Summer is in full swing, and many people use this time of better weather and school breaks to take a vacation, whether domestically or abroad. Whether you are traveling by car, plane, or boat, you will want to be prepared for anything that comes your way with our legal checklist.
If you’ve been saving all year for the one big summer extravaganza, the last thing you would want to happen would be to lose it all to an accident or bad luck. Travel insurance helps when your flight is canceled, you fall ill; you lose your bags, or you experience an unexpected death in your family which causes your plans to change. Travel insurance (specifically trip interruption or cancellation insurance) is great because it buys you the one thing that’s hardest to find: peace of mind. Knowing that you are covered financially regardless of what happens is priceless when you are on vacation – enjoying your time to relax. Travel insurance can also cover your medical and evacuation expenses if you are injured abroad, where your domestic health insurance may not be valid. In many remote locations, whether deep in the jungle, rafting down a canyon, or on a tropical island, medical evacuation can be extremely expensive, often more than $50,000. If you plan on doing any scuba diving, you should consider dive insurance as well. Some credit cards provide extensive travel insurance, while others don’t–check your policy to see if you’re covered, for example, if your bag is stolen or your luggage is lost, or your airline goes out of business.
Make sure someone’s watching your home while you are away
Thieves know that summer is a great time to travel. While you’re on vacation, your home is at the greatest risk of being burglarized. Home thefts are on the rise, and you should consider how to protect your home best while on vacation by doing things like setting lights on a timer so that even when you are out of town, your home looks occupied.
Another great tip is to have a neighbor taken in your mail, newspapers, and take out your trash bins each week if you are planning an extended trip. These simple acts are enough to give the appearance of activity which reduces the likelihood of an incident. You may need someone to mow the lawn and water the plants as well.
If you already have an alarm system, and you are planning a trip abroad, it may make sense to change the contact person for the alarm system to someone local. That way if you don’t have access to your cell phone plan because you are in another country, the alarm company can reach someone as soon as possible.
Be careful about posting to social media while out of town
That Instagram of you jumping off a bridge in South America not only tells the world about your awesomeness but also broadcasts that you’re not home. Be careful about advertising your whereabouts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking sites until you get back.
Rental car insurance
If you’re renting a car, you should check with your automobile insurance policy and with your credit card companies to see if you’re covered and to what extent. Driving in other countries can be very different than in the United States, and few United States policies cover accidents that happen while you are abroad. Other countries may require you to have local insurance or an International Driver’s Permit–a translation of your driver’s license–which you can get AAA for $20.
It’s always a good idea to have a list of your child’s medical needs, either scanned and put on the internet or hard copies. If you are traveling with your stepchildren or adopted children, you will want to make sure you bring copies of your legal paperwork.
Make sure to check the Visa requirements for each country before you visit. It can be an unwelcome surprise to get off a 16-hour flight only to be held up at the airport or denied entry for failing to secure the correct visa. A great tip is to scan your travel documents as well as photocopying them so that you can easily access them in the case of theft, loss, or accidents.