Spring Break Safety Tips

For millions of Americans, sandy beaches, warm, blue water and a break from work beckon this time of year. We know your trip can’t get here soon enough, but before you leave, be sure to pack the following safety tips for any trip style!

In the car:

  • Take turns behind the wheel to ensure the driver is fully alert at all times. Designate another person to stay awake and assist the driver through unfamiliar territory.
  • Remember to pack a map. Yes, that’s right – a paper map! Cell phones can lose their reception, and with it, their mapping services.
  • If you’re traveling with valuables, be sure they’re well hidden before you head into a restaurant or hotel. Cover them with blankets or toss them in the trunk to disguise them from those passing by.

At the hotel:

  • When checking into a hostel or a hotel, avoid stating your room number and other personal information out loud where someone with mal-intent could hear.
  • When possible, book a hotel room above the first floor (which is relatively easier for criminals to break into) but below the sixth floor (which is too high for a fire truck’s ladder to reach).
  • Store valuables (e.g., jewelry, laptops, or other gadgets) you don’t plan to immediately use in your hotel room’s safe. Just don’t forget them when you leave!

In the water:

  • Use sun protection, but beware of “waterproof” sunscreens. Per the FDA, sunscreen is at best “water resistant” for 80 minutes. For long stretches in the water, opt for protective clothing.
  • Stay hydrated by taking frequent water and shade breaks. Drink responsibly – alcohol can intensify dehydration and impair your ability to safely swim or participate in water sports.
  • Always have a swimming “buddy,” especially for trips to the ocean. If you find yourself caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shoreline until you escape the current’s pull.
  • Familiarize yourself with the U.S. flag system for water safety:
  • Red Flag: Stay out of the water. Strong undertows and rip tides are present.
  • Yellow Flag: Be cautious in the water. Some undertows and rip tides are possible.
  • Blue Flag: Water is calm – swim away!

When abroad:

  • Research the country to which you’re traveling, familiarizing yourself with any relevant travel warnings (such as those at state.gov).
  • Always keep your cash and credit cards in two places – keeping some in a safe where you’re staying and some on you. This way, you’ll have options if your money is lost or stolen.
  • Be aware of local scams, which vary from country to country – for example, false petitions are popular in France, while counterfeit money is common in Hungary.
  • Learn the customs of the country to which you’ll be traveling, as well as a few words or phrases in its language and the local equivalent to 911.

Travel covered:

  • Lost luggage, flight delays and medical emergencies can happen no matter where you travel. It helps to know you’re covered for the unexpected with a travel insurance plan. Many plans even include 24/7 travel assistance services which can take the stress out of your travel by rebooking flights and hotels (and much more!), as needed, on your behalf. Concierge services can even recommend top restaurants and activities to help you make the most of your trip.*

 

*Insurance offered by Travel Guard Group, Inc., a licensed insurance producer.  This is only a brief description of the coverage(s) available.  The Policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions.  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.  Coverage may not be available in all states.  Travel assistance services provided by Travel Guard.

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Empowering Women to Travel Safely

It’s undeniable: Whether they’re business leaders, students or stay-at-home moms, women (especially those exploring solo) make up a growing proportion of global travelers.

Unfortunately, however, even the savviest female travelers can find themselves in uncomfortable or dangerous situations when they are targeted based on their gender. That’s why it pays for all women to brush up on the latest safety tips before they travel – doing so can help minimize their risk and ensure their journey is the safe and
enjoyable one they deserve.

For many women, it’s human nature to think they’ll never fall victim to a violent crime while traveling, and while they may be right, the statistics (such as these  from Maiden-Voyage.com, focusing on female business travelers – a large subset of solo female travelers) are startling:

  • 24% of women travelers have experienced theft, physical assault, sexual harassment or attack, attempted kidnapping, or hotel room intrusions while traveling for business.
  • 67% of women are uncomfortable on public transit and with walking in an unfamiliar city.
  • 55% of women say they don’t feel safe alone in a cab.
  • 31% of female business travelers have encountered sexual harassment while traveling.
  • Only 5% of female business travelers have received safety training, and 31% say their employer doesn’t provide adequate resources to help them travel safely.

In response to these realities, AIG Travel recently developed a comprehensive guide to help women learn about ways they can travel more safely for business or for pleasure. While we encourage women to give the full guide a close review, and reference it on their next trip, some stand out tips include:

