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When you are planning your long-awaited trip, the one thing that is sure to crop up, in your mind, is the question “Do I need travel insurance?” After all, it is an extra expense, and it can be quite costly depending on the package you choose. The trip may already be costing you a considerable amount and you seriously wonder if you really need it.
Don’t worry, you are not alone, many hundreds of millions of travelers are asking themselves the very same question. We would like to help you make an informed choice before you take the plunge in making this important decision, because there are lots of things to consider if you are purchasing a travel insurance policy. In our opinion, and experience, we believe that travel insurance is as vital as choosing the right trip.
Simply put, travel insurance is very much like any other insurance that you buy. You wouldn’t consider driving your car without insurance, nor could you imagine not having your house insured. Travel insurance will provide coverage for you financially should you experience the unexpected. Imagine, the airport loses your luggage, and they have no idea where it is, so even before you are settled in at your destination, you are already fretting about the costs of the contents of your suitcases. Unfortunately, international carriers do not have a fault-free history of ensuring the safety of your luggage.
Your travel insurance policy may cover such things as hotel stays, medical expenses, and interruption in your travel, accidents or even event tickets. Some insurance policies will offer assistance in providing information or actually making arrangements for you in the case of an emergency, for instance if you fell ill and had to be transported back home.
Naturally, the more insurance coverage you have, the more expensive it will be. Prices and features will vary greatly from one company to the next, so it is worth shopping around ahead of your planned trip, to ensure that you get the best possible coverage at the most reasonable price.
Here are a few scenarios where travel insurance would be invaluable:
Travel company goes out of business—Yes, maybe you think that this scenario is unlikely, but it does, and has happened. Not only do you not get to go on your trip, but you lose all of the money you have spent on it.
Cancellation of your trip—Your spouse suddenly gets taken ill and you are unable to go on the trip. The holiday booking, or deposit, is non-refundable.
Interrupted trip—If a trip gets cancelled, say due to freak weather conditions or an act of nature like a hurricane (Case in point—Hurricane Irma in September 2017) your insurance can cover you for all reimbursements at whatever stage you are at and as assigned in the insurance policy.
24 hour hotline—It is good to know that you can get help or advice on a 24-hour basis, especially if you are in a country whose language you do not speak
Travel insurance is not “one plan fits all.” You may have specific needs that need to be discussed with your insurance company. This will depend on the type of holiday that you are taking. It also depends on whether this trip is a one-off or whether you plan to be a frequent traveler. Perhaps you have retired and now plan to take a cruise around the world, or jet off to many different destinations around the world during the course of a year. So, your choices then come down to whether you need an annual insurance policy or whether you choose a trip-specific insurance policy. Generally, in the long term, an annual policy represents better value, but there are many factors for you to consider before that becomes your choice.
Here are two case studies that might help you to decide if you need travel insurance
Tony H. from the UK
“We had saved up for almost five years to go on the holiday of a lifetime. We had spent years planning it, scouring the internet, phoning up agents and hotels, planning every last detail. We are retired, both worked so hard all of our lives and never had much money, but we had been careful with it and our mortgage was paid off, so we now wanted to do something special together. The kids had left home and they were happy for us as they said we did everything for them, so we deserved a grand holiday. I don’t know what we were thinking of when we decided not to get travel insurance; it seems stupid now. The kids tried to tell us that we had to, but it was a lot more money on top of the trip and we just couldn’t afford it.
Two weeks before we started the holiday, June, my wife, had a major heart attack. It wasn’t expected as she had never had any warnings and we thought she was healthy. I know we are in our seventies, but we didn’t expect it. She was rushed to hospital and the doctor said she needed a by-pass urgently. We both sat and cried in the hospital room because we knew our dreams were shattered. We weren’t going on holiday anywhere. I phoned up the travel agent who had helped us plan. She cried with me, but she said that they couldn’t refund so close to the trip. All that money gone, just like that. We could have saved up for another six months and got the insurance, but we didn’t think anything like this would happen.
