Ttravel Safety

SOURCE: TravelPulse

Nearly half of Americans did not know whether their domestic health insurance plans would cover any emergency doctor or hospital visits while traveling abroad, according to a survey conducted by InsureMyTrip, a leading travel insurance comparison site.

“Travelers should know about any limitations of domestic health insurance policies while out of the country,” the company said.

“In most cases, there are gaps in coverage. Some gaps are significant. Travel insurance is recommended because it can act as supplemental or primary coverage.”

Travel advisors couldn’t agree more.

“I always recommend travel insurance to my clients, especially when traveling internationally,” said Amy Daniel, owner of Custom Design Travel.

“I let them know that many private insurance companies do not cover you while traveling abroad. Sometimes a minor medical issue while traveling can turn into a catastrophe without proper insurance. Travel insurance provides an added layer of protection for you as you travel.”

Daniel noted that it’s also important that clients have a policy that offers both cancellation for covered medical reasons as well as medical coverage and emergency services.

“I never travel without it personally,” she said. “If clients seem hesitant, I tell them real stories of things that I have had happen to clients over the last 25 years.

“They always respond with ‘Gosh I never thought about that.’

And although the pandemic is ebbing, it is clearly not over.

“When you add COVID into the mix – and the COVID testing requirement to return to the US – travel insurance is a must,” VIP Vacations President Jennifer Doncsez said.

“VIP Vacations primarily recommends Travel Insured, which has quarantine coverage at a specific reimbursement rate per day should anyone test Doncsecz positive prior to returning home,” she said.

“If our clients are solely interested in the medical coverage while abroad and the quarantine allowance in destination, we highlight that through Travel Insured. They can purchase a policy that provides for both of these items without purchasing a full policy that covers pretravel cancellation.”

Doncsecz said this is especially recommended for “clients are close to their travel dates and are getting nervous.”

“When we send our clients their documents and have notated that they declined purchasing insurance from the onset, we gently suggest adding the medical/quarantine insurance and more often than not, it is purchased before they travel.”

Another compelling reason why travelers should opt for insurance is trip delays, said Tammy Levent of Elite Travel. “With all the airline delays these days, my clients are opting for this more and more.”

There are also an excellent reasons why older travelers in particular should opt for travel insurance.

“My clientele tends to be a bit older, so one of the first things that I let them know is that if they have Medicare, they will not have medical coverage outside of the US,” said Trish Gastineau, owner of Simply Customized Travel. “It’s something that they have not thought about.”

Gastineau said that one of her current selling points is “a travel policy I offer with a $200 per person, per day coverage in the event the clients get quarantined if they test positive overseas for COVID.”

The per diem benefit is in effect for 10 days, which therefore provides travelers with “a benefit for hotel meals and transportation of about to $2000 per covered passenger,” Gastineau said.

“Given COVID times, the lack of certainty regarding air schedules, and the US government’s insistence on a 10-day waiting period before those who test positive may return to the States, everyone traveling with us must carry travel insurance,” said Churchill & Turen Managing Director.

“It is a “travel IQ” thing. If you’re not smart enough to want proper insurance you’re not smart enough to be a Churchill & Turen guest,” he added.

“The new reality is that to be insured or not insured is no longer a question. The only question is whether or not the guest will/should supplement travel insurance with emergency medical evacuation coverage such as that offered by Med-Jet.

Turen’s advice?

Look at the medical evacuation line of the insurance policy. “If it is less than half a million dollars – move on to the next policy,” he said.

These days, many travel advisors are insisting that their clients sign waivers. “They are theoretically absolving the advisor from legal responsibility,” Turen said.

“So what? I don’t care about the legal ramifications. I care about the guests and their welfare. Too stupid to insure – visit Disneyland instead of Tuscany.”

In the end, err on the side of caution.

“Emergencies are just that – emergencies!” said Grant of Custom Design Travel.

“Nobody plans for one, but you want to be protected should it happen to you.”

SOURCE: TravelPulse


The ubiquity of technology combined with the lasting impact of the pandemic has formed a perfect storm of confusion for consumers – which is why it’s absolutely crucial that they book their trips with travel advisors.

