Do You Need A Travel Insurance?

A quick studies on travel insurance offered in the market, you would notice that the average spending on travel insurance costing around 2% – 15% of your total out-of-country spending. Depends on the nature of your trip, the percentage can be less, if you are on a luxurious tour to Paris; or it can be more, if you are backpacking in Cambodia; or you do not bother at all, because you think your company already pay for that as part of your business trip?

Risk spoiling your vacation mood without a travel insurance?

If you are a frequent traveler, you know that travel insurance is essential and not something you will sort out at the last minute. Unless you have already been buying from this travel insurance provider all the time (or long term), and you already familiar with the content of the policy, including all the small print. If not, let me share with you these key terms that would normally appear (not limit to) in a travel insurance policy, which is also the key consideration to the subject of this post.

Lost of valuables: The amount you will be getting back in case you lose your money or personal belongings. Usually, there will be a limit on your claim and probably for any one item. A police report is require to file a claim. My personal experience was my camera got stolen on a metro in Rome. I made a police report there, and when I got back, I send in the claim together with the police report and the original receipt of where I bought my camera (luckily I still keep it). Within a month, I got a cheque from my insurance company, and to my surprise they pay me the full amount of my camera! As far as I know, some insurance will only pay you back half the amount of your lost or stolen items, but I think I got lucky.
Personal Liability: Anything that have to do with legal and lawsuit, in case you are sued for accidental injury caused to someone or damage to someone’s property during the trip. You will be insured up to certain amount. Example if you accidentally spilled hot coffee on somebody’s Gucci bag, and he/she wanted to bring this to a court case. Why not? Everything could happen.
Medical Expenditure: The money use to pay for medical emergency in overseas. This includes necessary expenses for ambulance and hospital; and could prove very expensive. Either you (as a traveler) need to arrange for ready cash; else credit card will do, but might not be working in every part of the world. In short, this is to ensure minimal medical expenditure for you (as a policyholder). Example if you accidentally being knocked down by a car coming from the opposite direction?
Cancellation Costs: Understand what kind of cancellation is cover. It can be before you depart, example if your tour agent ran away with your paid holiday package? or during your trip, example if your flight has been cancelled and you are left stranded at the airport, you probably need a hotel and new tickets, etc.
Repatriation Costs: Expenses incurred in bringing you and your belongings back home. I will not give example for this one as to let your imagination flows. Think about the worst case scenario.
Exclusion: One of the important point, this clause eliminates coverage for certain acts, property, types of damage or even locations. Example if you involved in dangerous sports?
Policy Excess: This is the amount you have to pay for each claim you made. Most travel insurance policy have this and normally they will deduct the amount of the policy excess from the settlement of your claim.
The Underwriter: Look for international investment body or well-known, established institution. They are the one (behind the scene) who will pay you eventually.
Travel Assistance: This is the only thing that means important to you during an emergency, the 24 hours hotline contact number! You would want to test calling the number first? :)

These are the more important points to consider when you want to purchase a travel insurance. At least from my experience, after I sorted out my travel insurance, I get to enjoy the “Peace of Mind” while I’m travelling.

Do You Think You Need A Travel Insurance?

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As I have been a regular customer with World Nomads Travel Insurance, they are kind enough to give me this discount to share with everyone. You just need to complete the poll above to reveal a 5% discount code on World Nomads. Hope this can help you to save a bit on travel insurance.

Well you might think why I recommend this to you. With World Nomads, you can buy, extend and claim online from anywhere, even after you’ve already left home! They are recommended by Lonely Planet (and me of course!), best suited for backpackers and frequent travelers!

You deserved to enjoy your holiday - worried free

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The Europe Itinerary Part 6

This post will be the last part of my Europe Itinerary blog series. A quick recap on my previous post, if you have noticed the way I planned the time in Paris, it’s different than in Switzerland. It was planned to be more flexible, allowing each planned item to move earlier or later, depending on the actual day itself. In fact, the frequency of metro service is quite high, I do not need to specifically plan the departure/arrival time of each metro service.

Proceeding from my arrival to London St. Pancras, I have arranged with my friend to pick me up from the train station. That should be the end of my Day 6 plan. Next morning (Day 7) I’ve planned to revisit a few usual attractions in Central London. I listed down where I want to go, then I plotted the route to these destinations.

First of all, you need a London Underground Map or a London Tourist Map. Alternately, you can try Google Map online. A sample of my plotted map below.

