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Travel Insurance Protections

When you travel, you can protect your travel investment from financial loss by buying travel insurance.

Travel insurance covers a wide range of situations, and whether you’re planning a trip for business or pleasure, it’s essential to focus on the details. For example, if you want to cancel due to a “fear of traveling,” that probably won’t be covered.

Chances are if you booked travel recently, your insurance policy won’t cover changes and cancellations related to the coronavirus now that it’s become a “foreseen event.”

All policies have limits on what they cover and how much they’ll reimburse you. Most travel insurance policies have to be purchased when you book your trip, or before you make your final payment. While your credit card may provide you with some coverage, travel insurance will typically be more extensive.

Here’s a rundown on different types of insurance policies that travelers can purchase for business or vacation.

Cancellation and interruption policies cover specific reasons that will keep you from traveling or cut short your trip. Those issues commonly include illness or injury, unforeseen weather delays or natural disasters, a family member’s medical emergency, or if you have to change plans for a business-related emergency. Under some policies, you’ll only be reimbursed for the portion of the trip that you didn’t complete.

Emergency medical and dental insurance can help cover costs associated with illnesses and injuries during your trip. But check on restrictions for preexisting conditions. Also, check with your regular health insurance company to see what kind of coverage you have while traveling. You may want to get a supplemental policy for deductibles and expenses your regular insurer doesn’t cover. Evacuation insurance will cover the cost of transporting you to a medical facility for treatment if there’s no adequate hospital locally. Some policies include the cost of transportation back to the United States as well.

For maximum flexibility, consider buying “cancel for any reason” coverage that will reimburse a portion of prepaid and nonrefundable costs. This is usually an add-on to a basic policy. The time frame to buy the coverage and cancel the trip, as well as the amount of the reimbursement, will vary by the insurance company and sometimes by state laws. For example, until recently, residents of New York were not able to purchase this type of insurance, known as CFAR, but state regulations have been changed to allow it.

Insurance that covers lost or delayed luggage can be especially important. For example, if your business suit or swimsuit is in checked baggage that doesn’t arrive, you may need coverage to buy new clothes.

For help planning a trip, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through WorldVia at worldvia.com.

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The Value of a Travel Advisor When You’re Staying Home

Along with just about every other aspect of life, travel for business and pleasure across the country and around the world is being affected by the coronavirus known as COVID-19.

Travel has come to a crawl, and no one knows for sure when things will return to normal. Some people are optimistically booking plans for later in the year, while others are taking a wait-and-see attitude before planning a trip.

Amid all the uncertainty, local travel advisors are fielding questions from their clients about the impact on honeymoons, destination weddings, family reunions, summer vacations, tradeshows, conferences, and business trips.

The majority of travel agencies are small businesses, with owners and staff who work on commissions that are paid by suppliers—like airlines, cruise lines, hotels, and tour operators—after a trip is taken. Even though their business and livelihood are at stake, at this unprecedented time, travel advisors remain committed to responding to each client’s concerns and handling cancellations. The safety of their clients is the top priority for WorldVia advisors.

The value of using a travel advisor—having a person who cares on the other end of your email or phone call—is readily apparent at a time when travelers don’t know where else to turn.

If you’re wondering who to talk to as you work through canceling or rescheduling or planning an itinerary, consider these five reasons to use a travel advisor, even if you didn’t initially book your travel with one.

One point of contact for customer care. A travel advisor is your single point of contact for your trip, handling all arrangements with airlines, cruise lines, tour operators, hotels, and ground transportation companies.

Expert knowledge. Travel advisors work closely with industry groups and government agencies to ensure that you’re getting accurate and up-to-date information about anything that could affect international or domestic travel.

Good value for your money. Travel advisors have built up relationships with suppliers over many years, giving them in-depth knowledge of everything that goes into a trip. They work hard to provide the very best value in the market, with exclusive rates for the world’s top hotels, cruise lines, airports, and tour operators.

Greater trip protection. When it comes to travel insurance, it can be challenging to figure out what you need. Travel advisors can recommend options that will help you protect the financial investment you’ve made in your trip, as well as suggest policies that cover situations like an emergency medical evacuation.

