• Travel Insurance Blog

  • Friday, July 28, 2017

We’re fast approaching that time of the year again when travel starts to pick which means travelers have to be on their guard in spite of the holiday mood. There are so many things that can go wrong because travelers tend to be distracted with a personal agenda such as who will be at the end of the trip waiting for them, what to expect when the family and friends gets together, and the whole fun, parties, and R&R starts to kick in.
Aside from trip cancelation and luggage loss worries that can be easily taken care of with travel insurance, it’s losing your money that can turn a trip into the veritable nightmare. Some of the safe practices for ensuring your money stays intact while on the road are:

For International Travel:

• Instead of carrying all cash, use a credit card or traveler’s checks. However you should confirm with the credit card company you are signed up with if their card is acceptable in the place you going to. Also ask them if there is an additional charge for foreign or overseas transactions
• Avoid using ATM in offbeat areas; stick to the mainstream, brightly lit places. Be reminded that ATM withdrawals will release only local currency
• Do carry cash and when converting to the local currency be careful where you have your transactions done. Banks and hotels generally offer a lower exchange rate so try the commercial shopping areas
• Finally, let your credit card company know you will be using it for overseas transactions so you avoid getting denied

For Local Travel

• Don’t carry large amounts of cash and flash your open wallet for everyone to see
• Avoid playing the VIP-come-home. It’s tempting to be showy but it will probably be not worth it since it’ll cost you more with less returns on your money

Holiday vacations can easily go awry if you lose your money. It would be a good idea to keep an emergency fund somewhere aside from your wallet just in case your wallet gets lost or stolen. Also input the credit card phone numbers in your mobile phone or another safe place so you can call them in case of lost credit cards.

The Interstate 35 is the 9th longest interstate highway in the U.S. that stretches from Texas to Minnesota. The area around Oklahoma was recently shut down for a few hours because of 35 multi-vehicle series of accidents caused by strong winds and dust storms. Even emergency vehicles rushing to the scene of the accidents had a hard time locating the site because of poor visibility. They reported only being able to see 10 feet ahead while inside the cloud of red dust. In addition to this, police have warned motorists to be on the alert for flying debris.

The problem according to Oklahoma Highway Patrol is that it isn’t always possible to predict when a dust storm will happen. Strong gusts of winds can quickly pick up momentum from a manageable 10 mph to 50 mph within an hour. On that day, 14 people were injured and had to be treated in a local hospital, although none were serious.

The strong dust storms and winds are not a usual occurrence. This year has been severe because of the drought, dry wheat fields, and farmers dusting their wheat in powdery soil while hoping and praying for rain.  According to Gary McManus who works at the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, the lack of rains means little vegetation to hold down the topsoil. What is happening now, he says, is like the dust storms experienced during the 1930s.

Because of the closure of this part of the I-35, traffic was rerouted to Enid and Blackwell which resulted in massive bumper-to-bumper traffic that local police described as a “madhouse.” 
I-35 is a busy highway with a long history of accidents. Just days before this dust storm, there was a 2 car accident when a southbound car crossed to the northbound lanes causing injuries to both drivers, completely demolishing one of the cars. Last month, another major accident closed down two of the I-35 lanes causing traffic to slow down to a crawl.

Australia has just released a report that its international airports are beds of health risks like tuberculosis (TB) and bio-hazards. According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, over 700 foreign travelers entered Australia with TB, an infectious disease that can go undetected for months. In addition, close to 20,000 bio-hazards a month such as plants, food, or animal by-products enter the country. Many are detected at the entry points but there are still a chunk of them that make it through.

In the US, immigration is still a big problem as thousands of illegal immigrants try to enter the country. Not only that, they carry with them potential risks related to health because of poor immunization records, inability to pay for health care – and these puts Americans at risk to new diseases and medical problems. As of end of September 2012, it is estimated that there are over 11.5 million illegal aliens and the number keeps rising. And it’s the same story for many other developed countries around the globe.

The startling news about getting sick while traveling is coming down to numbers. In the latest survey by Viva Communications Australia, 50% of all travelers will get sick and while the majority will contract a mild medical condition, infectious diseases happen even in developed countries.  The most common travel-related diseases are gastrointestinal infections, diarrhea, typhoid fever, hepatitis A, dengue, colds, flu, and fever.

Furthermore, it’s the travel behavior and lack of immunization that can cause medical problems while away from home. Experts are advising seeking medical check-ups prior to leaving and getting insurance to cover medical expenses while abroad. Travelers should also avoid over-crowded places, stay hydrated, and keep washing their hands. It’s also important to eat at reputable places and avoid trying street food. Those more likely to get sick are children pregnant women, immigrants, and those with impaired immunities.