Click to Enlarge

On Day 8 (last day) early morning, I will be heading to Waterloo Station, crossing over to visit London Eye. I’ve also arranged to meet up with some of my friends in London for lunch. After lunch, I should be heading to London Stansted Airport for check in. Tips: Allow at least 2 hours check in time for international flight. If at London Heathrow Airport, allow at least 3 hours instead!

That’s basically my whole Europe itinerary. However, when there’s vacation plan, there’s budget! Budget is about money. We need to estimate how much money we need to bring along for spending. Of course you can use credit card, but it’s always safer to keep some cash in hand. Below is my Europe Trip budget for 2 persons, excluding return airfares and travel insurance.

I will cover my next blog series of The Europe Excursion pretty soon. Do check back.

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The Europe Itinerary Part 5

I should be reaching Paris on the morning of Day 5. This mean I need to catch the earliest train from Geneva to Paris. The reason I’ve chosen train instead of flight is because my hostel in Geneva is just 10 minutes walk from the Main Train Station. This will save me some time and money travelling to the airport, especially in the morning hours. To book your train ticket, check out the Europe Speed Trains here. The earliest train departs at 0717 from Geneva, arriving at Paris Gare De Lyon (GDL) by 1051. The entire journey took around 3.5 hours.

For the next 48 hours, I will be focusing my visit in Paris. The first thing that popped up my mind was commuting within the city. My plan was to see as much as possible of the city, and also to visit the usual tourist attractions like Eiffel Tower, Lourve Museum, Arc De Triomphe, and Notre Dame. I need a fairly cheap “unlimited” metro travel pass. The reason to go for a travel pass is money-saving and to avoid the hassle of queuing to buy ticket (that’s such a waste of time!).

For backpacker like myself, you would either go for a Mobilis Card or Paris Visite Pass. Mobilis Card is a one-day unlimited travel (based on zones) pass using Metro, RER (Regional Express Networks) and bus. Paris Visite however, offers extra saving/discount on specific attractions in Paris. Both passes is an initiative from RATP, a transit operator responsible for public transportation in Paris. If you plan to visit Paris for more than 4 days, I would recommend you to get a Paris Pass instead. The Paris Pass offer you even more saving in terms of attractions, bus tour, free entry to museums, etc.

Well let’s start planning my own tour! First thing first when I reach Paris, check into my hostel, keep my luggage, wash up and have some rest. Next, I need some foods to keep me up and running! Heading to the Lourve Museum will be next, spending perhaps 3-4 hours, then proceed to the Eiffel Tower for sunset. I’m not planning to go up the tower, hence I will be taking pictures and wondering around until evening. Time for dinner by then, perhaps a quick meal, then I will be heading to Arc De Triomphe and Champs Elysees. By then, it should be just in time for a cabaret show at Lido until midnight. Lastly, returning to my hostel for a good rest.

Next morning, I’ve planned to visit the Paris Bibliotheque Library, then heading to Notre Dame before coming back to check out from my hostel. Then I need to find a way to store my luggage, either at the hostel or train station. Probably a quick lunch then will be heading to Versailles Palace (zone 4) for 2-3 hours (i know it’s not enough). Back to central Paris after that, I will be heading straight to the tallest building in Paris – Montparnese Tower, hopefully to catch sunset in Paris. Last destination perhaps would be Sacré-Cœur (pronounced as “Sack-kray-co-r”), and then heading to Gare Du Nord to catch the last train to London.

Some hidden tips of this planned itinerary:

  1. Buy a Travel Pass when you reach Paris
  2. Visit all attractions in one area, then only visit the next – Avoid wasting time traveling in and out the same area.
  3. Choose an accommodation that is close to airport, train or metro station – I’ve booked Le Regent Montmartre (Very close to Sacré-Cœur, Anvers Metro and fairly close to GDN).
  4. Store/Keep your luggage near your last stop – you can pick them up before you depart (you don’t want to carry your luggage around?).
  5. Make good use of your Travel Pass – I will be getting discount for Lido, Montparnese Tower, Arc De Triomphe and Bateaux Parisiens (River Cruise – if I have enough time).
  6. Book, pay and print out your cross-country train ticket at least 1 month earlier – ensure cheaper price and availability.

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The Europe Itinerary Part 4

Day 3 scheduled back at Interlaken around evening, I might have some time to travel around the town and takes some photos before sunset. Moving on to Day 4, what I initialliy planned was a trip down to Geneva and take an evening train to Paris; arriving at Paris by night, check-in a hotel and have a good rest. However, I found out that staying a night at Paris actually cost me 60% more expensive than staying a night at Geneva (a hint for budget travellers)! Hence, I decided to stay a full day at Geneva for Day 4, then travel to Paris on Day 5 in the early morning (probably taking the earliest train).

