10 Instagram Travel Hacks You’ll Want To Know Before Your Next Trip

10 Instagram Travel Hacks You’ll Want To Know Before Your Next Trip

Noma Nazish

Beautiful sunsets. Colorful markets. Picturesque views. The joy and excitement of exploring a new place is inexplicable. However, getting there is a whole different story. From avoiding the dreaded middle seat on a flight and booking the right hotel to keeping clothes wrinkle-free and preparing toiletries. Traveling can be stressful, but it doesn’t always have to be. With the right tips and tricks, any travel situation can be made easy.

Here are ten Instagram-approved hacks that’ll help you travel like a boss:

  • Organizing cords: We are all too familiar with the annoying situation when charging cords and earphones mysteriously turn into a tangled mess every time you put them inside your bag. In order to keep them untangled as well as easily discoverable you can store them inside a spare glasses case or a travel size Q-tip container.
  • Packing jewelry: If you’re packing a lot of jewelry, you can organize it in an ice cube tray and cover the tray with a sheet of plastic wrap to secure the contents. You can also carry delicate jewelry or big statement pieces in your luggage by placing them inside plastic organizers or school binders.
  • Space-saving bags: Pack your clothes in zip lock bags to save space. It not only gives you more room to store other belongings but also protects your clothes from any accidental toiletry leakage.
  • DIY toothbrush holder: Use an empty Tic Tac box as a DIY toothbrush holder to protect your toothbrush bristles from collecting makeup dust or fuzz. You can also use those tiny boxes to store bobby pins.
  • Complimentary items: Always make sure to stock up free hotel soap and shampoo samples or trial-sized essential toiletries in case you run out of them. They’re small and lightweight which makes them super travel-friendly. You can also throw in a bar of scented soap inside a clean sock and put it with your dirty laundry to keep the luggage smelling fresh.
  • Snack hack: Use a crafts storage box to carry different snacks. Whether you want to store fresh fruit and protein bars or pretzels and donuts, the multipurpose box will do the trick.
  • Sock it up: Wrap any fragile souvenirs or breakable items in fluffy socks to protect them from damage.
  • Declutter luggage: There’s nothing more annoying than emptying your entire travel bag every time you want to find something. You can avoid this situation by using small resealable bags or drawstring bags to keep things organized.
  • Charging without the wall plug: Forgot your adapter or want to charge more than one device at the same time? No worries. You can use the USB port on the back of the hotel television to charge your USB gadgets.
  • Personalized in-flight entertainment: In case in-flight entertainment isn’t available, you can turn your own smartphone into a mini TV screen by placing the phone inside a snap-lock bag and hanging it using your tray table’s lock.

So the next time you take a trip or go for a vacay, use these clever Instagram hacks for a seamless travel experience.

Drinking while travelling? Your insurance may not cover that

Drinking while travelling? Your insurance may not cover that

CBC News Canada

A Kitchener, Ont. man who ended up in hospital while visiting family in the United States has learned the hard way that drinking alcohol can nullify your claim to insurance coverage.

Ernie Ceres flew down to New York on Sept. 18 for a family funeral and spent the first evening visiting with his brother, whom he hadn’t seen in several years.

According to his girlfriend Lucy Reis, who stayed behind in Cambridge, Ont., Ceres was drinking with his brother before he left to spend the night at his son’s house.

“Ernie told his son to go ahead, because he’s a little bit slow,” Reis said. “The next thing he knew is his dad had fallen down at least ten to 12 stairs.”

Ceres was unconscious and was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where doctors discovered bleeding in his brain.

Ceres has been in hospital since Sept. 19, and his girlfriend said that the last she checked his hospital bill was $100,000. (Lucy Reis)

His son called Reis with the news and she immediately booked a flight down to New York. Then she called the Canadian Automobile Association – Ceres’s insurance provider – to file a claim.

Ceres was a frequent traveller and Reis said that for the past four or five years he had been buying CAA’s multi-trip annual plan travel insurance.

