Monday, May 29, 2017

5 things you may not know about travel insurance

Travel insurance is like any other insurance--you hope you never need it, but if you do, you'll be so grateful that you have it. We don't like to think about things that can go wrong when planning a trip, but if you experience delays, canceled flights that must be rebooked, or medical problems, you'll find that travel insurance was well worth the cost. If you've put off buying insurance, considering these points may change your mind:

It can cover road trips. Often we think of travel insurance for long flights to exotic places; however, insurance can be valuable in many travel situations, including road trips. If any part of your trip has prepaid, non-refundable components, you should consider travel insurance.
In addition, if your health insurance doesn’t cover you or your family while out of network, travel insurance with medical emergency coverage may be a good option. And if you are still confused by the Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) option with a car rental, many travel insurance plans offer optional car rental coverage which may be more cost effective than what the car rental companies offer.
Rental car coverage may be included in trip insurance.
It can cover expenses due to pilot strikes. In most cases, airlines will not reimburse you for a flight that is cancelled or severely delayed due to an airline strike. Most travel insurance plans, however, include unforeseen or unexpected labor strike within their trip cancellation or trip delay benefits. It's important to remember, however, that if you purchase a flight after a potential strike is announced, in most cases travel insurance will no longer cover that strike. 
It can provide reimbursement if you have to cancel your trip because of work. While most plans will cover you in the event you or your travel companion are laid off, many will also cover for reasons that go beyond this drastic life event. This could include being relocated, an important work requirement (notarized by your employer), if your organization is a participant in a merger or acquisition (that you are directly involved in), or if your office is damaged by a natural disaster.
You can give it as a gift.
Worried about your aging parents taking off for a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean? Or your sister planning her off-the-grid honeymoon? Travel Insurance can be a great way to take care of those you love, and ensure they travel worry-free.

Comparing policies can be an easy process. Finding the right travel insurance plan doesn’t have to mean sifting through hundreds of offers. Consolidators like choose the best providers  and share details to help you compare plans, so you can make the best decisions for everyone who is traveling.

Information courtesy of Sarah Mann at Percepture on behalf of

Here's another resource for the best policies for different kinds of  travel:  
Photos from free sources


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spend summer days in Sweetwater County, Wyoming

Sweetwater County in Southwest Wyoming is characterized by wide open spaces – 10,500 square miles of room to escape from the hustle and bustle of every day. Located halfway between Yellowstone and Canyonlands National Parks, Sweetwater Country is known as “Flaming Gorge Country.” The area is characterized by the 91-square-mile Flaming Gorge Lake, the famed Green River, expansive deserts, and rugged mountains.

Sweetwater County is best experienced in summer, when outdoor recreation opportunities are at their peak. Get there via The Rock Springs-Sweetwater County airport which was recently ranked 37th on a list of 322 airports from around the country by  

Here are the top seven ways to spend summer days in Sweetwater County.

Lake Flaming Gorge: Visitors can enjoy the same recreational opportunities as Lake Powell offers, without the crowds. For this reason, the lake has become a haven for boating, jet skiing, waterskiing and fishing.

Killpecker Sand Dunes: Nature’s sandbox--the huge sand dune field--spans 100 miles from east to west and reaches heights of up to 100 feet. At 11,000 acres, it’s the second-largest moving sand dune field in the word. A herd of rare desert elk found nowhere else in North America makes its home here. The dunes are a popular spot for hiking and exploring the area on ATVs.

White Mountain Petroglyphs: Explore history through the carvings in the sandstone walls of White Mountain that beckon history buffs, photographers and hikers. The etchings are the story book of the Plains and Great Basin Native Americans who lived in the area up to 1,000 years ago.

Mountain Biking: Sweetwater County features some of the nation’s most sought-after mountain bike trails. Wilkins Peak Bike Trail System, accessed on the southeastern side of Green River, has been named the top trail system in Wyoming. The extensive, well-maintained trails have something for any rider – from beginners to experts.

Camping: Sweetwater County has 17 campgrounds and RV parks, allowing plenty of opportunity to get out and breathe fresh air. The campsites offer something for everyone – gorgeous views, RV connections, perfectly flat tent pads and just the right amount of roughing it, depending on the site choosen.

