7 Simple Steps to Saving on Holiday Flights

It may not look like it yet, but the holidays are just around the corner. According to Forbes.com, the best time to book a flight for the winter holiday season is 62 days prior to departure and Cheapair.com hails September as the best time to book a flight for Thanksgiving week.1,2 If that holds true, it’s time to start researching flight tickets to get to this year’s holiday destinations.

  1. Buy now:
    The sooner you purchase tickets, the more you will save, as, on average, booking in September will save you $37 more than people who book in October and $107 if you wait until November according to Cheapair.com.1 During one of the busiest travel times of the year, finding last-minute deals often gets harder and harder. Start looking for ticket deals now.
  2. Price seats in different configurations:
    On the presumption that you’ll have travel companions for your holiday trip, you have one additional consideration regarding cost savings: While sitting next to each other on a flight home for the holidays might seem ideal, there is reason to give pause. Some airlines charge to select a seat in advance and also charge more for seats in the first few rows of economy class, potentially making any group trip more expensive than it has to be. To help find affordable choices, investigate the cost of seat prices throughout the plane and consider searching seat prices on different flights.
  3. Check fares several times a day:
    Airline “inventory control” teams and systems have become quite nimble at sensing and reacting to market interest. The fare for a particular flight may actually go up or down multiple times in a single day. If you see a price that’s lower tonight than it was this afternoon, consider locking it in.
  4. Travel on the holiday itself: Traveling on the holiday itself could keep money in your According to Cheapair.com, Monday, November 19 will be the cheapest day to depart and Friday, November 23 will be the cheapest day to return for those traveling for Thanksgiving.1 You may also consider traveling on the morning of the holiday and if you can’t do that, consider the Monday before the holiday.
  5. Forego checked bags:
    Although many people choose to travel with gifts and other holiday items in their checked bags, consider traveling with carry-on luggage only. With many airlines charging $25-$50 or more for each checked bag, each way, bringing only carry-on luggage is cost-efficient – especially as you may be able to ship your gifts to your final destination for less than the checked-bag fees.
  6. Check routes through major airports:
    Your hometown airport may be the most convenient one from which to fly, but the convenience may come at an extra cost – perhaps, to the tune of a few hundred dollars per person. That’s why flying between major airports may make good economic sense. The fact that competition is fierce at large airports sometimes equates to lower prices for travelers who choose those gateways. The silver lining? If you fly in and out of key airports, you’re less likely to need to make a connection, saving time and hassle during peak travel periods.
  7. Learn about alternate gateways, too:
    While fares may be less expensive for flights between major airports, sometimes those gateways aren’t actually the closest to your final holiday destination. If you have to rent a car or hail a ride from an app on your phone to bridge the distance, you might end up having less money to make merry with. A quick search of the web for “alternate airports” will bring up a list of options to consider. Whether you choose to book your holiday travel now or to try to find a last-minute deal, consider how obtaining travel insurance with 24/7 travel assistance services may come in handy and help cover you financially.

1 https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2018/04/03/airfare-best-time-buy/#74746636de7a

2 https://www.cheapair.com/blog/when-to-book-thanksgiving-flights/

 

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Learn Travel Insurance 101

At AIG Travel, we understand that trips can sometimes take forever to plan but only a split second to go sour. While traveling, just like everyday life, bad things can happen to good people, be it lost luggage, a sickness away from home, your hotel being made uninhabitable by a hurricane, or something else. While we’d love to be able to shield you from every single thing that could get in the way of the perfect trip, the truth is – as with all insurance providers – the policies we offer cover only those instances specifically listed in each plan’s Policy of Insurance. That’s why we encourage you to document closely, to ensure you are purchasing the policy that will appropriately cover you for the type of trip you are taking.

We know that “insurance speak” can be a bit confusing sometimes, so we’ve put together a basic travel insurance list to give you a sense of the general items that may or may not be covered.

 Generally Covered Unforeseen Events:

  • If your hotel / accommodations are made uninhabitable due to natural disaster
  • If you lose our luggage
  • An insured becomes ill or injured on a trip
  • You need to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as becoming ill or injured
  • Your trip is delayed or interrupted by an unforeseen even for a predetermined amount of hours as listed on your policy
  • Pre‐existing medical conditions (IF you qualify for a pre‐existing medical condition exclusion waiver)
  • With our Name Your Family Upgrade, you can choose a limited number of people to be deemed Family Members for the purpose of Family Member-related Unforeseen events
  • Change in military orders (be sure you choose a policy that lists this as a named peril – not all of
  • Our policies include this benefit).

