7Aug

Diseases in Southeast Asia: Commonly Contracted Diseases

OTHER than culture and food, another thing that Southeast Asia is abundant with are, unfortunately, communicable/ infectious and tropical diseases.

So, before packing up and fulfilling that persistent wanderlust for the wonders of Southeast Asia, here are some diseases that all travellers must look at out for:

Dengue

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease common in tropical countries, including the Philippines and Malaysia.

Classic manifestations of dengue are sudden, high-grade fever, sudden appearance of rashes two to five days after onset of fever, muscle pain, bleeding gums, and many more.

As a traveller, the best way to prevent acquiring the disease is by avoiding the bites of infected mosquitoes. This can be done with the use of mosquito repellent sprays and lotions.

Malaria

Another mosquito-borne disease however, instead of a viral pathogen, malaria is actually caused by parasite that has five species, two of which are uncommon.

Just like Dengue, Malaria is acquired when an infected mosquito, specifically a female, takes a blood meal.

Malaria is suspected when there is a sudden onset of shivering by the patient, followed by a spike in temperature and, lastly, profuse sweating—chills, fever, sweat.

Still, the best way to avoid contraction of the disease is through mosquito repellents and wearing clothes that minimizes skin exposure

Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases

Gastrointestinal problems, such as traveller’s diarrhoea, can be caused by a myriad of pathogens including enteroviruses which can be found in improperly handled and served street food which is very common in Southeast Asia. Needless to say, it is begrudgingly advised that travellers should venture into these uncanny cuisines with caution. Being a picky eater in this situation is actually a good thing.  Thorough handwashing before and after a meal is also an important practice.

Sexually transmitted diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and their complications are disturbingly common in Southeast Asia. Earlier this year, the New Your Post released an article of the rise of a “super gonorrhoea”, a strain of STD acquired by a man who travelled from Southeast Asia, that is apparently resistant to all antibiotic treatments. HIV/AIDS cases have also skyrocketed in a particular Southeast Asian country.

Travellers who practice sex tourism are, of course, of high risk. The blame is commonly pinned on sex workers; however, the bigger liability lies on unhealthy sexual practice, such as having multiple partners and unprotected sex.

This article was not written to scare all the travellers away from Southeast Asia; however, does serve as a reminder. Countless of mishaps can happen out there in the big, wide world, most of which you cannot control. So, isn’t it better to take hold of those minute things that you can control?

There’s no such thing as too much security when travelling, especially if it’s in another country or continent. Investing in travel insurance, specifically one that covers Health, is always wise, especially if you’re one who takes long trips. Just always keep in mind, thorough preparation and planning is key to safe travels.

Need travel insurance for your next trip in Hong Kong and other South East Asian countries? We help expats find the best covers. Get in touch today!

6Jul

Reducing the Stress When Travelling with Kids

Travelling with a child is not easy. As much as we would want to travel with the whole family, the logistics can be a great source of stress and anxiety. However, just like with anything in life, just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Here are a few tips for stress-free travelling with a child:

Take care of yourself before anybody else.

Monkey see, monkey do. If a child sees or feels anxiety from the parents, then they would most likely copy the mood. It’s important to remember that in order to take care of someone, you have to be in your best condition first. So, make sure that you get enough sleep before the trip and your health is conditioned for travel. Take Vitamin Cs to boost your immunity. With all the stress that’s bound to come, you’re going to need it.

Destination, planning, and packing.

Take into account if the place you’re going is suitable for the child. You can save that Machu Picchu hiking expedition for when your 2-year-old is a little older. Also, make sure that you always have a child-friendly room where you’re going, especially if travelling with an infant.

Create a schedule and book the rooms and the places you want to visit in advance as much as possible. It’s better to have an adjustable itinerary in cases of emergency, rather than have none at all.

Pack just enough diapers and pull-ups for the trip to your destination. Book a room near a pharmacy for easy access to your child’s necessities.

Food, water, and first aid

Keep them fed and hydrated with low-sugar snacks. Make sure all their necessary vitamins, medications and formula are in your carry-on.

