22Jun

Yes! You need Travel Insurance

Sometimes, people forget the most important thing before a trip. Passports and paperwork are already a given. But before one plans the perfect outfit or maps out the perfect itinerary, it’s important to pay attention to a necessity that’s often taken for granted: Travel insurance.

There are varying types of travel insurance cover. There are two general types:

  • Vacation Cover – This type of plan provides the most coverage in a single package, including flight cancellations, medical emergencies, evacuations, loss of luggage or delays and more.

Over 94% of travel insurance sales are Vacation Cover.

  • Medical Travel Cover – Travel Medical Insurance plans provide cover that is not included in your regular health insurance. If cancellation is not a priority issue, this plan is ideal for you.

Your itinerary will determine what travel insurance you’ll need. Choose a plan that covers the essentials. If you foresee sudden changes in your travel plans, you’ll be thankful you’ve subscribed to a plan that saves you money and the stress of having to spend more on airline tickets or transfer flights.

Travel insurance is especially important when you plan to visit countries with highly contagious diseases. Your embassy will often advise you to take necessary precaution with the right vaccination but you can never be too careful even if you’ve had your shots.

Some Visa applications even require a confirmed travel insurance plan with a specified amount of coverage. Otherwise, it’s grounds for getting your Visa denied. European countries and some Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea require travel insurance especially if your itinerary involves extreme activities such as skiing, trekking, or diving.

Runway issues that cause massive flight delays are also a nightmare to deal scenarios but the right plan can relieve some of the stress during these unfortunate cases. Imagine having to spend thousands of dollars and you haven’t even arrived at your destination. You can avoid that if you’ve pre-empted the situation.

There are plenty of reasonably priced covers. All you have to do is ask. We help expats living in Hong Kong find the best travel cover for any trip.

Make sure you’re covered with the proper travel insurance. Need help? Contact us today.

28Mar

Common Diseases During the Summer

We’re in the hotter season of the year and it’s important to take caution especially with common diseases that occur during the summer.

The fun of summer activities may be endless but there is also no shortage of ailments that could potentially ruin a holiday.

Here are some of the most commonly occurring diseases in the summer.

1. Heat Rash

Heat rash isn’t picky of its victims. It is common in children but affects adults just the same. Since the temperature goes up during summer, it can start affecting people who wear heavy layers of clothing.

Heat rashes are a product of humid conditions and develop when sweat ducts are clogged. They start to swell up, and the end result is a break of spots on the skin which causes discomfort and itching. While it heals by itself and doesn’t really require heavy medical attention, it can be treated my most creams and frequent bathing.

2. Heat stroke

The more appropriate medical term is “hyperthermia”. Heat stroke happens when the body is subject to high temperatures for an extended time.

The body has its own cooling mechanisms that can be seen through sweating or the feeling of thirst, but it can be easily overwhelmed when we are subjected to temperatures that can no longer be neutralized. With a body temperature of over 40°C, signs and symptoms start to take over like headaches and weakness. If unattended, it can result in organ failure or even death.

Hyperthermia can be treated with hydration and with the aid of ice packs. Individuals with extreme cases need to be monitored properly in hospitals to prevent complications.

3. Sunburn

You don’t get sunburn only from beach parties. Sun exposure in itself is the main cause of sunburns. You get them by heavy exposure to UV rays that deals with heavy damage to your skin cells. Sunburn doesn’t only hurt you when you get it. It can lead to long-term effects on the skin such as tissue damage or cancer.

The simplest way to avoid sunburn is to stay out of the sun, particularly when the heat becomes too unbearable. Preventive measures include using skin creams, staying in the shade, and wearing the appropriate clothing when you anticipate being outdoors for a period of time.

4. Diarrhea and stomach ailments

Heat is one of the most common contributing factors to food spoilage. Abrupt changes in the temperature in food preparation, such as sudden refrigeration and prolonged exposure to humid weather make for a quick recipe to ruin your favorite dish.

