At Your Own Risk: 10 Countries Where Travel Insurance Won’t Be Able To Help You

The foreign and commonwealth office draws up an extensive list of countries that should not be travelled to quite regularly, and is from that, that our, and other global travel insurance providers’, underwriters decide which countries travel insurance should be provided for. We look at the government travel advice and decide from that whether or not we can provide insurance to travelers.

Although global travel insurance does, by its nature, cover the majority of the world, the current climate ensures that there are some places where the likelihood of incident means that UK travel insurance providers are unable to offer protection. Thankfully, the list is clear of the majority of popular holiday destinations, and you’re unlikely to have your big holiday plans affected. The most likely group to have their travel plans altered by the foreign office’s travel advice are business travelers.

The foreign office’s travel advice is not to travel to the following countries, even if it means losing business – the risk from the warzones listed below is just too great to make the reward worth the danger:

Here’s our top 10 countries to avoid traveling to, and the reasons for the high risk factor! The risk is far from conclusive (the foreign office’s travel advice lists many more countries), but to me, these are the ones that all travelers should avoid like the plague:

10) Liberia

Economic hardship in Liberia is currently making outbreaks of violence common, and foreigners (especially westerners) are at risk targets due to their affluence. This extra likelihood of incident ensures that no UK travel insurance provider would risk offering you cover if you choose to visit Liberia

9) Nepal

Occasional acts of terrorism and political violence in urban areas make Nepal off-limits for those who want to get travel insurance. In September this year, three nearly simultaneous bombs went off in the capital of Kathmandu, killing 3 and injuring many innocent bystanders.

8) Haiti

Haiti is considered off limits to many travelers on account of the high risk of kidnappings and civil unrest that is prominent. At the time of writing, there have been 12 kidnappings of American travelers in 2007 – mostly criminal in nature. In the past, these kidnappings have ended in physical and sexual assaults and shootings. The potential for spontaneous protests and demonstrations has also been known to result in unexpected violence, day or night. It’s no surprise that the government’s travel advice is not to travel here!

7) Yemen

Due to the high levels of terrorist activity in Yemen, westerners are advised to steer clear of Yemen. If this is not possible, then all travelers are encouraged to stay vigilant and to keep a low profile to avoid attacks or kidnapping. The situation is so grave that the US Embassy often restricts American citizens from certain hotels, restaurants and shopping areas.

6) Israel

The Gaza Strip and West Bank has seen immense violence in recent months between Israeli and Palestinian factions, and shootings, kidnappings and violence demonstrations have occurred in each. The region’s continued instability makes travel to Israel widely recommended against – the risk of abduction or worse makes travel insurance impossible to obtain.

5) Democratic Republic of Congo

The democratic republic of Congo remains one of the most dangerous places to travel in Africa, where violence, neglect and corruption has left the country distinctly damaged. Fighting erupted in the streets of Kinshasa in March this year, and the situation remains volatile despite the immediate threat of violence calming down. Travel outside of Kinshasa is difficult and dangerous with security, especially in the north and easy, being unstable. Any traveler brave enough to travel to the Congo should be extremely cautious, avoid the North Kivu district which is the backdrop to armed conflict between government troops and army rebels, avoid crowds and keep a close eye on local media.

4) Burma (Myanmar)

While the human rights situation makes Myanmar an ethically uneasy place to visit, currently there is a lot of personal risk involved as well. Throughout September, the anti-government protests sparked a violent crackdown from the authorities and made international headlines. Although the dusk-til-dawn curfew imposed in some of the towns has been lifted, it still remains an uncertain time to visit the country and you’re unlikely to find any global travel insurance company who will insure you.

3) Colombia

Colombia remains one of the most dangerous places to travel in the world thanks to the crime the country suffers from. The illicit drug trade in urban areas such as Cali and Buenaventura means that there is often a high risk of violence, while the more rural areas expose visitors to the country at risk from narcoterrorist groups who will often kidnap civilians to use for ransom or to gain media attention. Naturally UK travel insurance companies are loathe to insure travelers who choose to ignore these warning and travel to Colombia anyway.

