Practice Digital and Social Media Safety while Traveling

Being – and staying – connected through technology has become so integral to our lives that many of us don’t stop to consider the risks that can come from being so tech-reliant. Especially when traveling, it’s important to be smart with your social media accounts and digital devices. Strangers or social hackers connected to your social media network may monitor your posts, and your personal information might be easily available to opportunistic individuals. Carrying mobile devices to foreign countries can leave individuals exposed to certain safety and security issues while there, including crimes that can range from petty theft to corporate espionage or identity theft. While using password protection on mobile 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 your trip can help mitigate these risks and protect your sensitive information.

Prepare Digital Devices Before Traveling

  • Back up the devices and then wipe them clean of all sensitive and proprietary information. Remove or limit banking information, sensitive data, personal photographs or compromising information—if any intellectual property is stolen during the trip, the damage will be kept to a minimum.
  • Research the laws governing your destination, since in some places, authorities can confiscate and look at your digital data and even take action based on what they find. This is especially pertinent if someone posts something about politics or the government of a country even on personal social media while in-country.
  • Make sure your anti-virus and any other malware protections are up-to-date.
  • Ask family, friends and colleagues to respect your privacy and security by refraining from posting information to social media about your itinerary and travels.
  • Check with your service provider to ensure that cellular coverage is possible in your intended destination and consider paying for a temporary international cellular data plan, if available, to help reduce the need to connect to Wi-Fi networks in country.
  • Consider buying or renting a personal hot spot; this device grants a secure, private internet connection to its owner.
  • Don’t forget to set up ‘Find My Phone’ services on your mobile devices in the event you need to track (or erase) a lost or stolen device during your travels.
  • Check the warranty plans with your service provider in case your device is damaged.

Practice Digital and Social Media Safety During Travel

  • General Internet Safety Tips
    • 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.
    • Try to 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 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 or financial accounts.
    • 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.
  • Social Media Safety Tips
    • Avoid oversharing your location real-time. While you’re at it, turn off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi auto-connect options just in case.
    • Do not post photos of your boarding pass or travel documents to social media sites – you’d be amazed at how much information they contain. From a single boarding pass, identity thieves could potentially access all kinds of data, including names, phone numbers, frequent flyer account numbers and more.
    • Be aware of social media posts, browser history and downloaded apps, as some destinations have stringent regulations on acceptable content.
  • Tips for Physical Devices
    • Smartphones are a prime target for petty theft while traveling—they’re small, easy to conceal and easy to pluck out of your hand or back pocket. If you need to use your phone in public, try to stand still with your back to a wall or window, since looking down at your phone and walking at the same time might limit your situational awareness.
    • While not exactly a mobile device, your wallet is susceptible to high-tech theft in the form of radio-frequency identification (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 mobile device is stolen, report it immediately to the local embassy or consulate and make sure to use software to remotely lock down/wipe your device.

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Tips to Fight Flight Anxiety

Many travelers suffer from flight anxiety, which can feel like a huge hurdle to overcome when planning a trip. The causes of this type of anxiety vary from person to person, but the most common triggers include the fear of an impending catastrophe and/or the thought of experiencing a panic attack while flying.

Below are a few tips that might help you conquer your fear of flying:

  1. Learn the facts, as being informed may help put things into perspective. Flying is one of the safest ways to travel – a 2017 U.S. study showed that 0.8% of transportation fatalities were airplane-related compared to 95% that were highway-related.

2. Understand the noises a plane makes and the causes of turbulence. Check the weather to determine how turbulent your flight may be. Anticipating them will help keep you calm.

3. Visualize yourself in your safe place, when you are in the air. Whether it’s your dreamy vacation spot, your favorite park or lying on your couch. This will help comfort you inflight.

4. Take deep breathes, which helps to relax and relieve stress. Take some time to learn and practice breathing techniques and exercises before you travel.

5. Distract yourself. Watch the in-flight movies, listen to music or to your favorite podcasts or read that book you’ve been meaning to finish. Distractions will keep your mind busy, leaving less room for anxiety.

6. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can accentuate your anxiety symptoms and prevent you from getting some rest.

7. Try stretching. Simple movements can help to release tension and anxiety: choosing an aisle seat will make it easier to get up and stretch regularly.

AIG Travel, Inc., a member of American International Group, Inc., provides travel insurance and global assistance through innovative product offerings. Travel Guard® is the marketing name for its portfolio of travel insurance and travel-related services. From lost luggage to a medical emergency, our 24/7 multilingual assistance team is always just a phone call away. Through our global service centers and a network of experienced providers, we deliver medical and security assistance to help our customers travel with confidence. AIG Travel is a socially responsible and inclusive organization that meets the diverse needs of leisure and corporate travelers alike. Learn more at http://www.aig.com/travel or http://www.travelguard.com, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

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Five things to know before filing a claim

When you travel, things happen. Just like in everyday life, mishaps can happen, be it lost luggage, a sickness away from home, or something else. The last thing you want to think about is filing a travel insurance claim, but it’s important to be aware that you will need to provide actual proof of reason to file your claim in addition to common documentation. Many travelers don’t realize that if they do not have valid copies of receipts, forms and documentation to support their travel insurance claim it may impact the claim review process.

