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Happy Memorial Day Weekend: The Importance of Vacation

by Lux Joseph 23. May 2014

AAA is estimating that approximately 36.1 million Americans were travel more than 50 miles this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. According to their reports, this is up approximately 1.5% from last year. It is unique to see that eight in ten travelers will be driving as their preferred method of travel. At CME, we primarily transport patients via commercial airline, but we have also transported patients by rail, car, and boat. This upcoming weekend will also be a busy weekend for Commercial Medical Escorts. Typically there is a trend that follows the medical repatriation industry. As more individuals are traveling, there will be a higher number of potential medical escorts for our team to assist in. If you have the weekend off, it is a perfect opportunity to take a short vacation even if it is what some people describe as a “stay vacation” in which you stay where you are, but do things you normally wouldn’t be able to do.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans put in more working hours during an average year than workers in Britain, France, Sweden, and Germany. As a country, we also have less parental leave and the least number of paid holidays and vacation—in some sectors it's as low as 10 vacation days per year. Meanwhile, the average European enjoys at least four weeks of paid vacation per year.

America lags far behind Europe in time off the job. It’s no secret. Americans, almost as a rule, are overworked and under-vacationed. According to the Census Bureau, we're a nation of workaholics. Statistics show that 28 percent of workers 16 and older work more than 40 hours a week, and 8 percent work 60 or more hours a week. It is reported that Americans receive an average of 14 days off per year. Compare that with standards in these other wealthy industrialized nations, as reported by Expedia.com’s Vacation Deprivation Report.

  • British workers get a minimum of 24 days vacation time.
  • In Germany, the minimum is 27 days.
  • In Canada, the minimum is 19 days.
  • In France, workers get 39 days of vacation time, and the typical workweek is only 35 hours.

So if you do have the free time, take a vacation and enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend. The travel 2014 forecast from AAA is the second highest travel since 2000. People are traveling more and more as the economic factors become more favorable for families. During the economic recession most travel that was being done was by business and corporations like Commercial Medical Escorts, but as things are slowly improving travel is once again becoming a popular choice especially for vacations.

For the six years that the Vacation Deprivation survey has been conducted, the United States stands alone as the country with the worst vacationing habits. In 2006 workers in the United States left an extra day of vacation on the table—4 days in 2006 versus 3 days in 2005—despite an increase in average vacation days received—14 days in 2006 versus 12 days in 2005. (www.vacationdeprivation.com/)

The United States is one of the few wealthy countries in the world that does not have laws governing the minimum amount of time granted to workers each year. Even in Korea and Japan, countries noted for intense work schedules, workers are allowed to take twice as much vacation time as their American counterparts.

In almost all surveys, American workers complain of feeling overworked, stressed and anxious about their lives. Clearly, most Americans have a bad case of vacation deprivation and the problem is getting worse.

There are many historical, cultural, financial and technological reasons for this pattern. We could debate endlessly about how we got to this point and what the long-term implications are for individual workers and for our nation.

Without getting into that much detail, I simply want to point out that too much work without adequate down time causes high levels of stress, which, in turn, negatively impacts our quality of life.

Beyond quality of life issues, there are health implications to being overworked. Numerous medical studies show a disturbing correlation between overwork and stress-related diseases, even early mortality.

So if you have this weekend free, enjoy it. Knowing the importance of time off is the easy part. The hard part is acting on that knowledge. Some tips to maximize that vacation are:

  •  Mini-breaks, mini price. Talk to your travel agent about special 3- and 4-night offers being made by hotels in many major cities. Some tour operators offer airfare, hotel and theater packages for a long weekend in the city. Cruise lines, too, are offering short cruises to meet America’s new interest in short vacations. Your travel counselor can help you find the vacation that’s right for you and your budget.
  • Add-ons. Try adding on a day or two to a business trip to take in the sights. If possible, have your spouse or family join you. Your travel agent can help find you and your family the best deals, map out points of interest and take the hassle out of planning.
  • No phone, no TV. Consider visiting a “wireless” resort that features an electronics-free environment—no in-room phone, no TV, no Internet connection. Your travel agent can help you find the right resort for you, whether you want to leave all electronic gadgets behind or find a resort where you can still check in once a week from the business center.
  • Leave it behind. Leave your laptop, business cell phone and PDA at home. To lessen the temptation of checking in every hour or fretting over how the office is falling apart without you, put a game plan into place before you leave. Decide what tasks take priority in your absence, who will take care of these and other jobs while you’re away, and leave a set of instructions and client contact information.
  • Stick to a work schedule. For some, getting completely away from cell phones and laptops is impossible, or may even cause concerns about what will be waiting for them at the office upon return. For those people, I recommend scheduling a time of not more than an hour every day to check in with the office and take care of work issues. It’s up to you to establish your own boundaries, and taking a real break from work should not be viewed as a crime or paint you as a less-than-productive member of your company. In fact, coming back rested and refreshed can increase your productivity at the office and make you more receptive to new ideas and approaches to problem-solving.
  • Pay attention to your stress level. If you are feeling unusually fatigued, tense, or irritable or experiencing neck or lower back pain, it might be time to use a few of those vacation days to re-charge your battery. Listen to your body; it could be the best signal that you need a break.

