Vacations are the perfect antidote to the stress of modern living. Isn’t it wonderful not to live by the alarm clock? For many of us, planning a trip is as much fun as going on it. But don’t just focus on the joy of choosing destinations, hotels and activities. There are some fundamental issues you must take care of before you take off.
A true vacation means not having to worry about what you’re taking with you and what you’re leaving behind.
To begin with, ensure that all you hold dear stays just how it should be when you’re on the move. An unwatched home is a magnet for burglars and vandals. It is also more vulnerable to fire-, water- and electricity-related hazards.
If you’re a technophile with money to spare, consider investing in home security systems. Internet of Things (IoT) has made it easy to build a ‘smart home’ that allows locks, alarms, lights, appliances and gadgets to be controlled remotely using a smartphone and an app. Depending on your comfort, you can either go for customizable systems that you can install independently or seek professional help.
Some countries also have paid services where an agency monitors your home round the clock and contacts the police or fire department if something goes wrong.
If possible, notify family members, neighbors and friends of your absence and ask them if they could keep a watch. Find another friend-in-need in household insurance. The last thing you want is to come back to a damaged home and spend a fortune rebuilding the house and restoring your possessions.
Whether you’re planning to chill on a pristine beach or dreaming of taming the giant white waves on your holiday, ‘safety first’ should be your all-time mantra. Foreign surroundings can bring unexpected problems.
Falling ill in a place where you are unfamiliar with the healthcare system could easily turn your holiday into a nightmare. Check with your doctor if you need vaccinations or preventive shots and renew any prescriptions. Before packing your regular medication, do check if all the medicines you are carrying along are legal in your destination country. If they are not, consult your doctor for solutions.
Health insurance policy should be one of the first things you pack. Check with your insurance provider if your existing cover applies when you travel. If it doesn’t, you might need additional cover.
“Emergency medical care and evacuations in an air ambulance can cost tens of thousands of dollars. If our customer becomes ill or injured, we manage their medical care, arrange their evacuation and guarantee payments, so they don’t have to pay out of their pocket,” says Joe Mason, Chief Marketing Officer at Allianz Worldwide Partners USA.
“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
This is true of vacations too. Even after extensive planning, things could go spectacularly wrong. Expecting the unexpected may not do much to save your holiday but it can ease the pain that usually follows a mishap.
Scan your travel documents (passport, visa, insurance papers), bookings and even your credit cards and save the copies in a digital format - preferably in your email. Should these be stolen or lost, you have immediate access to the details for remedial measures. Also carry printed copies of your travel documents and store them in different bags as proof.
You must also carry the contact details of the local embassy of your country. Should you need assistance, the details will be at hand. Last but not least, consider buying travel insurance. From cancelled flights to stolen baggage to accidents, travel insurance covers a range of incidents that can mar your holiday. Travel insurance can protect you from any associated costs. Then all you have to recover from, is the bad memories of a mishap.
“Travel insurance is an affordable way to protect your travel investment,” says Mason of Allianz Worldwide Partners USA. “If a customer has to cancel a trip for a reason covered by their policy, they know their money is not lost. We also provide 24/7 travel assistance, which can help with finding a doctor or a pharmacy, replacing a passport or any other travel-related issue.”
Staying secure, safe and prepared means staying carefree.
This article is first in a series of travel-focused stories we will publish over the next few weeks to celebrate the vacation season
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