What Travel Insurance Doesn’t Cover

We’re all at a disadvantage in the travel community. As budget travel aficionados, chances are most of us don’t have attorneys on retainer. So when companies decide to find whatever reason they want to deny honoring their promises, there’s nothing we can do. They can do almost whatever they want to consumers because we have been priced out of the legal system that was put in place to protect our rights and unless they’ve lost our baggage or injured us somehow, our travel insurance won’t cover this.

As a Travel Hacker, I have invested a lot of time and some money into completing promotions, earning bonuses, and anything else I can to earn travel rewards. It’s necessary to know that companies will honor their promises, otherwise we risk the investment.

I once went to a Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express in Wales to complete IHG’s Set Your Sights promotion. This would give me an additional 50,000 points upon completion. Long story short, their system messed up and they didn’t want to fix it. Instead, the customer service representative told me that they do not consider Holiday Inn Express’ as Holiday Inn properties (WHAT?). I was told that there was no way I would get the additional 35,000 points I had been promised.

IHG Set your sights

Another situation; late last year Discover teamed up with Apple to promote Apple Pay and offered huge bonuses that could come out to around 20-30% cash back. After a few days, they changed the terms and conditions to disallow the purchase of gift cards.

They then started denying people their cash back claiming they had purchased gift cards, even if they hadn’t. They informed their customers that they required proof that they didn’ purchase a gift cardt. This means that we consumers were guilty until proven innocent. Anyone who didn’t keep their receipts ended up losing their their hard-earned cash back because Discover decided they didn’t want to keep their promise.

Most people would end up just accepting being taken advantage of like this. No way would they spend $200-$500 to talk to an attorney and have them send a letter demanding their rights be honored. No way would they spend thousands in court to fight for a few hundred dollars.

Companies know this and this is why we’re at a disadvantage, because who’s going to force them to do what’s right if it’s not in their best interest? It needs to stop. No longer can we accept being taken advantage of. No longer can we let companies do whatever they want to us. We have rights and we deserve to have them fought for.

Josiahs Letter from IHG

I received the additional 35,000 points with an additional 500 goodwill points to total 50,500 for completing the promotion. I didn’t spend a lot of time and energy yelling at customer service reps or managers. I also didn’t spend $500 for an attorney to write them a letter or thousands to fight in court. I also received all of the cash back bonuses that Discover had originally promised.

Now I have the advantage because I am a member of LegalShield and have been protected since I was a baby thanks to my parents becoming members about 21 years ago. All I had to do to protect my rights and get what I was promised was call a LegalShield attorney.

The LegalShield attorneys have written many letters for me to companies who didn’t want to keep their promises. They have gone to court for me to protect me for auto incidents. I also have a Living Will in place in case anything happens to me, while traveling or not, that didn’t cost me anything extra.

IHG Letter1 IHG Letter2

With over 4 million members, LegalShield is able to provide top quality attorneys to it’s members throughout all of the US and 4 provinces in Canada. That means wherever you are, you are protected if whatever company has a base in the US or Canada.

LegalShield and their IDShield are necessary insurances to protect our, and our families, rights and identities at home and abroad. Everyone should have these services, but especially travelers and travel hackers.

If you see value in protecting your rights and preventing yourself from being taken advantage of again with LegalShield, use the links in post or click here to sign up via my affiliate link to support the blog.

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8 Reasons You’re a Victim of Identity Theft and What to Do about it

Although identity theft is the largest growing crime in the world, with 850 million to a billion stolen identities in 2014 alone, many of us still feel like we’re immune and our identities could never be stolen. However, just the opposite is true, our identities have already been stolen, the thieves are overloaded with information and simply haven’t gotten to you yet. Here are 8 reasons why your identity has already been stolen and who is most vulnerable to having it used.

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  1. Jobs, Hospitals/Check ups, etc. – Every time you’ve gotten a new job or gone to the hospital, you’ve given out all of your valuable information. Everything needed to impersonate you is right there on those papers you filled out and in their system waiting to be stolen or hacked.
  2. Credit and Bank Accounts – Every time you’ve opened a credit account or bank account, again, you had to provide a lot of valuable, personal, information. Whenever we call into a credit card company, using our social to look up our account is an option, and for many, it’s an convenient option that they use. So not only is your informatioon in their system, that sweet rep you just gave your social and mothers maiden name to may have just written all of that down.
  3. Passports and Travel – When we get a passport and especially when we travel, we put our identities at risk. The process of going from one place to another, especially via airport, is chaotic. At any point, we could be pick pocketed, or maybe that sweet rep is writing your information down. I was once robbed while in Puerto Rico and lost my passport. Any time you travel, you are at a greater risk of having your identity stolen than when you’re not.
  4. Social Media – Yes, you read that right, social media is not the just haven you retreat to, to escape from your normal life that you imagine it is, there are people there too trying to steal your identity. Many of us put out our birthdates, names, favorite color, and other types of useful information for anyone to see. They may also find your mother’s parents to find out her maiden name via friends lists.
  5. Being Born – Now adays, just being born or being a kid puts us at high risk of ID theft. We go the first 16 or so years of our lives without applying for credit, getting a job, or anything that would make us think that we should be worried about our identities, and parents think the same way. However, kids’ identities can be stolen from the hospital where they were born, the dentist’s, from school, and many other places. Kids are actually at a very high risk of ID theft because no one looks for the warning signs until they do start applying for credit or getting jobs.
  6. Earning a Lot – Obviously if a person gets the information of someone who makes 40k/year and someone who makes 200k, they’re going to spend their time trying to get and use the ladder’s identity. Not every identity theif is going for volume, some are going for the jackpot, so earning a lot puts you at a higher risk.
  7. Paying with Plastic – When we pay with a card, debit especially, it’s possible that someone will get their hands on the information. They may even use a magnetic strip copier so they can steal your cards information and put it on one of their own with their name on it. Using debit puts you at even more of a risk because they don’t have the same level of anti-fraud protection that credit cards do.
  8. Using a Smart Phone – People who use a smart phone, so pretty much everyone, are 3x more likely to have their identity stolen than those who don’t use one. One report states that smart phone users don’t view their smart phones the way they do their computers. Only about a 3rd of smartphone users put a password on them while it’s standard for computers and very few add anti-virus to their phones. Even though they aren’t protecting their phones like their computers, their using them for mobile banking and storing personal information and passwords on them.