June is doing alright but she has to be careful. Maybe it was a good thing it didn’t happen when we were away, that’s what we keep telling ourselves. When she is a bit better, the kids are going to put together for a little holiday for us but our big dream has gone. I am glad you asked me about this because I would say to anyone to get insurance, you can’t risk losing that amount of money unless you are rich.”
Julia G. from Michigan
“I am a bit of a stickler for getting everything right, so when I was asked if we wanted travel insurance, I never thought about saying no. My friend and I wanted this trip and we didn’t want to take any risks. We were going to travel through France, Italy and then Spain as a bit of an adventure. Part of that plan was to do some skiing. We are both accomplished skiers, so weren’t worried at all. But, it all went wrong in Italy when Janice broke her leg. It was treated straight away and we planned to just relax and enjoy the scenery, but then there were complications and she needed an operation. She just wanted to go home and had a bit of a panic. She is my best friend and we did have another week left, but I could see she was upset so I called the insurance hotline. Having that insurance was amazing. They literally sorted everything for us, they got us on a plane within 24 hours and we didn’t have to do anything to sort out the organizing. We also got a small percentage of our holiday money back which I donated to a charity because I believe in giving back. Never go on holiday without insurance is what I would say!”
We think you will agree that no one wants to experience what happened to poor Tony and June.
Make certain that the company has a high coverage limit for medical expenses. Generally, you want to be aiming for up to $100,000 or, if you can afford it, get even higher coverage; medical costs can very quickly add up! We would advise not to try and save money on this aspect of your travel insurance, because this is the one that it most commonly used and most often needed, especially if you don’t have it. Also look for a policy that offers emergency evacuation and care, separate to your medical coverage. Imagine if you were on a climbing trip up in the Alps and you break your leg. A helicopter is needed to get you off the mountain and to the hospital. Can you even begin to imagine the cost of that exercise? As a standard package, we would suggest cover of up to around $300,000. You might also ask for cover that takes you from evacuation to your home. In the case of a natural disaster (Hurricane Irma September 2017) you need to be evacuated somewhere else, so ask for cover for that. Expect the unexpected and then you know you are safe physically and financially.
Your insurance policy should cover:
Make sure that you fully understand what is NOT covered by your travel insurance. For instance, say you plan to do any extreme activities like bungee jumping, hang-gliding, whitewater rafting or anything that involves a higher risk.
You are generally not covered if you injure someone on the road—third party liability—nor are you covered for alcohol- or drug-related incidents; these are classed as recklessness, so if you fall over while skiing and it is discovered that you have alcohol or drugs in your bloodstream, expect not to get help from the insurance company.
Much like any normal health insurance, you will not be covered for any pre-existing conditions. So, if you have a heart condition and have problems with your heart when on your trip, that will not be covered. Yes, it seems unfair but all insurance companies will tell you the same thing.
Check out the medical coverage with great care, as insurance companies are not averse to putting in loopholes in the small print. Typically, all medical care on travel insurance is concerned with emergency care. It is not a replacement for your normal health care, so you can’t claim your normal prescriptions on your travel insurance. Travel insurance is purely in place for if you have a medical emergency that is not a pre-existing condition. If you think of travel insurance as being accident insurance, then you won’t be disappointed when they tell you that your illness is not covered.
Our suggestion to you is to inspect the exclusions carefully in your policy. When it is time to make a claim, it will be too late. It is also important to note that you cannot be careless just because you have travel insurance. For instance, if you leave all your personal belongings on the beach unsupervised, while you go swimming in the sea, that would be classed as careless and the travel insurance would not pay up for that.
In closing, our advice to you would be to get travel insurance. You just do not know what may or may not happen on your trip. We advise you to buy your insurance plan as soon as you are able, before you start planning and paying for the trip. Decide exactly what cover you want, and do not skimp on the important details. 99.9% of the time, you will not need to use the travel insurance and you may return home thinking that the purchase of it was a waste of money. But the one time you DO need to use it will be the time when you can breathe a big sigh of relief, grateful that you do not have to worry, you can get home, or you can recover some money for the lost items.
