Monday Morning Quarter-Buck
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” ―
Do you suppose when Roman philosopher St. Augustine (354 - 430) spoke those words that he could have ever imaged the world of travel today? Where songs like, “On the Road Again,” are used to describe a way of life? As Brent and I begin to plan for our Spring voyage back to New York, we talk about the travel hazards that might happen and what “the plan” will be if they do. How many of you have a “travel plan.” I’m not just talking about reservations, but alternative options should something go wrong prior or during your trip?
For example, what would you do if…
You had to reschedule your flight last minute
You were bumped from your seat on the plane
Weather gets in the way to, during, or from your trip
You, or a family, member took ill and you had to cancel
You get sick while traveling and need a hospital or need to be evacuated
The company you booked the trip with goes bankrupt
If you are driving and you have an accident (with your own vehicle or a rental)
You are on a trip and your possessions are stolen
You lose your passport
Your hotel has bed bugs (or other major problems)
I know, I know, I take such a wonderful event and turn it into a possible nightmare by listing all these possible problems. But knowing the action plan will make the situation less stressful if you plan in advance and they do actually happen.
So how do you plan for all these rotten outcomes? Often I’m asked if travel insurance is the answer. But before you spend the extra for the separate insurance, take time prior to booking the trip to find out what you credit card company might cover. You may get the coverage you need simply by paying for the trip on your VISA, Mastercard, Discover or American Express. Simply by calling the customer service number on the back of your card, you can ask them what coverage might be included; make sure to ask them if there are any restrictions.
If you have multiple credit cards, consider splitting up the trip on the various cards based on the coverage they may offer. For example, if one of your cards will reimburse you for your trip if you need to cancel a flight, then put the plane tickets on that card.
If another card offers good rental car coverage (collision and liability), then you would book the rental car with that card.
If your current card doesn’t offer trip delay or cancellation, and you are going on a big trip, consider looking for a card that can offer that coverage. For example, one card offers up to $10,000 per trip for a cancellation, and up to $500 per ticket for a delay.
When it comes to medical emergencies, find out from your insurance company what you would need to do and document that process and give it to your travel buddy; make sure you have any allergies well documented in both English and the native country you will be traveling to (or through).
Also, ask your credit card company if they have any “travel accident insurance.” Travel accident insurance will pay a lump sum amount for accidental death and dismemberment of the cardholder (and possible authorized users or spouse/partner) while traveling.
When your accommodations are worse than sleeping in your car, but the hotel won’t refund your “holding” fee, first go find a hotel that you aren’t terrified of closing you eyes at, but don’t stress about getting your money back, most likely your credit card will have consumer protection assistance. Call them and let them know what happened, they will credit your account for the fee while they investigate the situation. There is one caveat to this, many times you only have 60-days to contest a charge, so if you pre-pay for your hotel too far in advance, this might not be an option. But ask your credit card company what they would do in this event. Also, if you have to pre-pay more than 60-days in advance, make sure you check out the hotel on www.BBB.org (Better Business Bureau), to see if there have been massive complaints.
And don’t forget, you have me to bounce ideas off of. So for your next trip, spend a little time finding out what built-in benefits your credit card company may offer, check your medical insurance provider to establish a medical emergency plan, and consider the above list of things that could go wrong and determine your plan of action for each...as they say plan for the worst, and hope for the best.