Alaska: Adventure Into The Last Frontier

Posted by Justin Murphy

September 21, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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Alaska is a destination rising to the top of everyone’s bucket list. Its immense, ethereal beauty is simply magical. It entices the eyes, yet calms the heart. Alaska is a destination for one or for all. It offers adventure, tranquility, and culture that are comparable to few. Alaska can best be described if you break it into 5 regions. The Far North, Interior, Southwest, Southcentral, and Inside Passage.

The Far North is the white wonderland of Alaska. Think game of thrones “beyond the wall”. It is extremely cold here in the winter and there are zero

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hours of sun light in December. As you visit Alaska’s far north you’ll cross the Arctic Circle. Some say that many pilots give the plane a slight jiggle letting their passengers know they’ve crossed into the arctic circle so don’t be weary if you think there’s a tad bit of turbulence. This region is home to the Inupiat Eskimos, many who still carry on a subsistence way of life and still preserve their history verbally from generation to generation, which is the prime reason the far north is mostly cultural/historic attractions. Some cities in the far north are Nome, Barrow, and Coldfoot.

Next, the Interior is Alaska’s heartland; Where you’ll see the continent’s tallest peak, Denali, and endless expanses of icy tundra. The national forests are teeming with wildlife and bird life ranging from the grumpy old grizzly bears fishing salmon from the rivers, to 

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stately herds of caribou to the state bird, the Willow Ptarmigan. It is a very unique place where you can experience the sun at midnight in the summer or the magical northern lights during the winter. Wildlife can be seen anywhere you look from the highway that runs by Denali National Park by visitors traveling to and from Anchorage and Fairbanks.The Interior is the original birthplace of Alaska’s Athabascan Native Americans. The interior is a steadily growing tourist destination, which offers anything you could possibly imagine to the wide-open expanse of the hill country, to the urban settings of the ever-growing cityscape. Some cities in the interior are Fairbanks, Fort Yukon, and Denali National Park.

Alaska’s Southwest is for those with a naturalist travel personality, there are few places on earth that compare with the wonders of Southwest Alaska. 

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Brown bears rumble along the stunning hills and plains, and over 240 bird species call Alaska’s Southwest region home. The region’s diverse terrain ranges from a landscape of volcanoes in Katmai National Park created by the eruption of the Novarupta volcano in 1912, to the windswept Aleutian Islands that created a 1,000-mile sweep toward Asia. This regional is famous for the wildlife viewing (especially bears). Some cities include Kodiak, King Salmon, and Dillingham.

Southcentral Alaska is home to over half of Alaska’s population. It provides a plethora of 

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activities including world-class fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Along with mountains and 

lakes, southcentral offers the advantages of remote wilderness, but the convenience with itbeing linked via roads. World-class rainbow trout and salmon are abundant, beckoning anglers to toss out a line. Southcentral includes all the luxury travelers seek, while serving as a gateway to the wilderness experience as well. Some cities in southcentral are Anchorage, Seward, and Cordova.

Lastly, but certainly not least is Alaska’s Inside Passage. It was sculpted by the astounding force of massive glaciers crashing together millions of years ago, Alaska’s Inside Passage 

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possesses wildlife-filled fjords and lavish island scenery — viewing bald eagles, sea lions, porpoises and whales. Its mountains are flowered with encompassing forests. The Inside Passage Alaska is home to native Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Indians whose history is reflected in the towering totem poles surrounding the areas. It is perfect place to adventure and Eco tour. It is also the most popular destination for Alaska cruising. Some cities include Sitka, Juneau, and Ketchikan. 

Wrapping up, you see Alaska has a place for everyone, and everyone should add a place on your bucket list for Alaska. Those whose interest were piqued today can call or email today for inquiries into your Alaskan adventure into the Last Frontier.

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Topics: why use a travel agent, travelinsurance

STEP Up and Travel Smart

Posted by Tammy Murphy

September 14, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Step Up, And Travel Smart So You Aren't Left In the Dark!

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Are you a U.S. citizen or national? (U.S. citizen or native of American Samoa or Swain’s Island (AS) included) 

Are you traveling/residing abroad?

  • If you answered yes to either of the above questions then, my friend, I’m going to let you in on a little secret I recently discovered that could make the biggest difference should anything unexpected happen. It’s called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

"What is STEP," you ask? Well, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals (U.S. citizen or native of American Samoa or Swain’s Island) traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.       

Meaning…

  • You will receive up to date, important, relevant information from the Embassy nearest your destination about safety conditions in the country you’re traveling to, assisting you in making informed decisions about your travel plans.
  • Registering yourself in their online database will help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, natural disaster, civil unrest, and/or family emergencies.
  • This service also helps family and friends get in touch with you should an emergency arise from home.
  • Though many events and disasters will be aware to you by various news outlets this service is specific to your destination, and will give you plans and protocols for those types of situation to best help you to safety.

How do you sign up?

To avoid being overcrowded with information I recommend enrolling 2-3 weeks prior to your departure. It is so easy and it takes no longer than a few minutes! All you need is your passport and a copy of your travel plans.

To enroll a trip:

Stay Informed, Stay Connected, Stay Safe! 

Now, if you aren’t traveling right now don’t let stop you from staying informed in monitoring safety conditions for specific destinations abroad, sign up for email alerts to receive the latest Travel Alerts and Warnings when they are posted on travel.state.gov.

