Tag: Clever West Wind
Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival: Tiptoeing in the Tulips
Travel insurance: how to keep your vacation stress free
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small fee from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.
Hey there, ¡amigos! So I just got back from Mexico, and I had to tell you. I am so glad I got travel insurance. No, I did not need to use it, thank goodness. Yes, it was still 100% worth every penny. It gave me so much peace of mind both leading up to the trip, and while we were away from home. I didn’t worry once about what happens if we have a last minute trip cancellation, if I get sick or injured while I’m gone, or what to do about lost luggage.
Travel Insurance During the Pandemic
Usually when I’ve traveled in the past, it’s been without travel insurance. And I’ve been fortunate enough to skate through my previous adventures relatively unscathed. But you hear horror stories, from other travelers. And after a while, I started to wonder if I’m taunting the travel gods and tempting my fate, traveling without insurance. I figured at some point, my luck had to run out.
Especially this time around, traveling just felt…different. The pandemic was the number one reason I sought out travel insurance for our trip to Mexico. Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve all learned to live with uncertainty and that even the best of plans can fall apart in an instant.
Even so, that uncertainty can be difficult to swallow when it comes to canceled travel plans and lost deposits. Countries announcing <yet another> lockdown, ever-changing travel restrictions, getting the sniffles…any number of things can threaten your travel plans in this new world we’re living in. If nothing else, having travel insurance gave me peace of mind. I knew I had options to work with if our plans went askew.
Travel Insurance: To Buy or not to buy?
I know, I know. Now a lot of people will say, “Travel insurance? That’s just a waste of money.” And it is certainly one of those things you purchase with the hope of never needing to use it.
The overall cost of our off-season, all-inclusive Costco package for Mexico cost around $3,250 USD. Then add on another $500 dollars if you choose to go on any excursions or want to buy a few souvenirs to take home. Our travel insurance policy cost us just shy of $100 USD and covered four people. It covered trip cancellation and medical expenses (my greatest concerns), and so much more.
While in Mexico, we learned that a fellow guest had the misfortune of slipping on a wet floor in their room. In falling, this guest bit their lip, broke their front teeth, and broke their arm in three places. Can you even imagine?!
The pain from injury and a spoiled vacation would be enough on their own. But then we discovered from our taxi driver (I swear, taxi drivers know everything about a country) that many hospitals in Mexico require an available credit card limit of thousands of dollars before you can receive medical treatment. Do you have that? Most of us probably don’t.
Of course every country’s medical system will be different. I had never realized the importance of researching how to get medical care in different countries. Maybe I believed the fallacy that I was young and impervious. I didn’t believe I would get sick or injured while on vacation. But going forward, travel insurance costs little in comparison to the total cost of the trip. And for me, it’s worth the security.
Advantages v. Disadvantages
Still sitting on the fence about purchasing travel insurance and not sure which way to jump? I find simply listing out and weighing the advantages v. disadvantages makes the decision-making process straight forward.
|List every item your policy covers here…|
|Peace of mind|
|It’s an added expense to your trip||Security|
|You might not need it||Then again, you might need it after all|
Of course it’s a gamble, purchasing or not purchasing travel insurance. But which bet would you rather place? I’ll take the safer bet.
What does travel insurance cover?
Different travel insurance companies and policies will cover different things. Some examples of the things they may cover include medical expenses, trip delay, trip cancellation and interruption, emergency evacuation, baggage delay, missed connections, and more.
Our particular insurance policy offered additional services, including lost baggage search, cash advance assistance, flight rebooking, and roadside assistance.
But with so many companies and policies out there to choose from, how do you know you’re choosing the best option for your particular trip and needs?
Travel Insurance Master
In the past, I would have just purchased whatever travel insurance may have been offered through the company I was purchasing my vacation through (amateur, I know.) However, the idea of comparing and shopping for the right travel insurance can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to look.
I found Travel Insurance Master made the process headache free. They help you compare different policy options from the top 10 providers to choose the most fitting option for you and your trip. They’ll even break down and explain insurance terms, so you understand the fine print in your policy.
After purchasing through them for our Mexico trip, I won’t do it any other way. I spent our week in Puerto Vallarta just sitting under the palm trees, soaking up the heat, enjoying the sunsets…not a care in the world.
Have you ever had to use your travel insurance, or not had it and wish you had? I’d love to hear your experiences and perspectives. So please drop a comment below!
Further Reading and Resources
Now that you know how to keep your vacation plans safe and worry free, check out these travel quotes to get you excited about your next adventure. Or use this travel bucket list to inspire a new adventure!
Looking to book a vacation? Chantelle of Flannels or Flip Flops Travel Agency specializes in cruises, Disney, and all inclusive resorts. She’s here to help take the stress out of your vacation planning!
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What to do during a long Amsterdam Layover
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small fee from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.
Don’t waste your Amsterdam Layover at the Airport!
Yes, you have enough time to see a few sights on your long Amsterdam layover. And yes, it is so worth the venture. That’s the short answer to my two most burning questions I had while researching in preparation of our trip. Now lets get down to details.
We landed in Amsterdam in the tail end of April and it was still quite cool outside. <I was glad to have my jacket, especially while on the canal boat tour.> My husband and I had about an 8 to 9 hour layover in Amsterdam, and we had decided to venture away from the airport and see a bit of the city before continuing on to Spain.
Travel time from the Amsterdam airport to the city center was only about 15 minutes by subway. We hadn’t really looked up directions prior to arrival, but the signage directing us to the subway was fairly easy to follow.