Whitewater Fun: Green River runs through the town of Green River and can be accessed from many points throughout the county. The Whitewater Park and North Channel Tubing section at Expedition Island Park are fun for frolicking. Near the outdoor Splash Park there is a lazy river and tubing channel that features a series of drops and three large pools. The Castle Falls Feature, a state-of-the-art whitewater park and play area, is located at the southeast tip of Expedition Island Park.

Fishing: In Sweetwater County anglers have their pick of tail waters, reservoirs, streams and a river that lead to some of the best coldwater fishing in the country. The Green River runs into Lake Flaming Gorge, which is the largest reservoir in Wyoming and offers Burbot, as well as four types of cutthroat trout.

Information and photo courtesy of Gaylene Ore, Ore Communications, and Jenissa Meredith, Sweetwater Travel & Tourism.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

When flying with children, remember your P's: Plan, Prepare, Pack

If you’re flying with children, remember that no one on the plane loves them as much as you do. Other passengers may have less tolerance for their antics (just being a kid?). And a cranky or unruly child is the bane of travelers who may be seated nearby.
To make the flight more enjoyable for everyone, remember the three P’s and allow plenty of time to Plan, Prepare, and Pack.

Plan ahead:
Check the timing of flights as you plan the trip, and consider your child’s daily routines. Red-eye flights that depart late at night and arrive at the destination early the next morning may seem tempting. But don’t count on children sleeping during the flight (a crying baby is tortuous for everyone on the plane); and if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be grumpy the next day, too.

Also, check that your family can sit together on the flight. Some airlines charge extra for selecting seats when you book, but that can be money well spent. Book as early as possible for the best seat selection.
Eat before boarding the plane, but steer clear of greasy meals (skip the fast-food burger or pizza). Bring protein-rich snack bars, fruit, or nuts to soothe hungry tummies.

If you have active children who are not likely to nap on the flight, be sure they get plenty of activity prior to the flight, either playing at home or at the airport’s playground, if available. Running up and down the halls of the terminal is not an acceptable place to expend energy.
Prepare yourself and the kids

Getting ready for a trip takes time and patience, especially if children are flying for the first time. Talk about the look, sound, and feel of an airplane, so young ones are not afraid. Prepare them for the security screening process, so they won’t get upset when a favorite toy is taken away temporarily.
On the plane, you’ll spend time entertaining, cleaning, and putting kids to sleep. Bring along familiar playthings or tech gadgets that will help kids sit still.

Reclining in your seat to enjoy the view of the clouds simply may not happen, so give yourself time to rest after arrival before jumping into a jam-packed itinerary. Set realistic expectations and realize that the process of flying has built-in stress. The best you can hope for is to make it less stressful.
Packing your stuff

Check airline regulations and weight limits for baggage. Baby food, formula, and breast milk are often allowed in quantities beyond the allowable carry-on liquid size.
Gather all of the essentials in a small and easy-to-carry backpack. Important documents like passports, printed itinerary, transport details, and tickets belong in this bag. Also include your wallet, Smartphone plus charger, and prescription medication (if necessary). And don’t forget to bring an iPod loaded with fun apps along with your kid’s favorite small toy. Keep this bag with you at all times.

You need another bag to store things you may need to access quickly during travel. If you’re traveling with a baby, infant supplies like formula and wipes go into this bag. You also want to have at least two water bottles and a couple of snacks thrown in. Hand wipes and disposable placemats help minimize food mess. Add an extra set of clothes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and pajamas for bedtime.
Everything else goes in the checked luggage. If you don’t need an item until you reach your destination or can purchase it there, don’t bring it on the plane. Pack versatile, comfortable clothes, and leave jewelry and expensive or sentimental items behind.  

Over packing means keeping up with more stuff and finding room for everything—plus souvenirs—on your return.

Tips condensed from:  by Alex Miller

More great info, updated in 2018, from "Guide to Flying with Children and Unaccompanied Minors Rules" from

Photos from free sources


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Olympic National Park--the coast

As previously noted, Olympic National Park is a triple treat. It consists of three very different ecosystems—rain forest, mountains, and beaches. After visiting the first two areas, it was time to head to the coast. Rialto Beach, 30 minutes west of Forks, Washington, was our next destination.
Rialto is a dramatic, windswept beach famous for enormous driftwood, tide pools teeming with marine life like starfish, anemones, shellfish, and crabs. Giant boulders, some with trees growing on top, rise out of the water to create a haunting image.

