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Entries during 2017-08

Passport Backup

Q. Recently, my husband and I had photocopies of our passports removed from unlocked exterior pockets of our suitcases. They were put there in case of an emergency. We have traveled this way for over 20 years with no problems. This is the first time the documents have been stolen. The theft has already been reported to the managers of the hotels we stayed at while we were on tour.  We need advice on what to do now. Should we report the loss to the US passport agency?

A. There shouldn't be any real reason for concern, so long as long as it was only a photocopy and not the original. Still, it wouldn't hurt to report it anyway and, in the off chance that someone attempts to use your personal details for some nefarious purpose and you suddenly have to clear it up, at least you'll be able to refer back to having reported the theft. Again, just to be on the safe side.

While having a copy of your passport is a great idea, you might try keeping a scanned copy in Google Docs, Dropbox, or download the Mobile Passport app.

Drastic Fare Increase While Booking

Q. For a couple of weeks we've been eyeing a one-way fare from Miami to Paris. We were in the middle of finally booking this fare but there was a delay having to do with our credit card, then access to the airline site expired. When I started all over again and the fare had changed jumped by several hundred dollars. We then tried again, erasing all our cookies, but this didn't work. What's going on?

A. This could simply be because the airline changed the airfare, or the number of seats at the lowest fare has changed. Airfares change all the time on any given route, and there’s no magic to finding the cheapest seats other than searching constantly and signing up for airfare alerts and pouncing immediately when a fare looks cheap. And while there’s no solid evidence that clearing cookies changes the game, it never hurts to try.

Booking Ahead

Q. We are flying to Dublin this fall, traveling through Ireland from November 7th through the 28th. Do you suppose we can get by without making advance reservations and just decide on hotels and B&Bs as we go day by day?

A. November is not a particularly peak travel time for Ireland, though I think you'd do well to make reservations at least a day ahead. And you can usually cancel reservations 6-24 hours ahead. Just make sure you know the lodging's cancel policies.

Cancellations Just Because

Q. I booked a cruise for four, scheduled to leave in September. Now one of us cannot make the trip. I did buy trip insurance, but I was told that since this isn't due to medical reasons, a refund isn't an option. Can they do that?

A. Possibly. Travel insurance policies differ greatly in their terms of what is and isn't covered. So it all depends on the specific type of policy you purchased and its terms of coverage. Some protect you against trip cancellation/interruption due to illness, and some even allow a refund should you find you suddenly get called into work. We always recommend reading through your travel insurance policy before purchasing, so you can make an informed decision about exactly what it is you're buying.

330-Day Fare Availability

Q. Every once in awhile, I get an alert for a fare that states "330 day travel period". What exactly does this mean?

A.  Legacy carriers sell fares for travel up to 330 days into the future, whereas the newbie "low cost" carriers do not. It doesn't necesarrily mean that the fare is available every single month and/or day of the year, but when we notice a fare we post has some availability for this long 330 day travel period, we pass the information along.

The lowest fares available on legacy carriers are not always available for a 330 day travel window, and even when they are, peak travel times such as December holidays and summer months mid-June through late August are often not included or are extremely scarce.

Trip Interruption Due to Medical Snafu

Q. I purchased travel insurance for my trip to Ireland. As luck would have it, I suffered a terrible fall before I was scheduled to fly back home. So now I've got an insurance claim that requires documentation for every little thing, which is often difficult to get (especially in rural Ireland) and I'm stuck here in another B&B waiting for an available flight home. If I'm unable to get a seat, I may be forced to stay longer than I can afford. All the documents they want will go through a "counselor" at the hospital; not the doctor. This could drag on for months and I could be broke by then. Is there any way to make them pay me now?

A. Unfortunately, the claims process could take several weeks if not longer. And they won't pay any costs associated with terminating the trip early (via the "trip interruption" clause in most travel insurance policies) until they document your visits to a physician or hospital. Of course, you'd also need to submit proof of any expenses incurred, which can only be done after spending the money. If your policy had an emergency medical evacuation clause and you'd been deemed a candidate for medical evacuation, either by commercial flight or a private medical flight, then you would have been able to get a flight home almost immediately.

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