Travel Insurance

Studying abroad entails a lot of risks – the risks of flight cancellation at eleventh hour, medical emergency, loss of baggage, etc. Pulling yourself up under such adverse conditions abroad can be quite expensive in itself. Also, a student living alone outside India might need visit from the family or other back-ups if something goes wrong.

To cope up with all these situations without burning a hole in your pocket, it is sensible to get student travel insurance from a reputed insurance firm. Each student who frequently travel to nearby destinations needs a student travel insurance. It keeps them protected in the new place and covers for expenses of hospitalization, loss of baggage, tuition fee, sponsor protection and travel, family visit and other incidental expenses.

Your choice to buy a good cover should be more dependent on the flexibility of the policy, the amount of coverage, claim settlement process and track record, hospital networks (the insurers tie up with the list of hospitals your child is going to study in) along with other benefits. There are many universities abroad that also provide their students extensive health cover with a strong network of hospitals. What’s good with the plans offered by the universities is that they provide cashless treatment in the hospitals based nearby.

Two important factors that you must consider while getting a student travel insurance are:

1. Gap year travel: Taking a gap year nowadays has become a custom among students around the world. This means that it will be hard for these students to find an appropriate cover especially those who will be visiting some other country, and that too alone. Fortunately, there is a wide range of life insurance policies that cater to such needs of the students and lend a helping hand to them. But an important consideration when purchasing a policy of this type is the exact period of your travel and also the destination covered, even if you are just passing through the country.

2. Extreme sports: If you are planning to travel overseas to participate in some sports activity, getting a student travel insurance that covers for extreme sports is an absolute necessity as there is always a risk of injury in sports. The insurance covers you when you get injured and helps you get treated from the best hospital in the nearby location. While there are many types of insurance policies that cover for basic medical emergencies, you should buy the one policy that provides extensive coverage if you plan to undertake extreme sports or activities. There are many insurance companies that even specify the type of sports that their policy covers for. So this gives you the option to choose the best policy that matches your criteria best.

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Seniors Travel Checklist

Travel is the number one activity on retirees to do list. A good retirement requires planning so to keep travelling bedlam to a minimum prepare for your trip ahead of time. By doing so, you’ll be able to pick up the suitcase and walk out the door on travel day without a worry. Use a travel agent for peace of mind. Book early for popular products that give great deals such as early bird savings or fly free offers as these deals are limited.

The following travel checklist will serve as a guideline of tasks to complete for peace of mind for your security, your health and on your trip.

Your Security at Home and Abroad

  • Make sure your bank is aware of your travel plans so they do not refuse any charges to your credit cards in foreign countries.
  • Protect your Luggage with clear labels.
  • Use luggage identifiers such as a colourful ribbon or tag to help you find your suitcase on carousels.
  • Have someone collect your mail while you are away from home
  • Consider a house sitter to keep your house safe while you are away
  • Understand your travel insurance in case of emergencies

Your Health

  • Wear comfortable shoes this will help prepare you for long queues at some airports
  • Carry a letter from your doctor detailing what your medicine is for, how much you take and that is for your personal use
  • Talk to you doctor about your travel plans to consider what vaccinations you may need
  • Carry a spare pair of spectacles
  • Remember you are only allowed to carry 3.4oz/100ml of liquids or gels on the aeroplane. It is best to have these prepared prior to arrival at the airport to save time with long queues at customs and quarantine

On the Trip

  • Weigh your suitcase and be aware of weight restrictions
  • Take travel adaptors. On some long trips as you pass through different continents you may need up to 3 adaptors for your electronic aids
  • Take copies of your credit card numbers, in case they are stolen. If you have a copy this will make it easier to order a replacement card
  • Carry a mobile phone and a map with you always
  • Know the phone number of your tour group leader in case of emergencies
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Travel Photography: China

Travel photography in China is a big topic and therefore this article only explores the parameters that will go towards making your visit a success. The key point is to ensure that you keep the travel down to allow time for your main objective.

Duration and timing

For a visit of one or two weeks it will be well worth while to focus on one theme from one base only. Getting to and from the base and orientation there can swallow 4-6 days depending on your start point and quite how remote you plan to go. Each change of base is likely to take up at least one more day.

Flights may appear to shrink the country on paper but in reality the transfers to/from the airport, arrival and departure procedures and the inevitable delays will mean more frustration than ease. A good alternative is to make use of the new fast train network. That is mentioned again below.

If you are able to visit China for longer then you can begin to include additional bases. For a three-week trip two bases would be quite reasonable; three bases at a stretch – particularly if you are shooting in urban areas and are close to transport hubs for the required moves.

Your budget will also impact on the decision to move around. Flights and the associated costs are relatively expensive. Your budget will soon disappear on these if you try to include too much when, really, you should be thinking of allowing for quality services once at a base so that you are able to get out to the sites you want at the times that it is best to be there. That will normally require private transport and a local guide.

There is no best season to visit China. There are times to avoid, such as the Spring Festival (dates vary as this is based on the Lunar Calendar) the ‘Golden Week’ National holiday (1 – 7 October each year). During peak periods prices go up (an annoyance)but the main issue is that travel services become saturated and you are likely to find some tickets and accommodation unavailable at any price.

