Monthly Archives: June 2017

Know More About Voluntourims

There is no doubt that travel feeds the soul. Travelers return from trips often refreshed and a smidgen wiser for experiencing a new part of the world and a new culture vastly different than their own. The effect is reciprocated by those countries and cultures that thrive from the inward flow of money tourism brings.

But oftentimes those cultures need more than money. They need help building schools and shelters. They need help learning skills and languages. They need help preserving the fragile environments and historic sites that draw tourists to their small part of the world. That is where voluntourism steps in.

Voluntourism involves people from all age and social classes traveling globally to give aid to communities in need and intimately experience the culture. This combination of exploration and inspiration is growing in popularity, mostly due to an increase in the number and variety of opportunities now available. No longer do travelers need to stay enmeshed in a foreign land for months to make a difference – they can now impact an entire community over the course of a week or two, or even during their honeymoon.

Regardless of how these travelers choose to contribute their time and energy into such a globally beneficial cause, they always return satiated, their souls well fed after making a lasting difference in the lives of their international neighbors.

Do You Have What it Takes to Volunteer Abroad?

Many of us have a strong urge to help others around the world, especially after witnessing such high-profile devastation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina or the 2004 tsunami off the coast of Thailand. Voluntourism is the perfect way for everyday people to make a difference; however, they should first know what they’re getting themselves into.

As a voluntourist, you must be realistic – you are not going to single-handedly save a village or build a new school. During a week-long stay in Tanzania, you may only build a few desks and paint a classroom, which will not seem like much at the time. But the schoolchildren who later sit in those desks and enjoy that classroom will appreciate your efforts for a lifetime. Every improvement – no matter how miniscule it initially seems – helps form an essential foundation for further social and economic improvements.

Voluntourism is more than an alternative to a standard vacation. It’s about offering your skills and time while being part of a team and interacting with diverse cultures. Anyone considering this line of travel should be flexible, take direction well and have both a sense of adventure and humor. No special skills are needed – you only need an intense desire to make a difference and experience a destination in a way few tourists ever will.

What to Expect on Your Trip

While each voluntour trip is unique, they generally share a few similarities when it comes to the services and amenities provided. Your fee will usually include meals, which will feature delicious and adventurous local cuisine; accommodations, where you’ll stay in a hotel, guest house, community center or private home; and ground transportation from the airport to the community site.

The program fees do not typically cover airfare, visas or medical and trip cancellation insurance. For those crucial components, many wise travelers turn to a travel agent. Travel agents also offer good advice when you’re considering various options during your free time. While the purpose of these trips is to serve the host community and learn from the local people, most programs include free time for their volunteers to venture outside the community and experience more of the host country.

The trips usually last one to three weeks, depending on the location, but travelers who wish to stay longer may sign up for additional programs, which are often offered in succession. As for the other people on your trip, you can expect a wide and diverse range of allies. People of all ages are traveling abroad, including families, grandparents and grandchildren, to experience this life-changing vacation together. Regardless of who else is on your tour, you all will automatically have several important traits in common: an innate desire to help others and a passion to experience the world.

Types of Voluntourism

The variety of programs is matched only by the variety of emotions each volunteer experiences during their stay.

You can teach English to Hungarian children, helping them fulfill their education requirements. You can nurture children in Ecuador, working at an orphanage. You can restore villages in the fabled Blue Mountains of Jamaica, restoring dignity to villagers. You can help care for disabled children in China and experience life through their eyes. You can repair Aboriginal homes in Australia, helping these proud indigenous people in their struggle for equality. You can help save lives by providing basic health-care screenings, such as diabetes tests, well-baby checks and prenatal exams, in Northern Greece.

Within the United States you can tutor the children of immigrants in Minnesota, construct playgrounds for Blackfeet Indians in Montana, help deprived Appalachian families start fresh in West Virginia, work with senior citizens on an Indian reservation in South Dakota, restore community buildings in Mississippi and more.

If you’re a budget-conscious college student who wants to see the world, a volunteer abroad program overseas is ideal. Set your sights on the unforgettable scenery of Yorkshire, England, while taking part in a conservation program. Soak in the gorgeous South African sunset and learn how to protect dolphins, whales, seals and seabirds. Or venture to Costa Rica and get your hands dirty rebuilding homes. These trips are often less expensive than normal vacations, and you get more out of the travel experience than just a few souvenirs.

