Tag Archives: trip

Prepare for Holiday Travel

Vantage Point: The Gift of Preparedness

The holidays provide the perfect time for people to be out and about, traveling to various destinations.

You think about if you have all the gifts and various outfits with you in case different events arise. Did your family members pack what they need, and did you pack your toothbrush? Those are all very important things to focus on, but have you thought about what you might need if something during your travels goes awry?

Do you have what you need to make it through an unplanned emergency? Yes, I know it’s not fun to think about things that could go wrong. But if you do, it just might help or even be lifesaving, depending on the circumstance. Just one tip to remember when you’re playing the mental game of what could go wrong that I like to remember: not fear, just prepare. Don’t live in fear. Just try to have the basics covered.

Let’s imagine that you’re taking a holiday trip by car to visit family. Let’s say that they are pretty far away, a few hours, and the weather hasn’t been the greatest lately, but today it’s OK. They are forecasting snow closer to where your family lives, but you think you’ll beat the snow by an hour or so. But what if you don’t?

What if the car breaks down, and it throws your timeline off, and you do encounter that snowstorm? And what if you didn’t break down, but the storm is worse than predicted, and you can’t get to your destination? Do you have the supplies you’d need to get help or wait out the storm?

I know it’s literally impossible to plan for all the potential issues, but thinking of it in categories can help you plan the best items to have for you and your family. Think shelter, food, and water as a basic start. Your vehicle can hopefully be your shelter, so what about the other variables?

  • Stay hydrated and fed. 

    Because you’re traveling, you might pass through an area where there aren’t any stores close by, and now the family is hungry, and it doesn’t look like you’ll be moving toward your destination anytime soon. The first item you should think about having with you is water. It’s always smart to have water, from a few jugs or bottles to a whole case. You can never go wrong having extra handy. Next you should think about food. These can range from snack items to protein bars and high-calorie survival bars.

     
  • Keep warm. 

    Because you’re traveling in the winter in our imagined scenario, it’s probably going to be cold in your area. If something happens where you lose the heat in your car, do you have supplies to keep everyone warm? You might think about having warm blankets, hand warmer packets, layers of clothes to put on, and a thermos of warm soup, water, cocoa, or coffee. (And this isn’t the be-all-end-all list, but just some ideas to get you thinking!)

If you’re thinking that those are great starter ideas, but you might need more robust supplies, there are plenty of things out there to help. Winter travel kits at the local box stores make it easy to be prepared in a variety of situations. You can also search for more winter car travel safety tips online.

The possibilities are endless, and you really can tailor your needs to your family and their well-being. Happy travels!

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a small-town girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world.

Adventures in Vacationing

Long View: Adventures in Vacationing

Vacation season is upon us. Do you have all the tools you need for a restful and restorative vacation this summer?

I cannot envision a trip anywhere without my cell phone’s Google Maps app. It astounds me to think of some of the family trips I took with my parents and brother before cell phones. Imagine a family of 4, in a 4-seat, single-engine airplane, landing on a grass runway in the middle of lake country in northern Canada. No roads, no buildings, just trees and water. I still remember picking wild blueberries on the runway while we waited for the boat from the fishing village to come pick us up. How on earth did we get there without Google? Brave people, my parents.

In my 20s, my mother and I managed to drive our Volvo sedan across a pedestrian-only canal bridge in Sweden. We didn’t realize that fact until later that night while enjoying a glass of wine on the hotel patio across the street from the bridge. “You know Mom,” I said, “I haven’t seen a single car go over that bridge since we sat down.” It was the 1990s, no Google Maps.

My son Scoobs and I learned not to trust those GPS boxes in rental cars while in Panama. After getting the pleasant Spanish-speaking lady to start talking to us in English, she took us on a series of turns around the airport that had us stuck in a cul-de-sac surrounded by garbage-eating wild dogs. Back out onto the highway, she sent us south toward the Colombian border, rather than north to our resort, and turning left in Central America is apparently not allowed. I pulled up onto the highway median, agreed to the international charges, and Googled our way safely to the Westin.

