When Vacation Planning: Prepare for the Unexpected

As many of you have noticed, I have not published any travel blogs for a few weeks.  I personally want to say thank you to our readers and fellow bloggers who have reached out to me.  You heartfelt care and concern really means so much.  I am writing this blog from my bedside as I am recovering from a surgical procedure.

I decided to write this blog for a dual purpose.  The first reason is to reach out to my all of you who follow my blog to let you know what has happened to me.  The second reason is to help ensure that as travelers we are all prepared for the unexpected when planning our vacations.

My wife Dana and I decided that we would take a Christmas vacation to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to visit with her family for the holiday.  Our plan was a 6 day vacation from Friday December 23rd, 2017 until December 28th, 2017.

As experienced travelers the first rule to remember is that plans can sometimes change.  When packing for a trip it is always a good idea to pack extra clothes.  What you pack depends on the destination you travel to and what activities you plan to do when visiting your destination.  Thank goodness we over packed.

The trip driving down to Ft. Lauderdale was uneventful.  The traffic heading south from our home in Orlando, Florida to Ft. Lauderdale on Friday afternoon was not too busy.  Most of the traffic was actually heading  from Miami north towards Orlando, the home of Walt Disney World.  (A great tip to remember is that the week between Christmas and New Years Day is the busiest time of year for the Disney Theme Parks).  Over the weekend we took in some local activities and spent time with extended family up in West Palm Beach, located about 30 miles north of Ft. Lauderdale.  Monday morning (Christmas) we spent time with Dana’s parents opening gifts and celebrating the holiday.  On Tuesday, Dana had to do some work to do for her other job while I was working on the travel blog.  On Wednesday, our perceived last full day in south Florida, we decided to spend some time visiting West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens.  A blog about this visit will be written in the very near future.

Then Thursday December 28th, 2017 happened.  We woke up and planned on eating breakfast with her parents and then we would be leaving to return to Orlando.  While eating breakfast consisting of Danish and fruit, I took a bite of a very soft yet delicious maple walnut Danish and heard a crunch.  I swallowed some of it thinking maybe it was the walnut that made the crunch noise and then realized I broke a tooth.  I was taken to a family dentist who was able to repair the tooth and put in a temporary crown.  The permanent crown would not be ready until the following Wednesday which would be after New Years.  With hearing this news, we decided that we would extend our vacation since we could do our laundry and had a place to stay.  A special thank you to my wife’s parents for being such gracious hosts and for their hospitality.

The following day, Friday morning, I woke up with a severe pain in my lower right side and abdominal area.  The pain was getting worse with each passing moment and we decided to visit the Emergency Room at Coral Springs Hospital in northwestern Ft. Lauderdale.  After doing some initial medical checks, blood work and a CT Scan, the doctors determined that I had 3 very large Kidney Stones and that they needed to admit me to begin treating an infection and then the doctors would perform surgery on Saturday morning (December 30th).  Surgery was scheduled and was performed Saturday morning at 9 am.  Everything went well.  The surgeons were able to perform a Lithotripsy Surgery to blast the three Kidney Stones and break them up into several smaller stones.  The surgeons also inserted a stent about a 12 inches long from my right kidney to my bladder.  The broken up kidney stones will pass along the stent and outside of the body.  If you don’t know, kidney stones are very rigid hard particles made up of salts and minerals formed inside your kidney and the only way out of the body is through the urinary tract, which is very painful.

After spending a couple of days in the hospital and having surgery, I was able to go home and continue recovering.  I am in extreme pain.  Doctors orders are to take two medications including a pain medication and to drink lots of fluids.  My next follow-up treatment is January 8th, 2018.  Below is the chart from my hospital room.

My Unexpected Hospital Stay-Coral Springs Hospital Room 405

As a travel blogger my primary purpose it to share my passion and knowledge of travel with my readers.  In my professional work experience as a hotel manager and as a travel agent before becoming a blogger I have witnessed many clients who have had incidents where they have had to extend their vacations and/or spend money that they hadn’t planned to spend due to lost luggage, additional hotel room nights for flight delays, food expenses, car repairs, car rental, and medical care among others.  Of the unexpected expenses that can occur while on vacation medical costs are the most expensive.