You will find many of these altruistic travel options and more at Global Volunteers, an organization that mobilizes teams of volunteers to live and work with local people on human and economic development projects.

Let a Travel Agent Help You Help Others

At the core of voluntourism is the desire to help others. When it comes to travel, no group of individuals understand that core principle better that travel agents, for helping others travel better, safer and smarter is what they do best. Travel agents can help you set up your voluntour program, save money with your airfare tickets and plan some exciting adventures for your free time.

How To Buying Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can protect you from substantial losses that result from a variety of situations, including canceled trips, lost baggage, medical emergencies, supplier defaults, as well as other unforeseen circumstances.

TYPES OF TRAVEL INSURANCE COVERAGE

There are several general types of consumer travel insurance available. The coverage and limitations of each will vary depending on the insurance company issuing the policy. The following is a brief description of some of the general types of travel insurance.

Trip Cancellation: The most important and common type of travel insurance. Generally covers non-refundable payments or deposits if a trip is canceled or interrupted due to unforeseen circumstances.

Trip Delay: Provides reimbursement for expenses incurred when a trip is delayed.

Accident/Sickness Medical Expenses: Covers costs incurred due to injury or illness that occur while on a trip.

Medical Evacuation/Emergency Transportation: Covers transportation when a medical emergency while traveling requires transportation to a hospital or other medical facility.

Supplier Default: Covers deposits or payments lost due to the financial default of a travel supplier.

Baggage/Personal Effects Loss or Delay: Covers losses due to items lost, damaged or delayed during a trip.

TRAVEL INSURANCE ADVICE: SUPPLIER PROVIDED COVERAGE VS. THIRD PARTY INSURANCE COMPANIES

Many travel vendors (tour companies and cruise lines) offer their own protection plans and these plans may provide very different coverage than offered through third party insurance companies. In most cases, supplier-provided coverage won’t cover you in the event they go bankrupt. When considering a supplier protection plan, you should carefully compare the coverage with third-party travel insurance products.

Who should buy travel insurance?
Travelers who want to protect their travel investment should consider purchasing travel insurance. If an illness, accident or sudden change in plans forces you to cancel or interrupt travel plans, you face two major financial losses – money you’ve invested in nonrefundable prepayments, and medical expenses that aren’t covered by your health insurance.

How does trip cancellation coverage work?
It is designed to reimburse you for forfeited, nonrefundable, unused payments or deposits if you have to cancel your interrupt your trip due to a variety of situations, including but not limited to inclement weather, illness or another unforeseen event.

Depending on your policy, it may also cover:

  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Transportation ordered by a doctor to the nearest adequate
    medical facility
  • Reasonable accommodations and travel expenses for travel delays
  • Essential items you purchase if your baggage is delayed
  • Lost or stolen luggage

How much does travel insurance cost?
The cost of travel insurance varies from company and policy to policy. The more you have invested in your trip, the more you need to protect it. Travel insurance covers you for losses caused by trip cancellation and interruption, medical expenses, baggage, trip and baggage delay. When you consider all the protection you get, travel insurance is actually a great value.

Where do you buy travel insurance?
Most travel agents offer travel insurance and many may even require customers that decline insurance to sign a waiver form.

Simple Ways To Packing For A Cruise

Packing – is it your least favourite part of a holiday? Do you struggle with what to pack and when you finally get it all together, you don’t have enough space? Tedious. The fact there is no weight limit for luggage on a cruise is extremely attractive to everyone, but what happens when you are flying to meet your ship? The job of packing completely changes when there is a weight limit involved and it is estimated 40% of holiday-makers will not take a fly-cruise due to airline weight limits. With most European flights having a 20kg allowance it sparks instant panic in our minds.

I regularly visit cruise forums to see what cruisers are talking about and more importantly, what people are wanting to find out. A subject that I have seen regularly is the dreaded 20kg weight limit. With many of us preparing for our summer cruises it is no surprise this subject is trending again.

Do all airlines have a 20kg weight limit?