The air is filled with the constant roar of an ocean in motion, tossing waves as high as 30 feet onshore. When walking near the water you must be careful as the tide surges at the most inopportune times, making wet shoes a real possibility.

Instead of smooth sand, the beach is a conglomerate of rocks, pebbles, and driftwood. But, even in this messy state, there’s a distinct beauty unique to northern coastal landscapes.
Keeping an image of that tricky terrain in mind, you might wonder why we chose to hike a mile and a half along the beach to Hole-in-the-Wall. Simply put, we were intrigued by the giant outcropping in the water into which a large arch has been worn by wind and water.

The weather was cool, misty, and windy, so we zipped up our jackets and trampled over fallen logs, seaweed that had washed ashore, and puddles of ocean water. A few gulls and ducks speckled the water’s edge, and we even caught a glimpse of a beaver.

Once we got near the arch, our friend Deb and I wanted to get to the other side of the enormous boulder. That required climbing a series of steep dirt steps to the top of the rock formation, then going down from the ridge to the other side, something that’s only possible during low tide. But it was a wonderful view and a great spot for photos.
Leaving Rialto Beach, we drove back to U.S. 101, the road that has encircled a huge expanse of Olympic National Park since 1930s. After turning onto Upper Hoh River Road, which runs parallel to the Hoh River beneath a lush canopy of spruce, western hemlock, big leaf maple, and Douglas fir trees, we drove another 19 miles to the Hoh Visitor Center.

There we followed the Hall of Mosses Trail, a loop through unimaginable greenness that takes about 45 minutes to complete. A bright sun shone on a pool of water filled with shimmering water plants, gleaming like emerald jewels in a sea of overhanging moss. These patches of brilliance contrasted with the dark canopy of trees growing up to 200 feet tall while seeking the sun.
Spider-like branches dripped with long, feathery mosses that brought to mind a Halloween fright house. The trail was a verdant mass of fuzzy and furry ground plants and leaves ranging from barely there to sprawling maple leaves. This rain forest was truly an ecological delight.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Stay healthy on the go with EZC Pak

Sometimes it seems that I travel with a pharmacy in my luggage, especially for multiple-week trips. Being sick is no fun; it really takes enjoyment away from a long-awaited trip if you can’t participate in planned activities.
Travel over several time zones, eating routines that get off-kilter, and lack of sleep on long flights or busy days can throw your immune system out of whack and make you more susceptible to illness. It’s also harder to stay healthy in airplanes, hotel rooms, and ride-shares where surfaces are exposed to various people and cleanliness may be in question.

While some frequent travelers obtain an antibiotic prescription to take with them, the problem is that many common infections, such as upper respiratory issues, are caused by viruses, not bacteria, so those pills are virtually useless and ultimately promote drug-resistant bacteria. 
I talked recently with Dr. Sarath Malepati, general surgeon in California who has formulated a support pack that is designed to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use while enabling the immune system to function better. Malepati’s EZC Pak works on a three-pronged approach:

Echinacea supports the immune system’s ability to clear infections by promoting T-cell activity, the cell type critical to cell-mediated immunity.
Zinc is involved in virtually every aspect of the immune system’s function. Zinc is a common ingredient in ant diarrheal products and can help when unfamiliar local bacteria causes distress for your GI system.

Vitamin C is critical to a wide range of metabolic reactions in the body, including the formation of collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels, as well as the absorption of iron.
EZC Pak comes in a five-day tapered dosage package for travelers to use after symptoms appear as well as a daily use pack in a lower dose for ongoing support. It is available at retailers including Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, and Amazon and through doctors’ offices.

To stay healthy on the go, Malepati also encourages good hand hygiene—wash often and avoid touching the face, nose, or mouth. Get plenty of sleep, especially when crossing through several time zones, and stay well hydrated since water is fuel for the immune system. Remember that alcoholic drinks, coffee, and sodas can act as diuretics, so try to consume water in a one-to-one ratio with these drinks.
Stay healthy when you travel with a take-along  EZC Pak in your bag. And, of course, it works when you're at home, too.

Photos courtesy Anderson Group PR