What More Should You Ask?
For years you have dreamed of the perfect vacation, a cruise to the Greek Isles, visiting Disney World with the grandchildren, touring Europe by motor coach or a trip around the world. Imagination becomes reality and your dream takes shape. But, are you prepared if something unexpected happens while you are traveling?
The Guaranteed Travel Assurance Plan™ cannot make your dreams come true, but we can put your mind at ease when you find yourself 100 miles or more away from home. This newsletter is designed for you, whether you are retired, traveling for business, visiting family, vacationing with friends or looking for fun spots for recreation.
Here are some travel, health and fitness tips that might be helpful.
you find it more difficult to exercise when you are on the road? Try these
activities to increase your heart rate and still burn calories:
|Walking 4 miles||burns||
|calories||in 60 minutes|
|Bicycling 5 miles||burns||
|calories||in 30 minutes|
|Running 1½ miles||burns||
|calories||in 15 minutes|
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|calories||in 10 minutes|
back pain affects more than 50% of the population at some point in their
lives. When you travel you can reduce the strain on your back muscles
by packing lightly, using luggage with wheels and checking bags frequently
at airports. A small carry-on bag can hold essential medications, toiletry
items and a change of underwear just in case.
Psychosomatic Medicine, a journal of the American Psychosomatic Society, conducted a 14-year study of over 12,000 men. At the conclusion of the study, the journal discovered that yearly vacations were correlated with a reduced risk of death among middle-aged men.
In a 20-year study that consisted of nearly 750 middle-aged women, the Centers for Disease Control associated lack of vacation time with an increased risk of heart attack and death.
According to the American Heart Association, the warning signs of an impending heart attack are not the same for everyone. If you have any of the following symptoms, call a hospital with a coronary care unit or an ambulance to transport you to the hospital immediately. Do not drive yourself.
- Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes.
- Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms. The pain may be mild to intense. It may feel like pressure, tightness, burning or heavy weight. It may be located in the chest, upper abdomen, neck, jaw or inside the arms or shoulders.
- Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.
- Anxiety, nervousness and/or cold, sweaty skin.
- Pale or pallid look.
- Increased or irregular heart rate.
- Feeling of impending doom.
Getting prompt, competent medical treatment is the key to minimizing irreversible heart damage, recovering from a heart attack, and even preventing death. The latest research has shown that "Making the decision to get to a hospital early is often the single most important factor in determining survival."
Note: If you think you are having a heart attack, take one aspirin. It will be beneficial if you are having an attack and will not cause harm if you are not.
Center for Cardiovascular Education, Inc.
More than half of the U.S. population has used the Internet during the past year, according to a new study released in March by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Nearly 56% of adults are wired, and women over 50 are the fastest growing Internet user group.
Have you ever been stranded without an updated passport or visa? You can get both on short notice for a fee depending on how quickly you need the documents. The State Department says it generally takes six weeks to deliver a passport, but it has a service where for $60 plus overnight delivery costs, your passport arrives within 14 days (www.travel.state.gov). Travelers usually have to acquire their own visas directly from the nation's consulate or embassy, but private companies and travel agencies will provide the service.
How about some cash back for those purchases you bought abroad? According to Travel Holiday, you can click on www.globalrefund.com and find out how to qualify for a VAT (value-added tax) refund. You can find out what qualifies by looking for the Global Refund Tax-Free Shopping stickers in shop windows (there are more than 140,000 of them in more than 30 countries). The site takes you through a simple three-step procedure: from purchase, through customs, and on to your cash refund. There is even a VAT calculator and currency converter on the site to help you do the math.
Have you ever eaten ostrich? It tastes like a mixture of venison, poultry and beef and is growing in popularity in many restaurants throughout the world. The scare from mad-cow disease in Europe has resulted in lower beef consumption and has fostered a taste for alternative meats. Demand for reindeer is up in Sweden, while Italians are eating more lamb. In Germany, the trendy meat of choice is ostrich in the form of tender ostrich steak, ostrich goulash and spaghetti with ostrich sauce.
Scientifically it is known as circadian dischronism. More commonly called jet lag, it is used to describe the discomfort caused by flying across multiple time zones, and tends to be more pronounced when traveling in an easterly direction. It results from disruption of the body's internal clock and produces symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, disturbed sleep, forgetfulness, and poor appetite. Although jet lag affects people differently, on average, travelers need about one day to adjust for every two hours of time change. Exposure to sunlight may help your body readjust its internal clock naturally.