As with all insurance policies, we encourage you to review the insurance policy closely, to ensure you are purchasing the policy that will appropriately cover you for the type of trip you are taking. Depending on the type of claim you are filing, the required documentation will vary, but we’ve put together a basic and generalized list to give you a sense of the documentation that may be necessary to file a claim and/or support your claim loss.

  1. Receipts for claimed expenses such as:
    • Lost/stolen/damaged personal possessions or baggage
    • Medical expenses
    • Additional meal and accommodation expenses
    • Clothing, toiletries, and other necessary personal effects
  1. Copies of reports for an accident or baggage loss such as:
    • Accident report
    • Police report
    • Incident report
    • Irregularity report
    • Medical Reports
  1. Proof of payment for claimed expenses such as:
    • Paid trip invoice
    • Credit card statement
    • Bank statement
  1. Completed Claim forms for claims due to medical reasons such as:
    • Medical certificate claim form completed by your physician
    • Statement from your physician indicating the reason for medical treatment
    • Signed authorization for release of information form
  1. Documents or Statements for claims such as:
    • Document from the carrier verifying the reason for cancellation/delay
    • Statement from employer indicating the years of employment with the company and the need for the employee to be at work
    • Written statement from the insured as to the reason for the claim
    • Copy of a death certificate with cause of death

Please be aware that you will need to take some time to gather required documentation (which may be tedious at times). However, this may be necessary to properly submit the claim.  Providing the information up front should help make the claim filing procedure more seamless in order for the claims customer service team to follow their due diligence protocols and eventually provide you with a claims coverage decision.

The above is only a brief description of the information that may be required to review and process your claim. The policy may contain reductions, limitations, exclusions, and termination provisions. Coverage may not be available in all states or outside the U.S. Please refer to your specific Description of Coverage (DOC).

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Female Pioneers Who Have Made History in Travel

You likely were taught all about the first explorers and pioneers, from Lewis and Clark to the Wright brothers, as early as elementary school. While Amelia Earhart may have made it into one of your lessons, so many of the great travelers often are left out. Though they may not have made the history books, female adventurers have been exploring new lands, breaking barriers and setting new records as the “first” for centuries. Get to know these inspiring women who broke the glass ceiling of travel: 

Bessie Coleman

Just like so many other women in so many other fields, Bessie Coleman was one of the courageous and bold females who left her mark on travel – a livelihood, a passion and a pastime that, for so long, was unwelcoming to women.

From the beginning, the odds were against Coleman. Born in Texas in the 1890s, she was one of 12 children. Determined to get an education, she walked several miles to school each day and spent the rest of her time working in the cotton fields to make money. Despite her hard work, she was banned from entering aviation school in the U.S. because of her gender and the color of her skin. Yet, that still didn’t stop her.

According to Condé Nast Traveler, Coleman uprooted to France and became the first African American woman to gain a pilot’s license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Back in the U.S., she was still prohibited from working as a pilot. Instead, she made her living performing in air shows.

Nellie Bly

When her editor at the newspaper turned down her idea for beating the fictitious record of racing around the world in 80 days – saying he would have to send a man instead – Nellie Bly took off in pursuit of her goal, according to The Guardian. Just 72 days later, Bly made history when she arrived in New York, on Jan. 25, 1890. Not only did she surpass the idealistic record of the male traveler, but Bly did so with just the set of clothes she set off in and a small bag.

Cassie De Pecol

In 2016, Cassie De Pecol faced a number of challenges while traveling the globe, but that didn’t stop her from becoming the first woman officially documented to have traveled to every sovereign nation in the world. Furthermore, she completed her travel to the 196 sovereign nations in 18 months and 26 days, less than half the time it took the previous Guinness World Record holder, as Travel + Leisure has reported.

During De Pecol’s historic journey, she spoke to more than 16,000 university students in 40 countries, and was recognized as an ambassador for sustainable tourism and peace by the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism and SKAL International.

