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Winter Travel Season-- Top 10 Ski Resorts

by Lux Joseph 3. September 2015

Summer is coming to an end and winter will be just around the corner. Individuals choose to go on vacation and holiday year round. Whether it is a weekend getaway or a weeklong exploration, vacation is an opportunity for people to relax and do some of their favorite activities. The winter season brings opportunities for snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowboarding and skiing around the world.

Vail, Colo., is the top ski resort in the U.S., according to members of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), while Whistler in Canada is the best for skiing outside of the U.S.

Vail was chosen by 23 percent of those surveyed mainly because it is a large ski area with plenty of accommodations, has different skill levels and has the right ratio of social activities to skiing to keep clients happy. Several agents said their choice of Vail was based entirely on the feedback from their customers, with one saying “my opinion doesn’t matter; my clients ask for Vail and return to Vail more than any other ski resort.” 

Following Vail were:  Aspen, Colo. (15%); Park City, Utah (10%); Breckenridge, Colo. (9%); Steamboat Springs, Colo. (6%); Beaver Creek, Colo. (3%); Snowmass in Aspen (2%); Telluride, Colo. (2%); Keystone, Colo. (2%); and Jackson Hole, Wyo. (2%).

Whistler, Canada, was chosen by 18% of respondents for its proximity to the U.S., beauty and good accommodations. Said one agent: “It is easy for Americans to reach and the village has lots of things for families to do.”

Rounding out the top 10 international ski resorts are: Zermatt, Switzerland (15%); St. Moritz, Switzerland (11%);  Innsbrook, Austria (8%); Chamonix, France (4%); Banff, Canada (3%); Davos, Switzerland (3%); Val d’Isere, France (3%); Kitzbuhel, Austria (3%); and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy (2%).

As you start to plan your winter vacation, consider some of the key winter locations that boast 300+ inches of snow a year. Many of our nurses will travel to these winter destinations to bring your loved ones home via commercial airline. Our escorts sometimes will pick up a patient in 80 degree weather and return them to a climate in which the weather is below 20 degrees.  This is the nature of the business and their suitcase is always packed for dramatic climate changes.

We encourage you to engage in those winter activities that you love the most, but please ensure you consider safety when going down those triple diamond trails. We suggest all travelers purchase travel insurance and be aware of your surroundings. Safe travels this upcoming winter season.

Beware of Tourist Scams When Traveling Abroad

by Lux Joseph 22. July 2015

Summer is the season for our medical escorts to be traveling to/from Europe on a weekly basis. Although Commercial Medical Escorts moves patients in and out of Europe throughout the year, summer is the most favorable time of year for travelers to see the Amalfi Coast of Italy, the heart of Paris, and the other magnificent destinations throughout Europe. Pictures and stories depict Europe as a great place to visit, but as a tourist CME reminds you to be cognizant of your surroundings and stay away from “tourist traps”.

U.S News reports the top ten European cities as:

  1. Rome
  2. Paris
  3. London
  4. Florence
  5. Barcelona
  6. Amsterdam
  7. Prague
  8. Berlin
  9. Venice
  10. Vienna

Of these top ten destinations, three of the cities are in countries where tourist scams are most prevalent. Spain is the number one ranking country in Europe known for tourist and holiday scams. Italy and France follow close behind. Every day travelers to these areas have a high chance that they could become a victim of one of these scams. Some of the most common scams include pickpockets, over-charging taxi drivers, charging a hidden tourist tax at hotels, street vendor tactics, and street crime.

In an article written by Hugh Morris from The Daily Telegraph, he provides statistics from a study which travelers were scammed:

Rank

Country

Percentage of Individuals scammed

1

Spain

21.5

2

France

14.8

3

Italy

10.2

4

Turkey

8.4

5

Austria

8.1

6

Greece

7.5

7

Belgium

7

8

UK

5.4

9

Armenia

4.4

10

Cyprus

4.4

 CME strongly encourages our nurses and physicians to take necessary safety precautions when traveling abroad. Our operations team does a full safety review of each destination to ensure our escorts are aware of the safety protocols and current social environment at each location.

 The USTIA provides the following tips to prevent common scams when traveling:

Once you have arrived, here are some top travel scams you want to be on the lookout for:


1. Credit Card Confusion – You’re relaxing late at night in your hotel room after a long day. The phone rings, and the clerk at the desk explains there has been a mix-up on your paperwork and credit card number information.  They would like to read the credit card number to you to verify that it’s correct.  They provide you with the last 4 digits of your card number and ask you to verify that it’s correct (it won’t be).  After you explain the number is incorrect, they sound confused and ask you to read back the entire number. Once you read the entire card number they claim to have found the form and all is well. You’ve just been scammed!

What to Do When The Phone Rings:

  • Never give your credit card information over the phone from your hotel room. 
  • Go downstairs to the hotel registration desk in person should any “questions” arise in regards to your reservations or payment details. 

 

2. Taxi Cab Scam – You’re standing in the hotel’s official taxi line waiting. Suddenly you hear “taxi?” and turn to see a nicely dressed person motioning for you to leave the line. You notice the 15 people waiting in front of you and think bypassing the line might be a good idea; after all, you’re in a hurry!