Thanksgiving is fast approaching. This means airports across the country will be busier than ever with a huge number of passengers traveling home for the holidays. According to the Transportation Security Administration, this year is one of their busiest Thanksgiving on record. 24 million travelers are expected to be screened at the airport checkpoints. That is a 6 percent increase compared to last year.
The increase in number of passengers has started last Friday. This upward trend is expected until Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Same as on Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving. It may be useful to note that the busiest travel days will be Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Sunday thereafter.
A passenger’s preparation can make a significant difference on his security screening experience. It is recommended that passengers arrive early – 2 hours in advance for domestic flights at Newark Liberty International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and at John F. Kennedy International Airport and 3 hours in advance for international flights. This is to allow passengers to park their cars or return car rentals, check their bags with the airline, get a boarding pass, etc. before heading to the checkpoint.
Here are some travel tips for the airport security checkpoint as shared by the TSA:
Let us support TSA’s security efforts by being aware and reporting suspicious activities (If You See Something, Say Something™). For individuals traveling abroad, please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Know Before You Go page to learn about required documentation.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection together with other US and Taiwan officials have announced that Taiwan passport holders are now eligible to apply for Global Entry. This took effect on November 1, 2017.
Currently, Global Entry is available in 54 U.S airports and 15 Preclearance locations around the world. It expedites the international arrivals process in the airport as it bypasses traditional CBP inspection lines and uses automated kiosks. As an added benefit, Global Entry members are also eligible to participate in the TSA Pre✓™ expedited screening program.
John Norris, Managing Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, looks forward to stronger ties with Taiwan. He said to Taipei Times that Taiwan’s inclusion in the Global Entry program and its continuing membership in the US’ Visa Waiver Program signifies the “strong, trusted partnership between Taiwan and the US”.
Taiwan reciprocated the Global Entry eligibility by including US passport holders in Taiwan’s eGate program. It also took effect on Nov. 1, which marks the fifth anniversary of Taiwan’s inclusion in the visa waiver program in 2012.
Aside from US citizens and lawful permanent residents, citizens of Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and now Taiwan, are all eligible to apply for the Global Entry Program.
Applying for Global Entry is easy.
Preparing for your trip may be almost as exciting as the actual trip itself.
When you are embarking on your travels, excited and enthusiastic, you are probably thinking about buying a few of the best travel guide books that you can afford. Depending on which country you are planning to visit, you may find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed at how many hard-copy guidebooks you may need for your trip, and where you can find them.
There are so many travel guide companies online, but how do you know that these guide books will be the best for you.
Then, you wonder about the extra weight these guide books will add to your luggage and you think about the fact that you have to carry the guide books around with you as you travel.
Although, they aren’t generally huge, their sizing can be a little inconvenient as they are not like a pocket guide, you can slip into your jeans. So, once at your destination, you have to put your guide books in a bag and get them out each time you want to check out where you are going.
Stuffed in a handbag, carrier bag or other bag, you soon find that it becomes annoying to have to keep getting the guides out to check where you are, get directions, or check out which places of interest you are going to visit.
One of the things that we have to be aware of when in a different country is that, as a tourist, you can stick out like a very sore thumb.
If you are in a hot country, with lots of tanned or dark-skinned nationals, your lily-white legs point a very large arrow towards you labeled “TOURIST” and that can attract undesirable people towards you, perhaps intent on making a quick buck, running off with your handbag, or hassling you to buy cheap, unnecessary goods or have your photo taken with an angry looking monkey!
Within a few days, you may have a developing tan and not look so obvious. But, it is preferable to not call attention to your status as a tourist. So, as you are standing together, head to head, excitedly scouring the hard copy tourist guide, you are in a position of potential vulnerability.
As sad and negative as this seems, it is an unfortunate fact of life, and it is better if we go prepared in order that we reduce our risks.