  • Know the security risk level of your destination (travel.state.gov is an excellent resource for this), and even if it’s low, remain vigilant at all times.
  • Learn how to say a few key words, such as “police” and “help,” in the language of the countryyou’re visiting. Also, learn hostile phrases, such as derogatory terms for “women” or “foreigners,”which you can use as cues to remove yourself from potentially dangerous situations.
  • In some countries, customs based on religious and moral beliefs strongly influence the way women dress. It’s important to research your destination, and pack accordingly to comply with local dress codes (even informal ones), as well as weather.
  • Understand local customs and consider your actions. Beyond dress codes, destinations may have a variety of other laws and cultural norms you may be expected to conform to – sometimes, the consequences for not doing so can put you in danger, or even in trouble with the authorities.
  • Be extra careful at night: avoid using ATMs, since they’re frequently targeted for kidnappings;attempt to arrive at and familiarize yourself with new destinations before dark; and drink responsibly so you can stay alert when returning home at the end of the day.
  • When choosing accommodations, staying at a well-known and reputable hotel is generally safer than using unknown hotels, hostels or privately-rented homes. Some hotels offer women-only floors, so do your research before you book to brush up on your options.
  • When researching hotels, read all reviews and research the neighborhoods in which they are located. Try to find reviews written by women for their unique perspective, and when you arrive, trust your instinct – if something doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance it isn’t.
  • When riding in a taxi, stay alert and aware of your surroundings. If you have a smartphone, it may be a good idea to track your destination on your map, so you can tell if the driver is going off route. If possible, capture identifying information from your cab and driver just in case.
  • Explore travel insurance options for your destination. In a worst case scenario, having access toexperienced professionals who can help you plot and execute the best course of action – whether that’s going to the police, finding a hospital, or something else – can make a huge difference.
  • In a recent Experian survey, 18 percent of respondents reported having had “sensitive information” lost or stolen while traveling. To minimize this risk, remove banking information, personal photographs or other compromising data from digital devices before you go.

For more information on this topic, check out AIG Travel’s women’s travel safety resources here.

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How to Avoid Seasickness on a Cruise

Waveseaon is here. Whether you are an avid cruiser or just thinking about planning your first cruise there are a few things to keep in mind in regard to sea sickness and cruising.

Remember the Size of the Boat
If you simply fear the thought of booking a cruise due to a dizzying experience you had on a fishing boat in 6th grade, it might be time to re-think things. Being on a cruise ship is nothing like sailing on a fishing boat or even a dinner cruise. Most cruise ships are so large that they have stabilizers which take out the up and down, side-to-side motions that make some people sick.1 Much of the time, you don’t even feel like you are on a boat.

How low can you go?
If you are prone to seasickness, know that the location of your cabin on a cruise is everything. Some experts say that the lower your cabin is located within a ship, the better off you will be in defending yourself from sea sickness. Before you book your cruise, look at a map of the cabins on the cruise and book a room that is lower in the cruiseliner.

Cabin selection is everything.
Just as the lowest cabins can afford you the least amount of motion sickness, booking cabins located in the middle of the ship can also offer some stability thereby negating motion sickness. Again, a simple look at the ship’s map can help you figure out the best cabin location for you.

Lie down
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, that familiar nauseous feeling overtakes you while on a cruise. If this happens, the best thing you can do is lie down. No matter where your cabin is located, lying down will reduce symptoms immensely.

Look out
If you start to feel woozy while on a cruise, the best thing you can do is look out onto the horizon. Sometimes sickness occurs when you are in the cabin and unable to look out to orient yourself. If that’s you, quickly make your way up the ship’s deck and look out at the horizon to recalibrate yourself.1

Medication
Almost everyone has heard of Dramamine to aid with sea sickness. If you know you are prone to getting sick while on a cruise, taking Dramamine about an hour before you get on the ship should help stabilize you while you make your way out to sea.
1 https://www.yahoo.com/style/how-to-avoid-getting-seasick-on-a-cruise-and-what-111255833757.html

 

 

 

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Most Visited Winter Travel Destinations

If you haven’t started planning your winter getaway yet, now might be the perfect time to start. Often described as the “doldrums of winter” the months of January and February can often seemingly go on forever. If all that snow and ice has you down to the last straw. It might be time a winter escape. Whether it’s a trip with your sweetie for Valentine’s Day or a quick getaway for some family fun in the sun, here are a few highly recommended winter travel destinations.

  • Martin: The heat of the sand warming your body and the bright colors of the sun-kissed flora all around are just two small reasons to escape to St. Martin. Sea diving to view beautiful coral caves and tropical fish along is sure to lift away the winter blues. More adventuresome travelers can try horseback riding or hiking in the mountains. End your day with the perfectly lit sunset dinner and dancing the night away.
  • Barts: The white-sand beaches are uncrowded and its colorful boutiques and beach bars are waiting. The island of St. Bart’s has a feeling of an older French era with gingerbread cottages and exquisite restaurants, which rank among the Caribbean’s best.
  • Belize: Belize is the place to go if you want a mix of the Caribbean life, ancient cultures and jungle exploration. Spend your day exploring think marine life by scuba diving or explore jungle areas which are home to Mayan ruins.
  • Crete: There’s nothing quite like an escape to Crete, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. This island offers remnants of brilliant civilizations, mountains, valleys and, of course, pristine beaches. One visit to this rich, intriguing area and you’ll notice a hearty, generous spirit in the folks in every area.
  • Cape Town: A beach filled with penguins and no snow to be seen? It happens in Cape Town, South Africa. The area also boasts natural wonders like Table Mountain National Park and a historical botanical garden not to mention classic beach vacation activities like surfing, paragliding and soaking up the sun. For travelers who enjoy exploring, there are many charming towns, villages and bucolic estates and winelands to discover.
  • Hainan Island: This Island is a special mix of beauty with its botanical gardens coconut trees and visits to Monkey Island. Enjoy pristine nature sites intermixed with Buddhism and Taoism culture. Major performances during your stay may even include water ballet, diving, singing and dancing.

