10 Ways to Protect Your Home While on Vacation

Planning for a vacation can be an exciting time. While focused on everything ahead of you, it sometimes can be too easy to sail out the door without a second thought. But before you embark on any vacations, you may want to consider the following ways to protect your home while you are gone. It’s easy and just takes a little foresight.

  1. Hold Your Mail

If you will be away from home for more than a few days, consider putting your mail delivery on hold or asking a person you trust to pick your mail up for you. Newspapers piling up in your mailbox or on your lawn scream, “No one is home!”

  1. Make Your House Look “Lived In”

If you know you’ll be traveling for a while, don’t draw attention to your absence by leaving the lawn unmowed. Before you depart, set lights on a timer or schedule the TV and radio to go on or off at various times. Remember, you want to create the illusion that someone is there to act as a deterrent so robbers aren’t tempted to enter your home.

Here are a few additional pointers:

  • During the winter, arrange for snow removal in case of a storm.
  • Leave an unrolled hose outside or, if you have children, a few toys in the yard.
  • Overall, don’t tidy up too much before you leave.
  1. Zip it

Don’t announce to the world that you’ll be out of town. Refrain from talking loudly in public about your departure and posting about your upcoming vacation on Facebook or other social sites. Social media settings aren’t foolproof, and sometimes it’s not easy to distinguish public content from private posts. To stay safe, don’t mention your trip until you’re back home.

  1. Trust a Friend

Record your itinerary, phone number and other important information on a sheet of paper and give it, along with a house key, to a trusted neighbor or friend. If there’s an emergency while you are gone, your neighbor or friend may be able to intervene or at least reach you.

  1. Advertise Your Security

While it’s not a good idea to advertise your whereabouts when you go on vacation, it is good to blatantly advertise your security measures. Post general security alarm warning stickers on your windows, install real or fake security cameras, or put up a “neighborhood watch” sign in your yard.

  1. Unplug

Unplug all unnecessary appliances (except those on timers, of course) to help protect your home from an electrical fire or a power surge. This includes items big or small, from TVs, to your toaster, your coffee maker, and other appliances.

  1. Remove the Spare Key

Many people hide a spare key on their property so that they (or their kids!) will never get locked out of their home. Before you leave for a trip, remove the spare key. You don’t want any nosy thieves letting themselves into your home.

  1. Adjust Your Thermostats

Consider that while you are gone, your house doesn’t need to maintain the same temperature as while you are there. Set the air conditioner to go on only at 85°. You can also lower the temperature on your water heater.1 Although these measures don’t enhance security, they certainly help protect your hard-earned dollars, and perhaps leaving you extra cash to spend on your vacation.

  1. Lock Valuables Away

Lock jewelry, the deed to your home, wills, and any other valuables or sensitive documents in a fireproof safe.1

  1. Alert Your Alarm Company

If you have a home alarm system, call the monitoring service to let the staff know you’ll be away. Make sure all door and window alarms are set and working when you leave.1


1 https://www.safety.com/blog/10-ways-to-protect-your-home-while-youre-on-vacation/




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How to Avoid Common Travel Scams

Many destinations around the world have creative locals who are looking to take advantage of nsuspecting tourists. While many travelers may think they’re too savvy to fall for these tactics, the truth is, anyone is susceptible to travel scam pros. Make sure you travel smart and read up on the types of scams that are out there, so they don’t happen to you. Here are several travel scams, courtesy of NomadicMatt.com, that are currently  popular:

The taxi overcharge
This scam is simple: The driver will tell you the taxi meter is broken or you will notice that the fare on the meter seems to be rising quicker than it should. To avoid falling victim to this type of scam, do your research ahead of time and figure out the appropriate cost for a taxi ride in the city you are visiting. For added assurance, verify this potential cost with a hotel employee before you call the cab. Try to find a driver who will agree to this rate ahead of time, and always make sure they’re licensed at your destination.