“Living in a world where endless information is at our fingertips, planning a vacation has gone from being independent and booking it online yourself, to ‘I am so overwhelmed with all of the options out there,’” said JoAnne Weeks, vacation division director at Acendas Travel.

“We are finding even the savviest travelers are now seeking out a travel advisor. What consumers are coming to realize is what they see online is not as unsettling as what they don’t see. That’s where a travel advisor comes in.”

Added Churchill & Turen Managing Director Richard Turen: “You cannot use the Internet to find the world’s top-rated cruise line. You cannot use the Internet to obtain a professionally written hotel inspection report. You cannot find a caring personal travel health advocate on Twitter. For that and so much more you need a travel truthteller who represents you and you alone.”

Turen said he likes to think of a great travel advisor as a trusted physician who knows their clients well.

“The trip ‘diagnosis and recommendation’ should never be placed in the hands of a commissioned call center robot working out of Miami, Mumbai or Manila.”

Then there are the issues of time.

“Clients call us frustrated that they have long hold times,” Elite Travel Management Group CEO Tammy Levent said while being on hold for two hours with a cruise line.

“I have so many people calling me saying, ‘I booked online and need to change my ticket,’” she said.

“If it’s an airline issue, the client has to wait on hold for hours at a time, and then there’s the change fee for third-party bookings. So, at the end of the day, it costs clients both money and time.”

“There have been so many last-minute changes due to COVID and our clients were spared the endless hours on the phones with the airlines or hoteliers,” said VIP Vacations President Jennifer Doncsecz. “Having a travel advisor on speed dial is the best travel hack out there!”

There are also the myriad issues relating to protocols, travel advisories and red tape stemming from the pandemic.

“I can’t tell you how many times in the past year VIP Vacations has helped our clients with getting their passports or having to walk them off the ledge when they were confused with online forms that needed to be completed before arrival in a destination,” Doncsecz said.

“We thoroughly detail travel insurance options to meet their very specific needs so they protect their investment.”

For his part, Turen believes it would be helpful for every advisor to keep a carefully designed list of the multiple functions they perform – virtually all of them complimentary.

“We help interpret dreams, we operationalize them and then we become advocates of strength for the clients who entrust the best moments of their lives to our care,” he said.

“In defining what we do we must explain to clients that if they book directly with a supplier call center they are likely entitled to a refund of the entire travel advisor’s commission.

“If we don’t do this, suppliers will continue this massive consumer rip-off in which naive consumers who do not use a professional travel advisor are charged the advisor commission anyway.

“Travelers deserve to be covered by consumer protection laws.”

In the final analysis, the value of using travel advisors boils down to their formidable knowledge and experience.

“The value of providing first-hand destination experience, having personal relationships with preferred vendors – which goes a very long way in today’s world of travel challenges – and being up to date with any and all COVID requirements is priceless,” said Weeks.

“We’ve been a trusted resource long before Google and we know the correct answers,” said Sarah Kline, president of Time for Travel.

“I don’t do my own taxes, cut my own hair or change my oil. I use someone who specializes in these services who I trust.

“Without a travel agent, you are on your own!”

SOURCE: ABC Action News

TAMPA BAY — St. Petersburg retirees Alan and Jessica Kapell have traveled around the world for the last three decades. The avid cruisers say they never leave home without travel insurance.

“We’ve never taken a cruise without having insurance because everything and anything can happen,” Alan told ABC Action News.

And for 30 years they’ve never had an issue with a claim, until their planned trip was canceled and they tried to get reimbursed.

The couple had purchased a week-long cruise around the Caribbean last fall and were set to sail out of Port Canaveral the day after Christmas.

But in December Alan suffered a debilitating back problem and his doctor grounded him from the trip. Alan said the condition prevents him from walking without pain.

By January, the Kapells said they’d filed everything needed to process the insurance claim. Then they waited. January came and went and so did February. Alan said he tried calling and emailing the customer service number for Nationwide but received nothing more than an email stating the company was experiencing a very high volume of claims.

Tammy Levent, President of Elite Travel in Clearwater, understands travel insurers are busy as travel hits post pandemic highs. She advises checking out online reviews before choosing a travel protection plan. “You have to research before you book with anyone to make sure they pay claims,” Levent said.

