When you don’t have it you need it

Insurance is such a pain to purchase.  There is no fun in it.  It just costs you money and you really don’t see anything tangible for what you have paid – until…….

I came across this story about insurance on a rental car –

(I work as the manager of a rental car office. It’s a slow day and so when the next customer enters, I take my time describing the extra insurance coverage benefits.)

Customer: “Seriously, do we have to go over all of this?”

Me: “Yes, sir. I want to make sure you are fully informed about what refusing the extra coverage means for you.”

Customer: “Fine, but let’s hurry up. I want to hit the road!”

Me: “No problem, sir. We’ve covered everything and you’ve declined all coverage. Please sign your contract and you are all set!”

(The customer signs and walks out the door. Not two minutes later, he walks back in looking sheepish.)

Me: “Hello, sir, did you forget something?”

Customer: “No, it’s just… Can I go ahead and get the extra insurance?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but why? You were adamant a minute ago that you didn’t want it.”

Customer: “I guess I changed my mind!”

(I walk out of the office and around to the back parking lot. Sitting on top of a decorative rock set to the entrance of the driveway is the car I just rented him – a brand new luxury car, with three of the four wheels hanging in the air.)

Customer: “I think I hit something. So can I get the insurance?”

Me: “Sir, you can’t get insurance AFTER you’ve damaged the car!”

Customer: “Why not?! I didn’t even leave the parking lot!”

(The guy ended up having to pay for the damage to the car, damage to the landscaping, the tow, and the days the car was unavailable for rent.)
(from http://notalwaysright.com/tag/car-rental)

So you see you really did need the insurance.  What about insurance to cover your vacation.  I have heard it many times “I don’t need cancellation insurance – I am going on this vacation come what may”…..

But it seems that a few clever clogs have taken it a step further with intriguing ways to work the system – take travel insurance and come back with a whole new outlook on life.
Here are some actual cases reported by BBC –

One involved a woman who said she had been forced to seek medical attention for several moles on her stomach. But medics assisting the investigators accurately spotted that the post-surgery scars were more likely to be synonymous with liposuction.

Here’s another beaut!  A man sent in a medical bill for a fictitious fractured ankle while abroad. When investigators overseas visited the clinic at which he claimed to have been treated, they found themselves face to face with “before and after” photographs of heads of hair on the walls. The fraudster had sent the bill from a hair transplant clinic that didn’t even deal with fractures.

A man claimed compensation for a missed holiday when his train to the departure point was supposedly cancelled. He tore the header off a genuine Transport for London letter, glued it onto his own word processed letter and presented it as evidence that his train was cancelled. Not only was this evidence false, but the train route he referred to did not exist.

And this guy certainly couldn’t be described as a “chinless wonder” – A customer claimed that he had been assaulted in Brazil, which led to his jaw being broken. Overseas enquiries revealed that the police report that he sent to support the assault was a false document. They also established that the hospital he named specialised in cosmetic surgery and when interviewed they said that the customer had had a cosmetic procedure to reduce the size of his chin. He had not told the hospital anything about an alleged assault.

Now that’s what I call a sexy chin!


Chairs in the upright position

Maybe some of you out there can recite the air safety briefing with your eyes closed.  In fact if you travel a lot you probably do close your eyes when you hear it.  It’s funny because you can usually tell the newish travellers on a flight.  Those are the ones who are paying attention, reading through on the safety card and checking out the exits while the rest of us seasoned travellers tune out.  Bear in mind if something did happen on the plane it would probably be those people who paid attention who would be able to get off first.
Good job kid!
You will be prepared – unlike this guy…

This is perhaps the reason that some airlines have started making their safety briefings more interesting and even entertaining.  A good example is Air New Zealand.  Their Hobbit safety briefing was so popular and has been refreshed year after year

I bet nobody falls asleep during this one.

Other airlines are following suit – some with really good results.   I really liked Delta’s take on things.  They use humour to remind passengers e.g. putting carry on bags in the overhead bins

If you have time take a look – it’s quite funny.  C’mon.  The boss is away at a meeting just put your headphones on and pretend you are doing a webinar  ttps://youtu.be/noE1YzvfA08
In fact there are several versions – Delta has been quite busy poking fun at these procedures
The ventriloquist makes sure to sort his own air supply first, before helping out his puppet
So next time you get on a flight hopefully it will be a funny and amusing flight safety video.  In fact one can almost feel sorry for the in flight staff because the competition is high.  Nowadays it seems to be a flight attendant you not only have to be a server, a paramedic, a midwife and a mechanic – you also have to be a stand up comic artist!  Not an easy job at all.