Taking into consideration I have approximately 10 hours of “day-time” in Switzerland, let’s plan what I can do along the journey from Interlaken to Geneva. The train route I will be taking is most probably from Interlaken to Montreux (GoldenPass Line), then routed to Geneva via Lausanne (Inter-City or Inter-Regio). Below is my planned itinerary for Day 4.

The Golden Pass Line has it’s schedule published here, I reckon you to check out the schedule before planning your itinerary. From the above itinerary, we see that it take 3 hours to travel from Interlaken to the northern tip of Lake Geneva. Then we planned to stop by for lunch and a short walking tour around Montreux town. Our next destination would be Chexbres, a wine-growing village located in the district of Lavaux, Swiss. We estimated an hour walking tour around the village, photo-taking and wine tasting perhaps.

Click to Enlarge

Following Chexbres will be Lausanne, the Olympics town! As you would noticed my itinerary having Lausanne highlighted as optional stop-by (blue rows), this is because I would like to make my itinerary more flexible, allowing me to decide there and then. Then the 2 pink rows will be my alternative, if I decided not to stop by Lausanne and heading straight to Geneva. You would also noticed the orange rows, yet another alternative if I decided not to stop by Chexbres and Lausanne. The reason behind was to allow me enough time to check-in hostel at Geneva before sunset by around 1846. Also, if I reach Geneva late, I will not have enough time to tour around Geneva!

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WM6.5 with HTC Sense

The customer service representative at HTC Care Centre was very friendly when I requested for a free ROM upgrade for my HTC TP2. I have backup all my data and programs using SPB Backup Tool, before sending in my device for service. It just took the technician 30 minutes (partly because there are no other customer at the time) to flash my HTC Touch Pro2 to Windows Mobile 6.5 completed with HTC Sense™.

It took me sometimes to familiarize with the new UI, and compare to WM6.1 with TouchFLO 3D, it has a significant improvement to user-friendliness and I truly love it! A key aspect of HTC Sense™ has focused on social communication, hence the seamless integration with Facebook and Twitter.

Contacts integration with Facebook

Twitter Updates with HTC Peep

Another surprise from WM6.5 is the Lock Screen, which is similar to the iPhone slider unlock! The original slider was positioned at the top of the screen, which makes it difficult to stretch my finger to the top of the screen. I have applied a cab update to position the slider to the middle. Note you can slide it to the left or right to reveal the password unlock screen, suitable for both left or right-handed users.

Slider Unlock Screen

Passwork Unlock Screen

Weather screen deserve a shout out here, it has integrated into your home screen and calendar agenda, to allow quick glance of weather condition at your current location! Yes, the apps has smartly uses the built in GPS module to determine your current location, very impressive! Besides, your home screen can be configure to use the animated weather wallpaper, check out the video below.

Before this, for those of you who are using TouchFlo 3D on HTC TP2, the proximity sensor is a cool and useful feature that will turn off the screen to save batter life when you place the phone over your ear. Often, there was time when you want to use the virtual keypad during a phone conversation (to save a phone number or record a note for instance), the proximity sensor will turn the screen back on (when you move your phone away from your ear). However, it switches back to the home screen, which annoyingly requires you to tap a few keys back to the phone screen and virtual keypad! Fortunately HTC Sense™ has fixed this and now I can have a flexible voice call experience.

Enough of the pros, let’s see what are the cons. After using WM6.5 for few weeks, there are 2 big problems I’ve realized:

  1. I have rebooted the device more than I have done that on WM6.1, i.e. it becomes sluggish after some times!
  2. Occasionally, when my voice call is connected, the receiving party cannot hear my voice. Not really sure whether it’s the network issue or the device or the OS.

To overcome #1, try install a RAM or task management program. This will ensure your OS is always at it’s optimum performance. The odd with WM so far was the ‘X’ button at the top right screen is to minimize instead of exit a program; day-to-day operation of apps in WM will pile up a lot of programs running in the background. At least that’s my feeling about the reason of poor performance of WM; Mike Calligaro has an interesting blog post of why WM has no close feature.

Overall, it’s still a good experience with HTC Sense™. I hope I can try to get rid of the unused default programs to free up some RAM for the phone to run smoother.

My Upgraded ROM

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