On that same trip, we were amazed at the accuracy of Google Maps as it guided us into the jungles of Panama and over a wooden bridge made only of 2 very long 2x6s to the drop-off spot where we went kayaking. Why it was so hyper-accurate in the jungles of Panama, yet managed to send me onto a golf course cart path in central Illinois remains a mystery and a testament to that saucy little app’s sense of humor.

Health insurance information is also a vital tool to take with you on vacation. Thanks to the new Your Health Alliance phone app, you don’t even need to bring the actual card with you. Unplanned illnesses and injuries can happen. My 5-year-old little brother got the chicken pox for the second time while in Key West, FL. (Brave parents again.)

Another really nice tool Health Alliance provides to our Medicare family is Assist America. Assist America provides free help finding doctors outside of the United States, prescription refill assistance, and even emergency medical evacuation.

The crew I run with decided last year to take a 5-mile hike through the mountainous jungles of Jamaica’s Cockpit Country. A check of Google shows you how lush and beautiful it is, but it’s a far cry from umbrella drinks and endless beaches. After the 5-mile hike/death march, we went cave exploring under those same mountains, and at times, found ourselves crawling on hands and knees through narrow tunnels and over muddy boulders on our way to an underground lake. You can imagine what a bunch of 50-year-old adventurers looked like at the end of the day. I personally resembled a naked mole rat. Assist America may have been a welcome choice for evacuation back to our resort’s lounge chairs and endless buffet.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Spring Break with Assist America

Enjoy Spring Break with Peace of Mind Thanks to Assist America

The spring break travel season has arrived! Each year, more than 65 million Americans travel for spring break, and this number continues to grow year after year.

When planning our next trip, the last thing we want to think about is the risk of getting sick or injured and whether good medical care will be available at our destination. We bask in the sun on white-sand beaches, zipline in the jungle, ski in the mountains, camp in the woods, and explore new countries. But the truth is that when getting away from it all, we are usually also away from quality health care.

This is why we offer Emergency Travel Assistance Services, provided by our partner, Assist America. The Assist America program is designed to get you to the best possible care provider in the shortest possible time.

Let’s take a look at how this program works:

A college student from North Carolina was driving to meet his friends for spring break. While jet-skiing, he got into an accident with a sailboat and suffered multiple fractures and a severe concussion. The local hospital he was admitted to at the time of the incident was not capable of appropriately treating such serious injuries. Assist America was notified and evacuated the student via private jet ambulance to an excellent facility capable of treating his injuries. Once he was in stable condition and released from the facility, Assist America arranged and paid for a first class return trip home with a medical escort.

What happened to his car? Assist America looks at all the elements involved in any case. The travel assistance company arranged and paid for an agent to drive the vehicle to the student’s home, so that it would be available to him upon his return and recovery.

As a general rule, remember that Assist America provides the following services:

  • Medical referrals
  • Emergency medical evacuation
  • Hospital admission assistance
  • Medical monitoring
  • Medical or non-medical escorts
  • Compassionate visit
  • Care of minor children
  • Repatriation
  • Return of mortal remains
  • Prescription assistance
  • Lost luggage assistance
  • Language assistance
  • Return of vehicle
  • Legal referrals
  • Pre-trip planning

Travel Assistance plans are not all the same, and here are the reasons why we partner with Assist America to offer the right plan that works for our members:

  • With Assist America, members will not be charged for the services provided. Assist America pays for all of the services it arranges.
  • Members can travel anywhere in the world, from the most remote places to areas at risk, Assist America has no geographical exclusions.
  • While some plans have strict exclusions for pre-existing conditions, Assist America will not exclude a member because of past or existing health issues.
  • Members can be adventurous with peace-of-mind, knowing that Assist America will be there if needed, no matter what sport or activity members do.
  • Many plans have dollar limits on how much they will pay for a service, such as a medical evacuation – Assist America does not.

Make this year’s spring break memorable by having fun and helping yourself and your family stay safe and healthy. When leaving for your spring break vacation, remember to download the free Assist America Mobile App for Android and iPhone for immediate connection with Assist America’s 24/7 Operation Center and access to a wide range of services.

