This post was sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
As I sit down to write this post, it seems like most of the U.S. is experiencing blizzards, ice and altogether miserable winter weather. And what else is there to do when you are stuck inside on a super cold day? Start planning your next vacation! You’ll likely have so much fun planning where to go, how to get there, where to stay and what to do. But do you ever make a plan for travel safety? How to keep yourself, your belongings and your identity safe in the new places you’ll go? Here are my Top 10 Tips To Stay Safe When You Travel.
- In big cities, you should know the areas which are safe and those which are dangerous for tourists.
- Travel like a Local: When visiting any location, know your surroundings and plan your route in advance. Be aware of how the locals talk and dress and avoid actions that will make you “stand out” as a tourist.
- Check out travel guides and reviews before you take any excursions, tours or adventures. You want to make sure that the vendor is reputable and that you will get what is promised, have a good experience and are safe.
- Don’t post itineraries or locations on social media! Posting your itinerary or location on social media allows potential thieves to keep track of where you are, making it easier for them to time a crime – both where you are and at home! Wait and share all those vacation pictures when you get home.
- Don’t leave your bags unattended. You’d think that would be obvious. But it’s amazing how many bags are stolen when you set them down just for a minute and aren’t looking (think the baggage claim at the airport). If you aren’t vigilant, you are a target for thieves who are very adept, fast and determined to steal your bag.
- Only carry in your purse or wallet what you absolutely need. Take just the credit cards you’ll be using, your ID and cash for the day. If you must carry your passport, carry it close to your body.
- Keep a record of important documents in a place other than your purse or wallet. If your wallet or important documents like your driver’s license, credit & debit cards, and medical insurance cards get stolen, this will help you know who to call and what to tell them.
- Don’t show your valuables around. Walking around with your big, expensive camera around your neck, especially in an area where the value of that item is several times the local monthly income could be a problem. Put things of value that you must carry, like your technical devices in a daypack and only take them out when you need them.
- Password protect your phone. Your phone stores sensitive information, such as access to your emails, and possibly even credit card information. If your phone is stolen, you don’t want thieves to be able to easily access it!
- Get Travel Insurance. Depending on the company and policy you choose, travel insurance can provide:
- Financial protection if your trip is canceled or interrupted for any reason.
- Hotline assistance, which is especially helpful if you are in a country where you don’t speak the language.
- Arranging Medical Evacuations.
Travel insurance policies, such as those offered by Allianz Global Assistance, are designed to cover you with financial safeguards in the case of events ranging from inconveniences to calamities. Coverage may include both costs incurred before your trip, such as nonrefundable event tickets or hotel stays, and during your trip, including travel interruptions and medical expenses.
You may think you don’t need it because you have certain safeguards with the airlines, cruise lines or travel agent you use. But maybe not.
For example, did you know that airlines aren’t obligated to do anything when your flights are delayed? When the airlines are the ones at fault, they may offer some assistance, but they’re not bound by law or duty to do so.
There are a number of similar misconceptions that travel insurance can guard against. Insurance comes packaged together with specific coverage benefits – the type and amount will range based on the provider and the package selected – that fill gaps where your travel plans may be exposed to a number of threats.
What kind of threats? Take lost baggage. Lost and damaged bags are the No. 2 complaint issued to the Department of Transportation. Additionally, while domestic airlines safely transport more than 99 percent of all luggage, international carriers still lag behind.
But a lost, damaged or even stolen luggage benefit is just one small benefit of most travel insurance offerings. Others may include:
- Trip Cancellation Protection. This is the big one and includes reimbursement for non-refundable trip payments and deposits.
- Trip Interruption Protection. Sometimes trips start on time and end prematurely due to forces of nature and other circumstances beyond your control. This benefit includes reimbursement for unused costs and transportation costs to return home.
- 24-Hour Hotline Assistance. While this doesn’t come with a dollar amount, getting real-time help when you’re in a pickle is invaluable. Especially if you don’t speak the native tongue. This can include the arrangement of evacuations for medical emergencies, pre-trip assistance, etc.
- Coverage for financial default. What if the tour operator for your upcoming family vacation stops answering your calls? And then the line is disconnected and the company is out of business. Travel insurance may be your most reliable means of financial recourse.
How to choose a Travel Insurance Plan
Among the first considerations to make when selecting a travel insurance plan is whether to pursue trip-specific or annual coverage. Frequent travelers and those with a big family or young kids may want to carefully consider the cost savings that an annual plan can provide. It’s not hard to do the math: when travelers add up the piecemeal cost of insurance for the trips they plan to take in the next year and compare it to the annual price tag, there will be a more attractive choice.
At Allianz Global Assistance, offerings range from the affordable and simple Essential Plan, which may work for the quick weekend getaway, to the Classic Plan with Trip +, which is designed for families traveling abroad who may experience any number of unforeseen challenges and inconveniences. Travelers can find the plan that’s right for them by visiting the Travel Insurance Plan Finder.
One final note about travel insurance that doesn’t come with fine print or footnotes – and that’s peace of mind. It’s a product you hope you never need to use but appreciate when you have it, similar to other insurance products. Once you weigh the importance of this peace of mind, as well as the other factors outlined here, you’ll be closer to being able to decide whether travel insurance is right for your next trip.
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