Travel Agents are crazy

They are – really!  I have just come back from our Ensemble Travel Consortium conference in Orlando – over 1000 people attended – all in the travel business and a pretty good percentage are just a little bit crazy.  You have to be in this business.  Think about it – you are dealing with your clients (who trust you) and you put them into the hands of the airlines (in whom you have trust) to get them down to their land or cruise vacation – (naturally with companies and cruise lines that you trust) and sometimes – just sometimes – crazy things happen.

Like ….
You board the plane and your boarding pass clearly says you are in seat 14A.  But – there is no row 14.  Yes this has happened to me and you know what the chaos of boarding a plane is like.  You are in everyone’s way while you aimlessly drag around your hand luggage looking for row 14 – how can there not be one?  It’s crazy.

The point is we have to be a little bit crazy because we are dealing with situations over which we often have very little control.  We send our lovely clients off with their nice documents and the moment they get on the plane anything can happen.  That’s why we value our relationships with our suppliers and partners so that when things do go wrong we have someone to help us out.

There are so many amazing choices out there for our clients – adventure cruising in luxury to the poles, volunteer travel, culinary tours, new cruise ships – some even with their own mini-submarine (no it is not yellow).  Ongoing training is so important – but we still have to have some fun doing it._ed1027151105
In between all the fun and craziness we did some good things too.  Our silent auction raised over $120.000 for the Make a Wish Foundation in Orlando.

So there will be lots of exciting new offers in our newsletter.  Make sure you are signed up – just go to this link – it’s easy.  You can unsubscribe any time but I think you will enjoy the travel news we send out each week to 10.000 subscribers.

Sign up here

Your inner animal

If you were an animal what would you be?  Do you have an inner animal?  We all love our cats and dogs and yes even our cockatiels and can identify with their needs.  They can communicate with us in different ways such as how they tell us they need a “treat” (my cat seems to constantly need these) and how they welcome us home (not the cat – that is just not cat-like behaviour – I am talking of course about the cockatiel who has not picked up any bad habits from his feline sister).

However, strange things happen when you get out into nature especially when it is in an exotic location where the animals are so totally different to our domestic pets and indeed our local wildlife.  However different, wild and exotic theses animals may be there is indeed something about them that we can identify with.

Ever seen an elephant getting rid of his itch on a lumpy tree trunk?  Oh my goodness.  You can just identify with the scrumptious feeling of scratching that hard to reach itchy spot.

And what about those days when you just don’t want to talk to anyone and the people who do talk to you are idiots so you just ignore them

You see this is something that adventure travel can bring to your life. The ability to get up close and personal to the most fascinating creatures only to realise that you are looking at yourself!  Darwin’s theories are irresistible – even more so if you get the chance to visit the Galapagos Islands.  What is so unique about this place is that the animals are so totally unafraid of humans.  Wow – that is incredible to me when I compare it to the behaviour of the animals in Africa for example.  No wonder elephants, lions, and antelope are so skittish when humans are around.  They just don’t trust us any more.

So in the Galapagos you don’t need a zoom lens to get up close and yes the animals there are even more natural so it is even easier to identify “yourself”. How about these albatrosses stumbling across the rocks.  Sort of reminds me of myself after a long day of wearing heels – or maybe some of those super models with the impossibly high platforms shoes……. followed up by the adorable seal blowing kisses under water.

And if you are shy you can totally identify with this octopus who seems to duck his head and then blush.  Kinda like when that gorgeous lad in Grade 7 asked if he could borrow your calculator.

The world is out there in all it’s glory full of interesting sights and sounds.  Go see the animals and find yourself in the process!

Strange place for a vacation

So talk about a vacation with your friends and no doubt the usual destinations will be discussed – Mayan Riviera vs Puerto Vallarta, Bahamas or Hawaii and of course Italy,  Italy, Italy.  How about spiking up your next conversation by telling your friends that you are thinking of going on holiday to these weird and wonderful places.

Tashirojima Island
where?  Just off the coast of Japan – this is home to just 100 people and well thousands of cats.  Really – just look at this –

Nobody really  knows how many cats are there – but this picture is enough to give my husband asthma.  This is definitely a place he could not go.

Okunoshima Island
This would be a bit better – no cats but hundreds of rabbits.

Snake Island (Ilha da Quemada Grande)
Off the coast of Brazil this island is full of venomous snakes.  It is so dangerous that the Navy has forbidden anyone from landing there – so I guess you will have to cross that off your list.
Image result for Ilha da Queimada Grande

Or how about a few days in the Ice Hotel in Sweden.  Check out these rooms.

I dunno…. I’m not feeling this.