After two months of waiting on his insurance money, the Kapells made a call for action to Jackie Callaway, who in turn reached out to Nationwide.

Alan Kapell said that’s when he got a call telling him everything had been finalized.”

In this email to the Kappels a Nationwide travel claims customer service staffer stated: “We sincerely apologize for the delayed response and for the email that you received in error on February 10, 2022. Your claim was not approved at that time however, your review was completed today and payment was approved in the amount of $2074.07.”

Two checks totaling just over $2,070 – the cost of the cruise – arrived in the Kapells mailbox in late March.

If you run into trouble with any insurance claim the state of Florida has a helpline run by Florida’s Department of Financial Services.

The Responsible Traveler

by JuJuB

What responsibilities does a traveler have when booking a trip? While many people associate responsible travelers as those who are mindful of their carbon footprint, respect the culture and customs of the places they’re visiting, and will take the time to learn about a place before choosing to travel to that location, there are other ways that travelers need to be responsible. Ready to learn more?

The Responsible Traveler

Anytime a traveler uses a travel agent to book their next trip, both the traveler and the travel agent must be sure to pay very close attention to their individual responsibilities. The responsibility of the travel agent is to plan the trip in a way that meets all of the travelers wants and needs. This includes doing things like making travel reservations, hotel accommodations, tour reservations, entertainment reservations, and selling them necessary travel insurance.


The list below includes the many different ways that travelers need to be responsible when booking their next trip, whether they use a travel agent or not.

  • Make sure all documents are printed and taken with you on your trip. Making 2 copies and keeping them in separate places is recommended, as well as leaving copies with trusted friends and/or family members.
  • Make sure any travel company you want to do business with is legit. Simply performing some detailed research will give you the information you need.
  • Be sure to get every person’s name you’re dealing with. This supports your ability to have a trail when it’s necessary to contact these people for any reason.
  • Make sure your passport will not expire in the next 6 months. Most countries won’t let travelers enter unless their passport expires at least 6 months after their last day of travel.
  • Know where you are and who to contact in case of an emergency. This is one of the first things you should do when staying in a new location.
  • Take out travel insurance, for you and all who are traveling with you. You never know when something will happen, like an injury, or someone back home gets sick. The current Coronavirus crises is a perfect example of why you need travel insurance, as it’s not the responsibility of the hotel, airline, or travel agent if something happens to you during your travels. When buying travel insurance, be sure to read all the fine print, and find out what the cancellation policy requires you to do.


Have a Great Time, Responsible Traveler!

Elite Travel Management Group, Inc

Flying the Feverish Skies

by Tammy


Is Responsible Travel Even Remotely Possible during the Coronavirus Emergency?

Lori Levinson was just a few weeks away from a trip to Vietnam and Japan, a vacation that had been months in the planning, when COVID-19, an illness caused by a new strain of coronavirus, went from a remote scare halfway across the world to a global public health emergency. Levinson, an attorney based in Housatonic, was scheduled to travel to southern Vietnam to see her son and continue on for a family trip to Japan. But with infection rates rising by the day, she made the call to cancel.

It’s a difficult decision, and one more people are weighing as the coronavirus has caused illness in nearly 92,000 people and claimed the lives of about 3,000, most in mainland China. The United States is still at low risk, with just over 100 confirmed cases, most of those in travelers who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was detained in Yokohama, Japan (many are still in hospital or military-base quarantine). There have also been six deaths, all in Washington State. In our region, four cases have been reported: one each in New York and New Hampshire, and two apiece in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Globally, however, COVID-19 is approaching pandemic levels, according to Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. That doesn’t mean we should rush to the phones to cancel vacations planned for the summer, or trips to low-risk areas. But, says Dr. Everett Lamm, Chief Medical Officer of Community Health Programs in Great Barrington, travel restrictions—whether self- or government-imposed—do help contain the spread. “It’s an ounce of prevention in terms of people’s travel being restricted, because we’re not quite sure how many people are afflicted right now.”

Although there’s been an onslaught of media attention on coronavirus over the past couple of weeks, the seasonal flu, as Lamm points out, has actually been more deadly than this coronavirus. Between October 2019 and now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report 310,000–560,000 hospitalizations for the flu, and 18,000–46,000 flu deaths—rates much higher than those logged over most of the past decade. But because SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, seems to spread more easily than the seasonal flu, there’s cause for caution.