Alcohol exclusion clause

A few days after calling them, she says she was told that the claim had been denied, because Ceres had too much alcohol in his blood at the time of the fall.

According to CAA’s travel insurance policy, the provider does not have to pay medical expenses in the case of “alcohol related sickness, death or injury or the abuse of medication, drugs, alcohol or any other toxic substance.”

Also, according to the policy, “alcohol abuse includes having a blood alcohol level in excess of 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.”

Exclusion not stated up front

It is unclear what Ceres’s blood alcohol level was when he was admitted to hospital; however, if it was over 0.08 per cent, it would give CAA cause to deny his claim.

‘You’ve got to know what you’re buying.’– Marvin Ryder, professor of marketing and entrepreneurship

But Reis said that CAA did not tell Ceres that drinking could nullify his claim to insurance coverage, and for that reason the company should pay for the health care he is receiving in the United States.

“He’s purchased a product and not been informed,” she said. “I understand that some of it was his responsibility to read the fine print, but let’s be serious, people buy insurance all the time and you just expect the person you’re buying it from is selling you a product that they’re going to stand by.”

Consumer responsible to know

When asked whether CAA was obligated to tell Ceres that drinking could affect his insurance eligibility, industry experts all agreed that the company was not liable.

According to the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, it is the traveller’s responsibility to know what their policy does and does not cover.

“You need to understand your policy and you need to take time to read that policy document,” said association president Will McAleer. “In this case, I certainly would have thought there would have been the opportunity and responsibility to take a look and see whether or not there is an exclusion related to excess alcohol consumption.”

Insurance industry experts say travellers need to be aware of what their policies do and do not cover, and that means reading the fine print.

You must read fine print

The policy document for CAA’s travel health insurance is more than 50 pages long and is available online. The exclusion related to alcohol is on page 14.

“Is it realistic to read all of this? Maybe it’s not,” said Marvin Ryder, a professor of marketing and entrepreneurship with the Degroote School of Business in Hamilton, Ont. “On the other hand, you’ve got to know what you’re buying. You can’t assume that what you’ve bought or what you think you bought is what you actually did buy.”

‘No one says in these things that you can’t have a drink. The problem is the magic word ‘drunk’, ‘intoxication.”– Marvin Ryder

And he said that reading through insurance policies is actually a lot easier than it was 30 or 40 years ago, when they were written by lawyers.

“Unless you had a law degree you wouldn’t understand it,” he said. “Today, though – 2017 – all these insurance companies have hired communication specialists to take the legalese, if you will, and try to translate it into more basic English so that people would understand.”

‘Drunk’ is the problem

As a result, he said consumers are expected to read, understand and know what to expect from their insurance provider.

If your provider is CAA, that means your blood alcohol content can’t be higher than 0.08 per cent, which is used as the criminal impairment level for drivers in Canada, although Ontario considers a level of 0.05 per cent as reason to take a driver off the road. Ryder said the limit may be different for other providers. And currently the federal government is consulting with Queen’s Park to lower the impaired driving legal limit to 0.05 per cent.

Marvin Ryder says having a drink while on holiday shouldn’t be a problem, but getting drunk could nullify your claim to insurance. (YouTube)

“No one says in these things that you can’t have a drink. The problem is the magic word ‘drunk,’ intoxication,” he said. “If you’re planning to get intoxicated – then you need to know that those actions could nullify your insurance.”

And Ryder said that having alcohol in your blood could nullify your insurance claim even if your injury or sickness was not related to drinking.

‘There’s all those maybe, could-have, should-haves. So, that’s why they’ve drawn this line this way. If your alcohol level is too high in your blood stream, your insurance is cancelled.’– Marvin Ryder

“In other words, if you have a heart attack while intoxicated, but the intoxication didn’t cause the heart attack – nonetheless your insurance is null and void,” he said.