No – this was a bad idea. Forget I even included this hotel.  Too much ice and snow in Calgary anyway.  Looks a bit like a scene out of Game of Thrones.

GATEWAY TO HELL (otherwise known as Dallol, Ethiopia)
An old mining site for potash its daily temperature is 45 degrees celsius.  That hot enough for you?   It is pretty much deserted now except for the local people known as Afar.

Come on, I dare you.  Just throw it into the conversation…. very casually.  And remember, don’t laugh when you say it.

Tashirojima Island

The things people do on planes

It’s no secret that flying these days can be stressful – I have written about this in the past.  However the more I fly the more I realise that a lot of this seemingly anti-social behaviour is really not at all intentional.  Having thought about that I guess maybe some of my habits might be annoying to my fellow passengers.  Here’s just a few things I have noticed….

touch screen
Who thought of this stupid idea?  Remember the days when you had the remote in your arm rest?  Now you have to press the screen which, let me tell you, is not that sensitive to your touch.  On my flight from Calgary to Ottawa on Wednesday mine didn’t work at all.  It would pull up the menu and then when I wanted to select one of the options nothing would happen.  It was stuck I guess.  But I did wonder if I wasn’t tapping the screen in the right way.  Everyone else’s screens were working.  Not a problem – I had a good book and sat back in my seat to enjoy 3 hours of uninterrupted quality time.  So in a way it had a happy ending.
touch screen 2
(Just stop it already … tap tap tap)

Except….on my way back to Calgary the person behind me was obviously having the same touch screen problem.  So I was subjected to 15 to 20 minutes of hard tap tap tapping on the back of my seat while the person finally accepted that – yep – they were not going to be watching that film after all.  I was annoyed at first and then I remembered my own situation.  Did I annoy the person in front of me then?  Takes two to tango.

window blind

I usually end up in a window seat and on a sunny day sometimes will need to pull down the blind if I want to watch a film.  Then I will decide to open up the blind to see where we are …. blinding glare of sunshine.  So down goes the blind again.  Am I annoying the person next to me?  Well actually the person next to me is usually my husband so I guess I have that certificate that says
(a) I can annoy him whenever I want
(b) nothing I could ever do would annoy him
But it did give me pause for thought as to my own behaviour.

Wind tunnel
Otherwise known as the germ blaster.  In some of the planes that still have that individual device over your head how about when you want the “fresh” air but don’t want it blowing on your face – so you leave it on full and then direct it away from you.  What about the poor soul in front or next to you who is getting the full blast of the air.  Well here again it could be my husband …. (shame) but what a pain to have to turn around and say to the person behind you “Do you mind moving the air from blowing on my neck?”  You would probably get a dirty look for that.

So I guess the rule is to do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.  And I personally have taken note of that too.  (Just hope the touch screen works on my next flight).

More dangerous than sharks

Yes they are…. and I will tell you why.  But first of all let’s look at this whole selfie stick thing and why it has become so popular – and so dangerous.

You don’t need a friend to travel with any more – you just need a selfie stick.  This handy gadget is seen all over the world these days and sometimes it is hard to take a photo of a famous landmark without a selfie stick getting in the way (other people’s selfie sticks that is).

It’s a really good idea actually – how many times have you and your sweetie handed over your expensive camera or iphone to a complete stranger who is going to do you the favour of snapping your shot in front of the Eiffel Tower / Taj Mahal / Buckingham Palace…. only to find he is a snap and run!

Before you can take a good selfie however you do have to practise quite a lot to get just the right pose and also the right facial expression.  Ladies – don’t look down into your camera – it just brings out all those double chins and creases on your neck.  Take some lessons from well practised selfie supporters – head up but not too pouty because we all know about duck face

You also have to be careful as to what is in the background of your photo.  Selfie addicts are so focussed on how they look in their screen that they sometimes don’t notice anything other than… well… themselves.

and this one

It’s a big industry – sales of selfie sticks are increasing daily (up to 100.000 by the end of last year) and you will find them at airports and in markets at all the major tourist sites along with t shirts, bags and hats.  It has become an essential item – but it has also become a dangerous item.  More tourists are being killed while taking selfies.  In fact a recent article in published in Market Watch claimed that more tourists were killed by selfie sticks than by sharks.  Wow – what a thought!

Disneyworld has taken the danger quite seriously and has banned selfie sticks from its theme parks around the world – for quite obvious reasons.  Imagine being on the Tower of Terror with a crowd of people all armed with selfie sticks.  You know when you were a kid and there were sticks around someone sooner or later is going to get hurt.  As my mom used to say “It’s all fun and games and and then someone loses an eye.”