Distractions

Bring their favourite toy and keep art supplies within your reach for when your child starts to get bored. Load your tablet or smartphone with their favourite shows.

Keep them close

Save yourself from a heart attack and buy a kid’s harness. It’s weird to see a child on a leash but it will keep them close to you. Before going out, write your contact details on your child’s arm and make them wear a bracelet tag with the same information. At night, make sure that they’re wearing something fluorescent, like a glow stick, to easily spot them in a crowd should they stray.

At the end of the day, we just want our kids to be comfortable, happy, and safe. So, it’s important to meticulously plan a child-centred trip. Making them part of that process ensures satisfaction of not only your child but, also, yourself.

FAMILY INSURANCE

We recommend getting family insurance especially when traveling for an extended period of time. Find an international plan that covers the country you’re visiting. We help expats find the right family insurance for expats living in Hong Kong.

5Jun

Backpacking Tips when Travelling in Southeast Asia

Backpacking in Southeast Asia (SEA) can very well turn out be one of the best trips in someone’s life if planned properly. Like in any trip, it is important to get to know your destinations before embarking on them. As amazing as the countries are in this corner of the world with its tropical forests, flamboyant environmental richness and diversity, and deeply seeded cultures, rookie mistakes can lead to very disastrous results. So, here are few things to take into account if you’re planning on travelling to a SEA country or backpacking across it.

Travel Insurance

It is always recommended to have a travel insurance, especially in long trips to foreign countries lasting from weeks to months.

Some parts of Southeast Asia are high risk for foreigners and expats. It’s always better to anticipate the worst case scenario when traveling to unfamiliar territories.

Do your research and look for a travel insurance that covers loss of items, missed or cancelled flights and trips, and, most importantly, any medical conditions that can be encountered. Plus, make sure to purchase one that is covered in the countries that you plan to visit.

Vaccinations

As said earlier, Southeast Asian countries are not just hotpots for culture but, unfortunately, for infectious diseases as well. Malaria, dengue, tetanus, hepatitis A, and typhoid are only some of the serious diseases that’s common in most of the 11 states. Acquiring the disease can lead to serious complications and even death.

“Prevention is always better than cure.” Before going on a backpacking trip, consider the diseases common in the locality that you’re going to or even just pass by, take into account the season and which diseases are more common in that season (i.e. high incidence of dengue in the Philippines during the rainy season). Vaccination should start months prior to your trip make ensure completion.

Other infectious diseases that do not have vaccinations but have post-exposure prophylaxis such as rabies or HIV should be covered by your travel insurance.

Apps

Technology has changed the way that people travel. Here are some of the essential apps when travelling Southeast Asia:

  1. “XE currency” and other currency converters, preferably one that works even offline is a must for travellers.
  2. “Google Maps” and “MAPS.me” are some of the recommended map apps by travellers.
  3. “Google translate” can be both your friend and enemy when travelling. Sometimes translations are inaccurate due to local idioms or figures of speech. Learning the local’s language wouldn’t hurt and the best app for that is “Duolingo.”
  4. Ride-sharing or hailing apps available in the region
  5. “Traveloka” and other flight and hotel booking apps for stress-free reservations.
  6. “Food Panda” if you’re not feeling like eating out or you miss fast food, this is the delivery app to go to.
  7. “Trail wallet” is a budget tracking app being that your financial resources are most likely limited during travel

Planning ahead, learning about the place you’re going to, and being smart with your decisions are the keys to a safe and hassle-free travel.

3Sep

How to Prepare Your Kids for Vaccination Day

For expat families, new challenges such as moving and adjusting to another country are already on top of old ones, one of which is keeping up with your kids’ vaccinations. If you’re a family with more than two kids, it can be quite the struggle to stay on top of who has had which vaccination and when they are due the next one. Having the right healthcare practitioner to seek professional advice and support from can make all the difference.