By now, most of us know that SARS-CoV-2 spreads via droplets, such as from coughing and sneezing, making travel in confined spaces for prolonged periods—as on that Diamond Princess cruise ship—among the least desirable situations. (Lots of medical professionals have already said it, but we’ll repeat it here: surgical masks won’t prevent you from catching the virus. The cheap, disposable paper kind are generally not made to filter pathogens, and stockpiling them creates a supply issue for medical facilities that actually need them.)

While a person who isn’t symptomatic can hardly be faulted for traveling while infected, there are increasing numbers of people who choose to travel while symptomatic, especially on planes — potentially mistaking illnesses such as COVID-19  for the common cold. (Raise your hand if you’ve been the lucky middle-seater on a plane with a pair of hacking, sniffling neighbors.) Why the increase?

It’s primarily thanks to airline change fees, which can be upwards of $200 for a single reservation. Couple that with travelers who fear not being compensated for sick time by their employers, or those who just want to get home to relieve the baby- or pet-sitter, and the financial burden multiplies.

If sustainable travel is an oxymoron, is “healthy travel” impossible during a global health emergency? And who, ultimately, is responsible: the traveler or the airline, hotel, or tourism company?

The answer is complicated, and it’s inextricably tied to our increasingly global economy. Fiona Lally, President of Rasenna Consulting Inc. in New Lebanon, is a specialist in travel risk management. She explains, “We’re looking at massive losses around the world right now for the travel industry. About one in eight Americans have stopped long-distance travel because they don’t know what will happen in spring and summer.”

Many of those destinations, especially those that are dependent on tourism, are feeling the pinch. The answer, says Lally, isn’t simply staying home. “One of the best things we can do for the global economy is to keep going, to whatever extent we feel is safe,” she says. “Then take those commonsense approaches—handwashing, avoiding contact with those who are ill, not borrowing someone else’s cell phone, taking care to open doorknobs with a paper towel.”

For Levinson, the decision to cancel her travel plans was based not on catching COVID-19. “The primary motivating factor was my fear that while I’m away, there may be some sort of border shut-down, and I might be detained there or even when I come back to the U.S.,” she says.

She has since tried to make contact with Japan Airlines and Delta Airlines, the two carriers of her flights. “With Japan Airlines, you can’t get through to them because everyone is calling. I got Delta’s recorded line and left a message. They said they’d call back this morning,” she says.

Levinson believes airlines should allow for penalty-free changes or cancellations for such events—and some, like American, Jetblue, and Alaska, as well as train operator Amtrak—are beginning to offer change waivers. But when asked about her chances of reimbursement or a change waiver, Levinson says, “I’m not overly optimistic.”

Tammy Levent, president and CEO of Elite Travel in Palm Harbor, Florida, has a different perspective. She says, “Your responsibility as a traveler is to know who you’re booking with. Know what they cover and what they don’t, and never book nonrefundable trips. If you book online, you’ll have no one to fall back on to ask questions.”

She recommends using a travel agent, who can help you not only create your itinerary, but also purchase travel insurance. There are several levels of coverage, but Levent’s top choice is “cancel for any reason” insurance, which, as the name implies, allows you to nix your trip for anything from a hangnail to a flat tire and recoup up to 100 percent of the cost.

The sticky part: it can cost as much as $120 per person. Many travelers just don’t have the extra cash.

The next-best option, Levent says, is to wait. “Watch what the CDC is saying,” she says. “If they say they’re going to shut down the border of a country, then the airlines and hoteliers have to comply with what’s dictated to them. Right now, the CDC has an alert out until March 15. So if you’re scheduled to travel on March 16, you can’t just cancel without penalty. But we’re seeing, for example, Delta give certain waivers for changes that fall within the advisory period. Wait until those alerts have been issued, and if your trip falls within them, you’re more likely to be able to move your trip date without having to pay extra.”

It’s the eve of your departure — the day before you leave for that long-overdue vacation you’ve been dreaming of for months. But before you embark on your trip, there are some important steps for you to take.

Here are 11 items to cross off your to-do list before you head out.

