may want to consider investing in an identity theft service. Find a service that provides a plan engineered just for you, which includes monitoring of personal info, identity misuse scanning, and services for identity theft restoration.

Traveler’s Insurance

When you’re in a remote place, you may be more susceptible to risky and dangerous situations. Protect yourself from the consequences of any unforeseen mishaps by insuring your travel. With travel insurance coverage, you can have access to some money and life-saving services. These services include coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, medical expenses and 24-hour access to emergency and travel assistance services. For information and quotes on travel insurance plans, visit http://www.travelinsure.com/.

Supplies

Before you set out to your remote and exotic destination, pack supplies that will aid any possible emergencies. Some staples include non-perishable food, such as jerky, trail mix or granola bars; a solar-charged flashlight; an emergency blanket, like an all-weather space blanket; a compass and a map of the area. You should also have a thoroughly stocked first aid kit to handle the aches, pains, and injuries that come with travel. Include in your first aid kit: a prescribed antibiotic, diarrhea medicine, laxative, liniment for muscle aches, ointment for insect bites, sunburn protection, sunburn medication, allergy and cold medicines, tweezers, nitrile gloves, moleskin patches, blister gel, thermometer, pain medication, nausea medication, triple antibiotic ointment, band-aids and bandages, alcohol, rubbing pads, hydrogen peroxide and elastic bandages for sprains. REI’s Smart Travel Adventure Medical Kit is fully equipped with all the essentials you need to stay in good health, though it must be transported in your checked luggage as it is not TSA-approved to carry-on.

Communication

When you’re in an off-the-grid spot, you’ll need a means to communicate with the rest of the world. Check in with your cell service provider to see if they serve the area you plan to visit. You may need to consider investing in a satellite phone or hotspot, which will give you the means to communicate in even some of the remotest areas of the world. The Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 Satellite Phone gives you GPS, Bluetooth and SMS coverage in all areas of the globe, except the poles. The phone’s design helps it work in the most rugged conditions, with casing that protects it from rain and dust storms, sub-zero temperatures, or tropic humidity. It has a long-lasting battery and operates over the Inmarsat global I-4 satellite network.

Traveling to your remote location will be an exhilarating and memorable experience, but could easily be interrupted by an unexpected safety incident. Embark on your travels with all safety concerns and risks tended to, so you can fully enjoy your exotic adventure. 

 

Kyla Stelling is enrolled in the Master in Teaching program at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Previous career roles have entailed everything from design and event planning to public relations and child care. In her spare time, Kyla hikes the Cascade Mountains, designs elaborate cakes, and writes alongside her cuddly cat, Wellington.


The Anatomy of a Travel Plan: Emergency & Travel Assistance Services

  FemaleTravelerOnPhone_shutterstock_537006328This is the first in our series of posts dissecting travel protection plans so you can better understand these often mysterious products. Each post will focus on one benefit of the plan, explaining what exactly that benefit covers and sharing real-life applications when possible so you can understand the value of that particular benefit.

 At the bottom of the Schedule of Benefits for most of our travel protection plans, there’s a line for Emergency & Travel Assistance, indicated as “Included” on the plans. This particular benefit is not technically insurance coverage and is provided at no additional cost by a third-party vendor (not the insurance carrier). It may be listed last, but it certainly should not be considered the least among the benefits offered to travelers.

 

What is the Emergency & Travel Assistance part of travel protection plans, anyway?

 The Emergency & Travel Assistance benefit offers a 24-hour resource to travelers anywhere in the world, should they need help or have questions. This not only includes assistance in the event of an emergency or unexpected changes to plans on your trip. You can also use this service prior to your trip to help plan your itinerary, get recommendations for restaurants, museums and the like, get help on exchanging currency, and more!

 

Emergency & Travel Assistance: Real Life Application

 In mid-December, there was a detrimental fire at the Atlanta Airport, causing more than a thousand delayed flights and stranding thousands of travelers at the airport for hours with no electricity, limited information and nowhere to stay. In total, more than 30,000 travelers were affected.