How to have stress-free vaccinations

Unlike babies less than a year old, children aged around 15 months and older need to be comforted when faced with the prospect of a visit to the doctor’s. While experts say that talking to your child beforehand isn’t likely to help, it is encouraged rather to psyche them up with the promise of a reward after the injections, such as a tasty snack, a new small toy, or a visit to their favorite play place.
It is also encouraged to explain to your child when they’re above two years old the importance of vaccinations and how it makes them healthy and strong. Liken the process as the reason how their favorite superheroes got their super strength.

One way to mentally prepare your child for their injections is to stay calm because children sometimes feed off of their parents’ moods. When they see that it’s not a big deal to you, it may help them relax. You can also distract them by talking about your plans after the visit instead of focusing on the visit itself. And never ever use a visit to the doctor’s as a form of punishment for bad behavior. It will just make it that much harder to do in the future.
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Family vacations are great fun but vaccinations are once again a needed precaution or requirement before travel to another country. Research on the recommended vaccinations for your child and for a particular destination, and getting the injections one to two weeks before travel are two very important things to consider.
As for diseases one can’t vaccinate against, such as malaria and dengue, preventative measures such as anti-malaria tablets, insect repellent, and wearing protective clothing should be prepared for as well.

Mandatory vaccinations are a duty

One may be aware of the ongoing argument of whether or not to vaccinate a child and it is very important to be on the side of medical professionals when it comes to mandatory vaccinations. Doctors all over can’t stress enough the importance of vaccinating and the claims that they cause autism are unsubstantiated. If one isn’t fully aware of how important vaccinations are, refusing to do so is likely to have consequences of epidemic proportions. One example is last year’s measles outbreak that started in Disneyland in California and spread to Washington and Colorado, and has since been proven to be the effect of low vaccination rates.

There is also currently a worldwide whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic, the worst in the last 70 years. Small babies who have not received their vaccinations are most vulnerable to the disease. However, ensuring that their pertussis vaccinations are up to date can greatly boost their chances of protection.

With the help of the right healthcare plan, preparing a child’s vaccinations doesn’t have to be a daunting task for any parent. Village Insurance Direct helps expats in Hong Kong find comprehensive health insurance that cover the whole family. Ask us about it today.

13Mar

What Does Corporate Travel Insurance Cover and Why I Need It?

Companies or organizations that send their employees overseas for business have two options when it comes to Travel Insurance.

First option is to have insurance as an add-on to their tickets. These come as individual cover for each person. The second option is to get Corporate Travel Insurance that protects your employees as a group.

Why is this insurance necessary?

The question should actually focus on WHEN you need this type of travel insurance. With the numerous claims we’have helped our clients with in recent years, Corporate Travel Insurance becomes crucial when employees are being sent to high-risk places.  For instance, non-profit organizations that provide volunteer services to countries with epidemics or ongoing national conflict are considered high-risk.Avu-gfOzbAxU6OQTf0Xja7YoncE7OqHxr8LsF4CZ-sDJ
This insurance is also a more cost-effective means of protecting your company from extra expenses incurred by your staff during the travel period. If it’s a big group, there are policies that offer protection based on headcount instead of specific names (usually for groups of 5 or more).

What does Corporate Travel Insurance Cover?

Providers offer a wide range of options for different needs. We help expat companies in Hong Kong make arrangements for their staff. Below is a list of common policy benefits for Corporate Travel Insurance:

  • Cover for events resulting from any terrorist attack, including the use of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons
  • Cover for all journeys of less than 120 days
  • War Zone coverage (optional with added premium)
  • Cover for a company’s regional or worldwide offices can be arranged, if permitted by local laws
  • Personal deviation up to 31 days
  • Repatriation
  • Medical expenses
  • Legal expenses
  • Travel or baggage delay
  • Flight delay
  • Emergency travel of family & friends
  • Personal Liability
  • Hospitalization
  • Loss of personal money or documents
  • Accidental Death

Leisure travel may also be covered if it coincides with your business travel dates.

For a quotation on insurance, you may Contact Us here.

