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Take Steps to Safeguard Yourself Before Leaving on Vacation

Not all vacations will work out smoothly, but there are several things you can do that will increase the likelihood that they will. Make a list of things to do before you board that plane or ship and make sure you have everything squared away before leaving.

Things to Do Before Leaving on Vacation

Making sure you packed your tooth brush is only one of the many things you need to do before heading out on vacation. Passports, identification, and making sure you have US citizen travel insurance should also be on that list – especially if you’re heading out onto foreign soil. However, there are some things that are not tangible that need to be added as they will help you get the most out of your visit.

Search the Locale for Entertainment

A lot of people will head out on vacation with a primary goal in mind. For example, many will visit Germany to sample the beer or indulge in real Italian food in Rome. However, searching the Internet for museums, tours and other entertainment near where you’ll be staying, you might get more out of the experience. You may find shops and points of interest that you didn’t even knew existed.

Read Recent News of the Area

Recent news of any particular area can give you an idea of what to expect when you arrive. This is especially beneficial if you’re traveling to areas near war zones or political unrest. It can also be beneficial for finding local and cultural events that are taking place. Not every country shares the same holidays, and you might find that you’re visiting a location that is currently celebrating an event. You can immerse yourself within the populace and learn a great deal about the local customs from such a visit.

Look at Seven-Day Weather Forecasts

Weather can be detrimental to a wide range of vacation experiences. For instance, it might be hard to get safely onto a surf board in Australia if the rain fall is similar to a tsunami. Knowing what the weather patterns are like can prevent you from scheduling an itinerary that can be spoiled by Mother Nature. It’ll also help you to pack your suitcases according to what can be expected.

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How to Choose the Right Volunteer Program


Volunteering in another country can be a rewarding experience, as well as an excellent opportunity to connect with others who are passionate about the same causes you are. If you have always wanted to travel, it might be difficult to decide which country you should visit.

Identifying Which Volunteer Program is Best for You

If you are a passionate person who has a heart for helping others, it can be difficult to pinpoint which organization is best to work with or which country would be the best to volunteer in. Even if you are the responsible type who has already scheduled your shots, updated your passport and checked on long term travel insurance options, you must identify which goals are most important before you can sign up for the right program. Try to define what you are most interested in, whether it is helping people recover from a disaster or spending time with kids who live in an orphanage.

Finding Placement

Once you have decided which country you would like to volunteer in, finding placement can be a challenge without getting outside help. There are plenty of reputable organizations that can assist you in the process from beginning to end. A good way to separate reliable organizations from ones that might not be trustworthy is to examine how many staff members they have, whether they have agents in place in the other country and how well their activities are managed.

Discuss the Important Details

Once you have found a great organization to volunteer with, get as specific as possible and discuss important details with them. You can ask them how they handle emergency situations, if they will provide you with a list of contacts in the other country and how many years they have been in operation. One of the most important things to inquire about is how your family can contact you while you’re away.

Preparing to Leave

In addition to your travel papers and visa, there are other things to remember to take care of before you leave. Cancel or forward your mail to a friend’s house and alert your bank about the fact that you will be out of the country for an extended period of time. Many organizations offer support that can aid in this process as well.

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Traveling Internationally for the First Time


Traveling internationally can be incredibly exciting, especially if it is the first time you are leaving the country. Here are some ways you can be better prepared for your journey.

The First Steps to Traveling Internationally

While planning to travel overseas for the first time can feel exciting, your lack of experience could cause you to feel anxious and unprepared. However, planning ahead can help to ease your mind and make the process feel like it is running more efficiently. If you have not already filed for your passport, this is the first step you need to take. Search for the Passport Acceptance Facility closest to you and bring your original birth certificate and a photo ID with you when you visit. Getting your passport in the mail could take anywhere from four to six weeks, but your passport will last for ten years. It is also a good idea to purchase international travel insurance so that you and your belongings are safe while you are overseas.

Determine If You Need to File for a Visa

This can be a complicated process because countries often change the rules about whether a visa is required or not. Research what rules are in place in the country you plan on visiting, and if you do need to purchase a visa, allow yourself plenty of time to complete the process.