 “As the day dragged on, travelers vented on social media about being stranded, the need to make alternate plans and what they complained was a lack of timely information. Some posted photos of passengers standing in the dark in the terminal.”

 What would you do in this situation? Travelers who purchased a travel protection plan would have the benefit of the Emergency & Travel Assistance Services. All they would need to do is make a call to the 800 number provided with their protection plan purchase and help would be available to wade through an otherwise uncomfortable and frustrating situation.

 

Take a look at the full universe of 24/7/365 Travel Assistance Services:

 Travel Arrangements

  • Arrangements for last-minute flight and hotel changes
  • Luggage Locator (reporting/tracking of lost, stolen or delayed baggage)
  • Hotel finder and reservations
  • Airport transportation
  • Rental car reservations and automobile return
  • Coordination of travel for visitors to bedside
  • Return travel for dependent/minor children
  • Assistance locating the nearest embassy or consulate
  • Cash transfers
  • Assistance with bail bonds

 

Pre-Trip Information

  • Destination guides (hotels, restaurants, etc.)
  • Weather updates and advisories
  • Passport requirements
  • Currency exchange
  • Health and safety advisories

 

Documents and Communication

  • Assistance with lost travel documents or passports
  • Live email and phone messaging to family and friends
  • Emergency message relay service
  • Multilingual translation and interpretation services

 

Medical Assistance Services

  • Medical case management, consultation and monitoring
  • Medical Transportation
  • Dispatch of a doctor or specialist
  • Referrals to local medical and dental service providers
  • Worldwide medical information, up-to-the-minute travel medical advisories, and immunization requirements
  • Prescription drug replacement
  • Replacement of eyeglasses, contact lenses and dental appliances

 

Emergency Services

  • Emergency evacuation arrangements
  • Repatriation of mortal remains arrangements
  • Emergency medical and dental assistance
  • Emergency legal assistance
  • Emergency medical payment assistance
  • Emergency family travel arrangements

 Next time you plan your trip, make sure to pack your travel protection plan. Visit http://www.travelinsure.com/ to view all of our various travel products and enroll online. You can also call Travel Insurance Services customer service Monday through Friday, 9 am – 7 pm EST to get your questions answered or enroll by phone: (800) 937-1387.


Travel article

Pro Tips for Your First Trip Abroad

by Sara Parker

You’ve been bitten by the travel bug, and you finally have the time, money and means to take your first trip abroad. But where do you start? There are so many places to go, people to meet, things to eat and cultures to experience. Lucky for you, there are plenty of resources available to help you decide where to go and plan your entire trip. The following are just a few tips to get you started:

Decide Where to Go

All you know is that you want to travel out of the country, but aren’t sure where to go first. Begin your journey with research. Ask your friends about their favorite trips abroad, conduct online searches of some of the most popular destinations or go to your local bookstore to browse the travel section. You also should start narrowing down what type of trip you want to take, such as a remote, outdoors trek, major city tour or a cruise. Think about what you want out of your first time abroad to help decide what kind of excursion you want. As you start narrowing down your options, you also should narrow down your search parameters. For example, only look for the best locations to go backpacking or the best places with art history museums. The lists, books, and websites you’ll find will help you pick the best destination.

Get Your Documents

Once you know where you're going, you need to get going on your paperwork as soon as possible. If you don't have a passport or need to update an old one, do this immediately because it can take several weeks (and sometimes months) to complete. According to the U.S. Department of State, your passport needs to be valid at least six months after your return and have at least two blank pages that can be stamped by customs. Depending on the country you've chosen and the duration of your visit, you also may need to get a visa. Each country has different rules and regulations for visas and you usually have to send your passport and documentation to that country to be granted a visa (which is why you should do it immediately). The Department of State has information broken down by country that gives you directions on how to apply for a visa.

