Hey, Big Spender

SafetyFirst’s roundtable of savy frequent fliers have had the most success with gratituties by following these simple suggestions:

Suggestion #1: Befriend the desk clerk for advice on local tipping customs. These professionals are usually more than happy to explain current gratuities, including tips for hotel staff, restaurant workers, and taxi drivers.

Suggestion #2: Whether touring the Mandela museum in Johannesburg, floating on a hot air balloon over Kenya, kayaking in Tahiti, or on surfing safari in Bali, when in doubt, use the US dollar. Keep in reserve a stash of small US bills to award good service.

Suggestion #3: Err on the side of generosity. Keep in mind that you are the ambassador of your country. Fodor's recommends acquiring a stash of small denominations in the country’s currency immediately upon arrival.

Suggestion #4: Always keep you tipping cash segregated from your other cash.

Urgent Call From Ambroseli National Park

Ambroseli National Park in Kenya is host to 5,000 square miles of ecosytem over which elephants roam. As part of a major research project, the elephants are tracked with radio callers and scouts providing critical data regarding habitat crucial to elephant reproduction. This valuable work has suffered along with other ecoprojects in this economy. Regular travelers to Africa as well as animal rights lovers are encouraged to contact www.elephanttrust.org for donations.

Identity Theft on Vacation

Travelers beware. ID theft is as real a concern on vacation as at home according the the Privacy Rights Clearhouse, a non-profit organization. SafetyFirst highly recommends their most recent tips:

Tip #1: Beware of secretive movements when paying with your credit card, whether in hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, bars, cruiseships, or the like. If a waiter disappears out of sight, he might be using a card skimmer, a device that clones your card's magnetic strip.

Tip #2: Using wi-fi spots while on vacation can be dangerous. Wi-fi connections, often referred to as "hotspots," are unsecurred and unencrypted.

Tip #3: Secure your checkbook in a locked place in your home instead of dragging them abroad. While traveling, use credit cards or traveler's checks instead. Bank account numbers cannot be learned from travelers checks, and your credit card has a fraud division.

Tip #4: Mail spilling out of your mailbox at home is a red flag not only to burglars, but also invites i.d. theft. Hold your mail at the post office or ask your neighbor friend to collect it for you.

TOP DESTINATIONS FOR 2010

Are you tired of going to the same old places in Western Europe, the Orient, and Africa? Are Antartica and the Artic too cold? How about this for the latest traveling destinations.

According to the latest edition of the famous travel guide, Frommers, the top destinations of 2010 are as follows:

1. Tunisa
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
3. Haoi, Vietnam
4. Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
5. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
6. The Big Island of Hawaii, United States
7. Salta Province, Argentina
8. Isles of Scilly, England
9. Mexico City, Mexico
10. Melbourne, Australia

Lovely Planet concurs with Hawaii, but adds these exotic locations:

1. Bay of Fire, Tasmania
2. Basque Country, France and Spain
3. Chiloe, Chile
4. Ko Tao, Thailand
5. Languedoc, France
6. Nam Ha, Laos
7. San Andres and Providencia, Columbia
8. Svalbard, Norway
9. Yunnan, China

SafetyFirst Travel Insurance covers families destined for any of these exciting vacations.

TRAVEL INSURANCE IS A MUST, PRESS REPORTS

According to the Associated Press, travel insurance is a must. Hurried travelers sometimes don’t understand the value when rushing off for a vacation, but this is a mistake. More often than not, your health insurance coverage is inadequate abroad, and even Medicare offers no off-shore coverage at all.

Up to twenty-five percent of travelers report some sort of accident such as car, heart attacks, or slip injuries. These medical emergencies can create major out-of-pocket medical expense. Factor in the possible need of air transport for the critically ill patient, and the cost can exceed $100,000. SafetyFirst policies always advices inclusion of medical evacuation clauses in our travel insurance programs. This has been a lifesaver to our travelers who would have been financially ruined without coverage protecting them from a catastrophic medical emergency.

A recent Yahoo news story describes the supplemental health insurance coverage offered by our travel insurance policies essential. So does the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A travelers’ policy must be sufficient.

HEALTHY TRAVELING IN COLD AND FLU SEASON

Cold and flu season make it more important than ever for travelers to be proactive. While Grandma’s advice to get plenty of rest and fluids still applies, it takes more to beat the odds. Before your departure overseas, consult your doctor for updates on infectious diseases of the region into which you’re traveling. The CDC is a great resource for updates. The World Health Organization also has detailed information on pandemic vaccines and international health issues. They both recommend to not only wipe your hands often with antibacterial wipes or sanitizers, but use sanitizers to clean anything from your airplane seat to your taxi interior to your hotel room.

After the recent cases of Swine Flu, some international airlines have new policies preventing passengers from even boarding who exhibit flu symptoms. China and Japan have been known to hold passengers in quarantine if another traveler onboard exhibits illness while in the air.