Traveling on a Budget

While it might be more ideal to stay in a hotel while you’re away, a cheaper alternative is to stay in hostels or search for an organized campsite group. If you decide that camping is the best solution, remember to account for rainy weather. Another thing to research ahead of time is what the currency exchange rates are in the country you plan on visiting. While it is not a good idea to carry a large amount of cash with you everywhere you go, it is also not a great situation to have to keep paying fees each time you want to buy a cup of coffee either.

Plan for the Unexpected

If you knew every aspect of your trip beforehand, your journey would be boring. One of the best aspects of traveling to another country is not knowing what to expect. Some of the best memories are made when an unforeseen event happens, so embrace the unexpected with open arms.

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Understanding the Basics of Travel Insurance


Different travel insurance policies cover different things, depending on the type you purchase. Here are some typical things a policy might cover to help you make a better informed decision.

Understanding the Basics of Travel Insurance

When you are searching for travel insurance for American citizens, it might be difficult to understand exactly how the policy will protect you and your family during your vacation. This is because different policies might cover completely different things. If an emergency situation arises and you have not purchased the right one, it can be a devastating experience. Here are some tips to help you better understand the basics of international travel insurance so you can have complete peace of mind during your stay overseas.

Typical Situations That Can be Covered

Depending on which policy you are looking into, there are typical things that might be covered, such as: accidents, serious injuries, theft of possessions, illness and emergency evacuation situations. However, other things might be covered that address the actual act of traveling, including lost luggage, flight cancellations, missed flights and canceled guided tours. The amount you are protected will be determined by the policy you purchase.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Policy

Evaluating a few key things before you decide which policy is best for you is important. If your overall health is in poor quality, it might be a good idea to include coverage for medical situations that might arise. If you are including valuable items in your luggage, purchasing a policy that covers lost luggage and theft might be a wise choice. Purchasing the right insurance for your needs can be determined by assessing how many risks you are willing to take, as well as which areas would prevent you from enjoying your trip if you weren’t covered.

Include Others in Your Decision

If you are not traveling alone, it is important to factor in others when making your decision, especially if you are traveling with your children or other family members. While purchasing an extensive policy might not seem like such a big deal before your trip, if an emergency situation does arise, you will most likely be glad that you made sure you and your family were covered before you left.

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Tips for Staying Healthy While Taking a Vacation on a Cruise Ship

Contagious illnesses often spread among passengers on cruise ships. These tips will help you to stay healthy so that you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest extent possible.

Three Tips for Staying Healthy While Taking a Cruise

Many people enjoy the convenience, comfort and ambiance that a cruise ship vacation entails. From the on-site entertainment and activities to the spectacular views and endless dining options, you may be naturally drawn to taking a cruise for your next vacation. Before setting off on your trip, you’ll want to arrange for US citizen travel insurance and take a few other precautions to reduce your chances of getting sick while away from home.

Get Vaccinated

Many contagious illnesses that spread through cruise ships can be avoided by getting vaccinated before you leave home. Your physician, health department or a travel health clinic can determine which shots you need based upon your health history and the risk factors associated with your destination. Some common travel vaccinations include hepatitis A and yellow fever.

Taking Preventive Medications

If your cruise includes stops at certain destinations, you may want to get a prescription for preventive medications. Many of these medications need to be started in advance of your travels. Anti-malarial drugs may be needed if you’re visiting destinations in South America or Africa, while anti-parasitic medications may be needed for tropical ports of call. Your doctor can help you make an informed decision about whether or not you need these medications.

Hand Washing

Careful hand washing is the single most important action for you to take while aboard the ship. Wash your hands for 30 seconds in warm water with soap before and after eating, after using the bathroom and after returning to your state room when you have visited a public area of the ship, such as a game room or a lounge chair on the decks. In places such as the ship’s casinos or theaters, you may want to bring along a travel sized bottle of hand sanitizer, which can be used to kill germs on your skin when it isn’t convenient to go to the restroom to wash.

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Helpful Tips for Long-Term Travel

Traveling overseas for an extended period of time can be a rewarding experience as long as your health and finances are in order before you leave.

Long-Term Travel Trips for Those Headed Overseas

If your dream has always included living overseas, you have most likely researched ways you can fund your journey, such as teaching English or volunteering. No matter which country interests you the most, your trip can be as stress-free as possible, as long as you remember to take care of some important things before you leave.