2) Afghanistan

With the war on terror in Afghanistan still fresh in the mind, it’s no surprise that the country remains a big no-go area. Western tourists are obvious kidnap and assassination targets, as many of the disbanded Taliban and Al-Qa’ida forces remain at large and hostile to the new regieme. Additionally, the country remains unsafe due to tribal groups, explosive devices, landmines, military operations and acts of terrorism. Unsurprisingly, the government’s travel advice is to avoid travelling here at all costs!

1) Iraq

Given the high profile nature of western kidnappings by various insurgent groups, and the regular acts of terrorism and hostility to Western troops, it is no surprise that no travel insurance companies will insure travelers to the troubled country. The instability is caused by various groups – Ba’ath regime remnants, transnational terrorists and criminal elements have been known to attack convoys en-route to venues, hotels, restaurants, checkpoints and police stations.

While holidaymakers are unlikely to be affected by these less touristy locations, their riskiness means that business travellers will have to forgo their travel insurance if they are unable to cancel their trips.

Arranging For Accessible Travel

People with disabilities of all kinds are able to travel successfully by arranging for accessible travel. Accessible travel arrangements meet the specific needs of the person traveling. You have to be your own advocate, though, and make sure that your needs are accommodated. The acronym APPLE will help you remember what to do.

Ask
Ask for what you need. Ask for help. Ask for information. Most people don’t know how a person with disabilities wants to be treated, so you’ll have to ask. For the most part, people are willing to accommodate you if they know what you need.

Plan
Accessible travel takes extra planning. You must check every reservation to make sure it is accessible to you. You’ll need to plan to take care of your needs with airport security—they are trained and willing to help people with disabilities, but it takes them extra time and they need to be notified ahead of time.

You’ll need to put extra effort into planning your itinerary, too. You are not limited in where you can go, no matter what disability you have. You may, however, have to make special arrangements to get there or to experience it.

Pre-arrange
This doesn’t just apply to travel arrangements. It applies to everything on your accessible travel agenda. If you will need help bathing, pre-arrange it. If you will need medical care while traveling, pre-arrange it. If you need your wheelchair, pre-arrange how it will be transported. Think through what you will need, and pre-arrange things so that your specific needs are met.

Leave
Leave plenty of time in your schedule at every point. Leave plenty of time to get through any security checks. It takes more time for them to accommodate special needs, and they have to search any equipment you need to take along.

Leave plenty of time to get from one place to another. You may have to wait for special transportation.

Leave plenty of time for each activity. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed.

Leave plenty of time for rest. Travel can be exhausting, and if you are going through special accessibility arrangements and security checks, it will be even worse. Leave yourself time every day to get a full night’s sleep and a nap.

Enjoy
Enjoy yourself. The fact that you need some kind of special arrangements or that you have to arrange accessible travel should not prevent you from having the time of your life.

When you are preparing to travel, APPLE will help you take the steps you need to make sure you have accessible travel arrangements. That will allow you to relax and enjoy your travel.

Air Travel Rules: Flying With Pets

When it comes to air travel, a large number of individuals hit the skies daily. People fly for all different reasons. Some individuals need to make a business trip, others are visiting friends or family, others are going on vacation, and some are making a cross country move. If you are moving, there is a good chance that you may need to bring your pet along with you. If this is the case, you will find that you are subject to a whole new set of air travel rules. Before leaving for the airport, with your pet or pets in tow, you are advised to famialrize yourself with those rules.

The first step in traveling, in the air, with a pet is to make sure that they are even allowed. Certain pets are allowed to be on airplanes, but that does not mean that all airlines will allow it. If you are planning on traveling with your pet, you will need to inform your airline of this information upfront. This is vital because not all airlines will allow you to bring a pet onboard. Therefore, if you do not check with your airline before heading to the airport, you may be unable to board your flight.

When traveling with a pet, you will need to keep that pet contained. That means that if you are traveling with an animal, such as a dog or a cat, that animal will likely need to be in a carrier. When purchasing an animal carrier, it is important to know that not all carriers are permitted onboard. If you will be keeping your animal in the cabin with you, as opposed to having your animal treated as checked baggage, you will need to make sure that your pet carrier will not negatively affect other passengers. Your pet carrier must not block aisle ways or encroach on other passenger’s seating spaces. In addition to these general rules and restrictions, you may find that each airline has their own set of pet carrier rules.