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Steamboat Ride to Relaxation

Long View: Nostalgia for a Steamboat

The relentless pace of modern life makes it easy to forget how different things were in the past.

Last fall, my friends Bill and Sharon took a steamboat trip, and they described it as “incredibly relaxing.” Sounds like an interesting way to travel, and it piqued my curiosity about riverboats in general.

There are 2 main varieties of paddle steamers: a sternwheeler (one wheel at the back, naturally) and a side-wheeler (I’m sure you can guess where they are located). It seems their speed is dependent on a number of factors, including cargo on board and headwinds. An average speed seems to be around 15 mph, which was very fast when steamboats became popular.

Some steamboats were the height of luxurious travel at the time. Cut crystal lighting, lavish furniture, and carpeting were the most up-to-date available. Live entertainment and game playing were popular activities. Other steamboats were more pedestrian, combining passengers and cargo, both of varying degrees of quality. However, railroads eventually eclipsed the importance of riverboat travel.

Although popular media has sometimes romanticized riverboat travel, it occurs to me they didn’t have air conditioning. (I have been in St Louis during August.) I am also wondering what the bathrooms were like, in case someone wanted to grab a quick shower. The very real threats of fire and running aground were constant reminders that some of the dangers of a riverboat trip came from the ship itself, not just the other passengers. Hitting snags or sandbars and exploding boilers all presented very real threats to life and limb.

My friends said the food was good but definitely not low calorie. I asked them what they did between meals, and Sharron said they mostly loafed on the deck and watched the scenery go by. Occasionally, they enjoyed some live music or a dramatic reading. Card games were a popular choice among some of the passengers, while others napped. “We both noticed it was the most relaxed we’d been in a long time,” she said. “We highly recommend it.”

It seems ironic to me that a historic mode of travel formerly known for its speed now sets the pace for a leisurely excursion. Considering the cost of today’s riverboat tickets, it’s even more ironic how much people are willing to pay for a little relaxation.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

Packing for Traveling with Diabetes

Packing Your Pump: Traveling with Diabetes

Traveling is already stressful. When you add in you or your family’s diabetes, it just gets worse. But, like all vacation planning, good prep is key to making sure traveling with diabetes goes smoothly.

Preparation for Traveling with Diabetes

It’s best to travel when your diabetes is under control, so schedule a check up with your doctor before your trip if you need to.

Make sure you have enough of current prescriptions to take while traveling. With some things, you can stock up in advance. For others, you may have to take your prescription with you and get it filled on the road. Make sure you also know which pharmacies your plan covers before getting a prescription filled there.

Keep a document that lists all of the medicines and supplies you’re traveling with. Not only can it help you pack before leaving home or the hotel, but you can also show it to security agents at airports to help them check your supplies quickly.

Call or check out your insulin pump company’s website before you fly. Not all pumps can go through the X-ray machines safely, so it’s important to check for yours. If your pump can’t go through, let one of the TSA agents know and ask for a pat down check instead.

Packing for Traveling with Diabetes

According to the TSA, most diabetes supplies, including insulin, pumps, unused syringes, lancets, and blood glucose meters are allowed in your carry-on.

It’s important that you pack supplies and snacks in your carry-on so that you can monitor your diabetes during the flight without problems.

Keep medications in their original containers, and keep them in a separate, clear plastic bag. This makes it easy for security to check what kind of meds you have and that they’re yours.

Use your list to make sure you’ve packed everything you need to take care of your diabetes.

If your kids are traveling without you, it’s important to both help them pack their supplies, and to make sure they have their emergency plan and important numbers, like your phone number and their blood sugar levels, handy when traveling.

At the Airport

Once you’re at the airport, the key to a smooth flight is communication.

Make sure you tell the security officers you are traveling with diabetes supplies and meds and if you need a pat down or your bag checked by hand to protect your pump.

Use a phone, an app, or a watch that can stay on your home time zone, so you can keep track of when you should be eating and taking medicine on your normal schedule. It’s easy to get distracted on vacation, so alarms are also an easy way to remind yourself at the right time.