The reason is that in medicine, it’s hard to know what is a contributing factor. A person might trip, fall and end up in the hospital, but would the person have tripped if they had a lower blood alcohol level? Ryder said that’s a difficult question to answer.

“There’s all those maybe, could-have, should-haves. So, that’s why they’ve drawn this line this way. If your alcohol level is too high in your blood stream, your insurance is cancelled.”

CAA says claim is open, not denied

In theory, high alcohol in Ceres blood could give CAA cause to deny his insurance claim, but a spokesperson from the company told CBC News that the claim would be considered if alcohol was not the cause of the fall.

In fact, Director of Corporate Communications Tony Tsai said Ceres’s claim had not been denied, but that it was still open.

“It really depends on what was the cause of the injury or what was the suspected cause of the injury,” he said. “We’re still waiting to get all that data back from them.”

Although Ceres did have alcohol in his blood when he fell, Reis said doctors are suggesting that the fall was caused by pre-existing bleeding in his brain. If that was the case, it may be the information CAA needs to approve the claim.

In the meantime, Ceres remains in a New York hospital, where his expenses continue to accumulate. Reis said that the last she checked, the hospital bill had reached almost $100,000.

There are cases where buying travel insurance might leave you bereft of coverage. Here are a few examples.

Read more

CDN snowbirds will face higher insurance costs even if unscathed by Irma

By 

Canadian snowbirds who were lucky enough to escape property damage from Hurricane Irma will still face higher costs as insurance providers jack up premiums and condo associations levy special assessments, say Florida insurance experts.

“We’re probably looking at an across-the-board 15 to 20 per cent increase in property insurance costs over the next year,” says Brad Hubbard, the Tampa owner of an insurance agency and an engineering consulting firm specializing in flood risk.

He said the higher premiums could come from greater insurance losses and reinsurance companies determining there is a statistical increase in the risk that future storms will be more frequent and severe.

Hurricane Irma is expected to be one of the most costly storms in history, with losses estimated at $20 billion to $65 billion (all figures in U.S. dollars), including up to $50 billion in the U.S., according to risk modelling software company AIR Worldwide.

Additional insurance costs will be borne by all insured Florida homeowners, including the estimated 500,000 Canadians who own Florida properties.

Condo owners could also face special assessments if their building sustains heavy damage that isn’t fully covered by insurance or its policy has a high deductible.

“Your condo can be fine but at the end of the year you could receive a bill that says $3,500,” added Martin Rivard, an insurance broker in Boynton Beach originally from Shawinigan, Que.

The situation could be especially acute in areas like the Florida Keys, where 25 per cent of homes were destroyed by heavy winds and storm surge.

Rivard said he’s always amazed by homeowners — especially Canadians who purchased second residences when they were extremely cheap during the housing collapse — who decline to take out a policy because of the increased cost.

“I’m hoping that Irma was a wake-up call,” he said in an interview.

The average price of homeowner’s insurance in high-risk wind areas of Florida is $2,055 or $1,500 if you buy through Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, a state-run provider. Flood coverage premiums average $450, providing coverage of $250,000 on the structure and $100,000 for the contents, says the Insurance Information Institute.

Canadians are eligible to buy homeowner’s insurance from Citizens Property Insurance and flooding insurance from the federal National Flood Insurance Programs. Only 16 per cent of Americans purchase flood insurance and less than 10 per cent have no insurance at all.

Canadians were eager to buy insurance after Hurricane Andrew devastated southern Florida in 1992, but Rivard said the concern has waned because the state hasn’t experienced a big storm in about a decade.

Renee and Dino Picchioni are relieved their mobile home north of Tampa was spared because they didn’t carry any insurance.

“It’s too expensive to pay for insurance down there for four months out of the year,” Renee said from Windsor, Ont.

Since they don’t own the land where their mobile home is parked, the couple was prepared to walk away if the unit was destroyed.

Rivard expects many others will do the same if their insurance doesn’t cover repair costs.

