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Archive for June, 2008

Travel delay fears at Spanish airports

Monday, June 30th, 2008

You would have thought that winning the European Football Championships that it would all be goodness and light when it came to Spain this summer.  However, not even this can ease possible delays at Spanish airports in July.  Spanish police are now threatening to bring airports and border crossings to a standstill by working strictly to rule in a protest over pay.  The Policia Nacional are responsible for immigration checks at all Spanish airports, except those in Catalonia.  Though they’re banned from striking, the disgruntled officers say they’ll cause huge delays by scrupulously checking the details of all persons entering or leaving the country and cross-referencing visitors’ passport details with international databases.  The protests are due to take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout July.  If you are returning from Spain in July, then do get to your airport early enough to check in.  If you miss your flight because of industrial action, then do try and get written confirmation from the airport or airline to substantiate the reason for the disruption in case a travel insurance claim is necessary.  Likewise, if your airline delays flights because of this ‘work to rule’ then do keep receipts of any expenses you are forced to make as a result of the delay and approach your airline for compensation for meals, refreshments and accommodation.  If your flight is cancelled, ask your airline for a refund or an alternative flight.  Missed departure and travel delay are key components of most travel insurance policies but do shop around before buying and do check the terms and conditions to ensure there are no exclusions that could affect you. Travel insurance is there to assist when it goes wrong so it makes sense to have some cover in place whenever you travel.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

WISE travel advice

Friday, June 27th, 2008

As I waved my postgraduate daughter off, yes postgraduate as you never stop worrying, on yet another extended trip abroad with the wise words of stay safe, she became just another statistic in the number of single women going abroad on holiday on their own.  Apparently, according to recent figures 19 percent prefer to travel by themselves and 14 percent say they would rather go on holiday alone.  Labelled as WISE or ‘Women who Insist on Single Experiences’, this is a growing trend and has spurred the Foreign Office to publish advice on their website for women travellers and, although the tips are aimed at ensuring a hassle free and safe trip abroad, many are just common sense suggestions that equally apply to travelling in the UK.  Such as, when checking into hotels, use only a first initial.  Don’t use a title such as Ms, Mrs or Miss.  Never leave a key where someone can note your room number.  Don’t leave your window open if your room is on the ground floor and use a door wedge on the inside of your hotel room door for extra security.  Be careful about opening your door to anyone and, if in doubt, check with reception.  When travelling around, the key is to act confidently.  Wearing dark glasses can boost confidence and think about how your clothing will fit in with local customs and attitudes.  If travelling alone, you may attract unwelcome attention and you may receive unwanted propositions or remarks.  It is best just to ignore them.  Never accept car rides from strangers or hitchhike and if possible try and double up with someone you know when travelling by taxi.  Always pack your own baggage and never leave it unattended.  Never carry packages or anything else through customs for other people.  Try and stay in touch.  Keep your family and friends aware of your plans and leave a copy of your itinerary, passport, travel insurance documents and credit cards with someone at home.  It is worthwhile taking a copy of these with you when travelling and keep separate from the originals.  Once abroad, e-mail or telephone home regularly.  Carry a list of British Consular offices in the countries you plan to visit.  Don’t forget to check out the latest travel advice from the FCO before you go and find out about the culture and customs of the countries you will be visiting.  And why not take a look at the travel advice section on the www.travelandinsure.com website which contains easy to read advice on the support you can expect from embassies and consulates worldwide should you get into difficulty.

Going to the Olympics – Travel advice

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

The Foreign Office has issued advice to travellers intending to go to China this Summer for the Beijing Olympic Games which begin on 8th August 2008 and run until August 24th.  The Beijing Paralympic games will also take place between 6th and 17th September.  Timely reminders include to make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months when you enter China and you will also need to obtain a visa in advance from the Chinese Embassy in London.  If you’re travelling from mainland China to Hong Kong you will need a double or multiple entry visa to get back onto the mainland.  Tickets for Olympic events should only be bought from official suppliers.  The only supplier in the UK is Sportsworld.  They also recommend that you have proof of your accommodation before you travel and you shouldn’t arrive in China without a hotel reservation or other confirmed accommodation.  Do remember most hotels in Olympics cities have been booked up months in advance.  Once in China, carry your passport with you at all times as police may carry out random checks and do leave copies of your passport and other important documents at the hotel and take another copy with you.  Avoid public demonstrations and do not distribute political literature – you may be arrested if you do so without permission from the Chinese authorities.  Public displays of drunkenness are generally unacceptable and are likely to cause offence.  Taxis are plentiful and generally safe but avoid taxis which try to negotiate a price before your journey – all taxis are fitted with meters.  A Taxi Book is available from most bookshops and you can use it to show your driver where you want to go.  The underground is also a cheap and safe way to get around and you need to buy a ticket from the kiosk before getting on a train.  Most taxis and private cars won’t be allowed near the main Olympic areas, so it’s best to use public transport when travelling to events.  For those intending travelling to Beijing this Summer, it is well worth checking the FCO’s website for up to date travel advice before you go and whilst you are there.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Check travel cover before taking the plunge

