5 Reasons Why Travel Insurance Is a Must

5 Reasons Why Travel Insurance Is a Must

5 Reasons Why Travel Insurance Is a Must


If you’re like us, here’s how you prepare for a big trip: You pack way too much, realize your suitcase won’t close, then start taking stuff out. The snorkel gear, the sarong, that second jacket… you don’t really need those. But there is one thing you definitely, absolutely need to pack: Travel insurance.

A lot of people weigh the additional expense and ask, “Is travel insurance worth it?” Most of the time, the answer is an all-caps YES. This is why.

Reason #1 travel insurance is a must: Most of us can’t afford to lose our vacation investment.

Let’s say you pay $7,000 for a once-in-a-lifetime luxury cruise around the Mediterranean for your 25th wedding anniversary. The day before sailing, your mother suffers a serious fall and ends up in the hospital. When you call the cruise line and explain what happened, they’re sympathetic — but you’re not getting your money back. Company policy clearly states that there are no refunds if you cancel within 14 days of departure.

Situations like these are why travel insurance is a must. When you have travel insurance with trip cancellation benefits, you can get reimbursement for prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs when you must cancel for a covered reason. Covered reasons can include situations like the covered serious illness or injury of the insured person, a travel companion or a family member; the death of the insured traveler, traveling companion or a family member; a natural disaster or other event that renders your destination uninhabitable; etc.

Reason #2 travel insurance is a must: Medical emergencies overseas can be really expensive.

Consider this scenario: On a driving tour through Argentina, a truck slams into your rental car, leaving you with a broken leg and other serious injuries. When you arrive at the hospital, you summon the strength to pull out your health insurance card. The staff just shake their heads. You’ll need to pay up front for treatment — and your medical bills rapidly climb into the tens of thousands. If you require medical evacuation, that cost can hit $200,000 or more, depending on the country you’re in and the proximity to the nearest hospital.

As the U.S. State Department notes, “many foreign medical facilities and providers require cash payment up front and do not accept U.S. insurance plans. Medicare does not provide coverage outside of the United States.”1

When you have travel insurance with emergency medical benefits, it can pay for losses due to covered medical and dental emergencies that occur during your trip. Emergency medical transportation benefits can pay for medically necessary transportation to the nearest appropriate medical facility, as well as the cost of getting you home following a covered injury or illness. The Allianz Global Assistance hotline staff may even be able to arrange payment in advance for covered emergency medical care. The upshot: When you’re wondering “is travel insurance worth it?”, weigh the small cost of buying insurance against the massive costs of a medical emergency overseas.

Reason #3 travel insurance is a must: You don’t want minor mishaps to ruin your trip.

A vacation is really an investment in your happiness. And when that vacation starts off with a canceled flight, a missed connection, a missing bag or another travel hiccup, that happy travel feeling fades.

Travel insurance can help make these situations better. Travel delay benefits can reimburse you for additional accommodation/travel expenses and lost prepaid expenses due to a covered departure delay of six or more hours. Baggage delay benefits can reimburse you for the reasonable additional purchase of essential items during your trip if a common carrier delayed or misdirected your baggage for 24 hours or more. Several more benefits address other common travel mishaps, so check your plan to see what’s included.

Reason #4 travel insurance is a must: The U.S. Department of State says so!

What’s the first thing you should do when you experience an emergency overseas? Most American travelers call the local U.S. embassy for help — but they often disappoint those travelers to discover that embassy staff’s powers are limited. They can help you replace a stolen passport; contact family or friends in the U.S.; find medical care or legal assistance; communicate with local police; and connect you with various resources. But an embassy cannot pay for your medical care, provide emergency transportation (except during rare, major catastrophes), or otherwise take care of any financial losses you suffer while traveling.2

That’s why the State Department advises American travelers to carry travel insurance — specifically, travel insurance that includes emergency medical benefits, emergency medical transportation benefits, and coverage for other unexpected expenses, like trip cancellation and lost or stolen luggage.

Reason #5 travel insurance is a must: It’s easy to find affordable travel insurance.

Cost is probably the number one reason people don’t buy travel insurance. We understand! If you’re already paying thousands for a long-awaited cruise or resort vacation, it’s tough to spend even a little more on insurance.

Here’s something a lot of people don’t know: Insurance can be really affordable. When you get a quote for travel insurance, we’ll present you with multiple coverage options, so you can pick the best one for your trip and your budget. Our least expensive plan, OneTrip Cancellation Plus (formerly the Essential Plan), offers three key protections — trip cancellation, trip interruption and trip delay benefits. If you know you’ll be taking more than two trips this year, your most cost-effective travel insurance option may be an AllTrips plan, which protects all your travel in a 365-day period.