Realtor Jass Tremblay of Marathon said most of the Canadian customers she knows in the Keys don’t have insurance. While people with a mortgage are required to have insurance that covers wind, they can roll the dice if they pay cash.

Tremblay, a Quebec City native, said she hopes those without coverage would have put money aside so they can face such a disaster.

“Some of them lost everything. They’re probably panicking,” Tremblay said from Deerfield Beach where she holed up during the storm.

Brent Leathwood, a realtor in Sarasota who is originally from Burlington, Ont., said about 80 per cent of his Canadian customers are fully insured even though tougher building codes after Hurricane Andrew have helped to minimize damage.

“Canadians tend to be, I would say, sober and pragmatic in their assessments of things and they’re a little less inclined to take big, crazy risks like some of the people in the States are.”

Florida’s insurance system has been strengthened since Hurricane Andrew as the number of people living in coastal areas surged 27 per cent between 2000 and 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We feel that we’re in the best position we can be in at this time,” said Michael Peltier, spokesman for Florida’s public insurance provider.

Canadian gov’t has issued an advisory urging residents to avoid non-essential travel to the areas affected by Irma

The Travel Advice and Advisories are the Government of Canada’s official source of destination-specific travel information. They give you important advice to help you to make informed decisions and to travel safely while you are abroad.

Will the storm affect Canada?

The storm will have no direct impact on Canada, according to Global News’ chief meteorologist, Anthony Farnell. But Farnell notes that Canadians travelling may be affected.

“If you are a Canadian travelling or know anyone travelling through the Caribbean, Cuba or Florida this storm will directly impact you in the next week,” he said. “Landfall is looking more likely in Florida this weekend but a continued shift west and south in the track means that a landfall in Cuba is also possible.”

No matter where you plan to travel, make sure you check the Travel Advice and Advisories page for your destination twice: once when you are planning your trip, and again shortly before you leave. Safety and security conditions may change between the date you book your travel and your departure date.

See Travel Advice and Advisories – FAQ for more information.

Choose your destination below to see regularly updated information on:

  • local safety and security conditions and areas to avoid
  • entry and exit requirements
  • local laws and culture
  • possible health hazards and health restrictions
  • natural hazards and climate
  • where to find help while you are travelling abroad

Source: www.canada.ca

Travel insurance and why you need it

Travel insurance and why you need it

If you plan to go abroad, even on a day trip to the United States, you should purchase the best travel insurance you can afford before you leave Canada. Your travel insurance should include health, life and disability coverage that will help you avoid large expenses, such as the cost of hospitalization or medical treatment outside Canada. If you are flying, being insured for flight cancellation, trip interruption, lost luggage and document replacement will save you from major disruptions and additional costs. If you are travelling by car, make sure you have driver and vehicle coverage in case you have an accident abroad.

TRAVELmedical.insurance

During a short vacation on a Caribbean island, a Canadian developed a severe form of pneumonia and had to be admitted to hospital. His health deteriorated, and he was transferred to intensive care and placed on a breathing machine for more than a month. Without insurance, he had to make arrangements with the hospital to pay a bill that amounted to more than $20,000.

You can purchase travel insurance through your travel agent, insurance broker or your employer’s insurance provider. Your credit card company may also offer travel and health insurance. Regardless of how you obtain travel insurance, it is very important that you understand the eligibility requirements, terms and conditions, limitations, restrictions and exclusions of the policy.

Why you need travel insurance

Your Canadian insurance is almost certainly not valid outside Canada. Your provincial or territorial health plan may cover nothing or only a very small portion of the costs if you get sick or are injured while abroad. For more information, contact your provincial or territorial health authority. Hospitals and clinics in some countries have been known to refuse to treat patients who become ill or who have had an accident and who do not have adequate travel health insurance or the money to pay their bills. You could face years of debt paying off the costs of treatment for an illness or accident you suffered abroad. The Government of Canada will not pay your medical bills.