Here are some suggestions to help reduce jet lag:
- If possible, plan your trip so that you arrive at your destination in the early evening.
- Try not to sleep on the plane, and go to bed on local time.
- If you have to arrive in the early morning, try to get some sleep on the flight.
- Set your watch to your destination's time zone as soon as you board the plan, and try to eat and sleep according to that time schedule.
- Adjust exercise and meal times to the new local time as soon as possible.
- Minimize your intake of coffee and alcohol en route, and stay well hydrated. Symptoms of dehydration may accentuate any discomfort due to jet lag.
Heat and Sun Exposure
In hot weather, the body works hard to maintain a stable internal temperature of 98.6F (37C), but if a traveler becomes dehydrated or exercises too much in the heat, body temperature may rise. The medical conditions that can result include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and muscle cramps. Dizziness and exhaustion are initial symptoms, but fainting may occur, particularly during the first few days of exposure to heat. If a person has heat exhaustion, body temperature can easily exceed 106F (41C). Heat exhaustion in itself is not a great threat, although heat stroke can be life threatening.
To avoid heat-related illnesses, drink lots of fluid, especially before you go out into the sun or exercise in hot weather. Be sure to always carry water with you, and drink regularly throughout the day. Don't allow thirst to guide you; it is not a reliable means of judging your need for fluids. Be careful not to force down excessive amounts of water, though, or you will risk diluting the blood, which can lead to confusion and convulsions. Older people must be especially vigilant about drinking enough fluids because their bodies have a harder time regulating temperature.
Be sun safe!
Sunburn is another risk to travelers, especially in the tropics and at high altitude, where direct sun can cause a burn in as little as 20 minutes. Be sure to apply sunscreen on all exposed areas before venturing outside, wear a hat, and limit your time in direct sunlight. Use sunscreens with an SPF, or "sun protection factor," of 30 or higher. The higher the SPF number, the longer you can stay in the sun before getting sunburn.
For many seniors any time of year is ideal for travel. Planning makes a vacation more memorable, and some extra planning can also ensure a safe and healthy trip. Here are some things to consider.
Make sure you have the insurance coverage appropriate for the type of travel you are doing. Check with your insurance company to find out if medical services received outside the U.S. are covered. You will not be covered for routine care not provided by your primary care physician. If you are going on an extended trip be certain that you have enough of any routine medications you need. Be sure to carry your health plan card with you when you travel. If traditional Medicare covers you, you will have coverage throughout the United States, but you will not be covered outside the country. You can purchase a special policy for coverage for travel outside the country.
If you are traveling abroad, you may need to update or add to your protection against some infectious diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) has information about outbreaks of infections disease around the world and recommendations for vaccinations needed for travel to specific countries.
Follow recommendations about food and water safety in foreign countries, especially in developing countries. Use bottled water and avoid tap water or ice cubes in your drinks. Limit salads and fresh fruits to those you have prepared personally and can feel secure have been washed properly. Be sure all meats are properly cooked.
More travelers are affected by injury than by infectious illness. Applying common sense to your travel plans can prevent most accidents. When traveling by car, plan for frequent stops and never drive to the point of exhaustion. Drivers falling asleep behind the wheel cause many accidents each year. If you are driving in a foreign country, be sure you are familiar with the local traffic rules. Be especially careful when driving at night. When renting a car, check out the tires, breaks and lights.
If you are arranging transportation in a foreign country, use some discretion. If you are hiring a driver, be sure to hire from a reputable company, and insist on well-trained drivers. Ask for documentation of safety records if possible. Be careful when using public transportation in some less developed countries. Buses may be in poor mechanical and safety condition, and drivers poorly trained.
Use Common Sense
If you plan to drive in a foreign country, do your research ahead of time. Find out about road hazards and safety statistics. For instance, the risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident is 30 to 90 times higher in developing countries than in Europe or North America because of poorly maintained vehicles, dangerous roads, unskilled drivers, and lack of enforcement of any driving standards. The same is true for motorcycles. Too many inexperienced tourists have died riding motorcycles while wearing sandals, shorts, T-shirts, and no helmets.