The best way to find a low-cost travel insurance plan is to get a quote for your next trip and then compare plans. Remember: If you’re not completely satisfied, you have 10 days (or more, depending on your state of residence) to request a refund, provided you haven’t started your trip or initiated a claim. Premiums are non-refundable after this period.

Group Differences

Group Differences

International Traveler Resources

International Traveler Resources

Differences between the riviera Maya and Cancun

Differences between the riviera Maya and Cancun


Besides the mere location differences between these two popular vacation spots, Cancun and the cities located in the Riviera Maya are different. In some ways it is hard to believe that they are neighbors except the blue of the Caribbean gives it away. This article digs into the variations of each destination and highlights the not so obvious differences.


Cancun is a large city located at the northeast tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. It was the very first tourism specific destination built in the early 70’s. The Riviera Maya is a region to the south of Cancun that starts at Puerto Morelos and ends at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. In some ways we are comparing apples and oranges – city verses region – but Cancun and the Riviera Maya are compared all the time, if not thought to be the same. When people inform me they thought they were the same, my reply is this “Is Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore the same?” This analogy seems to clear up whatever was unclear. Cancun is a large metropolitan city with a residential population reaching almost one million. The tourism zone, where hotels and entertainment businesses are highly concentrated, is outside the main city center on a small peninsula that surrounds a natural lagoon. Though there are small hotels and vacation rentals in the city center, tourism resides in this area, away from the residential neighborhoods. The Riviera Maya region includes the following popular cities – Puerto Morelos,Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Xpu-Ha, Akumal, Soliman’s Bay, Tank Ha Bay, Tulum, and the Sian Ka’an located on over 133 kms/88miles of beach coastline. The largest city is Playa del Carmen with 250,000 residents. Tulum is the second largest city with a population of just under 100,000 people. Other cities are small in comparison with populations well under 20,000 people. These geographical differences, and the fact that people compare a city to a region, make both of these areas very, very different. But Cancun the city is different from Riviera Maya cities.


Cancun has a national population in its core city with 90% of its tourism happening in a designated beachfront area of the city. This separates every day life from vacation life. It also separates residents from visitors. • The sheer size of Cancun makes it difficult to navigate not only for regional day trips but urban exploring. A taxi, public bus or private driver is a must if you wish to explore outside the hotel zone. Though not impossible, it makes exploring a challenge or a tad bit intimidating to the first time visitor. • When visitors choose to leave their resort or large hotel, they are shuffled to more tourism hot spots in the hotel zone. Very few visitors dive into downtown Cancun to experience the local authenticity of Cancun residential neighborhoods and markets. The ‘bubble’ is what Cancun staff support when getting people out and about. • With a large percentage of all inclusive resorts, Cancun has gained the reputation of ‘Spring Break Haven’ where college kids party during the winter months. Cheap resorts, lots of night clubs, and high-end shopping centers have created this atmosphere, but has made Cancun a profitable tourism center. • International brands like Wet and Wild water parks, Hard Rock Cafe, Outback Steak House, MontBlanc, Nike, etc can be found in Cancun to appeal to American and international tourists visiting the hotel zone in Cancun. • Predominately this area is frequented by American and Canadian tourists with a small influx of European and South American visitors.



Each city in the Riviera Maya has its own unique feel, tourism base and extraordinary attractions. Developed after the rise of Cancun, these cities are less populated and come with a lifestyle that is focused on the beach and local cenotes. •Tourism is highly diverse with people from around the world visiting local cities. It is not uncommon to hear various European languages, Spanish, and English spoken everywhere by both staff and visitors. Some Riviera Maya cities have a high concentration of US and Canadian residents, Puerto Aventuras and Akumal being known for this. •These cities are less about resorts, which are located outside city centers, and more about small hotels, vacation rentals and in some cases beachfront cottages (cabanas). This is not the hospitality landscape in Cancun. •Most cities are walking cities as they are small and intimate. It is easy for a visitor and locals to walk to restaurants, local attractions, and to the beach. Playa del Carmen has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade but has retained its neighborhood feel in the downtown core. What we do appreciate is the recent addition of arts and cultural activities that Playa did not have just a few years ago. •It is natural that the concentration of tourism is by the beach, with city centers revolving around hotels, shopping and vacation rentals, but residential neighborhoods are closely located if not a part of the hotel and restaurant areas. This urban mix retained a local feel to the cities where visitors and residents mix, happily. This neighborhood feel makes the cities of the Riviera Maya friendlier, more local, and information about where to go and what to do easily exchanged. •Each Riviera Maya city is a stop on the main 307 highway, the only highway that runs along the coast. This main artery connects local attractions to visitors with easy, making exploring a pleasure, inexpensive and really easy to navigate. Most Riviera Maya visitors and locals visit cenotes, other small cities, Mayan ruins, and local cultural attractions with greater flexibility than Cancun visitors.