Food that lacks proper storage and preparation during the summer can lead to fits of stomach ache and diarrhea. The suspects behind food-borne diarrhea could either be viruses or bacteria. The most common diarrhea-causing bacteria include E. coli and Salmonella.

All these diseases shouldn’t scare you from having a proper summer. No matter the season, there will always be the risk of getting sick. All this calls for is a little awareness, and some preparation so there won’t be a reason to worry about anything.

Stay hydrated and put on suncreen. And if you’re going on holiday abroad, make sure to find travel insurance that covers emergency room confinement or more. Get in touch with us to get the best personal, family, or group plan for expats.

 

21Feb

Traveling Tips: Hokkaido

When in Japan, the two go-to choices of travelers always revolve around the cities of Tokyo and Osaka. A third option exists to advanced travelers. When you’re just about satisfied with your thirst for urban scenery and deep-rooted culture, you are now welcome to enter the snowy plains of Hokkaido.

Planning a trip to Hokkaido offers an extra challenge to all travelers. It simply isn’t easy because there’s just too much to explore. This is why there will be two parts to planning your travel: the pre-trip checklist, and your actual guide once you’ve reached your destination.

Before the flurry

It’s a fact we have to face. It’s hard to be away from home these days without internet connection. Quite honestly, having no internet connectivity while traveling In Japan will be a nightmare. From translations to map-checking, things will be more complicated. The choice is yours if you want opt for a sim card (for solo travelers) or a standard 4G pocket wifi (suited for group travels).

An efficient public transport is what drives Japan in general. Before heading to Hokkaido, get a reloadable IC card that could be used on all public transport like JR trains, and buses. Pre-purchased IC cards from other regions like Tokyo and Osaka can also be used.

Sapporo TV tower

A famous landmark in the area, this tall structure offers a beautiful view of Odori park. It is the second tallest tower in Japan after the Tokyo Tower.

They charge an entrance fee of 720 yen. Third party services such as Klook offer tickets for a relatively lower price.

Otaru Canal

Beautifully restored and a favorite tourist spot, the Otaru Canal is a sight of beauty, better at nighttime. The place is a serene body of water lit by 63 gas lamps along its promenade. If you travel during the winter period, you get to see the stone houses buried in snow, giving an appeal that reminds you of the western places.

Mt. Hakodate

Standing at 334 meters high, Mount Hakodate is a wooded mountain at the southern end of the area. For cheaper expenses, this perfect spot offers a view of the city from a high vantage point. The facilities are accessible through your choice of a 10-minute ropeway, or through a bus. They charge a fee of 1280 yen for a roundtrip ropeway and 780 yen for a single trip.

Shirugane Blue Pond

We live for beautiful turquoise waters and a sense of peace. This place is a must-visit if you’re after wintry sceneries. During the cold season, the area transforms into a magical view as it gets engulfed by artistic lighting patterns. Even without the light shows, its beautiful waters are enough to surely steal your heart.

Furano Flower Fields

Maybe it’s time to give Sunflower a break. Being in Hokkaido provides a fresh opportunity to fall in love with lavender, which has been cultivated in the area for more than half a century. Furano’s flower fields are lavender heavens which always have a lot of visitors in summer, when everything is in full bloom.

Still uncomfortable being outside your comfort zone? Overestimate your calculated expenses, particularly when you’re planning to go on a budget trip. Pull the extra strings on safety by securing travel insurance which will provide you security from the smallest hassle to the biggest of inconveniences. The snowy plains of Hokkaido will be waiting for your you, but there’s nothing wrong with a little extra precaution. Be it your first time or your 20th, it’s always best to be at ease and not worrying about anything.

7Feb

Travelling in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is easily one of the world’s well-loved and well-trodden tourist destinations worldwide, and, if you’ve visited any of its countries, it’s easy to see the reason behind its appeal.