1. Alert your credit card company

To ensure your credit card works while you’re traveling, your credit card company needs to know your travel plans. If you’ve waited this long though, you may have to call instead of submitting an online form.

And there’s one other very important thing. “Make sure you have enough available credit on your credit cards,” said Tammy Levent, CEO at Elite Travel Management Group.

2. Contact your cell phone company

Traveling abroad? Call your service provider to help you set up the cheapest plan for making calls, sending text messages, and accessing Internet from your smartphone. Many cell phone companies — including AT&TVerizon and T-Mobile — offer affordable day passes to U.S. customers for International talk, textand data plans.

3. Notify your home security system operator

“If you’re leaving two weeks or longer, it’s a good idea to tell your local police department you’ll be gone,” Levent said. “If you ask, they may do extra runs by your house.”

4. Confirm all reservations

Double-check all your reservations: your flight, hotel, car rental, restaurants, attractions and any other services or experiences you’ve planned. You don’t want any surprises at a check-in counter.

If you have access to a printer, it’s not a bad idea to print out confirmations. If you don’t, write down confirmation numbers (and customer service phone numbers) and keep the paper easily accessible in your wallet or carry-on.

5. Make advance payments on bills that have due dates during your trip

Don’t want to get hit with late fees? Make sure all credit cards, housing expenses (e.g., rent, utilities) and other monthly bills will be paid on time.

6. Check the weather

This may seem like an obvious one, but “many travelers forget to do it,” said Levent. Check the forecast for your destination and your hometown when you’ll be returning, and pack appropriately.

7. Eat, throw out or give away any perishable food

The last thing you want is to return home to a stinky fridge. Also, run the dishwasher, take out the trash, and clean the sink to be sure there’s no food in the drain that could rot or attract bugs while you’re away.

8. Leave an itinerary with a friend or family member

Your emergency contact should have a copy of your travel plans, Levent advises.

9. Clean out your wallet

Sift through your wallet and remove any items you don’t need on your trip. Leave loyalty cards, gift cards, extra credit cards and any other unnecessary contents at home.

10. Place a hold on your mail delivery

This is a smart move if you’re going away for more than a couple days, Levent says. Alternatively, you could arrange for a neighbor to collect your mail until you get home.

11. Bring in outdoor furniture

Don’t leave any outdoor wares (e.g., patio chairs, cushions, pool equipment) unguarded, especially lightweight items that are easy for thieves to steal.

This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

Thinking about traveling Solo? More and more people are deciding to travel solo nowadays. There are many different reasons why someone would book a solo trip, with a few of the more popular reasons being they can follow their own schedule, they don’t have to wait for anyone else, they can travel at their own pace and they can spend as much time as they want to in any particular location.

How to be Safe When Traveling Alone

Solo travelers need to understand how to be safe when traveling alone. While it’s unfortunate that there is a need for solo travelers to take special precautions, it’s necessary in today’s world. Travelers who choose to go it alone must recognize how they can prevent problems from happening in the first place, which requires them to always be very aware of their surroundings. If problems do happen to arise during their travels, then they need to have the knowledge and skills necessary to safely handle the problem.

A Few Traveling Solo Safety Tips

The following is a list of some beneficial safety tips for those who choose to travel alone.


  • Thoroughly research the area before taking the trip. Safe solo traveling starts before leaving one’s house. This makes it necessary for solo travelers to perform a lot of research on the area their traveling to, as well as nearby areas. Checking the latest news articles is a good idea, as this can get a lot of details on what’s happening in the area.
  • Always keep your valuables on your person when traveling from one place to another. The best place to keep valuables when traveling solo includes using a money belt, backpack, fanny pack and/or in one’s bra.
  • Don’t be too quick to give someone your trust. Just because someone is ‘nice’ doesn’t mean that they are trustworthy.
  • Try not to make yourself stand out too much, as this increases your chances of becoming a target. Criminals know how to spot an easy target, so don’t make yourself one. Wear modest clothing, simple jewelry and don’t count your money in public.
  • Buy travel insurance before you go. Travel insurance is a necessary expense as it gives you peace of mind.
  • Register with your government when traveling for two weeks or more. Registering as a citizen who is traveling solo and abroad for at least two weeks with the government is always a good idea, just in case.

Elite Travel Management Group, Inc

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