To subscribe:

  • Visit: https://step.state.gov/STEP/Pages/Common/Subscribe.aspx
  • Provide your first name, last name, and email address.
  • Then select one or more countries from the list (use Ctrl + click to select multiple) and use the “>>” arrows to move your selection to the right-hand box.
  • When you are finished, click Submit.
  • (You will receive an email requesting you to confirm your subscription; follow the instructions from the email to complete your request.)
    • You can also use this same page to unsubscribe from these lists later if the information becomes overbearing or you become disinterested in the destination.
    • Just select “I want to: Unsubscribe,” provide the email address, use the “>>” to move the appropriate country name(s) to the right-hand box.
    • Click Submit.

For additional information on destination that interest you visit the Travel Alerts & Warning page. Link above.

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Topics: why use a travel agent, travelinsurance

Vacation of a lifetime planned!  Are you protected?  Here's the skinny on travel insurance!

Posted by Tammy Murphy

October 26, 2016 at 5:49 PM

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                                                                                               Bora Bora
Think your health insurance or credit card covers you with insurance while you are traveling on your dream vacation?  You would be AMAZED at what they don't cover and how critical it is to purchase travel insurance from a reputable third party insurance company like Allianz Insurance. 
 
Don't just take my word for it, open your passport, the U.S. government recommends that you purchase travel insurance before you leave home.   Is travel insurance right for you. ask any jet setter, globe hopper, or traveler that has had a medical emergency or family medical emergency while traveling .   I wouldn't recommend you do this unless I do, and I absolutely purchase travel insurance for each and every trip, sometimes that may be 4-6 per year.  In the last three months, I have helped 2 young couples (plus myself) make claims for unforeseen travel cancellation or interruption.    In fact, it is SO important that we are required to obtain a waiver if travelers choose NOT to purchase travel insurance. 
 
1.  What is it?
  • Travel insurance is insurance to give us peace of mind financially and otherwise in stressful and unexpected challenges.  Would you purchase a ring, car, etc without insuring it?  So why would you risk not insuring your dream vacation experience or bucket list trip? 
  • Your vacation time and dollars are precious, coverage may include both costs incurred before your trip like non-refundable event, air or hotel stays, and during your trip, including travel interruption and medical expenses.  
  • Depending on coverage elected, coverage may include health benefits,  luggage delayed (buy new outfit), medical evacuation or simply sharing helpful concierge information.
  • It's a lifeline, they are there for you when your travel consultant may be sleeping, 24/7/365 hotline assistance.  They speak many languages and are an extension of our helping hands when you need real-time help in emergency situations, including medical evacuation and pre-trip assistance.
  • Cost is minimal compared to risk.
 2.  Why Do I Need It
  • No one WANTS to cancel their long awaited vacation of a lifetime, but sometimes due to circumstances beyond your control, trip cancellation becomes necessary (50% of the trips, in fact).  Cancellation before you go for covered reasons, based on coverage chosen are entitled to 100% reimbursement, including non-refundable trip payments and deposits.
  • Interruption while you are traveling (you or family member).  You may think the airlines are required to put you in a room if your flight is canceled or delayed.  When they are at fault, they may offer assistance, but they aren't required to.  What if your family member at home is injured or becomes very ill while you are traveling and cases you to end your trip prematurely?
  • Lost, damaged or stolen baggage?  This too happens more than you think.  What if you arrive at your destination with no luggage?    This is just one small benefit of travel insurance.
  • Medical coverage while traveling (medical insurance rarely provides coverage while traveling internationally). Most people are completely surprised by this.
  • Medical evacuation is very complex, however, if you purchased this coverage with Allianz travel insurance that becomes much easier.  Travelers in need will be assigned a case manager to assist you and may coordinate with doctors and nurses of University of Virginia that may work with translators, etc during the emergency.  Depending on need, they will arrange to get you to the nearest medical facility, then work on getting you back to U.S. to the best medical facility.  If you are hospitalized, they may bring family member to you to have support while you are away.   If you do not have third party travel insurance, you will not be picked up unless you pay $20,000 up front (right in middle of medical emergency).  This may cost from $90,000-and up.  This happens more frequently than you can imagine.
 
3.  Not all insurance providers are created equal
  • Cruise lines specialize in cruises, suppliers specialize in their resorts or destinations, leave the insurance to the insurance experts.   Third party insurers protect the interest of the insured, not the supplier.
  • Insurance offered by your credit card may cover some benefits of travel insurance IF you use that card for each travel expense, but it will not give you the medical coverage/evacuation which is where the cost skyrockets.
4.  Best time to purchase
  • You can purchase up until day before travel, however for the best coverage it should be purchased the insurance on the day (within days) of purchase.
  • Insurance cost is based on age of traveler and cost of trip. 
  • Even if traveling within the United States, it is still important because you will be out of your insurance network and even minor emergency room visits may cost well above what you would pay for insurance premium.
  • What if you booked your trip online before you learned about us at VIP Travel Experience, Click here to contact us and we can still assist you in purchasing your travel insurance even if your trip is already booked.  If you have particular concerns about your situation, we are happy to add Allianz support on the line with us.

5.  There is an APP FOR THAT

  • Travel Smart app is a great reference for hospitals, translation for first aid terms.  Flight stats, not all countries use 911.  All inclusive app to get really great travel information.  The Travel Smart app is free to download on your smart phone. 
Of course, we hope you never have to cancel, interrupt your trip, but we sleep easier knowing your are covered if the unforeseen happens.  It is a minimal cost compared to the value of what you might lose should you not have it.
 

We love doing business with businesses that invest in students! Check out Allianz Scholar Trips.  Six grand prize students ages 14 and above will be awarded $2,500 toward their study or volunteer abroad trip that submit an entry before November 10, 2016.  Click here for more information on Scholar Trips.

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Topics: planning the right trip, why use a travel agent, travelinsurance

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