“Diverse” is the best word to describe Southeast Asian countries. It is already known that the culture in these countries tend to be kaleidoscopic—it takes different colors and figures to make it what it is. This is from the people to the culture. However, what people seldom realize is there is diversity also exist in the activities that they offer.

Are you itching for some adrenaline and want to go to forest or ocean adventures? Is your mouth craving for a food trip? Want to look smart in front of your friends by the end of the summer by going to a cultural or history tour? Want to cap off your trip by spending the day shopping or exploring the night life of a roaring city that never sleeps? (That’s right, New York. You’re not the only insomniac’s paradise anymore.)

All of this can be done in Southeast Asia.

So, if you’re considering Southeast Asia as your next travel destination (and it would be unwise not to), here are some of the must-go, absolutely necessary places to visit depending on what the over-all theme of how you want your vacation to be, along with tips in travelling when there:

Adrenaline rushers

Palawan of the Philippines is one of the most popular go-to destinations for people who are willing to dip their toes into the wild side. From parasailing, to trekking, to canoeing in a cave, to snorkelling, to full-on scuba-diving, the island of Palawan has it all. The island’s diverse marine life is one the reasons why it is continuously revisited by tourists and even locals. It would be a sin not to explore its waters when there. Prepare some cash, though, almost everything comes with a price there but, rest assured, you’ll get your money’s worth.

Other islands in the Philippines that’s slowly gaining popularity is Cebu. The biggest hassle though is the travelling in the island itself. The go-to places tend to be far apart and transportation is a bit difficult to come by, however there are cab drivers that offer their services.

Other things to explore in Southeast Asia:

  • Surfing in Bali
  • Off-road motorbike tour in Laos- this would be more fun if you know how to ride a motorbike on your own
  • Sky-diving in Pataya, Thailand
  • Spelunking in Vietnam
  • Climbing Mount Pulag, Philippines

#Cultured

Southeast Asia is layered with so much history that in any country that you choose, their historical and culture tours would not disappoint. However, here are some of the note-worthy activities:

  • Temple-hopping

One of the most marvelled temples in Southeast Asia is Cambodia’s Angkor Wat Temple. Considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it’s magnificent and intricate design has won the hearts of many tourist and architecture enthusiast

Other temples are:

  • Hue in Vietnam
    • Candi Prambanan and Borobudur in Indonesia
    • The temples in Laos
  • Japan Culture tour

The culture of Japan captured the hearts of many people that is has reached the western countries. If you’re interested in diving deeper, you can arrange for a culture tour wherein you can:

visit Asakusa, Meiji Shrine, Imperial Palace 

explore Gion, and visit a Kimono craftsman workshop, wear an actual kimono, and experience an authentic tea and incense ceremony. You can also opt to have full-course kaiseki dinner, complete with Geisha performance.

Just want to be fat and happy

Singapore is the first place that comes to mind when somebody says, “Food trip!”

Sure, Thai and Japanese food are great, but nothing compares to the hawker stalls in Singapore. Although the city is known for being “fine” because everything there seems to be expensive and comes with a hefty “fine”, the street foods are actually cheap when taking into consideration their quality and serving. Remember that scene from “Crazy, Rich, Asians”? Made your mouth water, didn’t it?

One can map an entire tour, just based solely on your craving. And since the city is quite small, you can burn calories and guilt that came with what you just ate by walking to the next restaurant. You probably won’t, but at least the options there.

From adrenaline junkies to wannabe “cultured snobs”, Southeast Asia is ready to cater to everyone and anyone. All you have to do is do your research and know where to look.

NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE THAT COVERS YOUR TRAVEL THROUGHOUT SOUTHEAST ASIA? We help expats find the best travel insurance. Get in touch with us.

6Dec

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.

7Nov

Traveling for Food: Exploring food allergies

What draws you to travel?