Lonely Planet guidebooks are a perfect answer to this potential problem.
Lonely Planet has created a fantastic alternative option for printed travel guides. They have led the way, in our technological world, of supplying tour guides in digital format.
You can download the guides that you need to your android phone or iPhone, laptop or tablet, or any device that has e-reader technology.
Lonely Planet is one of the best companies that we know, for providing top-quality guide books.
The company was started by Tony and Maureen Wheeler, who came up with the idea for supplying guide books after they stapled their first ever guide book together after they came back from a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, traveling across Asia.
Lonely Planet always put the traveler first, at the forefront of everything they do. We are delighted with the quality of these digital eBook guides and recommend them to anyone who asks us which company to use for travel guides.
The guide books are updated as necessary, usually every 2-3 years, and all books on the website feature a note on when the new update is due.
They have a dozen partner sites for a range of countries—English, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese (simplified or traditional), Korean, Czech, Hebrew, Russian and Indian (English version).
You can find many available on Amazon for these languages.
Their award-winning website gives you all of the tools that you will need as you begin to sit down and plan your trip away.
We find their website to be one of the best online. It is very easy to navigate. With a simple click, you can quickly find the travel guide that you are looking for. Everything that you might be considering for your trip can be found on the Lonely Planet website.
There are over 450 titles which feature award-winning photography. You can also sign up as a subscriber to be notified of any special deals that they offer from time to time.
Go to the website www.lonelyplanet.com and you will see a menu at the top with a choice of video, destinations, booking, shop and sign in.
You will need to create an account with Lonely Planet in order to purchase your guide books, so we recommend that you do this first.
To access the digital e-book guides, go back to the menu, just below the “Shop” heading, that says “Shop home,” “Destination Guides,” “eBooks,” “Pictorial & Gifts,” “Phrasebook,” “Lonely Planet Kids” and “Special Offers”
On that menu, click on “eBooks”
On that page, you will see that there are a staggering 275 available eBook travel guides. From here, you can look for the country or countries that you plan to visit, and select the eBook guides that you need.
An eBook is simply a digital version of the printed guidebooks. The “e” stands for “electronic.” You can receive it in PDF version or an epub file for Apple, Nook and Kobo and, for Kindle, it comes in a .mobi file.
You will need Adobe Reader or any other PDF Reader. If you are using a smartphone, you can download a PDF Reader app from Google Store, although we think that most phones already have a PDF reader installed. You will need to make sure that you have the latest, updated software available on your device.
You can purchase from Lonely Planet by PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Visa Debit or Visa Electron [UK]. Your purchase online is secure as Lonely Planet use World Pay which is a global leader in secure, safe payment systems that fully protects your card details.
It is unlikely you won’t be able to get exactly the digital travel guide that you want.
eBooks are available for all regional guides, Shoestring guides, Multi-country guides, City guides, Country guides, Trekking guides, Walking, Cycling, and Hiking guides, Parks and Wildlife guides and a variety of phrasebooks and pictorials as well as travel reference books.
At the time of writing, you cannot purchase the digital version of the Discover guides, Pocket guides, Encounter guides and travel reference, travel literature and pictorials. If there is something you are not sure is available, the company is excellent if you contact them for support and guidance.
Once you have opened an account, chosen and paid for your guide(s) you will be taken to a confirmation page on the screen. As long as you have purchased on the device you are planning to use the guides with, then you can download immediately. But, if you have purchased on your PC, you will want to download onto the device that you plan to use for reading the digital guide. You can do this from the confirmation email link that Lonely Planet will send to you.
You will receive this email from email@example.com. Check your spam box first, before contacting the company, if you can’t see the email in your in box. Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail (and other email accounts like that) have an automatic spam filter that often hides emails that are sent from a shopping site.
They are doing their best to protect you from spam, but you will often find a stray email in your spam box that should be in your in box.