Book Your Flights

There are several points you need to consider before booking your flights online: dates, location, and price. If you are set on a certain time of year for your trip, the first thing you need to do is make sure flights are available during this time. From there, you can narrow down your options by what airport you want to fly out of from your home and into for your destination. Be very careful when you're conducting your research because many websites will tell you they are close to major tourist destinations even if they aren't (it's all relative after all). Do your due diligence by checking how far the airport is from your hotel so you don't end up with a large taxi bill. Now you can start looking at various airlines and prices. Although you may be excited, you may not want to book your flight too far in advance, according to CheapAir.com. According to their study, you should book your flight two to four months in advance of your trip to get the best prices. They have each region of the world broken down by the best time to book flights for more information.

Reserve a Place to Stay

Just like with your flights, you need to do some research on where you'll stay during your trip abroad. Whether you make a reservation at a hotel, hostel, Airbnb or couch-surfing option, you should look into how far it is from the major attractions and destination in the city. Use Google Maps on your smartphone to input addresses and locations to see if you can walk or take public transportation to all the places you want to go or if you'll need a car or taxi to get around. Keep in mind that the cost of cab rides adds up quickly.

Your accommodations also greatly depend on your budget for the trip. If you're pinching pennies, hostels are a great option. They usually are in the heart of major cities and can be booked for affordable prices (especially if you're planning an extended trip). Hostels also provide you with the opportunity to meet new people, talk to the locals and have a more authentic experience. Hotels and Airbnb may be more expensive options, but offer more privacy, services, and luxury. Be sure to look at pictures of the hotels or homes on their website, and read reviews and comments on websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. Take advantage of the power of a smartphone like the LG G6 to compare all of your options and do as much research as possible. Your phone not only lets you look at websites, but also take screenshots and save information for later use in case something goes wrong.

As you plan your trip, be sure to include the major tourist attractions as well as some local activities on your itinerary. Give yourself plenty of time to explore, try new things and soak in a new culture. With a little research and planning, you'll have an amazing trip and be itching to plan the next one.

Purchase Travel Insurance

Getting travel insurance is prudent with any vacation, but it’s especially important when you’re traveling abroad. Protect your investment in your trip, and also ensure you’re covered in case of sickness or an accident while traveling (after all, many U.S. healthcare plans don’t cover you outside the U.S. Check with your individual plan). USI Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of travel protection plans, so you can find the right plan for you:

Visit http://www.travelinsure.com/ to view all of our plans and learn more.

 

Sara Parker has a passion for travel and travel writing. She lived and studied in Segovia, Spain, for six weeks, has traveled throughout Western Europe, Peru, Costa Rica and the United States. She hopes to hit every continent and share her journeys through her writing.

 


Travel

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Holiday Road Trip

By Alison Stanton

It's official: Your time-off request has been approved, and with the holidays fast approaching, you and the family are ready to head out to spend some quality time with grandma and grandpa.

But before you head over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house, it's important to ensure your vehicle can withstand the harsh winter conditions. Check out the following three common mistakes people make when planning a cold-weather road trip and what you should do instead.

1. Assuming Your Vehicle Can Handle Winter Weather

If your car is humming along nicely on the way to work and/or school, you might assume it will be able to handle a road trip with ease. However, going a few miles to and from work is vastly different than driving hundreds of miles in winter weather. Prior to leaving, schedule a winter tune-up at your mechanic to ensure your:

  • Anti-freeze and other fluid systems are topped off
  • Spark plugs are replaced
  • Windshield wipers are in good condition

Additionally, you'll want to inspect your tires carefully for any rot or damage. Beyond having plenty of quality tread, also check the brand of your tires to determine whether they're designed to handle slick and icy road conditions. If your tires are showing signs of baldness and aren't designed for harsh conditions, invest in four, new winter performance tires before you skip town.

Not sure where to turn with your trip fast approaching? Check out resources like TireBuyer.com to shop for tires meant to handle snow and ice. The online retailer offers a variety of winter-ready tires at affordable prices.

2. Not Checking the Weather Report

You and your family may be chomping at the bit to leave and see grandma and grandpa as soon as possible. But before heading out, be sure to check the seven-day forecast for your impending route.

It's possible a snowstorm may hit the areas in which you plan to travel. If this is the case — and, more importantly, you know this information well in advance — you can delay your trip by a day or two instead of ending up being stranded along the way.