Destinations within China may have their own best season. It is well worth doing your research here as changing your dates by a few days may well have a big impact on the results you get. Check out national and local holidays/festivals as well as the phase of the moon (an indicator for tides too if you plan to be by the coast) and try to avoid major sporting events (such as the Shanghai Grand Prix) or trade fairs (such as the ones in Guangzhou – aka Canton).

Photographic style and style of travel

China is huge and exotic. It therefore offers photographers a vast range of opportunities. Your task during the planning stage is to get a handle on these and come up with an achievable plan. Be ruthless and eliminate as many add-ons as you can bear.

Landscape photographers are likely to be tempted to one of the mountainous areas. Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is rightly one of the top destinations for local and foreign artists. The karst landscape around Guilin is also hugely popular, including the rice terraces at Longsheng and the town of Yangshuo, my home for the last 12 years.

Those landscape photographers with more of a sense of adventure may be tempted to Tibet (but should instead look to visit Tibetan areas in Yunnan, Sichuan and Qinghai to avoid the need for special permits) or to the desert-rich far west. The Great Wall of China ends at Jiayuguan (according to most) and the combination of snow-capped peaks, desert and fortifications is hard to beat. Zhangye is not so far away and is becoming relatively famous for its multi-coloured rock striations. Search for ‘zhangye danxia’ if you are not already familiar with the area.

Fans of architecture will find great delight in almost any Chinese city. The pace is development is so fast that ancient, communist-era and modern buildings all exist within small spaces allowing for a wide range of shots efficiently, for contrasts and for a documentary-style approach to construction itself.

Street photography fans have, perhaps, the widest choice of venues – both urban and rural. Even the simple difference that signs have Chinese characters has a huge impact on backgrounds, and there is never any shortage of foreground interest. Don’t skimp on batteries; do try to learn a few basic phrases of Mandarin so that you can come across as friendly and harmless.

Conclusion

China has much to offer the travel photographer but only the well-prepared ones will make effective use of their time. Do take the advice in the first part of this article and keep travel to a minimum. You will only understand why after your first trip.

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Travel or Not to Travel?

This is always a difficult topic. When is a destination safe, and when is it not? Although it is generally agreed that numbers do not lie, and that statistics are cold, but true, they should always be put into perspective.

Over the last few years, Honduras has had some of the highest murder rates in the world, and the international press has been jolly about dubbing San Pedro Sula as the Murder Capital in the World. While the statistics do show a reality, it is one that a traveler to Honduras would probably never see. You see, crime, whether murder or petty crime, rarely affects the tourists and travelers in Honduras. As a general rule, you need only read the comments and reviews that different travelers put up on the travel websites to see that they not only were not affected by crime, but that most of them actually felt extremely safe! As you can see, there is a difference between safety vs. perception of safety in Honduras!

Sadly, a US citizen, for example, is probably much safer visiting Honduras than going on a shopping trip to the local mall, or walking into a theater to watch a movie. Heck, kids are surely much safer on vacations in Honduras that in school in the USA! Chances of randomly running into a nut with a gun are certainly higher in the United States of America than anywhere else in the World!

The US state department issues travel warnings for all of its citizens planning a trip to Honduras, warning them of the dangers and perils of visiting Honduras, yet they somehow neglect to warn the desperate Hispanic immigrants who are following the American Dream of the perils of living in the USA. The feared Central American gangs where actually born in the streets of Los Angeles as a means of defending themselves from the local gangs there! The local gangs were born when members were deported from the US back to Latin America.

Honduras, as a travel destination offers truly unique and often overlooked experiences and sites. The people of Honduras are certainly some of the most friendly and hospitable people you will find on planet earth. Given the opportunity, they will go out of their way to make you feel at home, safe and happy during a visit to their country.

Dare to break the misconceptions about Honduras. Plan a trip to Copan, La Ceiba, Tela or the Bay Islands. Discover the beauty of Honduras and the heart of its friendly people. Come and learn firsthand that safety vs. perception of safety in Honduras are two very different things!

During your visit to Copan, regardless if visiting Copan Ruinas, Gracias, Lake Yojoa, Tela, La Ceiba or the Bay Islands, you will be surprised at how safe you feel and how friendly the people are. Travelers coming through Honduras usually find that their travel experiences always exceed their expectations. Come and see for yourself!

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International Travel Packing

Do you plan on traveling internationally for a long period of time? Are you the type of person that over packs for everything? Traveling for an extended period of time can be a challenge when packing because the typical regulation for checked luggage is a maximum weight of 50 pounds per checked bag, and a common dimension of 27″ x 21″ x 14″. When I was planning a trip to Europe for two weeks several things became clear: 1) I over pack 2) I prepare for the unexpected, and 3) I would return with a lot more than what I was leaving with and needed to allow space for souvenirs and clothing purchased on the trip. After a lot of research and asking multiple people who traveled abroad, I learned a few tips that might help you appropriately pack your luggage and avoid an excess baggage weight fee. Here are the tips I found helpful.