For more warm-weather travel destinations view our infographic.

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Five Tips to Help You Stay Healthy While Traveling

Whether you’re an experienced traveler or leaving home for the first time, there’s always the possibility of getting sick while you travel. In fact, many people argue that your chances of getting sick actually increase while traveling due to exposure to new – and potentially, germy – environments and time spent in high‐traffic areas, like airports and train stations. Even if you rarely become ill, you may want to leverage these simple tips for an extra layer of protection on your next trip.
Strengthen your immune system

Many travel doctors suggest taking supplements – such as daily multivitamins, vitamin C, and probiotics – for a significant period of time before your trip. Other tried and tested ways to boost your immune system include: exercising regularly, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains (while avoiding saturated fats), getting plenty of sleep, and avoiding cigarettes and alcohol.
Pack a healthy defense

Before you leave on your trip, consider putting together a carry‐on “toolkit” of items to help you stave off sickness, or treat your symptoms if you do start to feel down. Example items include: hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, a light blanket, a travel pillow, and a first aid kit with staple over‐the‐counter medications like nasal spray or ibuprofen.
Wear glasses instead of contacts

According to this helpful list of healthy travel tips from Condé Nast, contact lenses can make your eyes dry and vulnerable to microbial invasions. To play it safe, consider wearing glasses instead. If you must wear contacts, be sure to bring a travel‐sized bottle of contact lens solution and a case in the event they begin to bother you in the middle of the flight.
Stay hydrated

In its helpful “avoid getting sick while traveling guide,” Caring.com reminds travelers that “planes fly at elevations of 30,000 to 35,000 feet, where humidity is well below the 15 percent required to keep nasalpassages moist.” When your nose and throat become dry, you become more susceptible to viruses and bacteria that may be floating around, so drink plenty of water to keep your nose and throat moist.
When in doubt, sanitize

This may seem obvious, but always remember to sanitize your hands after touching unclean areas – for instance, after touching the ticket kiosk, ATM, door handles, or anything in a bathroom. Condé Nast suggests using sanitizer on “all parts of your hands,” including fingertips and any rings you may be wearing.

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5 New Year’s Resolutions for Travelers

2017 is nearly upon us – a new year, a clean slate and, for some, a host of resolutions. While the average New Year’s resolution often centers upon losing weight, staying fit or spending more time with family or friends we’ve got another suggestion for you: Resolve to travel more in the New Year. Here are a few tips to get started.

Create a Travel Bucket List
In a study done by Dominican University; those who wrote down their goals had a better chance of achieving them versus those who didn’t take the time to write down their goals.1 As the New Year approaches, allow yourself to dream. Where would you most like to visit in 2017? Whether your bucket list includes travel by yourself, your significant other or family, take the time to write down all locations that come to your mine whether they are close to home or overseas.

Plan more Weekend Getaways
Let’s face it – we’re all busy and sometimes well-intentioned plans to travel more don’t always pan out as planned. For those busy individuals and families, consider adding a few weekend getaways to your 2017 calendar. Weekend getaways might include loading up your vehicle and trekking to a state park a few hours away or maybe an extended weekend in one of your favorite cities.

Give Solo Travel a Try
Do you have a bucket list of places to which you’d love to travel but not sure who you’d go with? Why not make plans to travel solo? Solo travel doesn’t have to mean a lonely trip; in fact, it can mean quite the opposite. You’ll meet many other explorers along the way and the potential to make new friends is endless. Plus, you can go anywhere you want, anytime you want and stay as long as you like. Just remember to put on your savvy traveler hat and have a plan before you go, tell others where you are going and remember to travel safely.

Visit Classic Cities Around the Globe
They are energetic, diverse and often display some of the most magnificent architecture on earth. Classic cities like Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Bangkok are just a few of the classic “must see” cities around the globe. What classic cities have you been dreaming of? Maybe 2017 is the perfect time to plan the trip of a lifetime.

Be Exploration Minded
2017 is ready for your adventurous mind. Leave your expectations behind and reach out to explore other cultures – eat the food, participate in local traditions, learn a new language and make new friends who are different from you. If you don’t plan to leave your country think of other ways to be exploration minded: train for a race in another city, explore a new part of the country or plan an off-the-grid hiking/camping trip.

 

1 http://www.forbes.com/sites/ellevate/2014/04/08/why-you-should-be-writing-down-your-goals/2/#5c7b16dc1bf6

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Most Visited Destinations During the Winter Travel Season

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