Almost all airlines require that your pets have the proper documents before being allowed on their airplanes. These documents most commonly include information on your pet’s health. Most airlines require that your pet undergoes a medical evaluation before being transported by airplane. This information is not only used to ensure that your pet is healthy enough to fly, but is also used to ensure that they are protected with the proper vaccinations. Proper vaccinations will not only protect your pet, but other passengers, as well as airline staff.

Once you have received clearance from the airline, which you wish to fly on, purchased the appropriate pet equipment, and obtained the proper health checks for your pet, you will need to wait until your day of travel. On that day, you may want to arrive at the airport a little bit earlier than recommended. This will help to ensure that you could quickly straighten out a problem, without having to miss your flight, should one arise.

When you and your pet arrive at the airport, whether it be early or not, you will both be required to go through airport security. Your pet will be required to pass through a metal detector, just like everyone else. If you are using a pet carrier, it is also likely that your pet carrier will be subject to examination. This examination most commonly includes being sent though the x-ray machine with your carryon luggage; however, it is important to note that your pet will not have to go through the x-ray machine; the metal detector should be enough.

As previously mentioned, not all airlines allow their passengers to fly with their pets, even in the cabin or below deck. That is why it is advised that you determine whether or not your pet can fly with you, ahead of time. In addition to different air travel rules, you may also find that some airlines charged extra fees for pet passengers. In the event that you are charged, you will be notified of this charge ahead of time.

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Do You Need Health Or Travel Insurance?

Obtaining medical treatment and hospital care can be costly for travelers who are injured or who become seriously ill overseas. The Social Security Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide coverage for hospital or medical services outside the United States.

Before you leave the United States, you should be informed about which medical services your health insurance will cover abroad.

Senior citizens may wish to contact the American Association of Retired Persons for information about foreign medical care coverage with Medicare supplement plans.

If your health insurance policy does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs abroad, you are urged to purchase a temporary health policy that does provide this type of coverage. There are short-term health and emergency assistance policies designed for travelers.

You can find the names of companies that provide such policies from your travel agent, your health insurance company, or from advertisements in travel publications. In addition to health insurance, many policies include trip cancellation, baggage loss, and travel accident insurance in the same package. Some traveler’s check companies have protection policies available with the purchase of traveler’s checks.

Medical Evacuation

Although some health insurance companies may pay “customary and reasonable” hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for medical evacuation back to the United States. Medical evacuation can easily cost $10,000 or more, depending on your location and medical condition.

One of the main advantages of health and emergency assistance policies is that they often include coverage for medical evacuation to the United States. Even if your regular health insurance covers you for emergencies abroad, you should consider purchasing supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Whichever health insurance coverage you choose for travel overseas, remember to carry with you both your health insurance policy identity card and claim forms.

Do You Need Travel Insurance?

You may not need travel insurance, if you are already adequately covered by other insurance policies.

Depending on the travel insurance plan, travel insurance usually promises to cover you for cancellation or interruption of your trip, some form of emergency medical care while you are traveling, lost or stolen luggage, and various other troublesome occurrences.

Before you decide on a travel insurance plan, it is wise to investigate the plan carefully and read the fine print. You should closely check any agreements with your travel agent, tour operator, airline, or other companies involved with your travel plans. The agreements may include written guarantees.

If you have a fully refundable airline ticket, you may decide that you would not need trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

On the other hand, it may be worthwhile noting that certain insurance plans can protect you by covering the financial costs in case of the following situations:

A sudden, serious injury or illness to you, a family member, or a traveling companion.
Financial default of the airline, cruise line or tour operator.

Natural disasters or strikes that impede travel services.

A terrorist incident in a foreign city within 10 days of your scheduled arrival in that particular city.

The fact that you, a traveling member of your family, or a traveling companion were quarantined served with a court order or required to serve on a jury.

A circumstance in which you were directly involved in an accident enroute to departure for your trip.

It is a good idea to check your other insurance policies. For instance, your homeowners or tenants insurance may cover the loss or theft of your luggage.

Certain credit cards may also provide additional travel insurance, if you have used them to purchase the ticket for your trip.

Your health insurance may provide certain coverage, regardless of where you travel. But it is very important to note that some policies only partially cover medical expenses abroad. Moreover, as previously explained in the section on Health Insurance, Medicare/Medicaid will not cover hospital and medical services outside the United States.

