Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Travel Insurance - Do You Need Coverage?

 Depending on your health, cost of your trip and your travel destination, you may want to consider travel insurance.  Make sure you shop around to understand all your options before you make any decisions.  Do this before buying or committing to any plane tickets, car rentals, hotels or other travel purchases.

My wife and I went to Italy last year so I did a bunch of checking around to see what the least expensive options were for the various aspects of the trip.

Credit Cards

First check with your credit cards, you may be pleasantly surprised that you already have some form of travel insurance if the purchase for travel is done with that credit card so call your credit card company.  I learned that my credit card offered travel insurance free of charge.  There were restrictions on what they covered so read the fine print.  Also see if your credit card company covers auto insurance for any rentals.

Home Owners Insurance

As you know, I'm into photography and so I travel with $1000's in camera gear and lenses.  I talked to my home insurance provider and learned that my homeowner's covered my camera's while traveling.

Buying Directly from the Service Provider

This is probably the most expensive approach, but they may offer a specific unconditional cancellation policy that you may be interested in.

Trip Cancellation

If you have to cancel a trip, insurance typically covers any nonrefundable costs.  Usually there are restrictions on when you can collect, for example medical, illness, loss of job, etc.

Trip Interruption

If for some reason you start a trip but can't finish it because of illness, death or other covered events, you will be reimbursed for trip costs.

Emergency Medical

If you become injured or sick, you may need medical care.  Medical insurance can get you to a location or maybe even fly you home depending on your coverage or the issue.  Emergency medical treatments are also typically covered.

Is Travel Insurance for You?

Your circumstances will dictate if you should add travel insurance.  Are you traveling with your grand children?  Do you wan coverage for lost or stolen bags?  Is it possible you'll miss a connecting flight?  How expensive was you trip?  Are you planning and international trip or cruise with significant up front costs?  All of these could move you into wanting travel insurance.

Is the RV Lifestyle Right for You?

With Covid 19 in the air, my wife and I feel very fortunate that we’ve had our RV to get away on weekends and visit our property in Florida. With the RV we’ve been able to maintain social distancing, cook all of our own meals in the RV and use our own bathroom. Really no different then being at home.

If you are open minded this can be a really low cost way to to travel. You’re not necessarily restricted to to campgrounds either. Menu venues have open camping such as county fair grounds, orchards, wineries, casinos and more. I often spend the night in Wal-Mart parking lots if I’m just looking to sleep for a few hours on my journey.

Most modern RV’s have all the conveniences of home and with a good cell phone and data plan you can always stay connected. You can use your phone or a use it as a hot spot for your iPad or computer. It’s easy to research best places to stay or how to make a repair to your camper.

With Covid I’ve come across many families traveling with their families and home schooling along the way. Earlier last year my daughter and I went to Florida where she taught her classes and I worked from the RV.

Unlike your neighborhood the campground is very social place, just keep your distance. Build a camp fire, take a walk, explore the area. So many different things to do then maybe around your house. Being from Michigan we go up north or to the westside of the state to enjoy the great Michigan beaches in the summertime.

Explore the different types of RV’s

Motor Homes, Travel Trailers or 5th wheels can all satisfy your need from small to big. Most of these have slides in the side that expand to really give you a bunch of space. If you opt for a 5th wheel or larger travel trailer, you’ll need a truck with sufficient towing power and capacity for your trailer. Depending on the size, you might even be able to move into full time and sell your house. My Mom and Dad were full time RV’s for 15 years.

If you’ve never camped or traveled before, think about renting and motorhome or RV before you dive in.

How much does an RV cost?

Unfortunately with Covid, the demand for RV’s has increased significantly in the last year. You may have to wait more then a year to have a made to order one built. Nothing wrong with looking for a more affordable used camper where the depreciation was already paid down by the previous owner.

The cost a a trailer can start at $25,000 for a new one, plus the cost of the truck to tow it. Motorhomes start at around $80,000 and go up from there. The more amenities you get in the RV, the higher the cost. Hitches are also expensive.

Buying an RV isn’t cheap! Plus you have the cost of gas, lodging and eventually repairs. So before you buy, think again about renting and trying camping first. I think it’s a great way to get out and see the country.

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Visit Mackinac Island this Winter

Mackinac Island is one of my favorite destinations in Michigan. For those of you who haven’t been there or don’t know anything about it. The island is Lake Huron between the upper and lower peninsula’s of Michigan. It’s about four square miles and requires either a boat, ferry or airplane to get there. Once your are on the island, they don’t allow motorized vehicles and so in the summer bikes and horse drawn carriages are the main mode of transportation. In the summer every day if full of tourists that come for the day to ride, hike and tasty fudge of all flavors.

After October fall colors, most of the tourists leave and the island is left to a few hundred full time residents.