1. Liquids: Packing liquids can be a little tricky because you do not want it to spill and depending on the number of liquids and amount required it may weigh a lot, and liquid containers may take up a lot of space. Target has smaller plastic containers in their dollar section. Label the containers with a sharpie; i.e. shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, or anything else you feel the need to bring. I then packed the liquid containers in a large zip lock bag or you can use a bathroom bag with plastic lining that zips closed for easy spill cleanup.

2. Plugs: If you decide to take an item that needs charged (phone, computer, blow dryer, and straightener), buy the correct international plug before your trip. You can find international plugs that are for American items rather easily. On eBay you can purchase converters for all different countries, just make sure you purchase the adapter that will work for the country(ies) you are traveling to. Most European outlets are three prongs, but it could be circle or rectangle plugs, something to look out for. I also found it helpful to purchase straighteners and phone chargers made specifically for these countries to ensure it would work properly and these can be found rather cheap on Amazon UK and other similar websites.

3. Clothes: This is something I never considered until my teacher told me her trick to staying under the maximum weight returning home. She packed old clothes or purchased cheap clothes during the trip and left them behind at the hotels. That’s right, when traveling for a long time you tend to forget that your worn clothes may start smelling especially if the hotels and hostels do not have laundry facilities, or if you do not have time to wash them. If you think about it, this is genius. I purchased cheap summer dresses from Ross, Burlington, Walmart, and other cheaper stores (still have to look cute for pictures) and as I wore them I would leave them and my undergarments in the hotel trash. This trick lightened my load along the way, and most importantly made space for souvenirs for the trip home.

4. Luggage: A very important decision when traveling is what luggage to use. I wanted something sturdy, easy to carry around especially up and down stairs, but also noticeable for all the times I would have to find it in a big group of other bags. I went with a hard shell, light weight luggage set. I took the biggest one of the set and fit everything perfectly in it. Weighing in at around 13.5 pounds, with 360 degree wheels made maneuvering smooth and there was an attached pad lock. I decided on a bright color that not many people have and it was easy to spot coming around the airport luggage conveyor belt.

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Vehicle Testing and Inspection

All vehicles, domestic or commercial are mandated by regulations to undergo fitness testing to ensure that they conform to them; in some countries, it is a legal requirement every six months and fitness certificates are renewed after every testing.

The categories of vehicles that require testing are:

• Passenger service vehicles – cabs or taxis, buses and shuttle services
• Rental vehicles – buses, cars, vans
• Heavy vehicles – trucks, trailers, caravan homes etc.

Keeping a vehicle fit under all conditions is essential for renewal of fitness certificates without delays or the necessity to pay fines; for e.g. if the treads on the tires are fading the vehicle may be denied a fitness certificate. It is one of the important things to consider.

Fitness certificates can only be issued by agencies or organizations that are approved by the local transport agency or department. Driving a vehicle that does not meet Certificate of Fitness (CoF) needs or one that doesn’t display an updated current fitness label are illegal; in a situation like this, the vehicle can be impounded and license suspended.

A CoF inspection, which is also a safety check, covers the most important and basic areas; the fitness check is done by approved testing inspectors as per parameters set out in the inspection requirements manual; these requirements may vary from state to state, country to country etc.

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What To Look For When Searching For A New Car

Today, if you are shopping for a new vehicle, you have a lot of choices. You can actually buy a minivan for your family vacations, sports car for your mid-life crisis toy, and many more. The options are indeed endless. Thus, it becomes very hard to choose which type of car will suit you best. But experts say that choosing the best car will be a lot easier if you know what size of vehicle you are looking for. Consider researching online in order to know which ones you will take for a test drive.

Things To Consider When Looking For A New Car

Features – Plenty of automakers offer latest features on their newest models. Some will actually make your car more comfortable while others want it more attractive and safer. Depending on your budget, there are actually some features like darkness-detecting lights and heated seats that might come standard. Know though that there are instances wherein you need pay extra for anything that is above the baseline.

The Drive Train – This is also known as the power train. It is the term used to describe the system of components that will made a vehicle go. This will include the engine, transmission, and powered axles. Most vehicles will provide you with the option to select from 2-3 different engine sizes. You must be aware that there are some cases where you have to upgrade your small engine since it is overpowered. It is a smart idea for you to know how each engine option fares on the road prior to making a choice. As for the transmission, you actually have 2 options. Most new cars come with an automatic transmission which engages the clutch and will shift gears on its own. Another option is the semi-automatic mode where you can shift gears on your own while using an automated clutch. On the other hand, the powered axles are those that will receive power from the engine. Today, there are some different configurations of powered axles, and each will make a significant impact on how the car drives.

Reliability – This must be among your biggest concerns when buying a new car. The reliability of a vehicle will actually vary by its make, model year, and trim line; thus, it is very important for you to perform research ahead to ensure that your new ride is safe.

Safety – Over the past years, safety technology has indeed evolved. But be knowledgeable that there are some models that are still safe than others. Some of the features you must look into will include console airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and safety alert systems.

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