I had hoped to squeeze in more than we actually did on our Amsterdam layover. But truth be told, we didn’t want to stray too far and miss our connecting flight. Plus, I had prepared little for Amsterdam and focused most of my planning energy on Spain. Unfortunately, we were a little indecisive about what to do in Amsterdam. The two main things we did do were a canal boat tour and the Red Light Secrets Museum self-guided tour.
Amsterdam Canal Boat Tour
What is was, and what it wasn’t
We took an Amsterdam canal boat tour which included an audio guide available in several languages. I somehow expected the boat to be more intimate and personal, or at least have more character. Perhaps I was naively imagining something more akin to a gondola ride in Italy.
But the boats were big, crowded, commercial, and as expected, touristy. We boarded the boats in hordes. And although we had the audio guide, our boat conductor gave us a bit of his own version of the tour over microphone. I would have enjoyed either version of the tour. But trying to listen to both the boat conductor and the audio guide at the same time just meant I missed large chunks of information from both sources. Despite all that, we did learn a lot of interesting facts about Amsterdam.
Click here to check availability for an Amsterdam Canal Boat Tour
Amsterdam Architecture 101 from the Canal Boat Tour
My favorite sight along the canal boat tour was by far the dancing houses, named for their off-kilter appearance <pictured above>. I found the city’s architecture and its history so fascinating. For example, at the time many of these houses were built, taxes were based on the width of the property, not the total area a house occupied. As a result, the houses were built narrow.
And narrow buildings outside meant narrow stair cases inside. The narrow stair cases made it very difficult to move large furniture to the second or third floors. The solution? Large hooks were installed along the buildings’ gables with a pulley system to hoist large furniture high over head. <You might be able to make out some of these hooks on the “dancing buildings” in the photo above.> It suddenly gave me so much context to the countless cartoons from my childhood of people being squashed by pianos falling from the sky. You can’t un-see it now, can you?
Another interesting tid-bit we learned on the canal boat tour was about an Amsterdam architecture optical illusion. Notice how the windows become shorter as your eyes scan up each story of the buildings. If you were standing on the street at the bottom of one of these houses, it would give the illusion that the buildings are taller than they actually are. An illusion of grandeur.
All in all, I would say the canal boat tour is a must, whether you’re in Amsterdam for a day or a week. It was definitely the perfect way to get a small taste of Amsterdam on our long layover.
Red Light Secrets: Museum of Prostitution
We visited the Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution just before our canal boat tour. We were told it was nearby, wouldn’t have a long wait, and it was only about 10E to add it onto our canal boat tour tickets. So we figured, sure. Why not?
And they were right. The museum was only about a ten or fifteen minute walk from the main train station. We passed by some of the famous red light windows on our way there. A little bit shy, I didn’t really look at any of women standing in the windows as we walked by.
When we got to the museum, we found it to be fairly small, not very crowded, and self-guided. We wound our way through the staircases and narrow passages of an old house (not ADA accessible). We read statistics and saw example rooms of what some of these women’s working conditions might be like. The tour ended in the gift shop where you can purchase anything from benign magnets to more explicit souvenirs.
On our visit there, I learned just how different the US’s culture and attitudes regarding sex are. The museum presents prostitution in a very neutral, maybe even slightly positive light, while highlighting some of the advantages, dangers and difficulties of prostitution as a legal profession.
The women in this profession have a few requests, though. Please don’t take photographs or videos of the women in the windows. And please don’t loiter and stare. Price haggling is not an option. Show these women the same courtesy you would anyone else.
As we left the museum, I didn’t stare. But I also wasn’t awkwardly avoiding eye contact like dancing around the elephant in the street, either. Overall, the museum was interesting and very informative about one of Amsterdam’s most well known curiosities. Although I wouldn’t call it a must-see, if you’ve got an hour or two to kill, it’s an option.
Hours: Daily from 10am to Midnight
Note: You must be 18 or older to enter.
Click here to check for tickets to the Red Light Secrets: Museum of Prostitution
Back to the Airport
After the canal boat tour and the Red Light District Museum, it was time to eat. We wanted something authentic, but not waffles. Funny enough, the majority of the restaurants we found in our vicinity were foreign cuisine, not local! Go figure.
So in our indecision, we headed back to the airport maybe a bit earlier than we needed to. <Security wasn’t bad at all.> And we ate dinner at the airport instead. Sad, I know, but we did at least get to try a stroopwafel at the airport! Besides, we were exhausted, ready to sit, and we couldn’t wait to fly into Barcelona. But that’s a conversation for next time!
On our Next Visit to Amsterdam
Amsterdam had never previously interested me very much until our Amsterdam layover. That’s probably because I knew next to nothing about the city. Now I’m dying for a repeat visit though, and my husband and I already have an Amsterdam Bucketlist started.
One building that I had really hoped to see, and have to see on my next visit to Amsterdam is the narrowest house in Amsterdam, AKA the “Smallest House of Europe!” Located in the old city center, it measures just 6’8” wide!
Other than impossibly narrow houses, our Amsterdam Bucketlist includes the Anne Frank House, the Rembrandt Museum, and the Torture Museum. Most of these museums we intentionally decided not to visit during our layover, as we had heard the lines at these locations can be quite long, and we were concerned about time. But the next time we’re in Amsterdam, we hope to be there for more than just a layover!
So tell me, what did you do on your long Amsterdam layover? And what’s the shortest layover you’ve had while venturing out into the city? <Just wondering how close I can push the limit next layover, wink wink>
And don’t forget to find out how our adventures continue in Barcelona, Spain! Until then, goede reis!