Get Your Finances in Order

Protecting your finances is the most important aspect of your trip. You should look into purchasing long term travel insurance, developing a banking strategy and apply for an international debit and credit card. Search for cards that feature cash back rewards, do not charge for currency conversion and do not charge ATM fees.

Take Care of Your Health

If the country you are visiting requires immunizations, keep in mind that the process may take anywhere from one to six months. Some shots must be given days or even months apart from others, so plan accordingly. A great online resource is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which regularly updates the immunization requirements for different countries. Depending on which shots you will need, you may also want to allow yourself a recovery period in case you experience any side effects. You might want to schedule dental and vision exams as well because it might be more difficult to take care of overseas.

Other Considerations

You should back up any important documents and either hire a service to securely store them, or leave them with close family or friends. Make copies of your credit cards, passport and immunization records, in case yours are lost or stolen during your trip. If you choose to use a service to maintain your documents, you can usually assign a beneficiary who will be able to access your files in case of an emergency. Don’t forget to forward your mail as well, and contact any financial organizations and ask them to switch you to electronic billing if preferred. Let your loved ones know how you will keep in touch with them, whether it is through email, Skype or Facetime. This will allow them to install any related apps and obtain your identification before you leave.

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What Travel Coverage Do You Need For An International Trip?

With so many types of travel insurance plans available, you might be struggling to determine which one will best fit your needs for traveling abroad. With these descriptions of the most beneficial types of international travel coverage, you can get a better idea of what you need.

Types of Travel Insurance Available When Going Abroad

While you plan for your next international trip to go smoothly and without a hitch, there’s always a chance that it won’t go as planned. Without international travel insurance, you could end up stranded in a foreign country because one leg of your trip was canceled or because there was some kind of catastrophe. You may even end up without your belongings or incur steep medical expenses if you don’t have the proper coverage. Having a travel insurance plan that covers all of these risks can save you stress and money.

Trip Cancellations

The biggest concern with a majority of travelers is that their trips or part of their travel could be canceled. When you prepay for a trip, you risk losing that money, becoming stranded or both if something bad happens. Travel insurance for trip cancellations reimburses the prepaid costs. The coverage typically applies when you are sick or injured, called for jury duty or have to work during your travel period. It is also usually applied if your travel supplier enters bankruptcy, a terrorist incident occurs in your destination, a hurricane results in flight cancellations or damage to your destination, and many other situations that are out of your control.

Medical Costs and Emergency Evacuations

While health insurance covers individuals for medical emergencies in the United States, this coverage isn’t extended abroad. Since there’s no way to ensure that an accident or emergency won’t arise, medical expense travel insurance covers the cost of any dental and medical care that you need while traveling in foreign countries or on foreign cruise ships. If an accident becomes serious enough for you to need emergency evacuation, such coverage is also available and pays for the cost of medically equipped airlifts to a hospital or home.

Lost Bags and Delayed Flights

Although not as big of a concern as travel cancellations and medical needs, there is a small risk that your bags become lost or that your flights are delayed. Coverage for lost bags will reimburse you for personal belongings if your luggage is damaged, lost or stolen. If there are flight delays that mean you have to pay for an extra hotel night or meals, travel delay coverage will typically reimburse you for these additional costs.

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Adjusting to Normal Life after Taking a Life-Changing Vacation

You may have had a checklist of things to do before you took your vacation, but here is a checklist of how to get back to your normal routine afterwards.

Getting over the Vacation Blues

If you are a planner, before you took your two week international vacation you most likely had a pre-made checklist of items to remember, ordered travel insurance for American citizens, lined up the perfect house-sitter and researched for the best deals before booking a hotel. Taking your dream vacation can be one of the most exciting experience of a lifetime, but you most likely did not plan for how to adapt to the drag of coming back home and settling back in to your everyday routine. Here are some simple tips that might help you replace your vacation checklist with a getting-back-to-life one.

Before You Return

Jet lag can be awful, especially if you have never recovered from it before. Use that last day overseas to take in the views, close your eyes and relax. If possible, enjoy some alone time. You can go to the countryside or the beach and listen to the sounds of nature. Try to get plenty of sleep that last night as well; chances are that you will find it difficult to sleep the entire plane ride home.