As if labor union problems and an ongoing bankruptcy problem isn’t enough, now American Airlines now has to deal with loose seats. Dozens of flights have been cancelled as the third airplane from their fleet experienced seats close to popping off.

The airplanes are the Boeing 757 and AA has grounded all 48 of them for immediate seat repair. They expect the airplanes to be operational by weekend, Oct 6, at the earliest. While this does sound like AA is on the ball, about 50 flights were cancelled on last Thursday and 44 on Friday which means thousands of passengers had to scramble for flight cancellation insurance, finding alternative options to get to their destination, and lost opportunities.

The Federal government says they will be conducting an investigation of the seat problems and find out if it could happen to other airlines. Apparently American Airlines and the federal officials have a difference of opinion regarding the cause of the loose seats. AA says it was caused by a clamp problem while federal authorities are gearing more towards a wear and tear and poor design problem.

If hand carry baggage is required to be stored properly in overhead bins and under the seats to avoid potential danger of items flying around the cabin, you can just imagine just how much damage an entire row of seats that come loose can do inside such small confines. In the case of American Airlines, the crew were notified by passengers about the loose seats and asked to transfer. Luckily, there were empty seats. However, in one of the flights, some of passengers flipped backwards when the seats became dislodged. They were also fortunate that there were no injuries.

American Airlines has issued a statement saying that they are taking steps to avoid any similar problems in the future and apologize for the inconvenience.

With the intense anti-American sentiments in more than 18 countries around the globe, is it any wonder that many American travelers are getting the shakes? The question in many minds is how to protect oneself even in friendly countries. Without going into the details of the rise in anti-American sentiments, which has flowed over to include anyone who is a non-Muslim, the urgent need is to stop the mayhem and craziness.
Traveler need to start thinking of getting additional protection through enhanced or expanded travel insurance. They also have to stick to countries that are friendly to Americans and have no known terrorist groups operating in the area.

It’s also important for travelers to have dependable and trustworthy contact in the host country and to inform the US embassy of any activities outside of protected areas. For instance, traveling to outskirts or provincial locations might best be left to a later date regardless of the reasons for the trip. Americans need to realize that they are easy scapegoats even for terrorist activities that have nothing to do with anti-American sentiments but plain old cold cash and criminal activities.

Surprisingly, the US government has been very supportive of many Islamic groups and Muslim countries. They have given financial aid to several nations including Egypt and African countries. The struggle to balance dependence on the West and independence as a nation is proving to be a challenge for many politicians and religious leaders. American travelers are victims caught in the cross-fire.
Important travel tips for Americans also include:

1. Not all Muslims hate Americans. In fact a vast majority are peaceful and have no grudges against the West that they are willing to fight for

2. Travelers should be well-versed with the political and economic situation of a country before making plans to go there. And while in that country, stay abreast of the latest developments and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice

Finally, check the US travel bans and travel warnings. The government is aware of more inside stories than a regular American would have access to, and they always take every ban or travel warning seriously.

According to the US Office of Travel and Tourism, international travel to the US is increasing and might soon break the 2008 record. In spite of the bad publicity on shooting, natural calamities, and strange incidents, tourists, international students, business individuals and companies are still willing to travel to the country for investment and fun. Last year’s revenues from visitors’ activities while in the US increased by 13% compared to the same period in the previous year. And, there was a spike in travel insurance plans which is to be expected for any international travel to anywhere in the world.

The amount spent on hotel, food, and miscellaneous expenses reached an impressive US$10 billion but a total expenditure of US$127 billion to cover all expenses. US travelers, on the other hand who visited other countries spent about US$91.9 billion which is an 8% increase from 2010. The tourism agency is expecting visitors’ spending to reach as high as US$152 billion once all reports have been consolidated for 2011.

Most of the visitors coming to the US are from China, India, Mexico, Canada, and Brazil. A lot of them are staying for more than a month, quite a number are students, and the rest are traveling business people who jump from state to state.

According to the US Travel Association, the number could rise even more across the board if the US Immigration would not be strict about issuing travel visa. The intense security measures in airports are also hampering the flow of visitors as well as the increase in advertising for travel to other countries. One other reason would be the long waiting period for visa appointment and the high cost of the visa. Other countries do not conduct the same kind of scrutiny on visa applications and they are reaping the benefits of additional visitors to their respective countries.

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