Once you’re on your flight, if you feel sick and need food, a drink, or to get your carry-on quickly, it can help if you let your flight attendant know what’s happening. They can help you better and faster if they know it’s important for your diabetes.

Always make sure you’re wearing your shoes after you go through security and on your flight. Never go barefoot to protect your feet.

After Arriving

Once you’ve made it to your hotel, it’s a good idea to make sure your supplies are still organized after the flight.

Make sure you’re still keeping track of meals, meds, and your levels like you would at home. Try to plan activities so you’ll have plenty of time to go back to your room to check your levels or take meds, or be ready to bring things with you.

And of course, watch what you eat. Vacation is a good time to enjoy yourself, but still keep a good count of your carbs.

With a little extra planning, diabetes won’t be able to stand in your way of an amazing trip!

Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

Vacations are always exciting and relaxing, unless you aren’t prepared for traveling with asthma and allergies.

Don’t let them stand in your family’s way. By carefully getting ready ahead of time, you can make sure you have smooth travels.

Preparing for Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

Having a great trip starts when you’re planning. When you’re looking at destinations and hotels for your family, you may want to find a PURE hotel room. Hotels across the country are adding these hypoallergenic rooms.

From installing air purifiers to ripping out dust-filled carpets and drapes, these rooms have been overhauled to be allergy-friendly. You may pay a little extra (about $20 more), but by getting rid of allergens and surprise asthma flare-ups, a PURE room can make your trip an easy one.

And don’t forget to make sure you have enough of current prescriptions ahead of time. With some things, you can stock up in advance. For others, you may have to take your prescription with you and get it filled on the road. Make sure you also know which pharmacies your plan covers before getting a prescription filled there.

Keep a document that lists all of the medicines and supplies you’re traveling with. Not only can it help you pack before leaving home or the hotel, but you can also show it to security agents at airports to help them check your supplies quickly.

Packing for Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

According to the TSA, you can pack your meds or nebulizer in your carry-on for your flight.

It’s important to pack both your quick-relief and controller meds in your carry-on so that you can treat or prevent an attack on the flight. Plus, if your checked bag gets lost, at least your asthma’s still taken care of.

Keep medications in their original containers, and keep them in a separate, clear plastic bag. This makes it easy for security to check what kind of meds you have and that they’re yours.

Pack copies of your Asthma Action Plan which has important info about your asthma that can help those traveling with you and the people you visit if something should happen.

Use your list to make sure you’ve packed everything you need to take care of your asthma.

Take your Health Alliance member ID card in case you need to visit a doctor while you’re out of town.

If you aren’t getting a PURE room, pack your own bedding, like any special pillows, sheets, or bed covers.

If your kids are traveling without you, it’s important to both help them pack their meds, and to make sure they have their emergency plan and important numbers, like your phone number, handy when traveling.

Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

Once you’re at the airport, the key to a smooth flight is communication.

Make sure you tell the security officers you are traveling with asthma meds or a nebulizer, which they will have you take out of your case.

Use a phone, an app, or a watch that can stay on your home time zone, so you can keep track of when you should be taking medicine on your normal schedule. It’s easy to get distracted on vacation, so alarms are also an easy way to remind yourself at the right time.

Once you’re on your flight, if you feel sick and need help, a drink, or to get your carry-on quickly, it can help if you let your flight attendant know what’s happening. They can help you better and faster if they know it’s important for your asthma.

When you’re driving, fresh air sounds like a great idea, but you never know what allergens are in it. Drive with the windows up and the air on to keep triggers out. And, keep your meds close, not in the trunk!

After Arriving

Once you’ve made it to your hotel, it’s a good idea to make sure your supplies are still organized after traveling. You should also make sure your room is clean, and change your bedding if you brought it with you.

Try to plan activities that won’t stress your asthma or put you in contact with too many allergens, and make sure you’re ready to carry your inhaler, just in case.

And don’t forget to take time to relax and refuel for a vacation to remember!