We are all waiting to be arrested for a crime we didn’t commit. To be told we can’t have our tax refund because we’ve already claimed it. That we can’t vote because we’re already registered in another state. Can’t get a loan or a new travel credit card with a big spending bonus because we have too much debt.

None of the travel insurances or any of our regular insurances provide any security if our stolen identity is used while traveling. If our credit cards are stolen and used, that’s a simple call to the credit issuer. However, if our identities are used in any large way like mentioned above, we’re left to pay around $50,000 or more and spend about 6 months of our lives, taking time off of work, trying to restore our identities.

Here’s what you can do about it:

LegalShield’s IDShield is the protection we all need. Not only do they fully monitor our identities, in any way you can think of and more, they do it better than other popular monitoring services, and they do it at half the price. They also have licensed investigators on staff to restore our identities. That means when our stolen identities are used, if we’re relaxing on the beach in the Maldives or climbing Mt. Everest, or whatever you do, we don’t have to stop. We can continue on with our lives and let IDShield handle it.

When compared to the popular LifeLock, IDShield, Lifelock falls far below expectations. IDShield’s Family Plan is only $19.95 compared to LifeLock’s $51.96 plan. Single Plans are $9.95 and $19.95 respectively. In the pursuit of budget travel, we need to protect ourselves, and IDShield does it at a budget price with premium quality.

IDShield LifeLock Comparison

We all need someone in our corner that is going to protect us when our identity is used. Too many of us have spent months stressing, taking time off work and spending and losing way too much money trying to restore our identities ourselves. With IDShield we can travel in peace knowing that we are 100% protected.

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P.S. If you see value in protecting your identity at home and abroad with IDShield, use the links in the post or click here to sign up via my affiliate link to support the blog.

Backpacking Europe

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Just a change of clothes and we’ll be ready to go!

My sister, Jen, and I are about to start a bit over a month long backpacking trip through Europe. We’re flying Southwest to New York to catch Norwegian Air to Norway and then Ryan Air to Alicante, Spain. We plan to spend 5 weeks going through Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and hopefully a trip to
Iceland somewhere in there.

As we’ve been preparing and continue to do so, I’m reminded of how stressful it can be. But also how much fun. My sister has never been backpacking before and so it is great showing her how to pack only what is necessary. She’s also started going for a few mile walks everyday with her fully packed backpack to start strengthening her body for it. I maintain my philosophy: binge watch TV and eat whatever, hit the road and feel like I want to die, and get used to it again. Anyone else do that?

We are leaving at the beginning of February and so we have to prepare for the winter (very different from the Floridian climate we’re used to!) This means extra layers, boots, and weight overall. Since we plan to camp when we can’t find a CouchSurfing host (comment below if you’d like to meet up or host us at some point!), we have the additional weight of camping gear.

Luckily, we almost have everything we need for the trip and our packs come out to a decent 18LB’s each. We shouldn’t reach above 20 with the last bit of items we need and then it’s only the added weight of food and water. When you realize how little you actually need, life can become so easy, free of worry and stress. And weight.

Of course, this trip is going to be a lot different from my others, I’ve traveled with groups for a day or two here and there, but I could always do whatever I wanted and leave at any point. I’ve also traveled in the winter, but now I’ll have a full time companion who I will have to be considerate of. Where does she want to go, what is she comfortable doing or not doing, will we have to make an unexpected stop at a store to buy some “ladies products”?

This will be different.

Normally, I hitchhike everywhere, Spain to Rome? No problem! But now, for obvious reasons, my sister is a bit anxious about the idea of hitch hiking so much, and we may end up taking buses, which will obviously hurt the budget goal. If we do, we’ll be trying to get night buses to use as our accommodation as well as transportation.

While I’ve never hitchhiked with anyone before, I hope I’ll be able to get her to do it… Maybe I’ll hide behind a tree or something while she flashes her leg and waves to try to catch a ride. Maybe she’ll meet her future husband that way (Hint hint guys, this lovely lady is available and on the prowl, but check out what is taught at Godsavemymarriage.com first to see if you qualify.)

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I also have to take into consideration her body heat. Women generally get a lot colder than men, and just because I feel like we’d be fine going for a hike in the Swiss Alps in the midst of winter, she might feel like we, or at least, she, will probably die. Or if I want to wild camp in a city, but am having trouble finding a concealed spot where I can sleep without being bothered, she probably won’t be willing to sleep under a bridge to avoid having to pay for a room or bunk.

Although this is going it be different from my normal travels and as much as I love traveling solo, I am very excited for this new experience. I may have to give up some of the key things that allow me to travel on such a shoestring budget as $15 or less per day, but it will help me in life and prepare me to travel with my wife once we’re married in December, WOOT WOOT!

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