Safety Concerns

Insuring your trip

A trip is like a marriage: you don't go into it thinking you will have trouble. But trouble can occur before your departure date so that you will need to cancel or delay your trip, perhaps with the loss of non-refundable payments. You can become ill and need to return early, or a family member at home may become ill so that you must return early. Bags can be lost or delayed. You may need emergency medical assistance during your trip. Such things happen. A wise traveler prepares for trouble by purchasing trip insurance at the time of the first booking made. Having insurance can save you money and inconvenience and maybe even save your trip.

Note: be sure to buy your insurance within 7 to 14 days of your initial trip purchase to be sure of getting the best possible protection against loss of at-risk payments. Otherwise, you may not be covered for cancellation due to pre-existing conditions. The cost of the premium varies with the insurance company used (they all differ in their costs and benefits), the number and ages of travelers, the trip duration, and the amount of money at-risk of loss in the event of trip cancellation.

The cost of the premium varies with the insurance company used (they all differ in their costs and benefits), the number and ages of travelers, the trip duration, and the amount of money at-risk of loss in the event of trip cancellation.

Don't forget that travel insurance is useful even if you are using frequent flyer tickets to travel to your destination. Sure, you don't have the high cost of non-refundable tickets to protect, but what about the high cost of getting emergency assistance if you become ill while on your trip? Without insurance you are on your own to pay for emergency medical evacuation, and that can be very, very expensive indeed! Or what happens if your luggage is stolen while you are traveling? Are you prepared to replace the contents and continue enjoying your trip? Travel insurance can help with that, too.

For more information, see What you should know about trip insurance.

When you are ready to book, contact me for a quote on travel insurance.

Some places you might want to avoid

London's Daily Telegraph has published a list of the top ten worst-rated holiday destinations. The list was compiled by Mercer Human Resource Consulting who does an annual Personal Safety Survey. Their survey rates some 215 cities around the world. Cities whose ranking might have been affected by war, terrorism or SARS have not been included. The Daily Telegraph used the list to come up with the worst cities that are considered holiday destinations. Kingston, Jamaica tops the list as the city with the most crimes against tourists followed by Rio de Janeiro. Cape Town came in third followed by Mexico City, St. Petersburg, Russia, Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Washington, Rome and Athens. Luxembourg was the safest city and the last place was taken by Gangui in the Central African Republic. (Source: ARTA, June 23, 2003)

If you are forewarned, you can avoid getting into potentially dangerous situations. Good sources of information are the travel warnings issued by the US government and the British government. It can be very enlightening to see the difference between the US and British government warnings; they often are not at all the same. For example, Britain's website may warn about dangers to traveler in the US! A lesson here: take warnings with a grain of salt and exercise common sense and good judgment. There may well be safe places to visit within generally unsafe areas, and vice-versa. Just be sure you know which is which before you go.

Trust your instincts

If a place feels unsafe, don't go there. For example, if a dark alley seems threatening, it could be your instinct for self-preservation warning you of an unseen danger. Go around the alley if possible or pass through it with extra vigilence and be prepared to run if the danger turns out to be real. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

Use common sense

Flight is better than fight, so dress so you can flee danger if necessary. Wearing shoes you can run in is good for more than just comfortable sightseeing. Good shoes can help you extricate yourself from a bad situation. Also, don't overload yourself with baggage; hauling a large load will slow you down as well as limit your travel options (e.g., do you really want to take the underground to your hotel in London if you are lugging so many heavy bags that you need a porter to help?).

Don't look like a victim. If you look like an easy mark, you invite the bad guys to try to take advantage of you. Standing on the sidewalk trying to figure out where you are on the map advertises that you are a helpless tourist. There are many kind souls who will see that as a sign to come to your rescue-- and you will meet nice people that way. But it also signals that you may have items on your person, such as credit cards, tickets, and your passport, which would be worth stealing. You don't want to look like a tourist because that makes you look like a victim.

Be aware of your surroundings. It will be harder for a pickpocket to creep up on you if you are watching what is going on around you and who might be lurking nearby.

Don't be distracted. A clever scheme of pickpockets is to divert your attention while an accomplice cuts open your purse, fannypack, or knapsack or picks your pockets. For example, a pickpocket to have a crying child get your attention while the child's mother or other children snatch your valuables. Don't fall for it. If you are approached by someone who is trying to get your interest, move away and don't let yourself be distracted from taking care of your belongings.

Don't allow strangers to approach you too closely. Pickpockets may look like a well-dressed businessman or other