Emergency contact while you’re traveling. The job of your travel advisor doesn’t end once you leave on your trip. No matter where you are in the world, travel advisors are available to answer your questions. Rest assured that you will always have the comfort of knowing that there’s someone who can offer you expert advice.

For help navigating any travel plans, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through WorldVia at worldvia.com.

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The Great Outdoors: America’s National Parks

America’s national parks are one of the country’s greatest treasures, filled with wide-open spaces offering plenty of room to roam, cultural and recreational activities, and breathtaking vistas.

Visits to national parks exceeded 300 million in 2019, for the fifth year in a row, according to figures from the National Park Service. People genuinely love being outdoors at our National Parks and other natural areas, monuments, and historic sites administered by the Park Service that are found across the country.

The top five most-visited national parks in 2019 were the Great Smoky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, Zion, and Yosemite. The National Park Service has modified its operations on a park-by-park basis following the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health authorities. While most facilities and events are closed or canceled, some of the outdoor spaces remain accessible to the public.

Here is a look at some of these parks.

Great Smoky Mountains. Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is renowned for its diverse plant and animal life, the beauty of its landscape, and the remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture. Blooming wildflowers can be found in the park nearly year-round. Cades Cove, a broad green valley, offers some of the best opportunities for spotting wildlife. An 11-mile one-way loop circles the cove. Currently, the park is closed except for the Foothills Parkway and the Spur.

Grand Canyon. Carved by the Colorado River, the immense and colorful Grand Canyon, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, is truly one of the world’s most inspiring places. The canyon’s South Rim, about four hours from Phoenix, affords panoramic views. Scenic drives include Desert View, a 25-mile trip east along the canyon rim that’s studded with breathtaking overlooks and home to the Tusayan Museum, which highlights the stories of the region’s Native Americans.

Rocky Mountain National Park, in northern Colorado, has more than 300 miles of hiking trails for every age and ability level, wildflowers, and wildlife such as elk, moose, and bighorn sheep. Trail Ridge Road, the highest road in any national park, covers 48 miles. It crests at just over 12,000 feet, affording a sweeping view of the Rocky Mountains. Fishing is permitted in many of the lakes and streams, and the park’s waters are home to four species of trout.

Zion National Park, in southwestern Utah, has been used as a location for numerous films, including “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Noteworthy features include the expansive Zion Canyon and spectacular natural rock arches. Zion Canyon is the most visited part of the park, with hikes for all levels of ability. Some of the best views are along the 3½-mile round-trip Pa’rus Trail. It’s paved, handicapped accessible, and the park’s only trail that allows both bicycles and pets on leashes.

Yosemite National Park, in California, is known for its waterfalls, grand meadows, and massive sequoias. Yosemite Valley’s Tunnel View provides a picture-postcard vantage point, the spot where three of the park’s most famous natural features are visible together—the granite El Capitan and Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall. Mariposa Grove, near the south entrance, is the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite and is home to more than 500 mature trees.

Before visiting any park, check with the individual parks regarding changes to their operations. If you choose to visit a national park, please ensure that you follow CDC and state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and practice.

For help navigating any travel plans, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through WorldVia at worldvia.com.

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Celebrating 400 Years of the Mayflower

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the historic voyage of the Mayflower, which departed England in 1620 as Puritans sought religious freedom in the New World. Several events that were planned for May on both sides of the Atlantic, with participation from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans have been postponed due to travel concerns related to COVID-19. We still can acknowledge those early travelers and the impact it had on our country.

Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the Pilgrims settled, naming the town after the port city in England from which they sailed, has a strong connection to the Mayflower’s maiden voyage.

The residents of Plymouth, which is located about 45 minutes south of Boston, look forward to visitors flocking to see the Mayflower II. The full-scale replica, built in the 1950s, was a gift to the United States from the British people, in recognition of friendships forged during World War II. For the past several years, the ship, a popular tourist attraction, has been undergoing a multimillion-dollar restoration.

Other attractions to see in the area include the Pilgrim Hall Museum, which tells the story of the Plymouth Colony and displays items that Mayflower passengers brought with them, including William Bradford’s Bible and a sword that belonged to Myles Standish. The Jenney Museum holds programs like “Conversations with a Pilgrim” and walking tours that explore Plymouth’s history. And of course, Plymouth Rock marks the spot where the Pilgrims disembarked in December 1620. In Boston, the New England Historic Genealogical Society is planning four exhibits commemorating 400 years of Mayflower and Wampanoag history, on display through December.

