Welcome to The Travel Blog

An ongoing series of informational travel entries

Do I Really Need Travel Insurance?

December 27, 2020

Travel insurance (aka travel protection) is not required when booking a trip, but for many important reasons it is recommended. There are many different types of travel insurance plans that you can purchase to protect your monetary investment in travel. But it is important to understand that not all travel insurance plans are created equal. It is always wise to know what is and more importantly what is not covered before purchasing any types of these plans. If you choose not to carry travel insurance, it is likely that your travel agent will have you sign a disclosure form stating that you refuse to carry travel insurance—it is THAT important.

There are travel insurance policies that contain a “cancel for any reason” clause which protects the investment you have made in your trip for cancellations due to: inclement weather conditions, sickness, job loss, death in the family, etc. This may be the appropriate insurance to purchase if your travel dates are several months away. One never knows what the future might hold, and last-minute issues can and do arise. This has happened to a few of my clients who have been saved by their purchase of travel protection.

Most travel insurance policies will cover lost baggage, trip interruption or delay (e.g. cancelled flights), medical treatment (This is especially important if you will be traveling outside of the US where your medical coverage is not accepted.), travel accident protection, and even worldwide emergency assistance (e.g. lost travel documents or passports, reservations, etc.). It is intended to give you peace of mind both before you travel and while you are traveling.

The medical coverage aspect is extremely important. A majority of US health insurance companies do not cover individuals outside of the US if medical treatment is needed. What if you have a medical emergency of some kind and require treatment or even hospitalization? There have been horrific stories of travelers spraining an ankle, breaking a leg, or getting seriously sick while on vacation and having to pay money out of pocket BEFORE being seen or even treated by a doctor. The amount of money that you could be required to pay may be quite substantial, such as hundreds or thousands of dollars, before receiving medical treatment. Therefore, it is important to know that you are covered if any medical issues should occur. Travel insurance policies can provide that peace of mind when you travel.

As you can see, there are various reasons to consider protecting your travel investment with a travel insurance policy. Given the variety of policies that exist, it is good practice to review and understand what is and isn’t covered before you purchase travel insurance to ensure you have the coverage you need. Your travel agent can provide you with several different travel insurance options to consider.

The main takeaway about travel insurance is that it is the best way to protect the monetary investment made in your trip. You should ALWAYS consider the purchase of travel insurance for any international travel and the types and/or amounts of coverage that you need, then make an informed decision that is right for you.

Questions? Comments? Is there a topic you’d like to hear about? Let us know by emailing [email protected]  

How a Travel Agent gets Paid

November 9, 2020

It’s generally understood that travel agents get paid a commission on every travel package they sell. But, have you ever wondered how the travel agent you work with gets paid? When they get paid? Or why some travel agents have decided to start charging fees in addition to the commissions they get paid?

Let me give you the short and dirty answers to these questions. Travel agents do receive a commission from suppliers when they book your vacation package. However, your travel agent does not get paid until AFTER you return from your trip. Your agent generally books your travel plans months in advance and they are not compensated unless you actually travel. This means a lot of time and effort can go into researching and planning vacations that never happen. Good travel agents put a lot of time (hours) into researching and planning your trip. They do this after consulting with you to understand the type of travel experience you want and what is most important to you.

If you cancel your trip or if your trip is canceled for some other reason (such as Covid-19), your travel agent loses any commissions they would have received if you had traveled. That means the travel agent did a lot of work that they are not getting paid for. If your travel agent has to rebook your travel dates, they do this without being compensated. There were a lot of agents scrambling to help clients when travel was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 (what a year it has been!). Even now travel information is constantly changing. Travel agents ensure they provide you with the most current and up-to-date travel information, which may require a lot of research depending on your destination.

This brings us to the dirty word—fees. Travel agents have had to get creative to ensure that they are receiving some type of compensation for their time invested in planning vacations. This is where fees and advance deposits come in. Depending on the type and complexity of travel planning, many agents either charge flat fees to plan vacations or require a plan-to-go deposit. Fees cover the agent’s time invested in research and planning and are often non-refundable. Agents may charge fees when planning a destination wedding or some other type of travel that is more complex. Plan-to-go deposits may require the travelers to put down a certain amount of money ahead of time, so that the travel agent feels comfortable that if the traveler cancels their travel plans or chooses not to book with them, that they are compensated for their valuable spent on research and planning. If the traveler follows through with their travel plans, the plan-to-go deposit is refunded and applied to the remaining balance due on the traveler’s vacation package.

That’s the lowdown on how a travel agent gets paid. Questions? Comments? Is there a topic you’d like to hear about? Let us know by emailing [email protected]