Portraits of Mario, My Airplane Mechanic

I don’t typically refer to myself as a portrait photographer, but I do enjoy shooting portraits on occasion. After all, I’m kind of a people person (at times), and as a photographer, I enjoy the challenge of capturing compelling images of Continue reading →

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Do You Really Need Travel and Medical Insurance?

So, you’re going on a trip. Do you need to buy travel and medical insurance?

 

Well, unfortunately, the answer is not as clear-cut as you would hope. The answer is: most likely but it depends. It depends on the type of person you are, the place to where you are traveling, the activities in which you plan to engage, and the things you plan to take with you. Travel insurance is entirely dependent on the traveler’s circumstances and the type of insurance coverage. It can either save you a great deal of money and grief or if not used feel like a waste of money. So, it’s important to consider wisely and weigh the pros and cons.

For instance, if you’re the type of person who is accident-prone, who needs to be at a place at a specific time, or who likes to travel to unpredictable or high-crime areas, travel and medical insurance might be a safety net you want to consider. However, if on the other hand you’re the type of person who travels light and who plans to travel to a familiar place with good security, then travel insurance may not be as necessary for you but do you really want to risk it, especially for the medical insurance?

Also, let’s consider where and when are you traveling. Major seasonal weather patterns could cause flight cancellations. Norway in the winter? Southeast Asia during the rainy season? The Caribbean during hurricane season? If so, you likely want good insurance coverage.

Finally, you must decide whether the fiscal burden is worth it to you if something goes wrong on your trip. Did you buy a cheap, last-minute flight? Is the trip only for a few days? Or is this the trip of a lifetime, one you’re pouring thousands of dollars into? If the latter, you’ll want insurance.

Of course, in general, if it will give you peace of mind to have a safety net when you travel, and you have the funds for the added cost, then go for it and secure travel and medical insurance regardless of the type of trip or your destination. Peace of mind is priceless but not having the proper insurance when you need it can be disasterous.

What Does Travel and Medical Insurance Cover?

Travel insurance can protect lost or delayed luggage, reimburse for trip cancellation and trip interruption, provide emergency medical insurance, and provide accidental death or dismemberment coverage, and more.

Baggage and personal items coverage: travel insurance will usually cover up to about $500 per lost bag.

Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance: coverage varies so check out the different policies to make sure that you have the coverage for the value of your trip in the event of trip cancellation. So, for example, if you have to cancel your trip because of a serious illness, or a natural disaster forces change of plans, you could be reimbursed.

Emergency medical insurance: it’s important to have health insurance wherever you are in the world. And since some health insurance companies don’t cover international travel, travel insurance companies often offer between $10,000 and $100,000 or more for emergency medical care. A good friend of mine recently broke his back while on an adventure in the Amazon. He needed to be medevaced out of the rainforest by helicopter and flown by air ambulance back to Canada for treatment. Without the proper insurance, this would have bankrupted him and his wife. The costs associated with this kind of emergency can easily reach several hundred thousand dollars (USD).

Accidental death or dismemberment insurance: In case the absolute worse happens and you or someone you love dies on a trip, travel insurance could pay out as much as $500,000.

Remember, you might already have life insurance that covers death and dismemberment. You might also have health insurance that covers emergencies in other countries (so check with your health insurance company to see if you’re already covered). If going on a tour, make sure you check with the operators to see if it is mandatory to have travel and medical insurance and what the criteria are.

Where to Get Travel Insurance

First, always make sure to buy travel insurance BEFORE your trip. Second, know that there are multiple options for travel and medical insurance, each possibly covering different things. Airlines often offer insurance for flight cancellation. Some credit card companies offer trip cancellation or baggage and personal items coverage. Always check to be 100% sure exactly what is covered with whatever form of insurance you have or think you have.

Travel and medical insurance companies will usually offer some combination of protections or all of the above. While there are a lot of options out there for travel and medical insurance providers, my tour company, Discovery Photo Tours uses World Nomads and Global Rescue for our travel and medical insurance needs. World Nomads is backed by specialist insurers and global assistance partners and cover a range of adventure sports and activities. Global Rescue covers field rescue and will pay for evacuation back to your home hospital of choice and much more. Contact them directly to get more details about how they can put your mind at ease with the right travel and medical insurance policy.

Safe travels!!

Discovery Photo Tours Logo

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The Lucky Few – Free Spirits Podcast featuring… Me!