Winter on Mackinaw Island

Winter can bring a whole new charm. Being in the middle of the great lakes bring plenty of snow for cross-country skiing, snow showing and fat tire biking. Snow doesn’t stop the the horse drawn carriages so grab a blanked and cozy under for a old school carriage ride around the island. They also have Christmas and New Years festivals. Most of the hotels and restaurants are closed for the season so plan ahead. Transportation can also be sketchy in winter. The Straights of Mackinac can freeze over and prevent the ferry from running to the island so an airplane is your only other option, unless of course you have a dog sled.

Stay Warm!

Travel Home Page

Travel to Alaska, Summer, Fall, Winter or Spring

Insert Alaska Picture

Years ago we took our family to Alaska in the summer time. We rented a motor home to avoid the duplicate cost of hotel and large van for all of us. It was a great adventure and summertime certainly gave us long days to do whatever we wanted to do.

What’s the right season for your travel to the last American Frontier?

Summer in Alaska

  • Summer in Alaska can be warm enough to swim during the day 60–70’s, but can cool down into the 40’s at night.
  • 19 Hours of daylight during mid summer months give you plenty of time for hiking and site seeing.
  • Humpback whales return to Alaska so head to the Inside Passage.
  • Summer is a great time to enjoy a cruise to Alaska

Fall in Alaska

  • Temperatures cool down through the fall.
  • Most visitors leave with less travel on cruise ships.
  • Enjoy the splendor of fall colors.
  • You can often times find end of season travel deals
  • Head to Denali and do some animal spotting and you may see sheep, bear or moose.

Winter in Alaska

  • To Darn cold for me in the Winter. 0 F or colder, I’ll take Florida. But for you winter lovers…
  • You have a better chance fo seeing the Northern Lights, especially with the long nights
  • Great Skiing, where the snow start falling in October
  • Ice Sculptures and Winter Festivals

Spring in Alaska

  • In the spring you can expect dryer conditions and less rain than later in the summer
  • You can still snow ski into April so think about spring sking
  • Fewer visitors to Denali National Park in the spring
  • Bird watching starts in spring with many species returning to Alaska
  • Spring marks the start of whale watching season

Share you thoughts on your Alaska Seasonal Travel

Auto Maintenance - Prepare for Your Next Road Trip

I’m getting ready to take my next trip and thought I’d share the checks I do to make sure my truck is ready. Check your owner’s manual maintenance schedule, no need to do things that aren’t ready to be done.

Under The Hood Maintenance

If you’ve had an oil change recently, they’ve probably looked at most of these for you.

  • [ ] Oil Level - If you have a dipstick for oil level check it. Some new cars have a sensor so nothing for you do do for oil.
  • [ ] How much Oil Life do you have. You no longer change the oil every 3,000 miles like in the old days. Your car monitors use and calculates a % oil life.
  • [ ] Transmission Fluid - Same as for oil
  • [ ] Washer Fluid - Fill up the reservoir before you leave
  • [ ] Coolant - For most cars there is now an overflow reservoir, check to make sure there is coolant.
  • [ ] Power Steering Fluid
  • [ ] Engine Air Filter
  • [ ] Air Conditioner - Nothing for your do do here. If it works you good.

Around the Exterior

  • [ ] Check that your brake lights work.
  • [ ] Check that your turn signals work, front and back
  • [ ] Check your headlights
  • [ ] Check your running lights
  • [ ] Brakes - have them inspected for proper wear, they may last 30,000–50,000 miles, but maybe less depending on how you drive.
  • [ ] Check the tire air pressure. Use a proper gauge. The correct pressure can be found on the driver’s door jam
  • [ ] Tire Tread - You can do the penny test, put a penny in your tread upside down If Lincoln’s head goes below the tread you are good. Should be at least 2/32 inch.
  • [ ] To prolong tread life, have your tires rotated every 6000–8000 miles
  • [ ] Windshield Wiper Blades - Look at the rubber, not worn or loose. If so replace the rubber or the blade with pre-installed rubber.
  • [ ] Give all the fascia trim a quick inspection and make sure it’s tight

Inside the Passenger Cabin Maintenance

  • [ ] Check the cabin air filter, usually replace every year. Some cars and trucks have an air filter to keep you interior cabin air fresh and clear.
  • [ ] Clean the windows for better night vision.
  • [ ] I also like to start my trips by vacuuming and having a clean interior.

Other Maintenance to Think About before you leave on a trip

  • [ ] Wash and wax your car. Dish soap and and old rag should not be used! Today’s finishes like special soap designed for cars and a soft microfibre towel

Check Engine Light

Is yours on or does it come on during the trip. If the light is on and it’s flashing or red you need immediate maintenance. If it’s intermittent or if it’s yellow you probably have some time. At your first opportunity you should have the code read by a dealer, auto repair shop or parts store. They’ll all do this for free… or they should.