From the entire team at Commercial Medical Escorts we wish you a safe and happy holiday. Enjoy the Memorial Day Weekend. If you are traveling remember to be safe! 

Tipping Etiquette Around the World

by Lux Joseph 21. February 2014

In the USA, tipping those individuals who work in the service industry is automatic. When you have dinner at a restaurant, you tip the waiter for their service. When our medical escorts utilize the wheelchair porters in the airport to assist their patient, the medical escorts tip them appropriately. Restaurant servers, taxi drivers, hair stylists, hotel porters, and wheelchair porters all expect to receive a tip for a job well done. Typically in the USA service based tips are between 15-20% depending on the level of service. The following are some guidelines to follow in the USA:

·         Waiter/Waitress: 15-20%

·         Bartender: 15-20%

·         Coatroom Attendant: $1 per coat

·         Parking Valet: $2

·         Taxi Driver: 15%, an extra $1 or $2 for luggage

·         Food Deliver: 10% of the bill

·         Spa Service: 15-20%

·         SkyCap at Airport: $1 per bag

·         Hotel Doorman: $1 per bag

·         Hotel Bellhop: $1 per bag

·         Hotel Housekeeper: $2-$5 per night

 

 But what do you tip when you travel abroad? Are the individuals expecting the same or nothing at all?

Whenever you are traveling abroad to another country it is important to understand the culture and how things are done. Everywhere you travel is different and learning about your destination is important so that you do not feel out of place or lost in a country unfamiliar to you. This blog today is going to help you become more familiar with tipping etiquette around the world. When you travel, you will be able to tip appropriately so that you are respectful of the culture.

Canada is identical to the USA. Just like the United States, it is custom to tip between 15-20% depending on the level of service which you believe you received. If you are having dinner at a luxurious restaurant or private country club, look closely at the bill because a standard gratuity may already be added. In most cases it will not be unless you are with a party greater than six people. As we begin to travel east, tipping etiquette changes slightly. The United Kingdom and Germany standard tip is between 10-15%. In most parts throughout the United Kingdom a service fee is already included, but you need to carefully read the invoice. There may be an “optional charge” that is considered a tip. If you accept it, there is no need to pay anything additional. Adding a tip to your restaurant or pub charge in Germany is standard, but in the UK tipping at the pub is not required nor is it expected.

As you travel to other parts of Europe tipping changes slightly. In Turkey, Italy, and France a standard tip of 10% is custom. In Turkey they will only accept cash (including the Euro, Dollar, and Lira). On the canals in Italy a tip to the gondolier is not expected and no more than 10% tip should be left. While France may have a standard 10% tip, it is important to know that it is in addition to the service charge added. Visitors are not expected to tip.

Travel throughout Asia gives you an opportunity to save your pennies. Tipping in China, Japan, and South Korea is standard for no tip. They are non-tipping societies and it is wise that travelers follow this principle. Hotel porters in South Korea will accept the standard $1.00 per bag, but we recommend that you adhere to the no tipping policy. It will not cause any offense to the Asian cultures if you leave a tip, but it may create confusion especially if you do not speak the language.

Tipping at restaurants and hotels while visiting South America is not expected in most cases like Brazil, but if you travel further south to Argentina a 10% tip is greatly appreciated.  The Spanish word for tip is 'propina' - a synonym of 'reward'- and derivative from the Latin word "propinare" meaning to give something (http://www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk/briefing-dossier/Tipping.aspx).

Of course, these are just some guidelines for tipping while traveling abroad. We recommend always doing research on your destination prior to leaving the USA. This will help you know what to pack, how to dress, the type of money you will need, and how to blend in with the locals. When traveling it is important that you do everything possible to ensure a safe journey to your destination and back home.

Below is an infographic regarding tipping etiquette around the world (all data is from Wikipedia, Wikitravel and Trip Advisor). This is provided by Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/19/tipping-around-the-world_n_3779911.html).

 

 

 

Our Travels Around the World

by Lux Joseph 17. January 2014
Our nurses and physicians travel daily around the world to bring patients back home or to another facility for further treatment. CME touches a different destination each and every day. Take an opportunity to check out some of the sights that one of our medical team members, Ed, has shared with us during their recent travels. Can you figure out where each picture is from?
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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