Every so often I get a request to do an interview either in written form, over the phone, and even the odd podcast.

Last week I got the chance to chat with Aaron Parker who hosts a podcast called “The Lucky Few” on the Notable Life website. It’s always fun the get the chance to talk to different people about photography, travel, and whatever else comes up. Aaron is doing a new series on the podcast called “Free Spirits” and thanks to my friends Dave and Deb from the awesome travel blog The Planet D, introductions were made and shortly afterwards Aaron and I had the opportunity to talk while I was home for a while.

Peyto Lake - Banff

Peyto Lake in Banff National Park – Canada

Each time I’m interviewed I get to reminisce about places I’ve visited, people I’ve travelled with, and extraordinary experiences I get to live. On that note, here are a few images I’ve not shared here on the blog.

Japan Fushimi Inari Kyoto

The Fushimi Inari Tori Gates in Kyoto – Japan

Every photo evokes good feelings about the places I was visiting and brings a smile to my face. There’s a power that photography has that can bring a bit of happiness into my life even on days when I’m feeling down. In fact, I guess I could say that this happens ESPECIALLY on days when I’m feeling down. I am and remain grateful for each opportunity to explore the world and share those experiences with the people that join me on my tours or on the assignments that I get.

Serengeti Zebra Africa

Zebra on the plains of Serengeti National Park – Tanzania

I often forget that I have seen so much variety when it comes to the subject matter I photograph. Nature and landscape, historic sites, wildlife, culture, and modern day architectural marvels. Yup, in a word… Awesome!

NYC-Sunset-Manhattan-Pylons

New York City at sunset – USA

The places, people, or animals that I photograph have a unique story and that story is sometimes more about what happens behind the scenes or even directly to who is standing behind the camera. I love that about photography.

Portrait Vietnamese Hanoi Woman

A street vendor in Hanoi – Vietnam

Aaron and I get into this and much more in the podcast and I hope that you find it interesting to get some background info on what it took for me to get to do this kind of work and why I love doing it.

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Tips for responsible giving while traveling in Africa

Tanzania Masai Children - Giving

Having a great time with the Masai kids on my Tanzania Photo Safari

When Giving, Give the Right Way

Travel gives birth to many life-changing experiences. It is truly a dynamic exchange between traveler and stranger. For this reason, it is not uncommon for individuals who travel to one place from another to feel impacted by the people they meet. And this impact, whether it comes from reasons of religion, philanthropy, or gratitude, is the meaning found in a moment with someone new, which inspires the desire to give. So, how do we make sure that we are giving in the right way?

Below is a list of do’s and don’ts for giving responsibly in Africa.

DO Consider the Impacts of Your Gift, DO NOT Give Blindly

When making a contribution, consider the positive and negative impacts of your gift to those who are receiving it. Different countries are composed of different cultures—and what you may see as a gift of kindness may be felt as an offensive gesture by another. This is why it is important give respectfully and consider responsibly.

DO Give to Organizations, DO NOT Give to Individuals

Sometimes, the most well-meaning acts can have negative consequences, as is the often case when well-intentioned tourists hand out sweets, used clothing, or books to children and local villages. Such acts of giving can encourage a dependence on begging in the community, especially among children.

When giving money or goods, it is much better to give directly to reputable local organizations that work to improve the social welfare of the communities, or to international groups that work with them.

Tanzania photo safari

DO Your Research, DO Not Assume All Recipients Are Righteous

There are many organizations that are doing good work, but not all that look good are doing great things. In urban settlements, also known as slums, slumlords may ask for money under the guise of a well-marketed organization. This should not deter you from giving, but compel you to consider the integrity of the recipient’s intentions.

DO Give Strategically and Locally, DO NOT Assume a One-Size-Fits-All Model

The key to donating items like clothes or books is to operate locally so you can 1. buy relevant items to donate and 2. Find the right organizations for your donations. What makes an item relevant? Well, don’t donate old computers to a region where there is a lack of electricity. Don’t donate books written in English to a school where English isn’t used. Instead, figure out what the urgent needs are in any given location. Ask if school uniforms are needed, or ask librarians what the most needed books are.

DO Follow Up, DO NOT Forget or Disappear

When a person or community makes such a profound impact on your life that you feel compelled to donate, you should follow up on that donation. You don’t necessarily have to donate again, but you can check in on the community through further research or visiting again.

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” 

―Maya Angelou

 

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