Closed attractions
When you are in another country and hoping to visit a specific museum or other attraction, a local stops you and says that the destination is closed that day or simply
closed for lunch. The person then guides you to another location, where the pressure is
on to purchase something or pay a lot for entry. To avoid this pitfall while traveling,
check the attraction’s ticket counter or main entrance to view for yourself the hours thatthe venue is open.

The freebie ploy
If you are vacationing in Europe, be aware of a scam that involves a friendly person
coming up to you and trying to put a bracelet around your wrist “for free.” Once you’re
wearing it, the individual will demand money and if refused, will make an embarrassing
scene to convince you to give in.

Spill on your clothing
If you are in another country and all of a sudden, someone “accidently” spills coffee or
another beverage on you, the first thing you should think about is whether you are about
to be scammed. Typically, the perpetrator apologizes profusely and causes such a
scene that you don’t notice they are picking your pocket at the same time. Always be
mindful of unfamiliar people who are close to you, and insist that you clean up the spill
yourself. Then, distance yourself from the perpetrator immediately.

A fake petition
While sightseeing, beware of a local approaching you and asking you to sign a petition.
While seemingly innocent, the goal is to get your signature and then demand money asa cash donation.

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Seven Tips for Healthy Travel

March is a popular time to travel (Spring Break, anyone?), but whether you’re headed to a warmer or a colder climate, it’s important to remember that it’s still cold and flu season. This spring, as flu activity has spiked throughout the U.S., travelers may want to take extra precautions – such as those outlined below – to help keep themselves and their fellow travelers healthy.[1]

  • Get some shut eye. Let’s face it – travel can be tiring, especially if you’re traveling across time zones or overseas. Lack of sleep can affect your immune system, one of the most important things you can do to ward off illness is to get a good night’s sleep. How much sleep is enough? Listen to your body – if you feel exhausted, don’t power through. Get some rest.
  • Eat something. After a travel day, many people are tempted to jump right into sightseeing at their destination; however, after going without nourishment for several hours, your body is in dire need of nutrients. Add to that the fact that you’re likely using up more energy than you’re used to at home, and skipping a meal is a recipe for disaster. No matter if you’re staying in a hotel or in a vacation rental, take the time to visit the local market and start your trip off right.
  • When possible, walk. Not only is walking a great way to get some exercise, but it’s also an easy (and free!) way to familiarize yourself with the place you’re visiting. Bonus: Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp. If you don’t have time for a morning or an evening walk, consider natural ways to weave this activity into your itinerary – for example, walking to your destination and taking public transportation back to your hotel or hostel.
  • Protect your skin. Whether you’re planning a day at the beach or touring the town, be sure to apply sunscreen every two hours to protect your skin against sunburn and damage. Doing so may not only reduce your risk of skin cancer, but also prevent you from having to deal with an uncomfortable or unsightly burn on your special trip! If you’re packing light, consider combination products, such as moisturizer with SPF.
  • Strengthen your immune system. While the jury is still out on the exact effect of supplements on the body, many experts recommend daily multi-vitamin or vitamin C tabs for travelers, especially if you feel they’ve worked for you in the past. If you aren’t currently taking supplements, talk to your doctor about starting a regimen a few days before your trip to boost your immune system before you get on the road.
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated throughout your trip (and especially on a plane) helps your nasal passages stay hydrated, making them less susceptible to cracking and infections. While en route, opt for water over dehydrating beverages like coffee. Once at your destination, load up on your hotel or hostel’s water before you leave for the day and when you return, and consider bringing a reusable water bottle – perhaps with a built-in filtration system – with you during the day as you explore.
  • Sanitize after touching germy spots. While they’re not a direct substitution for hand washing, consider packing hand sanitizer and wet napkins so that you have them handy when you don’t have access to soap and a sink (e.g., after touching things like ATMs, door handles, dining trays, etc.) When you sanitize, be sure to cover your entire hand, including any rings, for full protection from harmful germs.

[1] https://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/flu-cases-spiking-across-the-united-states-cdc-719578.html


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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

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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