If you have looked in your spam box and still can’t find the email, you can contact Lonely Planet to arrange for it to be sent again, or sent to a different email account. Don’t worry about this as Lonely Planet will resolve this as quickly as they can.
If you are planning well ahead of your trip, Lonely Planet advises that you download your digital product within two months. They are generous in that they give you 5 opportunities to download your digital purchase so if you suddenly lose all of your data, you can login again and download to your device.
With the huge memories on modern devices, the digital download will not take up a lot of space.
An average eBook will be around 100mb, or more, in size, so the download may vary in speed depending on your broadband connection.
We have found it best to start the download, and then go off and do something else for ten minutes or so.
The digital eBook contains exactly the same content as in the printed guidebook.
However, Lonely Planet may rearrange the content slightly in the digital version in order to create a more linear process for reading on a device. You can zoom in and highlight text that might be important for your trip and, should you want to, you can actually print off the guide as a back-up copy in case your device gets broken, lost or the battery dies.
Unfortunately, this is against terms and conditions of purchase from Lonely Planet and it is an illegal practice. The digital books are protected by copyright. You cannot post links anywhere on the internet for your download.
We think that the prices are extremely reasonable. But, if you click on “Special offers” on the menu, you will see that Lonely Planet offers discounts if you purchase more than one guide, whether it is hard copy, printed or digital guide.
We believe that the Lonely Planet digital travel guides are the best. The quality of content is second to none. The guides are easy to read and beautifully presented in digital format.
You will find it so easy to quickly scroll through the information on your device, find text that you have highlighted and get the information that you need. The company are a delight to deal with and, if a customer ever has an issue with a guide, they provide fast solutions.
We hope that you enjoy your Lonely Planet digital travel guides. We sure do!
Have any others you enjoy more than Lonely Planet guidebooks. Let us know what they are and why they’re awesome!
Good news for Indian citizens. On July 3rd the United States CBP announced that citizens of India are eligible to join the Global Entry program. With this announcement India becomes the 11th country whose citizens are allowed to enroll in Global Entry.
The other countries whose citizens are allowed to enroll in Global Entry are:
Global Entry, a CBP (Customs and Border Protection) Trusted Traveler Program, grants expedited clearance of pre-screened and approved low-risk travelers expedited clearance into the United States at a variety of airport and border crossing stations.
According to Commissioner Kevin McAleenan in the CBP’s announcement; “CBP is excited to offer our flagship Trusted Traveler Program to Indian citizens,” said Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “By expanding Global Entry eligibility, CBP is transforming the international arrivals process, making it more secure, efficient and welcoming, for the millions of Indian citizens who visit the United States each year.”
Global Entry is currently available at 53 U.S. entry airports and 15 Pre-clearance locations. The program streamlines international arrivals for “Trusted Travelers” and will surely be a help to those Indian citizens who visit the United States each year.
By being a member of Global Entry, Indian Citizens will be able to bypass traditional CBP inspection lines and use an automated kiosk to complete their admission to the United States. As an added benefit, Global Entry members are also eligible to participate in the TSA Pre✓™ expedited screening program.
The application fee for Indian citizens applying for Global Entry is $100 and via the GOES online application and is non-refundable. An additional fee of 500 Rupees is also required by the Passport Seva Portal after your initial GOES applicaion is completed. Acceptance into the program is good for 5 years.
Following application submittal and conditional approval all Indian citizens will have to undergo an in person interview conducted by a CBP officer. This is the case for all applicants applying for the Global Entry program. There are over 90 locations for your interview and can be scheduled through your GOES via your log in information.
Interview questions can range from, “What other countries have you visited prior to arriving into the United States?”, “Do you have any relatives living in the United States?”, “What is your purpose in visiting the United States?”. The questions are straightforward and what you would expect for receive expedited access into the U.S.A.
The Application process, according to the CBP website:
Apply Online with CBP: Complete a GOES online application and pay the $100 non-refundable application fee.
Note that Indian Citizens applying for Global Entry must have a valid passport and valid visa before applying.