Generally NOT Covered:

  • Changing your mind on whether or not you want to travel
  • Cancellation due to fear of traveling
  • Fear of getting an illness
  • Natural disaster coverage IF the policy was purchased during or after the natural disaster
  • Coverage for hurricanes after the storm has reached hurricane status
  • Change in military orders if it’s NOT a listed peril in the policy purchased (Be sure you read the
  • Policy of Insurance closely to make sure military orders are covered before you purchase if you would like coverage for this!)
  • A pre‐existing medical condition
  • Traveling to a destination where a formal travel warning has been issued by the government
  • Failing to get a passport, visa or required travel documents in time
  • Participating in adventurous, dangerous or extreme activities (a list of these can be found in the Policy of Insurance)
  • Psychological disorder or self‐inflicted injuries

This list covers some of the most common concerns that come up when looking at travel insurance. Again, we always recommend that you take a few moments to read through the terms and conditions of the Policy of Insurance for the plan that you’re considering, and, of course, if you if you have any questions, we’re happy to help! We’re available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1.800.826.1300.

If you are new to travel insurance, here’s how to better understand your travel insurance plan.

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Avoid These Top Five Travel Blunders

Only in travel can you lose yourself, and discover yourself at the same time. The problem is, discovering yourself can sometimes be a messy business. If there’s one thing to expect while traveling, it’s that things won’t always go according to plan, assuming you have one. Sometimes, that’s when the fun begins. Here are our picks as the top five travel blunders to avoid:

Overpacking. Packing too much can be more than just a pain in the back. In addition to the inconvenience of hauling around everything but the kitchen sink, you’ll be baggy-eyed when you see the extra cost you’ll be hit with to check your heavy haul. Fees can range from $50 to $100 on every flight of your itinerary. Some airlines are even imposing fees per carry-on bag. Keep it to one piece of luggage and your trip will be in the bag.

Procrastination. No one can plan for everything, but when you wait until the last minute to book airline tickets, you open yourself to sticker shock at the check-out. Although you can sometimes grab a great last-minute deal, don’t count on it. Tickets tend to increase in price the closer you get to your departure date. If you can, try to book months out from your trip – and buy yourself something nice with the money you’ll save.

Impatience. Let’s face it. When you travel, you’re going to run into the unexpected. Expect it. And when you do, the worst thing you can do is to lose your cool. Whether you’re in airport security or in flight, remember, the people around you are doing the best that they can. Getting frustrated or angry won’t get you there any faster. Know your TSA rules, mind your manners and keep a lid on it, and you’ll make your trip easier for everyone, including yourself.

Underestimating. When you’re in a new or unfamiliar part of the world, it’s easy to underestimate distances, time and money. Many a road warrior has missed a return departure due to misjudged traffic conditions. For example, a marathon or other sporting event can divide a city in half and result in hours-long delays. Do yourself a favor; ask your hotel concierge about peak traffic hours or if there are any special events in the area that might impact travel.

Risking it. The unpredictability of travel means it’s nice to have 24/7 assistance in case something goes wrong. Spending a few extra bucks on a travel insurance plan can cover your trip investment and the 24/7 assistance services can help you order/review credit bureau records, work with law enforcement on your behalf, investigate identity theft, rebook hotels and flights and more.

To learn more about how a travel insurance plan can cover and assist you, ask your travel agent, call 1.800.826.1300 or log onto www.travelguard.com.

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Tips for LGBTQ Travelers

June is Pride Month and with many LGBTQ events going on throughout the world, safety is top of mind. While many countries are LGBTQ‐friendly, there are certain areas that require more caution than others while you’re traveling. No matter where you and/or your partner choose to travel this June and beyond, here are a few tips to consider to help your travels go smoothly.

Planning: In order to help ensure the best travel experience and enjoy safety and comfort for the duration of your trip, it’s important to have a solid understanding of your destination and the locales through which you’ll be traveling to get there. Take time to learn about the cultural, legal and security issues that affect the LGBTQ community in these locations.