Your travel agent should be able to advise you about the right plan for you. Before purchasing travel insurance, review the plan carefully, and be wary of buying coverage that you may already have.

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Booking Holidays Online – Cheaper than Travel Agents?

The way in which many of us book holidays has changed dramatically in recent years. Ten years ago many of us would have relied on our local travel agents to find us a good deal.

When we came to think about our next trip away, we’d simply wander down the high street and nip into a few travel agents shops, picking up a number of different holiday brochures to compare prices offered by different tour operators.

Comparing prices sometimes involved taking into account certain special offers that might be available, or any additional costs caused by the time of year (school holidays, for example) or number of people travelling.

When thinking about destinations, resorts or particular hotels, our opinions might largely be shaped by what friends and family had told us, what we’d read in magazines, or maybe what we’d seen in holiday-related television programmes.

The arrival of the internet and its increasing availability to many of us has undoubtedly changed the goalposts. We now have the ability to research our chosen destinations online such as www.guesthouseinbusan.org – we even have access to the thoughts of previous visitors to the hotels that we may be planning to stay at.

We can compare prices relatively quickly and also have more options in terms of how we structure our holidays. We’re no longer limited by the narrow boundaries of the package holiday market – we can now book our flights and accommodation independently, with far less hassle.

So everything has got better. Or has it?

The internet has brought us a lot of information but how much of that information is really reliable? When I read reviews of places that I’ve visited, I often find that other people’s experiences are very different from my own.

It’s clear that we all have different expectations of what is involved in having a good holiday.

It seems to me that, while holiday prices may well have come down, many of us are left looking to trawl through masses of information, much of which may be considerably less reliable than that once provided by the good old-fashioned travel agent.

Maybe we should take the “progress” provided by the internet with a small pinch of salt.

5 Important Traveling Tips That Every Family Should Know

When it comes to traveling, safety is a must. The perfect combination of common sense mixed in with a touch of technology can help to keep both you and your family safe and sound while on the go.

Perfect packing. When you’re leaving for a trip, it’s important to pack a lot more than just clothes and sunblock. Always make sure to have your cell phone and charger with you at all times, and make sure the battery is fully charged before you leave home. This will give you the ability to stay connected from anywhere.

Money matters. When traveling, it’s never a good idea to carry large amounts of cash. Instead, carrying at least one credit card will help to ensure that you are protected against theft. In the unlikely event that your wallet or purse is stolen, you can report it to the credit card immediately to prevent unauthorized use. For this reason, it’s important that you carry a list of telephone numbers for your credit card issuer(s) so that you can contact them immediately. This information should be kept separate from your wallet so that it will still be in your possession even if your card is not.

Stay in touch. Always make sure to let a friend or family member know where you are going and where you will be staying during your time away from home. It’s a good idea to let your friend or family member know that you will be calling when you arrive at your destination. It’s also a good idea to keep in touch occasionally while you are away, and always leave a telephone number where you can be reached.

Keep important numbers handy. Anytime you travel, it’s important to make a note of local emergency numbers, including hospitals, authorities, taxi services and other businesses that you think may be able to assist you if needed. You can find these numbers online or use a local telephone book upon your arrival.

Do your homework. One of the greatest things about traveling is the ability to see new things and experience new places, but it’s also important to keep safety in mind while exploring. Always have an accurate map of the area, which you can obtain from the local tourism office or chamber of commerce. If possible, call ahead and request that this information be mailed to you several weeks before your actual trip. This will allow you to have the map on hand when you arrive. Always travel in well lit areas and avoid places that seem to be deserted, especially after dark and in locations that you are unfamiliar with.

Now that you know how to protect yourself and your family during your time spent away from home, remember to enjoy all of the wonders that await your next vacation with the ones that you love.

Article sponsored by AndyPicks, AmyPicks and WhatWeBuy.

5 Best Packages On Disney World Vacation

For vacationers, a trip to Disney World is always enticing, but now more than ever, people are clamoring for Disney’s vacation packages. Compared to past rates, which were criticized for actually being higher than the cost of buying components of a package individually, today’s vacation deals are not only convenient – but economical too.