What blossomed in the East started to find its way into the global palate. Expats from Europe and the US have made gastronomic trips to Asia to further understand the culture of each different country, from the bowls of spicy noodles to the more exotic street and hawker stalls.

However, there is a limit to knowing the world through cuisines. Embedded within us is a limiting agent in the form of allergies to remind us that our body can only handle so much.

Allergies are our body’s unique way of telling us what is compatible and what is not to our system. The reactions extend to the basic choices we make such as “tasty” or “not”.

By law, the FDA has listed eight categories as designated food allergens (Milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans).

The categories seem easy on first glance until you realize that food allergies vary individually. Recent researches highlight the stark contrast with allergens through regions, such as in the West versus the East. This is vital information for travellers.

Here are a few common food allergies to help backpackers, expats, and casual travellers be more cautious while they explore Asia through food.

food allergies while travelling - Village Insurance Direct Hong Kong

Shellfish

According to a paper written in 2013, shellfish tops the list in food allergens in Asians, particularly in children, mainly due to its availability and demand in the region. A 2014 study from the Singapore Medical Journal, also reinforces the idea. While a lot of Asian cuisines is built on shellfish, a large chunk of the population remains highly allergic to it.

Peanuts

Peanuts remain as the top allergen in America and in some parts of Europe. The total number of cases in Asia is relatively low, but in some areas like in Singapore, the statistics prove otherwise. A good 15 years ago, peanut allergies had lower cases and aren’t considered a top allergen, until recently. This is a testament to the changing diets Asians have had through the years.

Wheat

Rice is the staple carbohydrate of every Asian. But to have wheat included in the list makes you want to feel bad for craving for bread as much as the next guy. Japan and South Korea, two countries famous for revolutionary modern takes on bread, suffer from prevalent cases of wheat allergy. They also rake in high numbers of anaphylaxis cases from this specific allergen.

Travel as much as you like, and eat as much as you like. Food allergies exist to make you aware of your limits, but not to scare you to crawl back to your comfort zones. Be bold and stick NOT with what you’re always comfortable with, but with what you’re COMPATIBLE with.

Serious allergic reaction to food can cause some people to be hospitalized. To be more secure during your travel, make sure you find a travel insurance that covers emergency hospitalization in the country you’re travelling.

We find the best travel insurance for expats living in Hong Kong.

27Sep

Traveling to Iran: A Quick Guide

What about a change of pace for your next holiday? Maybe it’s time to swap the crowded cities for historical grounds and the sunny beaches for pristine architecture.

Why not let Iran be your next destination?

Don’t let erroneous media portrayal fool you: Iran is a breathtaking country and a refreshing experience that flows beautifully on its own. The beautiful landscapes are one thing, but it’s the people’s warmth that really gets you. Among Middle Eastern countries, Iran is considered one of the safest nations to visit. Backpackers and casual travelers themselves have recommended touring Iran, nullifying negativity surrounding it as mostly outdated and inane. Touring Iran is gradually becoming more of an addition to every traveler’s bucket list.

When in Iran, teach yourself a life hack and go straight for the unexplored gems. For the common traveler, the biggest challenge isn’t necessarily to visit the place but to enjoy it before the sudden rush of other tourists.

The clouds of Filband

In the heart of the Mazandaran Province, for example, lies a scenic “Neverland” in the form of Filband. What awaits is an unparalleled beauty of cotton-like clouds and lush forests that almost makes you feel dancing among the mountains.

Shiraz

Just a little close to the very popular destination Persepolis is Shiraz, the city of gardens and poets. One of its best-known grandeurs is its wine (although reserved for religious practices), that matches perfectly with the relaxed atmosphere that the surreal place offers.

Qal’eh Dokhtar

In Fars is a notable historical beauty called the Qal’eh Dokhtar. “The Maiden Castle” was made in honor of the Goddess Anahita, who represents fertility and wisdom. The structure overlooks the Kavar-Firuzabad Road and features a great variety of architecture: including age-old windows and stairways. It has stood for some 1,800 years and is always a pleasure to visit while in the country.