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Fancy a bit of snorkeling on your summer holiday?  Why not, the water’s clear so jump right in but what if you want to stay under for longer, well you could always try out some scuba diving.  It’s all the rage and more and more destinations are offering free sessions with the aim to get you to sign up for a course while on holiday.  That’s all well and good but how many of us, when faced with the one off opportunity, whether it’s an early morning  pony trek, a chance to shoot some rapids or perhaps try your hand at parascending, consider what happens if it goes wrong?  Not that it should but perhaps it’s because we are feeling relaxed and taken in by the smooth patter of the ‘Holiday Rep’ and sign up for the night time ‘toboggan run’ or once in a life time ‘bungee jump’ then the chances are that last on the list of considerations is “does my travel insurance cover this?”  Most travel insurance policies will have a list of sports and hazardous activities that are included as standard and even offer, with the payment of an additional premium, cover for activities at the more extreme end of the sporting spectrum. But it does pay to look closely at the small print in your policy as this is an area where buying cheap travel insurance will almost certainly have restrictive cover when it comes to sports and other activities. Having an accident can be very costly and your travel insurance will definitely not cover you if the activity you have chosen to do is not on the approved list.  We are all for spur of the moment decisions, after all that’s what makes holidays memorable but it always pays to be wise before, and not after the event, as your travel insurance policy is there to pick up the pieces if it all goes wrong.

Britons choose cost over the environment

Friday, June 20th, 2008

The surprise report this week is that the vast majority of British people do not care enough about the environment to make it their top priority when booking a holiday.  Higher up the list comes cost.   According to the independent research organisation, YouGov, just one in 100 people said their carbon footprint was the most important factor when buying a trip and for 13% of travellers, the environmental impact of a holiday was the least important consideration.  Well, is it really that surprising?  Whilst most of us are well intentioned, not many would put these considerations at the top of their list.  Price is a much more dominant factor and, although many people do not mind paying a  little bit more for a good cause, they do ask questions or vote with their feet, that is, walk away, if what they are paying for does not represent good value for money.  Nowhere is this more evident than shopping on the internet, and this includes, more and more, the booking of flights and holidays, where the main driver is to get the best deal, first and foremost.  The hidden benefits of carbon offsetting, fair trade, organic, helping the third world etc, will often be overlooked if the price is not, at least in the right ball park.  If the price is right, then the feel good factor of buying what you are looking for and protecting the environment or helping people in need will certainly kick in and why not as, after all, we all like to do our bit.  That’s why we at travelandinsure.com try to provide what our customers want, a competitively priced travel insurance policy that also makes a difference.

Family travel insurance – what to look for

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

All insurers will offer inexpensive travel insurance cover for families and this includes single parent families.  Obviously, when choosing the right policy, it pays to read the small print, but the normal deal is that children are covered free within the policy and the adults pay the normal rate that applies for couples, or a percentage of this price for lone parents.  That must be good news and anything that helps to reduce the overall cost of trips abroad is a real bonus when everything else is generally charged on a per person basis.  But before you buy, do check what is covered within the travel insurance policy and what may have to be included as an extra.  For example, how many children are counted as free? Many insurers cap this at 4 kids but there are providers who extend this to 6 or even an unlimited number, which is great news for the old woman who lived in a shoe, but then again she probably couldn’t afford to go on holiday in the first place!  Do also check the family definition to make sure it includes foster children and legal guardian within this.  Generally, family travel insurance cover includes children up to the age of 18 years, but again some providers offer cover up to 21 years or even 23 years if they are in full time education so this can be a great saving though, by the time they have reached these ages, not many want to go on family holidays together with their parents but it is a good option to have all the same.  Look out for annual travel insurance policies that permits kids to travel independently of their parents for just a small additional premium.  This is good option to consider when the children are of secondary school age and above because this provides cover for school ski trips, cultural visits abroad and summer expeditions which crop up within school and university life.  The alternative is to pay out for insurance for these trips separately but this will invariably be more expensive than adding this to a family travel insurance policy. But do remember, your travel insurance cover is only as good as the policy you purchase and the cheaper the policy, the greater the restrictions there will be in place.  So don’t assume that you have the right cover by ticking the travel insurance box when you book your flight or holiday.  It always pays to check the small print to make sure that your family is properly insured.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Heightened security fears for travel to the UAE

