Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Cautious Optimist: So You Want to Take That Big Trip Overseas? Here’s What You NEED to Know

Welcome to our series The Cautious Optimist, brought to you by our pals at Tower Insurance, where we – forever the optimists – at Capsule look into those big life decisions you might be toying with and how to make sure you’re making the right decisions, especially if, as we’re talking about this week, you’re thinking about travelling after Covid.

From finally embarking on that post-Covid big trip, buying a house and everything in between, we have all the big questions answered by the experts so you can be cautious AND optimistic!

Up first, Emma Clifton looks at the big OE, and how you, in this climate, can travel with ease, and stay insured and safe in 2022 and beyond – and travelling after Covid.

If one more person on our social media feeds puts up another photo of them in Italy, we’re going to…. well, scroll through all of their photos and imagine the warm sun on our skin. After two-and-a-bit years of zero overseas trips, there is a world of possibility (but also still Covid) out there to explore.

So, if you’ve got the travel itch it’s a good idea to think ahead. Having jet-set this year to Rarotonga, the Gold Coast and most recently Hawaii, we’re talking to Tower Senior Communications Manager Lauren Graves  and Stuff’s Travel Editor Trupti Biradar about where to go, how to plan and how to be prepared for the good things – and the tricky things – that come with travelling overseas.

How to stay insured and safe while travelling in a pandemic world

If there’s one thing the Clifton family are good for, it’s being a cautionary tale about why you should always get travel insurance. I’ll take you back to the year 2004 when, during a five-week trip, the following things all took place: I got a kidney stone in Venice and was hospitalised in the urology ward for two days, my dad got pneumonia in Paris and then, to top it all off, my mum broke her toe while we were in London. Luckily, we were insured, because the bill for my hospital stay alone was 6,000 euros – e.g. double our entire holiday budget. Now, I am evangelistic about travel insurance, and so I spoke to Lauren Graves from Tower about the ins and outs of staying as protected as possible while travelling in 2022 and beyond.

So Lauren, why do you need travel insurance?

When you’re planning a trip it’s exciting to focus on all the great things you’ll be doing. But just about anything can go wrong when you are travelling, and when you’re away from home it can be a much more difficult problem to fix. It’s better to think ahead and be over prepared than underprepared.

What’s kinds of problems do people run into while travelling?

As Kiwis, travel is in our DNA. While it’s exciting to get out and see everything the big, wide, beautiful world has to offer, people can run into all sorts of issues when travelling. From slipping up when you don’t know the local language or going through a breakup overseas, to getting mugged, getting sick and losing baggage – there are so many scenarios you need to be aware of before you go. At Tower, our comprehensive international travel insurance policy has a broad range of features, ranging from loss of deposits to incidental hospital expenses, loss or damage to your personal baggage and 24/7 emergency assistance. (Sidenote: Please check out tales of this year’s baggage crisis in Europe if you want an understanding of just how badly one lost bag can go.)

Lauren Graves on travelling after Covid

How has Covid changed travel insurance – and what do we need to be aware of?

Now that SafeTravel has lifted the “Do Not Travel” warning, taking out travel insurance will help you stay covered – not just with lost or damaged items but also with a number of situations including if you need to cancel your trip if you’re unable to travel due to contracting Covid-19, or your travelling companion are denied boarding your flight based on a suspicion that either of you have Covid-19, and you incur additional meals and accommodation expenses. Plus, if you contract Covid-19 after you commence your journey, there is provision to claim for medical benefits.

Visit the Tower website for more information on what you are covered for when it comes to Covid.

How do you pick the right insurance?

Like all of Tower’s products you can simply go online to find the best insurance policy for your needs. With Tower’s online tool, you’ll be asked a small number of questions about your upcoming travel plans. You’ll then be given a no obligation quote to match the level of cover you need – quick and easy. There’s also the option to talk to a Tower customer service rep over the phone, who will walk you through the quoting process and answer any questions you may have. We always recommend that you check your policy wording too – if there’s something you don’t understand, make sure you talk to your insurer. Checkout Tower’s Travel Insurance Tips for more information.

Where to go, what to do and how to travel cheaply

Stuff Travel Editor Trupti’s travel tip #1: How to plan an itinerary

  • Do your research before you go – ask friends/family who’ve been to that destination, look on Reddit for local recommendations, and make a list of your must dos. Look up distances between things on Google Maps to understand if you can walk between them or if you need to take public transport.
  • Build some free time into your itinerary – things don’t always go to plan and having some leeway here and there can help. Don’t try to do too much either, you’ll just be exhausted and won’t enjoy yourself.
  • Most cities have free walking tours – they are a great way to start and orient yourself in a destination.
  • Save your money for several must-do experiences (including restaurants) and try to include a mix of free experiences.

Trupti’s travel tip #2: Must dos to avoid classic tourist mistakes

  • Make sure you buy travel insurance. You might think you won’t need it, until you do and then you’ll be glad you bought it.
  • Always research your destination – take the time to understand everything from the local culture to common scams to watch out for and how to stay safe.
  • Make sure you have back-ups of important documents like digital copies of your visas and passport, and more than one way to access your money, like two debit cards.

Trupti’s travel trip #3: How to save money when planning a trip?

  • Travel off peak – you’ll find the most savings from airlines and accommodation that way.  
  • Eat where the locals do. If you’re at a tourist attraction, cafes and restaurants will be overpriced. Wander away a few blocks.
  • Stay at a place with a kitchen and make your own meals using local produce. Save your money for a few special meals.

Trupti’s travel tip #4: How to stay Covid-aware when travelling

  • Look on government websites from each country you plan to visit for information on restrictions/requirements.
  • On Stuff Travel, we try to keep readers updated on those changing requirements but mostly for the countries that are firm favourites with Kiwis. Those restrictions change so quickly, that official websites are probably the most up-to-date source.
  • Check your travel insurance policy wording in conjunction with MFAT’s SafeTravel NZ website, many insurers will only provide cover for Kiwis to countries without a ‘Do Not Travel’ warning, so make sure you keep an eye on which countries are safe.

Tower’s online portal My Tower keeps your insurance in order so you can keep things simple. All your details are online in one easy place! You can pay your premiums, check your policies, sum insured, and even make a claim, all via your personalised profile from anywhere, at any time – even half way across the world. Tower has you covered from travel, right through to the car, cat and dog, all with great multi-policy discounts! 

Got to to find out more.

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