CULTURAL KNOW-HOW

What sets Iran apart from other countries is its people’s sense of hospitality, which at times, even extends to the good of your safety. Apart from such trait, the locals are always ready to assist you and even look out for you. In fact, the country is known for being one of the safest spots for female travelers, mainly due to its policies on gender segregation.

In return, as responsible travelers, it is apt to show respect by abiding with their conventions. For example, for both men and women, tattoos must be kept covered by clothing. In Islam, tattoos are considered forbidden by tradition. Women must also wear loose-fitting clothing and don a headscarf in public. While all these rules could come off as a shock for most travelers, treat it as part of the experience. All ready? Now it’s to plan that vacation. Just to be sure, don’t forget the cherry on top and also invest in a travel insurance for your next holiday. Your mapped-out trip won’t be complete without the benefit of being worry-free when you’re far from home.

GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

For a more carefree travel, make sure you get travel insurance. Village Insurance Direct helps expats find insurance that can protect you from losses due to flight cancellations, lost of luggage, robberies, as well as possible health-related concerns. Get in touch with us today.

28Aug

Ten Commandments for Stress-Free Travels

You know what can make your travelling more fun? A comprehensive set of rules.

Here are 10 travel commandments that all wanderers have to live by:

  • Thou shall plan ahead

Contrary to the carefree facade that is displayed, travelling actually involves so much planning. What places should I go to and will there be time? Where do I stay? How much money should I bring? How many clothes do I pack? Does my travel insurance cover my destinations?

The truth of the matter is, preparation is the key to a carefree vacation. Planning ahead can save you from a whole lot headache should the unforeseeable comes.

  • Thou shall not travel without insurance

Extra security is always welcome when travelling especially if you’re exploring an unknown territory. Travel insurance may be costly but you’ll be thanking yourself when you lose a bag, miss a flight, or get sick while travelling abroad.

  • Thou shall stay in budget

Sure. It’s nice to buy your 6th mahogany turtle display, but is it really necessary?

  • Thou shall pack smart

Packing has to be the most tedious task in travelling. Always keep in mind to pack only what is necessary to avoid being weightlifter your entire trip, BUT also have at least 2-3 sets of emergency clothes. You don’t want to end up using both sides of your underwear, don’t you? 

  • Thou shall eat the local cuisines

Whether it’s the famous hawkers in Singapore or the lechon in Cebu, Philippines, travelling is not travelling if you don’t try the local’s specialty dishes. The food is part of the culture.

  • Thou shall refrain from fast food

I know, McDonald’s is calling you but it’s still going to be there after you’ve gone home. That stew made on goat innards will not be. Live a little and try something different for your palate.

  • Thou shall lessen social media

People travel to get away, to disconnect. Travelling should be an immersion but you can’t really, fully do that if 75% of your attention is on your Instagram “Likes”, and 15% is on your “Stories”.

Just post one photo then go offline. Open it again when the has come to an end. Enjoy your travel in real life.

  • Thou shall know and respect another’s house

Gain hindsight of the place you’re going. Research on their laws and a bit of their culture and, most importantly, respect them. Don’t ever think you’re exempted just because you’re not “one of them”.

  • Thou shall keep an open mind

Hate to break it to you but, believe it or not, cultures and customs other than yours exists. Sometimes your weird is another’s normal, what’s nothing for you can be a sign of utmost disrespect. The world is a kaleidoscope. Try to see it in all its colors.

  • Thou shall be brave

Travelling can be scary, especially if you’re doing it alone for the first time. It takes an outstanding amount of courage to take that literal first step out to the world. And sure, mishaps can happen but think about what a great story you’ll have at the end of it all.

For help with international travel insurance, click here. We specialize in finding the best insurance for expats living in Hong Kong.