There are several different vacation packages to choose from for 2006. The 2006 Magic Your Way Vacation Package is the most affordable and it includes accommodations at the Disney Resort, the Magic Your Way Base Ticket (which grants entrance to one theme park per day and can be upgradeable to a “park hopper” ticket as well), and a Magic Plus option or with an extra cost, a No Expiration option.

Likewise, if you (or your travel agent) books a package online, a Disney Photopass will accompany it, and is essentially a voucher for a 5” x 7” photo of you and your fellow vacationers, snapped by a professional photographer. Other goodies that you can qualify for online include a meal voucher for Planet Hollywood Dining and Merchandize. The voucher can be exchanged for an entrée and non-alcoholic beverage from a select menu.

Another vacation deal is the 2006 Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining and it includes accommodations to Disney owned and operated hotels and the opportunity to experience several unique dining locations across the Walt Disney World Resort. Every day, at participating Walt Disney World restaurants, you can receive one table service meal with an appetizer, entrée, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage, one counter service meal with entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage, and one snack (ice cream, popcorn, medium soft drinks, etc).

Disney’s Magic Your Way Premium Package is a fancier, deluxe package and includes just about everything: hotel accommodations, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and unlimited access to golf, miniature golf, water sports and other recreations. Also, purchasers of this package are admitted to Cirque du Soleil’s exciting La Nouba, and various park tours and the like. As well, children from four to twelve years old can participate in selected resorts at the Disney Children Activity Center.

The grandest package of all is Disney’s Magic Your Way Platinum Package. In addition to the benefits of the premium package (like hotel stay, breakfast, lunch, dinner, recreation, and a ticket to Cirque du Soleil), you will also receive a spa treatment, extra recreational opportunities – including private golf lessons, a reserved seat to the exciting fireworks show Fantasmic!, unlimited childcare in the Child Activity Centers, a ride on the Fireworks Cruise, itinerary planning services, in-room child care, the Platinum Plan keepsake, and turndown service.

For groups of eight or more, there is a special package called Grand Gatherings or hot tub prices. There are extraordinary benefits offered here that small groups simply can’t take part in – special events can be booked, like the International Dinner and Illuminations Desert Reception, Safari Celebration Dinner, Good Morning Gathering, and Magical Fireworks Voyage.

Nevertheless, an important thing to know is that standard full-price Disney vacation packages presented by tour operators are convenient, but there are no “bargain” prices. More often, Disney World packages are to be purchased through Walt Disney Travel Company or the WDTC.

Big Game Fishing In Florida: A Relaxing Weekend Getaway in the US Southeast

Now that you realized that you are so jaded because of work, you then decide to take things lightly and try going on a weekend vacation with your friends. You then find out that you and your friends has the same interest when it comes to relaxing, which is big game fishing. So, if you plan on going fishing on a weekend vacation, where would you go? To answer this question, you might want to try spending your weekend getaway in the US Southeast particularly in the State of Florida.

As you may know, Florida is situated in the Southeast of the United States. Here, you will be able to enjoy white sand beaches and most of all, spectacular fishing.

Florida is basically big game fishing. In the Florida Keys, you will find a lot of places to go fishing. In fact, this place is even considered to be an angler’s haven. It provides great fishing opportunities for everyone. Whether you are an amateur or a professional big game angler, you will be able to find Florida as the best place for you to go fishing.

There are a lot of ways to get started fishing in Florida. The first is by hiring a backcountry guide who is an expert in fishing as well as experts in finding a particular specimen of fish that you want to catch. They are also experts in locating the places where you can have the best fishing experience.

Another option is by going on board with a party fishing boat charter. In this particular option, you will be able to go fishing with other anglers. This is a perfect method if you plan on making friends on your trip and is also a great way for you to experience fishing in Florida. Not only that you will make friends in this kind of trip, but you will also be able to pick up a few tips in fishing from seasoned anglers.

But, if you and your friends are experienced anglers, then you can try to go deep sea fishing. You can also hire a boat all to yourselves. This way, you won’t share the fighting chair with other people and you will definitely have a fantastic time during your weekend fishing getaway.

If you are not that experienced in fishing or if it is your first time to go fishing in Florida, then going for the backcountry guide is your best bet. By doing so, you will be able to know where to go fishing as well as get the most out of your fishing adventure. This option is also for people who wants to solitude and silence during fishing.