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

British expatriates and tourists in the United Arab Emirates have been warned to exercise caution after the Foreign Office raised the risk of terrorism to its highest level. It said attacks on the UAE, which includes the popular shopping destination of Dubai and the wealthy capital of Abu Dhabi, could happen at any time and would be “indiscriminate” in their target. The terror threat has been increased to high, which means a “high level of known terrorist activity.” A statement on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website said that “there is a high threat from terrorism. We believe terrorists may be planning to carry out attacks in the UAE. Attacks could be indiscriminate and could happen at any time, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers, such as residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests.” More than a million British visitors travel to the UAE every year and as many as 120,000 British nationals live and work in the country, where they can earn relatively high wages. The FCO says most visits to the Muslim country are trouble-free and incidents of street crime are rare but they do strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. This is where a good travel insurance policy comes into play because when it all starts to go wrong on holiday, you need to have something to fall back on to get you out of trouble. But please be aware that most travel insurance providers will have general exclusion clauses when it comes to civil unrest, disturbances, terrorist acts and war so it does pay to check your policy wording. Generally, medical expenses and medical repatriation will be included within your travel insurance policy but if you want to be covered for all eventualities then you will have to pay an increased premium for this.   This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Travel delay could spoil your day

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Almost half of all flights at Heathrow in the first three months of 2008 were delayed, according to the latest statistics released by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).  Passengers passing through Heathrow experienced on average a delay of 25 minutes. The period includes the disastrous opening of the new Terminal 5 at the end of March.  Moreover, these  figures do not take account of cancellations so the picture is, in fact, worse than stated.  For instance, British Airways cancelled large numbers of short-haul flights from the airport on 27 March and in the days that followed in a bid to reduce delays.  Overall,the delays are the worst at the airport in recent memory.  Even in September 2001, when many flights were delayed because of the World Trade Centre attacks, 64.7% of flights from the airport were on time as opposed to 56% in 2008.  The CAA figures also show that Stansted is the UK airport where you are least likely to be delayed – 80% of flights from there leave on time and the average delay is just 11 minutes. If you suffer delay to your flight once you get to the airport, then do get written confirmation from your airline as to the reasons for and the length of the delay in case a travel insurance claim is necessary.  Do keep receipts of any expenses you are forced to make as a result of a delay and approach your airline for compensation for meals, refreshments and accommodation.  If your flight is cancelled, ask your airline for a refund or an alternative flight.  Lost baggage and travel delay are key components of most travel insurance policies but do shop around before buying and do check the terms and conditions to ensure there are no exclusions that could affect you.  Travel insurance is there to assist when it goes wrong so it makes sense to have some cover in place whenever you travel.

No Passport, No Travel

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

A passport is your most important travel document.  With it, the world is ready to welcome you.  Without it, you won’t even get on a plane out of the country.  So says the FCO and they are the experts after all.  Everyone needs a full, ten-year passport to travel abroad.  Leave as much time as you can between applying for a passport and when you need to use it – the time taken to issue one can vary and there’s a bit of paperwork to organise.  In the UK, you can get advice from the UK Passport Service website or call them on 0870 521 0410 (lines are open 24 hours a day).   Check your passport well in advance of any trip you’re planning to take.  Quite a few countries will require that your passport is valid for at least six months before they let you in.  If you need to replace your passport when on the road, contact the nearest British Consulate in the country you are visiting.  Do also check visa requirements with your travel agent or contact the Consulate or Embassy in the UK of the country you plan to visit, well in advance of your trip.  The bottom line is that your passport is a valuable item so it pays to treat it as such and, when abroad, keep it in the hotel safe and carry a photocopy with you.  If you do lose it, do remember that most travel insurance policies will cover the cost of a new passport and even pay for travel and accommodation costs if you need to get an emergency replacement from the nearest consulate, so don’t leave home without it, and your passport too!

Travel insurance pays for water pumps

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Buying ethical travel insurance adds a different dimension.  As we like to put it, you can be in two places at the same time.  In the knowledge that you are covered whilst on your trip, we can also help in other parts of the globe.  Take Uganda, for example.  Travel and Insure have recently committed funds from the sale of its travel insurance policies to support the rolling out of water filtration units there  as part of a larger charity led programme to extend the provision of these units into other countries in Africa, the Indian Sub Continent and South America.  Just £30 buys a unit which will filter contaminated water into clean, germ free drinking water. In a 24 hour period, one unit can filter up to 60 litres which is more than enough water for an average family.  One recent independent study of the ceramic filters in Zimbabwe and rural South Africa showed reduction in dysentery and diarrhoea of more than 80%, concluding that these filters are “an effective point-of-use intervention for reducing E-Coli and diarrhoea in African households.”  Added to the tremendous health benefits that come from drinking clean water, the social benefits can also be profound, leading to children spending more time in school and adults spending more time at work.  Absenteeism, due to sickness in the African school in which clean water kits were installed, immediately dropped from more than 45% to less than 5%.  Not a bad result from buying an ethical travel insurance policy.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.  You can read more about the aid programmes supported by Travel and Insure by logging onto our dedicated aid projects page.