Profile Consideration: Along with planning ahead and understanding the culture you’ll be surrounded by, it’s important to consider whether there are certain ways the local population generally conducts itself based on the laws and customs of the country. In some countries, identifying as LGBTQ may simply be culturally frowned upon. But other societies, the showing of affection – is generally considered innocent by Western standards – may be against certain cultural and/or religious practices.

Documentation: Applying for a visa, in some instances, may best be done as a single individual rather than as part of a couple. Additionally, depending upon the cultural and legal climate of the country to which you are traveling, give thoughtful consideration to planning your stay in a hotel or resort, as some circumstances may require an LGBTQ couple to reserve a room with two beds instead of one or even bring separate luggage for each person.

Transgender Tip: Transgender travelers may face additional scrutiny when navigating airports due to the cultural and legal landscape of other countries. Security procedures (like body scanning) at airports may be distressing to transgender people – know your rights! If you are transgender, find out whether the country you’re considering may refuse entry to transgender people or those whose gender does not reflect their presentation.

Safety and Security: No matter where you choose to travel, stay aware of your surroundings, disclose as little personal information as possible and avoid drawing attention to yourself. If you are harassed, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible and do not escalate it by confronting your harasser(s). If you are being followed, find a busy establishment to enter. Above all, be sure to advise a trusted contact back home of your itinerary and the contact information for anyone with whom you plan to meet while traveling.

For more safety tips, statistics and helpful resources for LGBTQ travelers, visit www.aig.com/travel/lgbtq.

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Tips to Take Selfies Safely

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest overflow with new information, but one particular type of post gets up close and personal – the selfie. Selfies allow us to be stars of our own show, but problems can arise when those photos negatively become news headlines.

While self-portrait taking has been around for decades, in recent years this trend has been fuelled by the advancement of technology, specifically smartphones and portable tablets with reverse-camera functionality. The popularity of selfies has risen rapidly, but sometimes that perfect pose comes with a great risk to self and others.

Consider:

  • A German tourist died after he fell into a ravine while attempting to take a selfie at the ancient site of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes.
  • A Singaporean tourist died after falling into the sea while taking a selfie on a cliff in Bali, Indonesia.
  • A Taiwanese exchange student was killed by an American bison while posing for a group photo at Yellowstone National Park in the United States.
  • A British tourist died in India after slipping off the ledge of a temple while taking a selfie.

Taking selfies is no laughing matter. A 2016 study by Carnegie Mellon University revealed that 76 of 127 selfie-related deaths worldwide occurred in India. These tragic incidents serve as a reminder to travelers to pay attention to their surroundings.

AIG Travel advocates for safety while travelling, and advises travelers to exercise caution while taking photos.

Safety Tips When Taking Selfies

  1. Take note of the surrounding area, especially if it is unfamiliar. Look out for caution signs and take heed of the given warnings.
  2. Don’t take selfies while you are drinking alcohol—especially if you are in potentially questionable surroundings.
  3. Take pictures on steady ground, ensure footing is firm and avoid ledges, drop-offs or other potentially problematic areas.
  4. If you are driving or crossing the road, put the phone away and concentrate on what you are doing.
  5. Avoid taking pictures while engaging in adventurous or high-risk sports and outdoor activities.
  6. Avoid taking selfies while operating heavy machinery, such as tractors, lawn mowers, etc.
  7. Forgo taking pictures with or near dangerous animals.
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Women’s Solo Travel Concerns Met with Safety Initiative

As solo travel rises in popularity, instances of violence and geopolitical turmoil have also been on the rise, increasing awareness of individual security when traveling, especially among female travelers. In fact, a key finding from a recent AIG Travel Pulse Poll* revealed safety was top of mind for female travelers, with 45 percent noting they feel either less safe or much less safe about traveling than they did five years ago.

Other key findings from our Women’s Travel Safety poll include:

  • Two‐thirds of the respondents are either very likely or somewhat likely to travel alone to either a domestic or an international destination in 2018.
  •  The majority (63 percent) of women think about safety always or frequently while traveling.
  • The top four risks that women consider before or during a trip center on theft and scams, such as pickpocketing/purse snatching (93 percent), credit card fraud (86 percent), identity theft (63 percent), and taxi scams (62 percent).
  • The top two actions that women take with a goal of increasing their personal safety before or during a trip are sharing an itinerary with a friend or family member (93 percent) and purchasing travel insurance, emergency travel medical coverage, and/or emergency travel evacuation coverage (87 percent).
  • The safety of a destination is a woman’s most important consideration – other than her own personal interest in the destination – when booking travel.
  • If feeling unsafe while traveling, women are most likely to reach out to their hotel staff (36 percent) or law enforcement authorities (33 percent) for help.
  • Of the respondents who routinely travel for business, 84 percent reported that their employers either did not provide travel safety tips/resources or that they weren’t aware of any such tools.