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How to Prepare Yourself for Travel During Hurricane Season

Sun. Sand. Water. The summer travel season is officially in full swing, and for those traveling to coastal destinations, it’s important to note that it’s also hurricane season. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the hurricane season officially extends from June 1 to Nov. 30. Here are a few things to keep in mind during your summer travel:

  • If you are U.S. citizen planning to travel internationally, you should sign up for the U.S. Embassy’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which will make it easier to get in contact with you if there is an emergency (such as a hurricane, typhoon or other natural disaster) in the area to which you are traveling.
  • Before you book your hotel or other accommodations, call ahead to find out about allowances in the cancellation policy in the event of a hurricane.
  • If you’re traveling to an area where hurricanes and typhoons are prevalent, make sure you have access to a radio, TV or mobile device for frequent updates on severe weather. You should also be sure to view/listen to local stations regularly in order to become aware of any tropical storms that may develop and anticipate related disruptions, including road closures and electrical outages.
  • Maintain close contact with your tour operator, cruise line, hotel staff and local officials so you will know local protocols and procedures if inclement weather should occur during your vacation.
  • Make sure your vehicle always has plenty of fuel. Because weather can quickly change and tropical storms may blow in without much warning, try to avoid having to stop for gas on your way to a safer area. Stay ahead of the game with a full tank of gas and ensure access to basic needs, including medications, food and water.
  • Always remember to purchase travel insurance before a tropical weather system is named.

Be sure to pack a Travel Guard® travel insurance plan from AIG Travel, so you can enjoy your vacation with confidence. In the event of a covered tropical weather event, travel insurance may provide coverage under the Trip Cancellation benefit so that you may be reimbursed for the prepaid, forfeited, nonrefundable trip costs up to the limit of the coverage purchased. Many travel insurance plans also come with 24/7 assistance services to rebook cancelled flights and help you get to safety. For more information, contact your travel advisor, call Travel Guard at 1-800-826-1300 or visit www.travelguard.com.

 

Sources:

https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/noaa-predicts-near-normal-2019-atlantic-hurricane-season

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/emergencies/what-can-you-do-crisis-abroad/tropical-storm-season.html

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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 fueled 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.
  • A tourist stumbled over the edge of the rim at Grand Canyon National Park while trying to take a selfie.

Taking selfies is no laughing matter. Between 2011 and 2018, there have been a total of 259 selfie-related deaths.

These tragic incidents serve as a reminder to travelers to pay attention to their surroundings.

AIG Travel advocates for safety while traveling, 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.
For informational purposes only. AIG, its affiliates and subsidiaries assume no liability or responsibility for the use, interpretation or application of any of the information contained herein.
AIG Travel, a member of American International Group, Inc., provides travel insurance and global assistance through innovative product offerings. Travel Guard® is the marketing name for its portfolio of travel insurance and travel-related services. From lost luggage to a medical emergency, our 24/7 multilingual assistance team is always just a phone call away. Through our global service centers and a network of experienced providers, we deliver medical and security assistance to help our customers travel with confidence. AIG Travel is a socially responsible and inclusive organization that meets the diverse needs of leisure and corporate travelers alike. Learn more at www.aig.com/travel or www.travelguard.com, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Copyright © 2019 American International Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Why You Need Travel Insurance Wherever You Go

Travel insurance is intended to protect your travel investment from covered, unforeseen events – not things that are easily anticipated. Interestingly, the type of travel insurance plan can vary depending on your destination activities. For example, a traveler who is participating in adventurous activities, like hiking, mountain climbing, surfing, skiing or long-distance biking, is likely to have different requirements than a traveler going on a cruise.

When researching travel insurance, it is important for the traveler to review all available coverage options to ensure they are purchasing the policy that will appropriately cover them for the type of trip they are taking. For example, in countries where there may be heightened instances of civil unrest, a traveler should ensure that their travel insurance plan includes emergency security, medical evacuation assistance and trip interruption. The civil unrest must also be unforeseen at the time of purchase of the policy. Likewise, someone traveling to an international destination may seek out a plan that provides trip cancellation coverage and medical expense coverage in the event of an injury or sudden illness.

Many travelers don’t realize that without the correct insurance plan, they could be turned away from the destination they are visiting before they make it past airport arrivals. According to the International Travel and Health Insurance Journal (ITIJ) a growing number of destinations are requiring that you show proof of medical expense coverage before you enter. This trend seems to be growing as countries seek new ways to relieve themselves of unpaid medical bills left by tourists. For example, Egypt requires mandatory travel insurance for visiting tourists; for Ecuador, visitors must provide proof of travel insurance as an element of visa requirements.

While not all countries will insist on proof of coverage before allowing a tourist to enter, many will insist that visitors purchase travel insurance from a local provider once they have arrived. This could result in higher premiums, so it may make sense for travelers to purchase travel insurance in advance of their travels. Although proof of travel insurance isn’t required for entry to many countries, purchasing a plan is a smart idea in case an accident or emergency arises while you’re away from home. To view a full listing of other countries and their requirements, click here.

If you are new to travel insurance, check out our Learn Travel Insurance 101 article to better understand travel insurance basics and general items that may or may not be covered.

This is only a brief description of the coverage(s) available. The Policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions, and termination provisions. For costs and complete details of the coverage(s) contact us 24/7 at 1.800.826.1300. Insurance underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., a Pennsylvania insurance company, with its principal place of business at 175 Water Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10038. It is currently authorized to transact business in all states and the District of Columbia. NAIC No. 19445.

Sources

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages.html

https://www.itij.com/story/114308/where-travel-insurance-mandatory

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