Can you accident proof your vacation?
As most of you are aware, I not only work in the travel industry as an agency owner, but I’m also an avid traveler myself. I absolutely love to travel. Travel stretches you, enriches your life, teaches you about other countries, people, and cultures. But we live in an imperfect world where sometimes bad things happen. What do you do when unexpected disaster strikes while on a trip? Who will you call for assistance, a medical care flight out, or to find out what to do since you’re going on your third day without your luggage and the airline doesn’t have any answers for you? First, you call me, your travel professional. Second, you call your travel insurance provider.
Travel insurance. Consumers seem to have a love hate relationship with it. Is it a necessary evil? Is it just a way to try to squeeze more money out of you after you’ve already spent so much on your actual vacation? Or, is it a mandatory prerequisite that no traveler should go without? I strongly believe it is the third option, and let me explain to you why.
Eight years ago, my husband and I took our three lovely children to Uganda for what was meant to be a 10-day trip. The children were ages 5 months, 2, and 7. My husband and I were much younger (and healthier). He was in school at the time working on his Master’s degree and we didn’t have a ton of expendable income. But we bought that travel insurance policy. And we are so thankful we did. You see, accidents happen. That’s why they’re called ACCIDENTS. You can’t foresee them, prepare for them, or avoid them. How were we to know that less than 24 hours after arriving in Uganda my husband’s appendix would decide it was the perfect time to require surgery and removal? Seriously, he had to go all the way to Africa to have an appendectomy. What should have been a simple surgery ended up turning into him having his entire abdomen cut open because of complications. Did I mention we were in Africa? In an open-air hospital where he had got to sleep under a mosquito net? Yeah. Did you know that in many countries hospitals will “hold you hostage” until you pay your bill (preferably in cash with local currency) and not you leave until you do? Truth. So, what was supposed to be a 10-day trip turned into a five week stay requiring complete re-booking of international airfare for the five of us, with my husband in First Class because of his physical state. They almost had a nurse fly with us. And guess how much all that cost our family. Nothing but the price of the policy. But the comfort in knowing that financially it would all be taken care of, and that they had a medical helicopter ready to care flight him to South Africa for emergency care if things went South is truly priceless.
I recognize this is an extreme example, and many people ask what the chances of that really are. I don’t know. What are the chances? And does it matter? Is it worth saving a few hundred dollars after you’ve more than likely invested thousands in your vacation?
There are many other things that travel insurance covers. It isn’t just medical emergencies (though those can tend to be the most costly and unexpected). Coverage, depending on your carrier and policy, can include trip cancellation, flight delays, and lost and delayed luggage.
Remember I went to France just this past March. I was traveling through the New Aquitaine region and Basque country attending numerous hosted dinners, meetings, and events. I was also totally and utterly without my luggage for 5 of those days. 5 days. No luggage. Work trip. But I was covered. I had purchased the trip insurance. I was able to shop and purchase clothing for each day as needed, and after I got home I submitted my claim and receipts to my insurance company and received a full reimbursement.
As you can see, I am a huge proponent for trip insurance. I strongly encourage each and every one of my clients to purchase a policy. In fact, if they don’t, I have them sign a waiver stating that they were offered the insurance for purchase and opted not to purchase it. Legally, I must protect myself and my business from someone coming back (usually after some sort of issue arises on their trip) and trying to hold me liable. Yes, sadly, it has happened. I cannot control the weather and grounding of your flight, or if a hurricane will change course and head straight for your island resort destination or cruise ship. The insurance waiver form simply puts that responsibility back on you, the traveler and client. You’re big. You can make your own choices. I can advise you and offer my recommendations, but ultimately the choice is yours. So, what will it be? Are you feeling lucky? Gonna roll those dice or play it safe? It really is up to you. I hope you will choose to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your investment. Because remember, life is short.
Stop Dreaming. Start Going.
With the latest release of travel warnings issued for US travelers to Europe this summer, this question is at the forefront of many traveler's minds. There are many precautions you can take while traveling abroad like registering with the local US Embassy, and remaining alert, attentive, and aware of your surroundings when visiting crowded tourist sights. However, it is a very personal decision that one must evaluate personally. But the Fontanini family will be abroad for nearly an entire month this summer! Our family will not be kept stateside by fear.
As many of you know, I have three amazing children who all devote themselves to the fine art of classical ballet. They dance five or six days a week for anywhere from 3-4 hours per day perfecting their craft. All that hard work has led to an incredible opportunity for one of my dancers. My son has been accepted to train with the Royal Ballet School in London this summer. For those of you not deeply entrenched in the world of ballet (a secret part of me envies you) this is a pretty big deal. So, of course we are all going to London because if my little guy is thinking he’s going to be having all the fun, boy is he wrong! I plan on taking advantage of this trip to use my children as my guinea pigs. In a good way, though! London is a sought after destination not only for adults, but families as well. I will be doing the usual hotel inspections and visits to ensure I put my clients up in the perfect accommodations according to their needs and budget, but I am also going to put together tours and itineraries that appeal to both young and old alike. You see, my mom and teenage niece and nephew are going with us. Remember my mom, the world traveler that’s been everywhere? Well, she hasn't been to London, so, it’s morphed into a multi-generational trip. What's a multi-generational trip, you ask? This type of vacation is becoming more and more popular as grandparents want to engage with their adult children and grandchildren and travel to destinations where they can share experiences together and create memories that will last a lifetime. These can be smaller family units, or even larger extended family groups that wish to do a family reunion type trip. There is a destination and travel style to fit any family.
How will I plan an itinerary that will keep little ones ages 9, 11, and teenagers from 16 to 18 engaged, as well as my husband and I, and my young at heart mom? This may seem daunting, but I have a few ideas and tricks up my sleeve. Did you know that Westminster Abbey has a scavenger hunt for children to keep them engaged while we older history buffs meander through the site? And there’s a special treat for those that complete the hunt awaiting them in the gift shop as they exit. Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and Sherlock? I have them covered. But I’m not overlooking Downton Abbey either because my mom and I can totally join in on the whole fandom thing too. Of course, we will visit all the must-see sights like Buckingham Palace’s changing of the guards, the Tower of London and the crown jewels, and the London Eye, but I want the littles to spend time in the wonderful museums and gardens as well. There are some fabulous day trips we can take out to Stonehenge, Cotswold, and Bath. And, you can take a boat ride up the Thames River to Greenwich and visit the Royal Observatory. For those of you that can't get enough of the royals, Windsor Castle is nearby also. A day trip to Paris on the train through the Chunnel is on our agenda as well!
There is so much to see and do in and around London. My biggest problem is going to be wanting to stay longer. The travel warnings are not keeping us home! So, stay tuned this summer for my multi-generational trip abroad to London, and maybe you will feel inspired to plan a trip with your loved ones this summer too. For those who prefer to travel within the US there are plenty of wonderful things to do and see here from National Parks to beaches, or big city destinations. I would love the opportunity to partner with you to plan the perfect trip for your family. Contact me for additional information on how I can assist you in making your summer vacation a memorable one. Because life is short.
Stop dreaming. Start going.