We understand all too well the differences between Cancun and the Rivera Maya. We also understand the nuances of both locations. What we love is the diversity of the two areas. We live in the Riviera Maya so we can enjoy the ease of exploring, smaller communities, and direct access to the beach. We value the mix of visitors and locals, and love that we can have tacos on one corner and a burger on the other. We also appreciate the benefits of Cancun. Brand name shopping is useful (think Costco or the Apple Store) and in the old days Cancun was the place you had to shop.Back then Riviera Maya cities had maybe one grocery store and food choices were limited. Today that has changed but Cancun still has stores and retail outlets not found in the Riviera Maya. Unfortunately if your travel agent or online booking website is not familiar with the area (which in most cases they are not, many have not even visited the area) you may find yourself in a hotel or resort that doesn’t match your dream. We have heard time and again that people feel stuck in Cancun. We talk to people who thought they booked a hotel in Playa del Carmen only to learn it is 20 minutes away and not remotely close to the famous 5th Avenue or near the glorious beaches of Tulum as promised.


If you know what you want for your vacation and would like to investigate the best place for your week off, talk to a local (pointing finger over my head) A local will listen to what you want and quickly point you in the right direction. If you want to hit the nail in the head the first time, talk to someone who knows.

So give us a call. Drop us a line. Ask away and we are happy to give you the lay of the land. And if you choose to come to the area, be sure to let us know so we can meet up for a cocktail and share travel stories! We love to hear how your vacation is panning out and what you think of the area. If you are already booked, contact our concierge who is happy to get you where you want to go, suggest great restaurants and guide you to local attractions worth seeing!

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Should I use an agent

Should I use an agent

One of the most common questions I passionately answer both in person and on online communities (I’m looking at you Reddit), is about how to actually book a cruise. Should you use a travel agent or book directly with a cruise line? I’ll tell you right out the gate that whether you’re looking into your first cruise or well on your way to the highest levels of a cruise line’s loyalty program, I highly recommend using a good travel agent, but let’s talk about why by addressing some common questions and misconceptions.

Do people still use travel agents?

More travelers than ever leverage the expertise and help of travel agents for their vacations. Let’s look at some quick facts:

In fact, according to ASTA (the American Society of Travel Agents),

  • Last year 22% of leisure travelers from households earning at least $50,000 used a travel agent – up from 14% just three years ago.
  • ‘Millennials’ seem the biggest fans of using travel agents, with 30% having used an agent in the last year.
  • They seem satisfied: 59% of millennials indicated that their trips planned with agents were better than trips planned without agents.  This compares to 53% and 58% for gen x-ers and baby boomers, respectively.

So yes, more people use travel agents each year, and the majority feel their trips were enhanced by using a travel agent.

How is a travel agent paid, doesn’t it cost me money to use an agent?

In short, it rarely costs you money to use a travel agent, and in fact, the agent can very often help you save money on your trip (more on that in that below). When an agent books a hotel room, cruise, tour, etc, this means the provider doesn’t have to sell, market, or service the booking – the agent takes care of all of that.  A travel agent may get a commission from the cruise line you’re sailing with.

Many agents don’t charge fees for their services, though some do, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  These fees could be for value-added services (such as keeping track of price changes) or for booking airfare, something that agents only do as part of trip with a cruise, hotel stay, etc.  Much of the time if an agent does charge fees, they’ll credit them towards your booking once it’s completed.  This is because an agent doesn’t want to do your research and planning so you can go book on your own.

What is the advantage of using a travel agent?

There are many benefits to booking with a travel agent, from cost savings, to having an expert there to help guide you and plan your trip.
For one, they often have access to special rates or additional incentives (such as onboard credit, complimentary specialty dining, etc) which are not available when booking directly.  We can relate these perks to agents being members of travel consortia, which are networks of affiliated travel agencies that offer collective buying power, or offered as part of group travel.  Often, group travel doesn’t mean you’re traveling as part of someone else’s event, it’s simply when a travel agency has numerous travelers on a given sailing, at a certain hotel, etc, and is afforded special perks.  Outside of these arrangements, most cruise lines require that in most cases, all advertised prices must be the same.  If you see a different rate between agencies, it’s very important to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples (are the stateroom categories exactly the same, does one price include airfare, are drinks included, etc).
Piggy Bank

Save you money

Further, agents can sometimes save you money by keeping an eye out for price drops, and being aware of other incentives, such as a big discount by paying for a trip with a certain credit card, or other tricks they come across as they review many promotions and other updates each day.

