Encouraging Safe and Healthy Family Travel

Encouraging Safe and Healthy Family Travel

Travel agents can help make sure families are protected on vacation By: Ethan Gelber, director of editorial, Family Travel Association
Travel advisors can help families consider their insurance options. // © 2017 iStock
Travel advisors can help families consider their insurance options. // © 2017 iStock

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No one plans to get sick or injured during a trip. Feeling ill or tending to an ailing friend or family member is disruptive enough at home, but on the road, it can be complicated by language barriers, culture, medical practices and more.

Most families therefore know to take extra care when they travel. But no one can anticipate everything, and overwrought caution can stifle enjoyment. 

So where can families turn for relevant information about appropriate travel safety nets? Travel advisors, of course.

“While I always first recommend that my clients review the out-of-network coverage of their health insurance plans, I make it clear that I’m available to assist them with additional information on current advisories and other policy options, as needed,” said Julia Slatcher of Inspire World Travel.

Set a Health and Safety Baseline
Travelers should depart on their journeys with enough knowledge of a place to feel at ease. Information thresholds will vary, but there are some reliable resources that can help families satisfy their curiosities and concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continually maintain recommendations for safe and healthy international travel, including country-specific information with notices about important events and outbreaks. There are also specific pages about traveling with children.

Most governments, including the U.S. State Department, issue country summaries that cover know-before-you-go travel alerts and warnings. They may also encourage registration with in-country embassies via services such as the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) here in the U.S.

Know the Options
Dozens of companies provide support plans to travelers in the event of unforeseen circumstances. They cover a wide range of issues, including cancellation, interruption and delay of trips; foreign medical coverage; and even emergency evacuation. But it can be hard to understand the variations in packages and their associated costs, especially when exploring coverage for families or multigenerational groups. 

Travelex Insurance Services, for example — which has multiple plans, from “essential” and “absolute” protection to “complete emergency resolution” — includes a Select Plan designed with family travel in mind (there are no additional costs for kids under 21 when accompanied by a covered adult).

MedjetAssist provides health, safety and security services that it says are “the most comprehensive travel protection memberships available,” such as guaranteeing medical transfer to a hospital of choice in one’s home country from virtually anywhere in the world.

Always Think Ahead and Stay Alert
A holiday away from home shouldn’t be a holiday from common sense.

“Our clients love to get away from the real world while on vacation,” said Marion Hager, owner of Hager’s Journeys. “We want them to set aside their routine worries and have a great time. But we urge them to stay vigilant — especially when they are traveling with kids.”

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