Young travellers may think they don’t need insurance because they’re young and healthy. But accidents do happen. While walking along a beach on a Caribbean island, a Canadian tourist in her early 20s had an accident that seriously damaged her spine. Her family had to raise funds to pay for her medical evacuation.

Travel advisories and insurance policies

No matter where in the world you intend to travel, make sure you check the Travel Advice and Advisories twice, once when you are planning your trip and again shortly before you leave. If a Travel Advisory is issued for your destination, after you make your travel arrangements but before or during your trip, it may affect your travel health insurance or trigger your trip cancellation insurance. Make sure you understand any terms and conditions in the policy in regard to travel advice and advisories from the Government of Canada.

Some insurance companies will not honour medical claims made for injuries suffered in a country for which the Government of Canada has issued an official Travel Advisory. Coverage for injuries resulting from war may also be limited. Insurance policies often have exclusion clauses stipulating regions and/or activities that will not be covered.

Selecting travel health insurance

Carefully research your needs and verify the terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and requirements of your insurance policy before you leave Canada.

When assessing a travel health insurance plan, you should ask a lot of questions. Does the plan provide continuous coverage for the duration of your stay abroad and after you return? Does it offer coverage that is renewable from abroad and for the maximum period of stay? Does the company have an in-house, worldwide, 24-hour/7-day emergency contact number in English and/or translation services for health care providers in your destination country? Does it pay for foreign hospitalization for illness or injury and related medical costs and provide up-front payment of bills or cash advances, so you don’t have to pay out of your own pocket?

Be sure to ask whether the plan covers pre-existing medical conditions. Ask the company to explain the definition, limitations and restrictions of any pre-existing conditions and tests and treatments you may have undergone.

  • Make sure you get a written agreement that your pre-existing medical condition is covered, or you could find your claim “null and void” under a pre-existing condition clause.
  • Be aware that the agreement must also include a stability clause stating that for you to be covered for any pre-existing medical conditions you must have no changes to or new medical conditions, symptoms or medications during the stability period prior to your trip.
  • The agreement should include a compassion clause stating that an inaccurate statement may not invalidate the entire policy, and a change of health clause.

And ensure that the plan provides for medical evacuation to Canada or the nearest location with appropriate medical care and pays for a medical escort (health care provider) to accompany you to and from your destination.

Ensure that deductible costs are clearly explained in the plan. Plans with 100-percent coverage are more expensive but may save money in the long run. The plan could cover health care provider visits and prescription medicines, or emergency dental care or emergency transportation, such as ambulance services. Check whether it excludes or significantly limits coverage for certain regions or countries you may visit.

Finally, ensure that the plan covers the preparation and return of your remains to Canada if you die abroad.

Gabrielle had insurance that lapsed three weeks before she was involved in an accident. Her Canadian family had to raise $300,000 over a three-day period to cover the costs of medical treatment and evacuation. Fortunately, she survived, but her family is left with a hefty debt to repay.

Meeting the terms of your insurance policy

It is your responsibility to know and understand the terms of your insurance policy. Read the fine print carefully and ask for help, if necessary, to fully understand the eligibility requirements and definitions, terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions of the policy.

The information you provide must be accurate and complete. If you have any questions about the application and your medical history, including prescription drugs, tests and other treatments, contact the insurance company and ask them to clarify the issue in writing.

Obtain approval from your insurer before undergoing medical treatment. Routine health checkups, non-emergency care and cosmetic surgery are rarely covered by travel health insurance. Insurance companies may also exclude coverage for mental health disorders, drug- or alcohol-related incidents, or extreme sporting activities such as bungee jumping and rock climbing.

Get a detailed report and invoice from the doctor or hospital before leaving the country where you have received medical treatment. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get the proper paperwork from thousands of kilometres away. Always remember to submit the original receipts for medical services or prescriptions received abroad. Keep a copy of the documents for your files.

Carry details of your insurance policy and tell your travel agent, a travel companion, and a friend or relative at home how to contact your insurer.

Source: Government of Canada

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