Allianz Travel Insurance

Children covered at no additional cost!

The advertisers shown above are two well-known and excellent Travel Insurance companies.  They offer travel insurance plans that will help cover losses for a variety of reasons including illness prior or during your trip, lost luggage, lost or stolen items such as jewelry and cameras, and trip cancellation just to name a few.

Is travel insurance right for you?  Hundreds of millions of travelers ask themselves this question each year. And one in three jet-setters now opt in for travel insurance.  According to the Allianz website, travel insurance is designed to cover those who elect coverage with financial safeguards in the case of events ranging from inconveniences to calamities. Coverage may include both costs incurred before your trip, such as non-refundable event tickets or hotel stays, and during your trip, including travel interruptions and medical expenses.  Like other insurance products there are specific provisions tied to policies that outline when and how reimbursements are given – and how much insured travelers are eligible to receive.

As mentioned on the Allianz webpage, a part of travelers’ responsibility when it comes to educating themselves about travel insurance includes learning how and when their other travel partners may or may not offer them assistance when a trip doesn’t go as planned.  For example, you may learn that airlines aren’t obligated to do anything when your flights are delayed.When the airlines are the ones at fault, they may offer some assistance, but they’re not bound by law or duty to do so.  But a lost, damaged or even stolen luggage benefit is just one small benefit of most travel insurance offerings. Others may include:

  • Trip Cancellation Protection: This is the big one, and includes reimbursement for non-refundable trip payments and deposits.
  • Trip Interruption Protection: Sometimes trips start on time and end prematurely due to forces of nature and other circumstances beyond your control. This benefit includes reimbursement for unused costs and transportation costs to return home.
  • 24-Hour Hotline Assistance: While this doesn’t come with a dollar amount, getting real-time help when you’re in a pickle is invaluable. Especially if you don’t speak the native tongue. This can include the arrangement of evacuations for medical emergencies, pre-trip assistance, etc.
  • Coverage for financial default: What if the tour operator for your upcoming family vacation stops answering your calls? And then the line is disconnected and the company is out of business. Travel insurance may be your most reliable means of financial recourse.

Travel Insurance can now be purchased on a trip by trip basis or an annual basis.  Please visit the Travel Insurance Companies websites for more information.

**Please Note: When purchasing Travel Insurance it is very important to read the fine print (such as pre-existing conditions) so you know what is covered on the policy you are planning to purchase and when you are covered.

I have always purchased Travel Insurance when I have spent a large amount of money on travel including a vacation package or a cruise.  Insurance is a transfer of financial risks and protection for your purchase of goods.

With my most recent experience it was originally a short inexpensive vacation with no large out-of-pocket expense so I didn’t purchase Travel Insurance.  Now imagine if I was supposed to take a Caribbean Cruise after our stay with family for the holiday.  In that case I would be out the entire cost of the cruise plus all of the medical expenses incurred, hotel nights, food expenses, etc…if I didn’t purchase a Travel Insurance Plan.  Hopefully this gives you a real life perspective on how expensive a vacation can become when the unexpected occurs.

The medical costs of a surgery like mine will cost approximately $12,000.  Even with health insurance through my wife’s employer the out-of-pocket expense will be $4,800. And the cost of the tooth repair and crown is another $400 out-of-pocket expense.  The Kidney Stones Lithotripsy Surgery procedure would not have been covered by Travel Insurance because of a pre-existing condition because I had surgery earlier in the year for Parathyroid Tumors that caused my Calcium levels to be high and thus it can cause kidney stones.  When made aware of my original illness in 2017 some co-workers put together a GoFundMe Fundraiser

If you would like to contribute to the gofundme campaign then please click on the blue link above or if you would like to support our blog then click the “Pay with PayPal” link below.  And as always purchasing from the wonderful companies shown on our blog page will help support our blog and allow us to continue to bring you stories and information you can use.

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The Sophisticated Travelers would like to wish all of you a very prosperous 2018 and a year of safe travels.

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Your journey awaits!!

Happy New Year
Wishing all of you a very happy 2018 and a year of prosperity and safe travels.

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