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Friday was VEMEX day in Toronto, a highlight on every Euro-loving travel writer’s calendar. It’s a media marketplace where writers meet up with tourism boards, PR reps and various Euro-centric companies to find out what’s new, what’s cool, and to help plan future trips. It was held at the swish Fairmont Royal York which always adds a bit of old-world panache – this is good, because I can always use extra panache.
Some unexpected highlights were, well, seeing my friends. Okay, so that was expected. Unexpected was an enjoyable meeting with Mondial Assistance- a travel insurance company. Really, I didn’t think this appointment would be as exciting as meeting with, say, Spain, but I learned something. I learned that the travel insurance I buy through my Mastercard is Mondial. I really had no idea. I wanted to ask Daniel Durazo, the rep, all kinds of questions about what I exactly was covered for, but, because I have no clue what package I’ve bought (not recommended – apparently you should actually know what you’re buying) he couldn’t give me details. But he did give me a handout with some travel insurance tips for bloggers, which I’m including below:
1) The farther you are from civilization, the more important it is that you have a support system in place if something goes wrong.
Presumably we’re talking about civilization as being defined as “cities or populated areas in general, as opposed to unpopulated or wilderness areas” and not the definition of civilization which is: “any type of culture, society, etc., of a specific place, time, or group: Greek civilization” because that just wouldn’t make any sense.
2) Get Medical Assistance Beforehand. The moment you’re injured isn’t the time to wonder where to find the best medical care. That’s when assistance services kick in – directing or transporting you to appropriate medical care.
Well, duh. Of course you should get travel insurance before you set off, but it’s so tempting not to, isn’t it? Especially when you’re on a backpacking budget. However, I know a girl that was hiking in a remote part of the Philippines and fell and broke her leg and had to get helicoptered out. And she was really glad she’d got insurance. I also know a girl who was on a 3-day hiking trip with her Tai Kwon Do group (which I was a member of, for like 3 weeks in Korea until I didn’t want to get up early for lessons anymore) and she fell hiking and broke her leg. And I don’t know if she had insurance or not but she told me later that she was glad she’d broken her leg because then she could stop hiking – it was a very grueling trip.
3) Lost Document Assistance. There are many way to lose your passport and other important documents but far less ways to get them back. (I hate to be a critic but shouldn’t that be fewer instead of less? Just saying.) Mondial offers travel assistance 24 hours a day and can assist in expediting your replacement docs.
This is kind of sounding like an advertisement now, and I’m sorry – I’m just reading through this blogger-reader-tip-sheet Daniel gave me – but I would add that you should make photocopies of your passport, just the info page – and keep one in your suitcase and leave one at home. And now I should confess that I don’t actually travel with an extra copy, though I keep meaning to, but I do keep a photocopy at home.
4) Translation Assistance. Through translation assistance services you can get help arranging travel or completing important documents.
I didn’t know that travel insurance could do that. When I need translation services I always wave my hands about a lot, hoping that someone will come and help me, and then sometimes I cry. Not on purpose, but because not being able to communicate can be really frustrating, and then usually someone will come to my rescue just to shut me up.
4) This is my own tip, not Mondial’s. I used to spend waaay too much on travel insurance by purchasing it for each trip at a travel agency. Now I buy insurance through my credit card company – I think almost every card has some kind of travel insurance you can buy – and for about $120 a year, I’m covered for any trip up to 30 days throughout the entire year. That has saved me hundreds of dollars – so if you travel a lot you might want to look into it.
There you have it, all these handy travel insurance tips. Don’t you feel enlightened? Protected? Inspired to pack a bag?
Just quickly back to VEMEX. Of course I was really hoping that I would find some expert there who would direct me to a lovely cheap spa in Italy (see last two posts) where the architecture is pearl-hued and the light springs off the water like champagne bubbles, but no such luck. I still have nothing booked and time is running out. I did, however, make a new wish list of places to visit next year: Norway for adventures, Germany for spas, Cyprus because it has Aphrodite legends and, well, everywhere else, too. Happy travels! (And don’t forget your insurance.)