Beyond the perks offered with your booking, another significant reason to book with a travel agent is the service.  A good travel agent has personal experience with travel, but also gets great feedback from his or her clients so they’re continuously learning about different offerings.  This means that the agent can help get to know you, find out what you enjoy, what type of vacation you’re looking for, etc, and make recommendations based on the knowledge they’ve amassed.  There is no “best cruise line”, but there probably is one that is best for you, and for this trip.

Another great service agents provide is being your primary point of contact for your trip.  This can be a big factor, as your cruise may be much more than just a cruise.  You might need a car to get you to the airport, a flight to the city you’re cruising from, a hotel in that city, a rental car, restaurant reservations, your cruise, shore excursions, and more.  Your agent can not only make these arrangements, but if you need to make changes or get more information, you’ve got one person you can speak with that will help you with everything.

Can’t I get a better deal booking directly with a cruise line?

As mentioned, cruise lines require that except for groups, prices are the same across all travel agents, and this applies to the cruise lines’ internal sales teams as well.  Cruise lines depend on travel agents to sell cruises and help service those bookings, so they certainly don’t want to undercut the agencies they work with.  The cruise line has to market cruises, guide prospective guests through the process, and then be available for any changes or challenges that come about.  When a travel agent does this for the cruise line, that’s money that in a way, the cruise line has saved, which get’s back to why cruise lines and other companies pay travel agent’s commission.

Cost vs Value

Getting a deal also means knowing that you’re getting the right cruise for you – a lower price isn’t the only measure of value.  While it’s true that 10+ years ago there was far less information out there on cruise line, hotel, and rental car websites – making the role of a travel agent more essential if you didn’t know exactly what you wanted, the amount of information on the internet today can be overwhelming.  Yes, cruise lines put their information out there on the web, but like any other business, they control the message – so Princess Cruises may have a ton of information, but they’ll understandably be slanted to make their own line seem to be the most logical choice no matter what your preferences may be.

That’s great, but I like doing the research, and I don’t want to give up control of my booking.

Me too!  According to another ASTA study, the biggest reason people say they don’t use a travel agent (aside from the 57% who said they just hadn’t thought of it) is that they want control.  While when you book with a travel agent you’ll see certain changes aren’t available to you online or on the phone (such as changing stateroom categories, or adding a person to your reservation, for example), that doesn’t mean you don’t have control.  Many of these changes can be a pain to understand, or require waiting on hold for a cruise line to do it.  Let your agent wait on hold and figure out these changes.

Many other arrangements, such as booking shore excursions and specialty dining can be handled directly with the cruise line if you’d like, but your agent can take care of them for you as well, and most times, is able to help with things that might leave you stuck online, such as finding out your desired dining time is booked–an agent may get you wait-listed, or even work some magic on his or her side.  Sometimes, a travel agent can even help you skip to the front of a waiting list for a sold-out sailing or other tour.

In the end, you’re not relinquishing any control, in fact, you’re making it so you have slightly more control, potentially less waiting on hold, and you have a single point of contact for all your travel needs.

They make it easy

When you book a cruise directly you’re entering your contact info, birthday, picking your dining time, bed arrangements, traveling companions’ information, etc.  Is it a real pain point?  No, it’s not terrible, but now imagine doing the same for your rental car, hotel, cruise, and more – all while triple checking for mistakes.  An agent will take care of all of this for you, once again, a single point of contact.  Booking multiple trips?  A hotel and a cruise?  Your agent will note and remember your preferences.  For example, my spouse recently found out she is allergic to down pillows.  If I’m booking directly I need to remember to note this, but first I have to figure out how to even communicate this information.  My agent has ways to annotate bookings, and knows just who to reach out to, so I know that any cruise or hotel stay he arranges for me will result in our walking into our room on day one with foam pillows instead of down.

Because this relationship has been established, when I book a trip, I usually do so in a two sentence email to my agent.  He has my information, knows my preferences, how I like to pay for things, etc.  In the end, I get a nice summary of my trip with all the pertinent information.  Done.

If you really enjoy clicking through and booking on your own, many cruise lines let you do this and then transfer your booking to an agent as long as you make the request within the first 30 days.  This means you setup the initial booking but your agent can still maintain it.

