Thursday, October 22, 2020

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Is Travel Insurance Really An Essential?

Any holiday website, hotel reservations website or travel agent will be quick to tell you that travel insurance is an essential for any trip either abroad or in the same country. This ‘advice’ usually accompanies a hard sell for their in-house insurance, which many people purchase without even thinking about it.

However, those stuck in Europe following the Iceland volcanic eruption that closed European airspace for six days, discovered to their cost that travel insurance is not always what it’s made out to be. Many discovered that even with insurance, not all of their costs were covered, begging the question: is travel insurance really essential?

Firstly, in the vast majority of cases, any travel insurance that is bought through a travel agent or when booking a holiday is likely to be overpriced. While the cover may be good, these companies capitalize on your spur of the moment decision, and the premiums can be double what the same cover with an independent company may be. So if you do decide to purchase travel insurance, make sure you shop around.

When doing so, read the small print. This really cannot be stressed enough. Think of the various situations in which you might need to make a claim on your insurance; lost property, cancellation of flights, or even more extreme situations like airspace being closed. Find out exactly how covered you are, and if there is a time limit you are covered for should you need emergency accommodation.

Then, do your sums. You may find it would be cheaper, when you factor in excess, just to set money aside to use in case of emergency rather than buying travel insurance. Only when you know the insurance would save you money in the event of a problem should you purchase it.

The Pick Pocketing Problem

Pick pocketing is one of the biggest crimes for tourists to suffer. The reasons for this are simple; tourists are more likely than regular citizens to be carrying their valuable belongings with them, making them a prime target for pick pocketers.

The risk of pick pocketing is higher if you are in a big city, and particularly a crowded area. Also be wary when visiting a foreign market; while the cultural thrill is immense, these markets are also prime locations for pick pocketers to target.

To minimize the risk of being pick pocketed – and to make it less damaging if it does happen – follow the steps below:

- Distribute your money.

Do not carry cash and credit cards in one single wallet when out and about on holiday. Distribute cash and cards in different areas, pockets, bags and preferably among different people in your group. That way, if a thief does get their hands on something of yours, you’ve not lost everything.

- Don’t want a fanny pack / bum bag.

Fanny packs (also known as bum bags) make you a target. You’re essentially strapping something around your waist that says: here is where I’m keeping my valuable items! Instead, use a money belt which can be hidden beneath clothes if you don’t want to actively be carrying a bag in your hands. If you must wear a fanny pack, only store items you can afford to lose in it.

- Don’t display items.

Thieves can often see the outline of what it is someone’s pocket – this is particularly true for wallets. Don’t store items in your back pockets wherever possible, and if you do need to, push them tightly inside so they can’t be removed easily.

Tourism and Crime: An Unavoidable Link

No matter what country in the world you visit, there is a perennial problem when visiting big cities. Any city that is synonymous with tourism also has another unfortunate association; a criminal association. As cities are prime preying ground for the less scrupulous of society, tourists are among the most likely people to be a victim of crime – and particularly, theft.

The problem is not specific to any one country, nor any one city. It is just, unfortunately, something that goes with the territory. Tourists are a target for criminals because tourists are out of their comfort zone; away from their home, perhaps not aware of the way things are done in a different country, and – most importantly – more likely than regular citizens to be carrying their valuables with them.

Tourists are a target for theft based crimes; theft of both property – such as wallets, money and jewelery – and also identity theft, such as passports being stolen. The statistics more than double when you look at the plight of tourists in big cities such as London, New York and Paris. Thieves rely on tourists to be disorientated and unfamiliar with their whereabouts, and the crowded locations make pick-pocketing an easy day’s work for many a criminal.

While you should not let the possibility of crime ruin your holiday, so allow it to take part in your holiday preparations. Try and book hotels that are well-recommended on travel review websites, and preferably that have safes in each room. Consider a money belt to conceal cash and credit cards while out, and wherever possibly, don’t take your passport out in to a city you are visiting.