However, if you enjoy the company of other anglers, and that you love to brag about your big catch a week ago, then going on a party boat is your best choice. Here, you will be able to make new friends and you will also enjoy hearing fishing stories from other people. Whether it is a fishing tall tale or a true story, you will definitely enjoy every moment of it. Just imagine, socializing with fellow anglers while having a few cans of cold beer while waiting for a bite on your rod.

But, if you are a veteran angler and you are looking for big game catches, then deep sea fishing charter is for you.

There are diverse species of game fish that you can find in Florida. From big grouper, to marlins, to sharks and large tunas, you will see that Florida is the perfect place for a weekend fishing getaway in the Southeast US.

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Overseas Travel Health Insurance for India

Health Insurance policy issued to you is valid in India only. When you travel out of India then you need Overseas Travel Health insurance policy because of following reasons :
i. If Hospitalization is required while you are in a foreign country then treatment may not start in a hospital; unless you make the payment in cash or by credit card or produce health insurance policy reference / card.

ii. Some embassies of foreign countries need it as part of documents for issue of visa itself. An example is the Germany Embassy or Spain Embassy.

Even though this policy in the beginning was for taking care of hospitalization/medical treatment only but at present this product is available with certain additional features.

You will notice that while in the case of Health Insurance policy valid with in India is having the limit of Rs 5,00,000 but in case of Overseas Health Insurance policy sum can be as high as US$ 5,00,000, which is nearly equal to Rs. 235 lakhs. (Rs 2.35 crores)

Health Insurance policy valid within India is issued with difficulty for those above 60 years in age. In the case of Overseas Travel Health Insurance for India, the policy can be issued even for the age of 84 years but subject to following documents being attached with proposal form for all those whose age is above 70:
• ECG test
• Blood test
• Urine test

Medical assessment in specified format duly filled/signed/rubber stamped along with license no. of the postgraduate (M.D. or a above) doctor who has filled the report. It is to be understood that report by MBBS qualified doctor is not valid.

The medical specialists of the Insurance Companies generally based in Zonal office or Head office review the documents and decide:

1. Whether to accept the proposal and underwrite the risk

2. If to underwrite the risk should there be loading on premium rates and what should be the maximum amount of Hospitalization covered.

This approval cycle can take 2 to 5 days. Normally for a person of 70+ age the limits imposed with respect to hospitalization / medication in the policy are between US $ 10000 and US $ 50000. You will notice that this is much less in comparison to limit of US $ 5,00,000, which is available to those who are in age group of 70 years or less. The good thing about this policy is that sphygmomanometer price and gloves for arthritic hands it is even issued to those who have preexisting disease. Hospitalization in foreign country even with the disease (preexisting) is covered.

On the concept of loading factor starting on a specified data it has been seen that for a person aged 84 traveling to USA, a specific PSU loaded the premium by 150%. Private Insurance Companies are generally not issuing policy to those, who are 80+in age.

In these recent months we notice that PSU’s have started discouraging the issue of such policies
These policies can be divided in to :
1. Single trip policy
2. Annual multitrip policy

As the name indicates single trip covers a single trip, which is starting on a specific date and ending on a specific date. It is possible to extend the date on payment of additional premium subject to condition that no claim has been made. Extension of policy is at the discretion of the Insurance Company.
Annual Multi trip policy is having validity of 1 year. As many trips as you wish are possible but it is subject to the condition: “Single trip not being more than 30 days.” Some Insurance Companies now offer option of single trip not being more than 45 days.

 

China Business Travel

Ever wondered if you could deal directly with manufacturers… in China?! It’s easier than you think.

First Impressions
I visited China in Autumn 2005 with a group of business associates and must admit that I was amazed, both by the warm reception we received wherever we went, and at the factories we toured. Having never been there before, and having only news accounts of “difficulties” between China and the U.S. to fuel my imagination, I assumed things would be overly formal and official at best… at worst, cold… and we would be “watched” constantly. I was so wrong on both counts. We were treated as welcome visitors and had only to ask the hotel staff for something to have it almost magically produced.