Want to have more control but with less work?  Use a travel agent.

Should I use a travel agent to book a cruise?

We just spent some time answering this, but the genuine answer is that you should use a travel agent for booking much more than just cruises!  We mentioned that if you have pre or post cruise plans, an agent can help with your hotel, car, and other reservations – but it turns out some people take trips that aren’t cruises! Who knew?  Keep this in mind, as whether it’s business travel or a land vacation, it really can be a relief.  Personally, we’ve booked hotels and other arrangements for entire department meetings using our cruise travel agent, and looked like the hero when we just said, “don’t worry everyone, I’ll handle it all.”

Okay, you’ve convinced me, but how do I find an excellent agent?


At the beginning of this post, I emphasized the importance of using a good travel agent.  This means finding someone you click with, and someone that isn’t just a call-center worker for a travel company, but a person that will remember your preferences, providing a real value.  In this way, it’s somewhat personal – we all communicate and work differently, so I’d recommend asking a trusted friend, or perhaps a frequent traveler.  Don’t be afraid to speak with an agent about what value they provide – just like any other service, a simple “why should I choose you over others” may be quite revealing.  If you speak with an agent about a cruise, and they ask you just a question or two about your trip before making a recommendation, speak with another agent.  A good agent will want to understand your likes and dislikes, what you do for fun, what type of restaurants you go to, what you’ve liked or disliked about past vacations, etc.  The more an agent knows about you, the better recommendation they can make to ensure you pick the right trip for you.

To get agent recommendations, you can ask cruise lines or others for agencies they work with, or just do a search and read about different agencies online to see how they resonate with you.  You may already belong to some groups that have travel agencies, such as certain credit card companies, social groups, professional organizations,.

Ultimately, once you find a wonderful agent, it makes your traveling easier, more rewarding, and more affordable. This means you can take more cruises if you use a travel agent.  Well, that was my takeaway at least.

Caribbean Packing list

Caribbean Packing list



 Get tickets
 Print travel vouchers
 Confirm flight
 Book taxi to airport
 Exchange money
 Get passport/Identification
 Leave directions for house sitter
 Get extra house key made
 Take pictures of children
 Lock doors
 Water plants
 Check fridge
 Pay bills
 Do laundry
 Clean house
 Buy extra pet food
 Contact pet kennel


 Backpack Rain Cover
 Knap Sack
 Expandable Carry-On
 Dufflebag/Stuff Sack
 Plastic Bags
 Small Box
 Flexible Steel Cable
 Mini Locks
 Toilet Bag
 Laundry Bag
 Shoe Bag
 Backpack Spare Parts


 Portable Clock
 First Aid Kit
 Swiss Army Knife
 Sowing Kit
 Rain Coat/Poncho
 Underwater Camera
 Sunglasses & Case
 Smoke Detector
 Playing Cards
 Sink Plug
 Laundry Brush
 Extra Shoe Laces
 Eye Glasses
 Extra Eye Glasses
 Eye Glass Case
 Straps for Glasses
 Safety Pins
 Sewing Kit
 Nylon Cord
 Duct Tape

T-BAG [Toiletries]

 Insect Repellant
 Sun Block
 Lip Balm
 Shaving Equipment
 Liquid Soap
 Soap Dish
 Tissue Paper
 Hair Bands
 Contact Lenses
 Extra Contact Lens
 Lens Cleaning Solution
 Hair Brush
 Dental Floss
 Fingernail Clippers
 Baby Powder
 Clothes Pegs


 Plasters [Band-Aids]
 Sore Tape
 Ear Drops
 Pills and Tablets
 Water Purifying Tablets
 Vitamin Pills
 Motion Sickness Tablets
 Fever Tablets
 Pain Relievers
 Allergy Pills
 Malaria Tablets
 Anti-Acid Tablets
 Tensor Bandage


 Folding Knife
 Bottle Opener
 Can Opener
 Water Bottle
 Portable Cooler
 Tea Spoon
 Plastic Drinking Cup
 Plastic Fork/Spoon
 Dish Detergent


 Sleeping Mask
 Inflatable Neck Supporter
 Sleeping Bag
 Mosquito Net


 Golf Clubs
 Golf Shoes
 MP3 Player
 CD Player
 Tape Player
 Floppy Disks
 Electrical Adapter
 Video Camera
 Video Tapes
 Airplane Blanket
 Airplane Slippers
 Cigar Lighter
 Beach Games
 Fishing Equipment
 Shoe Polish
 Shoe Brush
 Hand Fan

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