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Entries during 2015-10

Choosing the Right Travel Insurance for Long Stays

Q. What companies do you recommend for travel and health insurance for people over 75? I am 77 and my husband is 86, and we’re about the sign up for a three-week volunteer program in Albania. My husband looked into the Chartis travel insurance policies and was somewhat daunted by the costs.

A. You might want to start with a travel insurance comparison site such as Because you’re probably on Medicare, you should know that your medical insurance won’t cover costs abroad. And although I would guess that your insurance premium might be $300-$500 or more per person (depending on the policy’s features) a for a three-week trip at your ages, even the most “platinum-clad” policies have limits on how much they’ll pay a foreign hospital for your medical bills. So I highly recommend adding on emergency evacuation insurance, so that you can be airlifted back to a U.S. hospital where your Medicare coverage will apply.

Above Image via Shutterstock

When to Buy?

Q. Is there a certain day that's better than others for finding the cheapest airfare? Also, is further in advance better than trying to book a few weeks prior to departure?

A. Actually, Airfarewatchdog doesn’t believe that there’s just one single day to find a low airfare. Yes, it’s true that at least for now, Southwest usually launches sales on late Monday night/Tuesday morning, so by Tuesday other airlines have matched. Tuesday is definitely a good day to search for domestic airfares, at least on routes served by Southwest. And on Tuesday or Wednesday, most airlines have also posted their last minute weekend deals. As the week progresses, seats at the lowest fare may be grabbed by other travelers. But we've seen amazing deals pop up on Fridays, Saturdays, or even Thursdays. Sooo, we strongly urge readers not to look for airfares only on Tuesday.

A huge price drop on a route you want to fly could happen at any second, be it six months or even six days from your ideal departure date. Not only do the airlines constantly adjust airfares themselves, but they tweak the number of seats offered at the lowest fare. Someone could be holding the last seat at the cheapest fare and decide to cancel. Voila, the fare is yours if you were persistent enough to look.

The real key to finding a low airfare is to sign up for free airfare alerts-- from us, of course! Check several times a day every day of the week and you’ll be amazed at how often fares change on any given route.

Misplaced Belongings, Vacation Ruined

Q. I left my wallet in the seatback pocket of a Delta flight to Amsterdam. I contacted Delta through its lost and found website. Fortunately, the wallet was found in Amsterdam but Delta would not send it to me unless I could give them a FedEx account, which I didn’t have and which I wasn’t able to sign up for because the FedEx website in Europe wouldn’t let me sign up with a U.S.-based address and credit card. Finally, Delta agreed to sent my wallet back to my home address, where it arrived two days after I returned home. My trip was ruined by not having my own credit card and cash (I ended up using my daughter’s credit card to get by). What should I have done differently to prevent all this from happening?

A. Soooo many things. First, I truly sympathize with you because the same thing has happened to me. I put my passport in a seatback pocket on a Virgin Atlantic flight and although I knew it was in there somewhere and I searched for 20 minutes before the flight landed, I couldn’t find it to save my life. It must have fallen into a black hole. I had to talk my way into the U.K. without a passport. Not fun. Luckily, Virgin found my passport (in Miami!) and delivered it to my London hotel in time for my return home. And without charge. It would have been nice if Delta had done the same for you.

So what should you have done differently? First, pretend that the seatback pocket isn’t there. Never, ever put anything in the seatback pocket. It’s filthy for one thing, and for another it’s a recipe for disaster.

Second, I can’t imagine why you couldn’t have accessed the U.S. FedEx website even in Europe (rather than the European website). Or have called FedEx by phone and established an account. Although if you didn’t have your credit card, I’m not sure how this would have been possible anyway.

Third, never put all your credit cards and cash in one place. I always put one credit card and some cash in my passport holder along with my passport, and the rest in my wallet.

Fourth, you know the old advertising slogan American Express used? “Never leave home without it?” I never leave home without my Amex card because on more than one occasion I’ve either lost or misplaced my wallet and Amex either issued me a credit card at one of their offices on the spot, or delivered a replacement card within 24 hours and covered my hotel expenses with just a phone call while waiting for the card to arrive. Credit cards issued by banks typically can’t issue replacement cards immediately or they can’t overnight them to you.

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