To help female travelers minimize potential travel risks, AIG Travel recently launched a Women’s Travel Safety initiative. The empowering campaign shares advice on how to research travel destinations, become familiar with local laws and customs and leverage tools in the event of adverse situations, such as kidnappings or other crimes.

To view the materials and advice from the initiative, visit www.aig.com/travel/forwomen, follow us on Twitter @TravelGuard or via the #WomenWhoTravel hashtag.

* AIG Travel distributed the Pulse Poll in fall 2017 to female consumers who identify as interested in travel, including followers of the brand’s social media channels and women on its U.S. direct marketing email list. The survey garnered more than 1,800 responses.

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Mobile Device Best Practices

Carrying mobile electronic devices to foreign countries can leave individuals exposed to certain safety and security issues during their travels, including crimes that can range from petty theft to corporate espionage or identity theft. While using password protection on electronic devices and not clicking suspicious links are common tips, the concerns facing travelers and their sensitive information have only increased. Being aware of the specific cyber threats and following some best practices before, during and after a business or leisure trip can help mitigate these risks and protect your sensitive information.

Internet Access

In most countries, travelers should not have an expectation of privacy in internet cafés, airplanes, offices, or other public spaces. All information sent electronically can potentially be intercepted, especially over wireless communications.

Avoid using public and unsecured Wi-Fi networks, where your information is vulnerable to hacking. If you’re relying on free Wi-Fi to get around an unfamiliar place, do a little pre-outing prep: download maps to use “offline” while you’re on a secure Wi-Fi network, for example at your hotel, to use while you’re out and about during the day.

If using a public or insecure Wi-Fi network or computer becomes necessary during your trip, avoid logging into any personal accounts.

Utilize an existing cellphone network with accompanying internet service, if available, to help reduce the need to connect to Wi-Fi networks in country. Travelers should check with their service provider to ensure that cell coverage is possible in the destination.

Consider investing in a personal hot spot; this device grants a secure, private internet connection to its owner. However, this does require a monthly internet service subscription, which makes it great for frequent travelers.

While in country, avoid banking/shopping online, or any other activity that requires personal identification or financial information.

Minimize use of email to send sensitive company or personal information to protect your data.

For social media users – avoid oversharing your location, either by using location sharing services or publishing your location on networking platforms. While you’re at it, turn off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi auto-connect options just in case.

Laptop

Bringing a laptop? Before traveling, back up the machine to a secure location and then wipe it clean of all sensitive and proprietary information. Then just load the laptop with the documents and programs you’ll truly need on your trip—if any intellectual property is stolen during the trip, the damage will be kept to a minimum.

Use software and difficult passwords/phrases to encrypt any information you do bring with you to a foreign country. While you’re at it, make sure your anti-virus and other malware protections are up to date.

Avoid using non-company computers to login to a secured company network.

Physical Property

Consider using an old smart phone or laptop on your trip rather than any new equipment you might have just in case it is lost or stolen. Don’t have an old phone? Consider buying a pay-as-you-go cell phone for your trip—stay connected without worrying about losing your expensive phone.

Make sure all devices are password protected with a long and complicated pass-phrase; in case of theft, protecting your sensitive information is important to prevent further intellectual property or financial information theft. Also, change your passwords and PINs when traveling as an added layer of protection.

Smart phones are a prime target for petty theft while traveling—they’re small, easy to conceal and easy to pluck out of a back pocket.

While not exactly a mobile device, your wallet is susceptible to high-tech theft in the form of RFID skimming—a scanner that steals credit card information from your wallet/pocket. Keep your finances safe by using an RFID-blocking wallet or purse.

Keep your phones, laptops and other mobile devices secure at all times— keep phones in the front pocket of your pants and laptops in a hotel safe when not in use to minimize theft. Stowing items in your luggage, especially unattended luggage, will leave your personal property vulnerable to theft.

If your phone or laptop is stolen, report it immediately to the local embassy or consulate and make sure to use software to remotely lock down/wipe your device.

Learn more at www.aig.com/travel.

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