Falling Asleep at the Wheel
Public health officials should devote more education and research to protect American drivers from falling asleep at the wheel, says a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). And physicians, the study adds, must help prevent sleep-related accidents by identifying symptoms of fatigue or sleep deprivation. The report was compiled by the AMA's Council on Scientific Affairs.
THOSE AT RISK
Source: National Sleep Foundation -- Washington Post
Although drowsy driving has been directly linked to only 1 percent to 3 percent of the country's 6.8 million motor-vehicle accidents each year, the researchers and other highway-safety advocates said they believe the actual number is much higher. A recent survey of more than 1,000 Americans by the National Sleep Foundation found that 57 percent of the people they polled had driven while drowsy in the past year, and 23 percent had fallen asleep at the wheel.
The hours of maximum sleepiness are 2-7 a.m. and 2-5 p.m., according to the American Sleep Disorders Association and Sleep Research Society. Drivers should take a nap if they find themselves yawning every few seconds, their eyes closing without effort, or their car drifting to the side of the road and back. Common attempts to wake up, such as rolling down the window or turning up the radio, simply do not work, experts say. Caffeine is good for short-term alertness but will not decrease a person's physiological need for sleep.
How to be ATM "Streetwise"
The proliferation of automated teller machines (ATMs) has given rise to a relatively new wave of crime known as ATM crime. The Bank Administration Institute has formed a task force of banking security professionals to study ATM crime and recommend ways to reduce incidents of such crime.
According to the task force statistics, the most dangerous hours for ATM crime are from 7:00 p.m. until midnight, when approximately 49 percent of ATM-related crimes occurred. The most common crimes against ATM customers were robbery after withdrawal of funds, forced withdrawal, and robbery of customers' other personal property such as jewelry and wallets.
To protect yourself at automated teller machines . . .
Familiarize yourself with the machine before you use it so you can complete your transaction quickly.
Never approach an ATM if the lights at the site are not operating.
Never let others observe you punch in your personal identification number (PIN) at the ATM; use your body to shield the keyboard.
Do not choose an obvious PIN such as your birth date or Social Security number.
Memorize your PIN; never write it down or give it to anyone.
Never count your money at the ATM or leave with your wallet or cash exposed.
Lock the right-hand door of your car at drive-up ATMs. . . so nobody can climb in while you are using the machine.
Never approach an ATM if you see suspicious people near the machine or if you have any doubts, fears, or concerns for your safety.
Source: National Security Institute
How to Avoid a Travel Scam
Each year, fraud costs American consumers over $100 billion. One out of every seven cases of fraud involves travel, with most travel scams being carried out over the telephone or by mail. Travel fraud knows no socioeconomic boundaries -- scam artists ply their wares in every travel market. This section describes some common travel scams to help you avoid becoming part of these grim statistics.
Are there any general rules to follow to avoid being the victim of a travel scam?
As with most things in life, if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That being said, here are some signs to watch out for:
- The solicitation says that you were "specially selected" or "awarded" a trip or prize, but you have not entered any contest.
- You must make a payment to collect your prize.
- The salesperson uses high-pressure sales tactics or insists on an immediate decision.
- You must disclose your income, Social Security number, bank account number or other private information.
- The company offers great bargains, but refuses to put the details in writing unless you pay first.
- The salesperson makes vague references to "all major airlines" or "all major hotels," without saying which ones you will use.
- You must wait more than 60 days before taking the trip or receiving the prize. (Most scam victims pay for their "prize" on their credit card. Scam artists know that you must dispute any credit card charge within 60 days. If they force you to wait more than 60 days, you can't challenge the charge.)
- The caller asks for your credit card number over the phone.
- The company requests a direct bank deposit or certified check, or offers to send a courier to your home to pick up your check.
- The deal cannot be booked through a travel agent.
- You must call a 900 number.
- The company cannot provide the names of references, or the references you call repeat nearly verbatim the claims of the travel provider.
Use a Credit Card Whenever Possible
Although using a credit card is not a surefire way to protect yourself, if you act quickly, you can dispute the charge and avoid paying for a scam. The Fair Credit Billing Act gives you 60 days from the date you receive your bill -- not the date of your travel -- to contest a charge. Some credit cards offer more extended coverage; a few even give members up to a year to contest a charge.
American Pre-Arrangement Services, Inc.
13559 W. Via Tercero, Suite 104
Sun City West, AZ 85375-2814
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