Find Unique Ways to Stay Connected

If you took a trip to Italy, play some Italian music or go out for an Italian dinner. Host an Italian-themed party for your friends, complete with the appropriate décor and ambience, and show them pictures from all the places you visited. Keep the memory alive by recreating the most memorable events from your trip throughout the year, then begin to proactively dream about where you might go next!

Prioritize Your Tasks

If you have been out of the country for a week or two, your email and texts will most likely be backed up. Prioritize, and only respond to the most important ones, and let all the others know you will contact them as soon as you can. Find ways of keeping yourself from being overwhelmed, and only focus on the things you can get done in a single day. If it’s possible, delegate any tasks you need additional help with. Take a deep breath, and realize that it will only take a little bit of time to adjust to normal life.

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How to Choose the Best Retirement Volunteering Program

Volunteering is a great way to explore the world and make an impact during retirement. Choosing the best volunteer program can be challenging.

Volunteering in Your Sunset Years

Volunteer programs for seniors are a great way to experience foreign countries and lend a helping hand to international aid groups.

Finding the Right Volunteer Opportunity

It’s easy to find causes that would value your help overseas. Many online resources help place prospective volunteers with organizations, but thinking about the best fit for you ahead of time will help you choose an exciting, rewarding experience.

How long do you want to spend abroad? Where do you want to go? What kind of professional experience or talents do you have that might be especially useful to a volunteer organization? Are you comfortable working with volunteers of all ages? Can you work with volunteers with different religious, political and philosophical backgrounds from your own? Considering these questions ahead of time will help you get the most enjoyment out of your volunteer experience.

Popular volunteer organizations include the Peace Corps, United Nations Volunteers and World Teach. Each offers a variety of programs and locations.

Preparing for Your Trip

You should know before you travel what expenses already covered by the organization or your volunteer fee. Some may arrange your transportation, provide housing in the country to which you’re traveling, or even offer a daily or monthly stipend. Other organizations require that you arrange your own travel and housing. Make sure you have adequate access to money for your expenses while you’re overseas, and you should make sure that your long term travel insurance will cover anything that happens on your trip.

If you want time to yourself for sightseeing, you may have to spend some extra time planning. Some volunteer programs have free time in their schedules for enjoying the locale, but others have schedules that are more demanding.

Quite a lot goes into choosing the best volunteer program. Make preparations ahead of time, and your trip is sure to go smoothly.

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Medical Care and Travel Health Insurance for Visitors to Australia

Travel Insurance for Worry-Free Australia Visits

Australia’s health insurance system provides basic medical care and emergency hospital treatment for those who belong to the national health insurance system called Medicare. Travelers get similar treatment if from one of the 11 countries with Reciprocal Healthcare agreements with Australia, which include New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland and Finland.

The basic system is subsidized costs; members pay a fee but receive reimbursement for much of the costs of consultation, hospital care and prescriptions. However, for nationals and other visitors from these and any other country, international travel insurance is one of the best investments overseas travelers can make.

Peace of Mind

Accidents, illness and injuries can occur at home or abroad. Insurance provides some peace of mind that if some unfortunate occurrence arises, one can easily arrange medical care. Australia provides coverage for foreign nationals under agreements with eleven countries, but the United States is not one of them. Private U.S. health carriers provide coverage, but there may be complicated procedures for using them. Peace of mind comes with knowing that coverage is in place for the places that one will travel in Australia and elsewhere.

Preparing for the Unexpected

World news and events remind us that unexpected events occur. Insurance coverage is broad and customizable. Australia is an advanced nation with generous provisions for reciprocal care for foreign nationals covered by agreements. For other nationals, they must provide insurance or accept the care that comes under emergency conditions. For visitors who can afford the costs, travel insurance is a step everyone should take; it is prudent and practical, like taking some extra cash as traveler’s checks.

Travelers Must Confirm Coverage

While it is low-cost and quite well regarded, health insurance is not free in Australia. Visitors are likely not covered unless by agreement between Australia and their home countries. If covered, users get rebates for much of the costs of medical care. Healthcare is widely available for emergency and other consultations, and a well-designed or customized travel insurance policy would provide significant benefits and the satisfaction of more worry-free travel.