When you’re able to travel to England, you can explore the port city of Plymouth, on England’s southwestern coast, about 4½ hours from London. Several buildings from that era remain, such as the Island House, where some of the Pilgrims are believed to have stayed before their voyage. The Mayflower Steps, flanked by British and American flags, mark the final English departure point of the ship and its 102 passengers.

Plymouth, England is also opening a cultural and heritage center, The Box, in honor of the anniversary. The first exhibit, “Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy,” will include artifacts that tell the story of the Mayflower’s passengers, including their relationship with Native Americans. Pictures and stories of about 1,200 living Mayflower descendants will be displayed on a wall of the gallery. Plymouth’s Mayflower Week, from September 14-20, includes a visit from a replica 15th-century tall ship and a ceremony on Sept. 16 marking the date the Mayflower set sail.

Before leaving for the New World, the Pilgrims sought refuge in the Dutch city of Leiden, 40 minutes from Amsterdam, where they lived for 12 years. The city’s American Pilgrim Museum, in a beautifully preserved 14th-century house, tells their story. A walking tour explores the city’s Mayflower heritage and here you can learn about Native American culture.

For help navigating any travel plans, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through WorldVia at worldvia.com.

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REAL ID Deadline Extended to October 2021

While non-essential travel is hold, for the most part, we have all experienced presenting a driver’s license or other identification at airport security checkpoints. And frequent fliers know that REAL ID approved identification will eventually be needed to fly domestically. To allow travelers and states a chance to comply, the deadline for implementing the new REAL ID policy has been extended one year, to Oct. 1, 2021, due to the coronavirus crisis.

But eventually, every air traveler age 18 or older must present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license or another acceptable form of identification to fly within the United States. Even if you have TSA PreCheck, you’ll still need a REAL ID or other acceptable identification to board a domestic flight.

The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, is designed to improve security and prevent identity fraud. It establishes minimum standards for the design and issuance of driver’s licenses and state-issued ID cards. Federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, are prohibited from accepting identification that does not meet those standards.

Obtaining a REAL-ID compliant license is a more involved process than simply getting your current driver’s license renewed. While each state is handling things a little differently, there are a few basics to have covered when the time comes for you to obtain your REAL ID:

You’ll need to present documents proving your age and identity, Social Security number and address. That usually means a valid passport or original birth certificate, a Social Security card or tax form, such as a W-2, with the entire number visible. You’ll also need two proofs of address, such a utility or cellphone bill, a bank statement or mortgage bill. If you’ve changed your name, a legal name-change document might be required.

The best, most up-to-date source of information is your state’s department of motor vehicles. To avoid a rush when travelers once again on the move, check with the DMV and start collecting the paperwork.

If you don’t want to get a REAL ID-compliant license, alternate forms of identification are still acceptable to the TSA for domestic flights. They include a passport, passport card, trusted traveler card issued by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Defense ID, including those issued to military dependents, or a permanent resident card.

Some states, including Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota and New York, offer REAL-ID and state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses, both of which will be acceptable to airport security when enforcement goes into effect. Washington state only issues enhanced licenses. Enhanced driver’s licenses are marked with a flag. REAL ID-compliant licenses are marked with a star at the top of the card. States are allowed to issue compliant and non-compliant licenses. So even if you renewed your driver’s license recently, check to make sure that it complies.

Remember that any child under age 18 isn’t required to provide identification to board a domestic flight if they’re with an adult, although the companion will need an acceptable form of identification. That provision doesn’t change under the REAL ID Act.

If you want to apply for or renew a passport to use as your REAL ID, know that most passports are not being processed right now due to public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. passport agency announced that currently it is only offering service for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours.

Life-or-death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (e.g. parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc) that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours, or three days. You must provide:

  • A passport application with supporting documents
  • Proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. Documents must be translated or in English.
  • Proof of international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket, itinerary)

Even if one qualified for essential international travel, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel at this time due to the global impact of COVID-19. Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions.

For help navigating any travel plans, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through WorldVia at worldvia.com.