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smart travel tips

the number one thing that smart travelers do: they get travel insurance.

every day at my job i hear stories and see the proof of its importance and value.
when something goes wrong, its my first question.  did you take the travel insurance?
if the answer is yes, then my job just became a lot easier because i can say with confidence, “don’t worry, we’ll figure it out”…
but when the answer is no, thats when you get the deep sigh and the “okay let me see what i can do for you” answer.

obviously i don’t need to sell the virtues of medical coverage to most people… it pretty much sells itself.
outside of BC we have very limited medical coverage and outside of canada, pretty much none.
and i don’t think i have to give you scary stats about the average hospital prices in the USA to prove my point.
we all know… american hospital visits will cost you money and could even bankrupt you.

full travel medical coverage is a couple bucks a day.
which is insanely cheap for the potential return.
to me this is the biggest no-brainer.  you’re just outright stupid if you travel to the USA with no medical coverage.

cancellation and interruption is the other insurance that i buy for every trip i go on.
why?  because i know how much a one way last minute flight home costs.
and yes, while i’m convinced i’m going on holidays come hell or high water… what if something happened at home while i was gone?
my “worst case scenario” is my grandmother… she’s 83 this year.  healthy… but 83.  if something was to happen to her health, i would immediately rush home regardless of where on the planet i was.
my travel insurance makes sure i could do that at NO COST TO ME.
the reality of this is that in a crisis situation, i don’t have to hunt for the cheapest way to make it happen and waste valuable time… i can just go to the airport and get on the first plane with a seat for me and be confident that it’ll be paid for.
that assurance to me is worth every penny i spend on travel insurance.

as well, it means that if i have to fly home and i’m… say… halfway through my italy tour, i can claim back for my unused days.  my investment is completely protected.

because i travel often, and yes, even dipping down over the border for groceries counts as travel… i buy an annual package.  i pay a little over $200 and for an entire year i am fully protected for trips up to 16 days in length.
this year, that covered me for 2 trips to vegas, hawaii, seattle twice, numerous bellingham visits and most of my italy trip.
since my italy trip runs a little long, i just purchased top-up days to make sure my whole vacation is covered.

the annual package means that i don’t have to worry about my travel at all.
i can fly to vegas last minute for a weekend away… i can go shopping in bellingham and not have to worry about food poisoning or car accidents… and i can fly to the other side of the globe and not have to think twice about my worst case scenario.

sure, i may never have to make a claim… but if something goes wrong… i know i have options.

my annual package covers my medical, cancellation & interruption and my baggage and personal effects.
so if the airline loses or delays my bag, i can go buy new stuff… in addition to whatever paltry amount the airline offers…. if my hotel room is broken into or someone swipes my camera from a restaurant… i’m covered.

essentially it takes a whole mess of the STRESS out of a holiday.
and thats what you’re paying for; having a 24 hour support line in case there’s a huge car accident and traffic is shut and you miss your plane… or if you’re in europe and a volcano erupts and grounds planes for 4 days (remember that?  that was fun for me – not.)

anyways, as a travel agent i could tell you a million horror stories about what can go wrong… but i can also tell you a whole bunch of stories of people who had proper travel insurance and their horror was significantly decreased because of it.

my last word to the wise… don’t rely on “i have coverage through my work/credit card…”ect.
most people grossly overestimate what coverage they have.
work coverage is usually only limited medical coverage at best… and nothing for cancellation & interruption… and about 90% of credit cards are the same.
for many credit cards, if you’re opting to not pay the annual fee, you’ve also opted out of travel insurance.
read your fine print, know what you have and what you don’t have… and buy the rest from your travel agent.
trust me, we’re here to make sure that you’re protected.

the WORST things ever for me is when i get a call from someone in destination and there’s an emergency and i can’t help because they didn’t take the travel insurance.
i have had to tell people it’ll cost them thousands of dollars to get home because of unexpected circumstances on a package they only spent $900 on… all because they decided to save that extra $75 on an insurance policy that i offered them.
those days suck for me and they certainly suck for my client.  so don’t let that be you… plan ahead.

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