The most comment items are:

  • [ ] Catalytic Converter - This will cost you some money, upwards of $1000
  • [ ] Oxygen Sensor - you can replace it yourself or pay a mechanic $250
  • [ ] Ignition Coil and Plugs - Probably more then $300
  • [ ] Loose Fuel Cap - Free to tighten but may need to be replaced if it’s broken
  • [ ] Mass Air Flow Sensor - $350

Safe Travels!

How Does Your Vote Impact our Country's Recovery from Covid?

Your vote matters to help America recover from the Covid19 Pandemic and it’s impact on every bit of our society. At the national level, when you vote you are electing the next President, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives. At the state level you may be voting for your next Governor or State Legislators.

The elected officials set policy and enact laws that affect our future. Here are the main issues you should be considering if you are retired or near retiring:

  • The Economy - Who will best serve your needs
  • Medicare - Will it continue to the level that you need
  • Prescription Drugs - How to reduce the costs
  • Social Security - Make sure you continue to receive what you deserve
  • Long Term Care - Has Covid19 changed how you feel
  • Taxes
  • Legalization of Marijuana and other Drugs
  • Foreign Relations
  • The fight against Covid19 for the safety of all Americans

Do your research, there is much to understand!

Vote by Absentee Ballot

Absentee Ballot and Voting by Mail is Now Easier

If you travel like my wife and I do, you probably want to sign up for receiving permanent absentee ballots. In Michigan we have an online system where you can check your registration status at I’m sure other states have a similar type of system. Every election my local clerks offices mail me a ballot for voting. Make’s it real easy to vote when away from home.

It’s not to late for the 2020 Presidential election. In Michigan, here are the deadlines, check your states dates:

Oct 19 - Last day to register to vote online Oct 20 thru Nov 3 - You can still register to vote at your local clerks office Nov 2 - Deadline to request absentee ballot Nov 3 - Ballots due

I really like the absentee process. It enables me to do reserach on the issues and candidates to make sure I’m voting with good information.

So if you are out of town or if Covid makes you nervous. Sign up for an absentee ballot and vote early.

How Does Your Vote Impact our Country's Recovery from Covid?

How to Fly Anywhere in the World for Free

My friends taught me this little trick to fly for free anywhere in the world. They’ve been doing this for years and have been everywhere from Europe, Africa, Asia, Middle East and many other places. Use this for domestic travel also.

This is totally legal and takes advantage of frequency flyer programs with major airlines and credit card promotions. In short you cycle through credit card company airline mile promotions.

Here are the steps for Free Airline Travel

  • Rear the Tips for Success for Free Air Travel below before your start!
  • Look for major credit card promotions from companies like Chase, American Express and others
  • Try to find promotions with 50,000 miles or more. They normally require you to spend $3,000 to $4,000 in the first three months to lock in the miles.
  • Signup for that credit card in your name only NOT with our wife or others.
  • Move all of your bill payments and everything, I mean everything to that card. You need the $3-$4,000 in purchases to lock in the miles.
  • Make sure you meet the 3 month purchase requirement.
  • Once your 1st card has confirmed that you’ve locked your 50,000 miles then
  • From within your credit card account, refer you spouse to the credit card for which you’ll receive a referral bonus of 4,000 to 5,000 miles.
  • Your spouse signs up for their card in their own name which qualifies them for 50,000 miles as long as you meet the spend limit.
  • Now you move all the bill payments and everything you purchase to your spouses new card to lock in their miles.
  • Make sure you meet the 3 month purchase on your spouse’s card
  • Transfer the miles to your frequent flyer program, see below
  • Base on the sample above, by now you should have accrued:
50,000 for your
4,000 for your purchases
5, 000 for your spouse referral
50,000 for your spouse
4,000 for your spouse purchases
Total: 113,000 miles in less then a year

  • Wait a bit and don’t forget to cancel both of these cards before the yearly renewal feel comes up.

Book a flight and enjoy you free air travel!

Transfer the Miles for your Free Air Travel

  • Your card is typically connected to an airline, if you aren’t enrolled in the frequent flyer program for that airline, you and your spouse will need to do so.
  • From you Credit Card Accounts, transfer the frequent flyer miles to your airline program
  • Don’t forget to cancel the cards before the yearly fee!

Time for New Free Air Travel Card

Start the process all over again to get another 100,000 free frequent travel miles.

Tips to Success for Free Airline Travel

  • Don’t pick a card where you have to pay a signing fee ups front.
  • Don’t fall for the low mileage promotions like 25,000, it takes 60,000 or 70,000 miles to fly overseas.
  • Make sure the miles transfer to a major airline frequent flyer program as soon as they are confirmed.
  • Add reminders in your calendar for when to cancel the card before fees hit
  • Cancel the card before the yearly fee is due

Here a are some great places to use your Free Air Travel:

Venice Italy