British Airways
Checked baggage: One checked bag per person weighing 23kg
Hand luggage: One Personal bag plus one cabin bag 56cm x 45cm x 25cm
Children: Same as adult allowance

Virgin Airlines
Checked baggage: One checked bag per person weighing 23kg
Hand luggage: One cabin bag 23cm x 36xm x 56cm weighing 10kg
Children: Same as adult allowance

EasyJet
Checked baggage: A charge of £11 – £21 per bag is required for any checked luggage weighing up to 20kg
Hand luggage: One cabin bag 50cm x 40cm x 20cm
Children: Same as adult allowance

RyanAir
Checked baggage: A charge of £15 per bag is required for any checked luggage weighing up to 15kg (£30 if paying at airport)
Hand luggage: One personal bag plus one cabin bag 55cm x 40cm x 20cm
Children: Same as adult allowance. One pushchair free of charge

Thomas Cook
Checked baggage: £19 per bag weighting 20kg
Hand luggage: One cabin bag 55cm x 40cm x 20cm weighing 5kg
Children: Same as adult allowance

Thomson
Checked baggage: One checked bag per person weighing 15kg
Hand luggage: One piece of cabin baggage per person 55cm x 40cm x 20cm weighing 5kg
Children: Same as adult allowance

Tips for making the most of 20kg

From the above it is clear to see most airlines still offer around 20kg per person. Although your initial reaction may be that this is not enough, if you pack right it is more than enough. Of course if you had more allowance it wouldn’t be hard to use it but trust me, from someone who has had to pack six months into 20kg, it is ample allowance for your cruise.

I recently went on a Fly-cruise around the Mediterranean and our Managing Director has just returned also so we came together and compiled a list of tips on how to make the most of your 20kg:

  • Take full advantage of your hand baggage allowance – Pack heavy items such as shoes and belts in your hand luggage
  • Wear what you can – Try to wear any heavy items such as your coat or costume jewellery when travelling
  • Forget the ‘just in case’- We all do it, but you do not need to pack the ‘just in case’ pile. You will not need multiple layers, that extra pair of shoes or a spare swimming costume. If the worst comes to the worst and you do, there are shops onboard.
  • Towels are not needed – Towels take up lots of weight and space in a suitcase. As well as bath towels, a fresh beach/pool towel is provided every day on a cruise.
  • Purchase travel size toiletries – Toiletries are the main culprit for heavy luggage so purchasing travel size toiletries are perfect for a one/two week cruise. Most cruise lines provide shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner and body lotions so these are not needed. Ladies, take minimal make up.
  • Make the most of your children’s allowance – All children, even babies get the same allowance as adults and many people forget this. Naturally, packing for children will not require as much space as adults so use all of their allowance too!
  • Invest in a foldable beach bag – It is a good idea to take a beach bag as you are likely to use it every day on a cruise, whether carrying a towel and lotion to the pool or using it to hold belongings when out exploring. However, if you pack a large one it will take up unnecessary space and weight. You can purchase a lightweight foldable one for a couple of pounds and they are great.
  • Do not over indulge on formal attire – Another one us ladies are guilty for, but you only need to take a maximum of two formal dresses. Most cruises will only have one or two formal nights during a cruise so you do not need to pack a selection of dresses.
  • Plan your outfits – I know this is not the most enjoyable thing to do but if you plan your outfits it makes it less tempting to pack clothing that will not be needed.
  • Onboard laundry service – Most cruise lines provide a laundry service. Some have a self-service laundry room where as others offer a valet laundry and dry-cleaning service. This means you can pack less clothes knowing that you can wear the same basics again.

Tips for making the most of 20kg

Another common subject trending recently is what to pack on a cruise, particularly popular with first time cruisers. I find packing for a cruise easier than packing for a land holiday as you already know your itinerary and where you are going to be each day. Obviously your packing relies on where you are travelling to, whether it’s a hot climate or cold and whether it’s a relaxing beach break or a city exploration. Although, wherever your cruise is taking you, packing needn’t be stressful. Having packed as a crew member and a guest I think I have cruise packing down to a T. Here is my check list:

  • Formal wear – Suit or tux for male and cocktail dress for female (if required)
  • Casual wear – During sea days you can be as casual as you wish and most people will enjoy the ship in shorts, dresses and light clothing
  • Shoes – One formal pair (if required), one comfortable pair for excursions, one evening pair and one pair of sandals/flip-flops for daytime
  • Toiletries – Most cruise lines provide essentials such as shower gel, shampoo and conditioner so travel sized toiletries are all that’s needed
  • Medication – As with any holiday always remember your medication. There is a medical center onboard that can provide certain medicines but be aware there is a charge
  • Chargers and Plug adapter – As cruise ships are built all over the world, many of them have international plug sockets in cabins. A plug adapter will be required for charging electrical equipment etc.