Lost in Translation
Outside of the hotels and manufacturing facilities, doing business in the streets and in small shops was, at most times, terribly difficult. We had arranged our factory visits and business meetings with our contacts in China, and there were no problems on that side when it came to language. But once we stepped out on our own, we rarely found anyone – even in tourist gift shops – who could communicate in English at all. Next time I visit China, I’ll hopefully be armed with a few more basic Mandarin phrases, but for everyone visiting, even just for leisure, I’d recommend hiring translators to assist you.

Cash in China
Another word of warning: business owners back home in the States may be suitably impressed by your Gold Card, but to the Chinese shopkeeper it’s just a pretty piece of plastic that won’t buy a cup of Chinese tea. Even in the large cities, you’re going to have to carry around Chinese Yuan (aka Renminbi) in cash if you want to be able to go shopping or eat at a restaurant. I have to say, the upside of this is that you won’t find yourself going over budget. But with the incredibly low Chinese retail prices, that probably wouldn’t happen anyway.

Low Retail Prices
Once you’ve overcome the communication difficulties you’ll be amazed to find the bargains you’ll find in the small shops. For a start, it’s an electronics paradise. Just make sure you do your homework on what will and won’t work back in the States. For example, you’ll find that some Chinese DVD players, though remarkably low-cost, are manufactured to a Chinese standard that is not compatible with DVD discs sold in other parts of the world.

Factories in China
Our visit to a manufacturing plant in Huizhou left us all . . . well, ‘impressed’ hardly seems like a strong enough word. The building, on the outside was sort of drab looking with banners hanging here and there but inside was quite a different story. First of all we were treated as if we were VIPs instead of mid-level managers from Kenosha. Most importantly, however, the level of automation in this factory was remarkable, even by American standards and, when you look at the numbers, you see that the productivity is really impressive. It’s no longer a mystery to this American why China is finding such a willing market in America.

Back Again
I wish I had more than the seven days we were able to stay in China, but it won’t be long before I’m back, this time with a group of my friends who have been listening to me talking about the business opportunities since I got back… and we need Chinese visa also who now want to go out there to get a piece of the action for themselves.

About Winter Sports Travel Insurance

As the days grow shorter and summer becomes a memory, many of us will be turning our thoughts towards planning a winter vacation, especially one involving winter sports such as skiing. Travel insurance is an often overlooked part of holiday planning, but if you plan on taking part in sporting activites then it really is essential.

A normal travel insurance policy will probably not be up to the standard you need for winter sports, and if things go wrong you could be left facing a huge bill. So what features should you be looking for in a policy?

– Injury Cover

No matter how accomplished a skiier you are, hurtling down a mountain is always going to be more risky than simply lying on a beach working on a tan. And if you do have an accident, a mountainside isn’t the easiest place for medical services to reach. If you’re unlucky enough to need a mountain rescue or airlift to hospital, you’ll be facing a bill running into the thousands even before you get medical attention. This sort of expense is likely to be specifically excluded on a standard insurance policy, but will be an integral part of almost any winter sports cover.

– Equipment

Most winter sports require expensive equipment, and where there are valuables there’s always the chance of theft. Your insurance should provide enough cover to fully replace your equipment with brand new items if necessary, right there at the resort. Even if you plan to hire your equipment, the hire company will probably require insurance – and your own policy is likely to be cheaper than the standard one they’ll try to sell you.

– Liability

Even the best skiiers or snowboarders can be involved in an accident in which someone else gets injured. Whether or not an accident is your fault, you could end up being taken to court and this is usually a long and expensive process. A decent insurance policy will cover costs from any legal proceedings and / or compensation payments.

– Closure of Piste

If bad weather (or warm weather!) means that the pistes are closed and you can’t ski, your policy should pay you compensation to cover the costs of any pre-booked lessons or lift fees, and many will even include a payment simply to cover the inconvenience of not being able to ski.

– Off Piste

A final point to note is that a standard winter sports policy will probably only cover you for accidents that occur when skiing on designated pistes. If you plan to go off-piste, then make sure your insurance will cover this – you’ll probably have to pay a supplement.

As with most kinds of insurance, paying out for travel insurance can seem like a waste of money. However, if you find yourself caught up in an accident on the mountainside then the costs involved can be truly frightening and you’ll be glad you took the time to arrange adequate cover in advance!