Looking for a trusty resource? Check the conditions and forecast by using the National Weather Service as a resource. Through this website, you can enter your current location and destination to find out if any inclement weather is headed your way.

3. Forgetting to Pack an Emergency Roadside Kit

You may assume having your vehicle thoroughly checked over — and with four new winter tires — means you won't experience any issues on the open road. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts and intentions, you may wind up getting stuck along the way.

For example, your options will be severely limited if an accident involving multiple vehicles shuts down a portion of the highway for several hours. Additionally, you could experience unexpected car issues or have the battery go dead. Talk about a holiday downer.

Before leaving on your trip, pack an emergency roadside kit that includes plenty of warm blankets, extra food and water, and Thermoses filled with hot drinks like coffee and cocoa. Additionally, keep your smartphone fully charged, and try not to let your gas tank dip below half full.

Have a Great Time!

With some proper planning, you're bound to enjoy a safe and fun winter road trip that will provide you and your family with plenty of lifelong memories. Just be sure to give grandma a big ol' hug when you get there.

 

About the Author: Alison has been a freelance writer for the past 15 years. She enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, and always looks for opportunities to learn about new subjects.


Shutterstock_295152221 (1)

When Natural Disasters Affect Your Travel Plans

Take a moment to consider: once busy streets, alive with passersby enjoying the seemingly endless sunshine, now rivers of murky water and debris. Within the last few weeks, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Jose have devastated Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands. Millions of people have been displaced and millions of travelers have had their travel plans derailed or even canceled.

So, what did we learn amid the chaos?

As a result of the recent hurricanes, travel insurance companies have experienced a sudden influx of travel-related claims from many of their policy holders. Luckily for many travelers, airlines and lodging facilities often offer full refunds for trips to areas affected by natural disasters when they can’t render the services that were purchased. As such, insurance companies do not see as much of a jump in Trip Cancellation insurance claims in these circumstances. However, Trip Interruption and Travel Delay claims typically spike during disasters like the ones experienced in the last few weeks.

  • Trip Cancellation
    Your insurance will generally reimburse you for any non-refundable, pre-paid trip payments or deposits, up to the amount insured, if cancellation occurs before scheduled departure because of unforeseen circumstances covered by the plan.
  • Trip Interruption
    Your insurance reimburses non-refundable, pre-paid and unused trip payments if your trip is interrupted after departure because of covered circumstances. And here’s the best part – coverage includes reimbursement for additional transportation expenses to re-join the trip or return back home.
  • Travel Delay
    If your trip is delayed beyond the minimum time specified in the plan and for a covered reason, you will be reimbursed up to the plan limits for reasonable expenses.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Many travel insurance policies do cover natural disasters, such as hurricanes, that may impact a traveler’s plans. However, this particular coverage often comes with the stipulation that the policy must have been purchased before the storm was named. So, those who are proactive with their travel insurance purchase tend to fare better with receiving Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, and Travel Delay benefits than those who wait to purchase insurance.

It is reasonable to assume that the advent of these disasters will continue to affect the travel insurance industry as travelers become more conscious of how forces out of their control can derail any well laid travel plan. And it’s not just natural disasters – anything from terrible weather to a family medical emergency can ruin careful planning and bring your trip to an end before it even begins.

Having a travel insurance policy in place with Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption and Travel Delay clauses can help protect you from losing your financial investment in your trip regardless of the situation. USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services offers plan options to fit your individual needs as a traveler. For example, with the Travel Insurance Select plan, travelers receive the following benefits and non-insurance services:

  • Coverage for Trip Cancellation - Be reimbursed up to 100% of the money you invested in your trip.
  • Coverage for Trip Interruption - Recover up to 150% of your trip costs, depending on the plan you choose.
  • Coverage and services on Emergency Medical Evacuation, Missed Connections, and more
  • 24-hour access to Emergency Assistance Services – No matter where you are, you have help when you need it.

Life is unpredictable no matter how well you plan, but you can be prepared. Consider protecting your next trip with travel insurance.

For more information about the options offered by USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services to protect your next trip, click here.