13Nov

Why More People are Choosing to Travel Alone

Traveling solo at least once in your life can be one of the most liberating and eye-opening experiences. The Internet has changed the culture of travel by becoming a platform for awareness of different exotic places as well as increased the urge to share our personal lives with friends and strangers. A large group of the expat community in Hong Kong live this kind of life and they would be the first people to attest to the value of exploring new territories on your own.

We are only young and strong once in our lives and getting invaluable life lessons by traveling is a chance we should take when it presents itself. So why are more people traveling solo?

1.       You have no one to worry about but yourself.

The comfort of having zero responsibility to anyone is a needed break from our busy work lives. This makes it easy for you to plan your journey and you have the freedom to make any change without a second thought. Do everything you want and nothing you don’t want.

2.        Experience real local life.

Traveling with other people does not often elicit a need to dive deeper into a country’s local culture because you already have people you can talk to and engage. However, being alone in an unfamiliar place pushes you to connect with your immediate community because these are the people you can possibly turn to in case you need help. You are also more uninhibited about impressions towards you because no one really knows you. Learn the language, break your routines, live a different life.Quote_imge_2,1

3.       Make new friends, or don’t.

Meet fellow expats and travelers or choose to be antisocial. It’s really all up to what you feel like doing. Hunt for hole-in-the-wall cafes and enjoy being with your own thoughts or go out at night and create a new network of interesting individuals at your own pace.

4.       It makes you more resourceful and confident.

Leaving your comfort zone increases your threshold. Hesitation is normal especially for anyone doing it for the first time but once you find yourself backpacking through the countryside or ordering your meal with broken local language, your self-assurance instantly gets a boost and you will discover things about yourself you have not yet realized. Most expats have said that after their first solo trip, they made sure that they would be able to do it again.

5.       The trip is more profound.

Whether you hated the place you visited or fell in love with the country and the people, the experience is an unforgettable one mainly because it’s solely yours. The satisfaction of checking off an item from your bucket list and having done so on your own is incomparable.

Make plans, break itineraries and gain more perspective from people and places. Try it at least once. And if you do decide to go for it, don’t forget to secure proper Travel Insurance for yourself. Get a Third Party Comprehensive Travel Insurance Plan to get covered for more risks—from loss baggage to repatriation in case of any medical emergencies. We can help.

Good luck and safe travels!

23Aug

Worst Case Scenario (Funny but not really)

DISCLAIMER: These are purely hypothetical scenarios aimed at putting some humor on the need for proper insurance.Blog - image 1

You’re hiking with your friends on a beautiful Sunday morning when…

YOU CROSS PATHS WITH A BEAR HOLDING ITS PET SNAKE AND IT CHALLENGES YOU TO A DUEL TO THE DEATH.Blog - image 2
You’re spending the afternoon in your favorite museum when…

YOU TRIP ON ONE OF THE VELVET ROPES, BUMPING AND DESTROYING ONE OF THE SCULPTURES AND YOU CRACK YOUR HEAD ON THE FLOOR!Blog - image 4

It’s a quiet morning and you’re enjoying a cup of coffee when…

A RABID PIGEON FLIES IN THROUGH YOUR WINDOW, SCRATCHES YOUR EYES AND SWOOPS IN TO STEAL A BOX OF CEREALS!Blog - image 3

You finally have enough money to go on a holiday when…

THE AIRLINE WHERE YOU BOOKED YOUR TICKET TURNS OUT TO BE A BUNCH OF CHIMPS PRETENDING TO BE HUMAN AND THEY WON’T ISSUE ANY REFUNDS NOW THAT THEY’VE BEEN DISCOVERED!Blog - image 6

A co-worker tells you you’ll be getting pay raises tomorrow when…

YOU GET BITTEN BY A RADIOACTIVE RAT AND HUMAN RESOURCES ANNOUNCES THAT THERE’LL BE A RANDOM DRUG TEST. YOU FAIL THE TEST ON ACCOUNT OF THE RADIOACTIVITY, PLUS YOU GET FIRED ON ACCOUNT OF YOUR MUTANT RAT POWERS.Blog - image 5_0