Do not take the offer! Scam artists are known for posing as taxi drivers. Accepting a ride risks more than your wallet, and you might become a victim.  Once you are in the car, these con artists may take you to a deserted area and then assault and/or rob you of your luggage, money and other valuables.

What to Do If Approached:

  • All official taxis should have the car number and company plainly visible on the outside. Check for it – if you don’t see it, don’t accept a ride.
  • Visibly examine the rate “sheet” and/or the meter when you get into the car. This may keep the driver from getting any ideas about hiking up the per mile rate after you’ve started toward your destination. 
  • If you’re unsure about where and how to catch a proper taxi, check with your hotel concierge for a recommendation.

3. Helping Hand – Walking in a crowded tourist attraction, you suddenly find you’ve been bumped and food or drink spilled on your clothes. The kind stranger who jostled you offers to lend you a helping hand to clean up. While helping you, the stranger also helps him or herself to your wallet. 

What to Do:

  • Stay alert in a crowd! Any attempt to divert your attention or jostle you should be treated as a pick pocketing attempt.
  • Divide up any money that you are carrying between your pockets, socks, shirt, wallet and any other areas you can think of. It is unlikely that a thief will be able to reach all the different areas where your money is stored should you be targeted. 

4. The Deal of a Lifetime – This one may happen prior to departure!  These scam artists will offer you hotel or other accommodations in a travel hot spot for a ridiculously low price. The goal is to relieve you of your money as quickly as possible. To do this, they might offer you a “bonus” or a “prize” for purchasing. Typically the prizes sound great, but are not as advertised.  


What to Listen For:

  • Time sensitive Offer – “only good for next few minutes…”
  • Warnings - “you can’t tell anyone about this!” or “only one package is available...”
  • Verbal pauses - “ahs” and “ums”

If you are approached, do not agree to purchase without first verifying that the company is legitimate. In the U.S., you can do this by inquiring about the company’s liability Insurance. Any legitimate company should have liability insurance. If not, it should be a red flag that things aren’t on the up and up. Remember, if a trip seems too good to be true, offers too many prizes or bonuses or is below market cost, then it probably isn’t a legitimate offer.

If possible, use a credit card when paying for your tickets, hotel, car rental and attraction fares. This ensures you can dispute any charges if you do get scammed without actually being out money from your bank account.

Be smart when you travel. Make sure you purchase travel insurance and always know your surroundings. Commercial Medical Escorts believes safety and security is the number one priority and so should you!

CME Offers Advice to Help Keep Summer Travelers Cool

by Lux Joseph 21. June 2015

Recent headlines are full of reports predicting that this summer will be a record-breaker when it comes to airline passengers being bumped from their flights. For many, the prospect of being bumped is frustrating at best, and for those who are unaware of their rights, the results can be maddening, not to mention costly. Add to that ever-changing security rules and new passport requirements and summer travel can seem daunting. With this in mind, CME has prepared a list of tips to help summer travelers stay calm, cool and collected.

Airline Bumping: What You Need to Know

To avoid being bumped:

    Get an advance seat assignment. Passengers with seat assignments are typically only bumped if they arrive late and their seat assignment is released.


    Check-in online. If you do not have an advance seat assignment, or you want to change your seat assignment, check-in online. Most airlines allow you to do so within 24 hours of departure. Seat assignments that were not available at the time of ticketing may be available when checking in online.


    Don't be late. If all else fails, get to the airport early. Some airlines reserve a portion of their seat assignment inventory for airport check-in. If you are denied a seat assignment at check-in, put your name on the "standby" seat assignment list.


If you are bumped or wish to take advantage of airline's request that you give up your seat:

    Know the lingo. Voluntary bumping occurs when a passenger with a confirmed seat assignment agrees to give up his seat for negotiated compensation. It is not regulated by the DOT. Involuntary bumping occurs when an airline forcibly bumps a paid passenger from a flight because it has been oversold. The DOT regulates compensation for involuntary bumping.


    Know what questions to ask. If you volunteer to give up your seat in response to an airline offer of a free ticket, it is important passengers ask about restrictions. Ask about expiration and blackout dates, such as holidays.


    Know your rights. If you are involuntarily denied boarding, and substitute transportation is scheduled to arrive at your destination between one and two hours after your original arrival time (between one and four hours on international flights), the airline must pay you an amount equal to your one-way fare to your final destination, with a $200 maximum. If the substitute transportation is scheduled to get you to your destination more than two hours later (four hours internationally), or if the airline does not make any substitute travel arrangements for you, the compensation doubles (twice the cost of your fare, $400 maximum).


Navigating Security

    Remember 3-1-1. New regulations limit the amount of liquids passengers can take through security in their carry-on luggage to travel-size toiletries of three (3) ounces or less that fit comfortably in one (1) quart-size, clear plastic zip-top bag and the one (1) bag per passenger must be placed in the screening bin. Items purchased after clearing security may be brought on-board. (Visit TravelSense.org to learn about restrictions in Canada, the U.K. and the European Union.)


Traveling Internationally?

    Better get a passport. Effective Jan. 1, 2007, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires a passport or other accepted document for all air travel from within the Western Hemisphere for citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda. U.S. citizens returning directly from a U.S. territory (Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) do not need to present a passport.


    Plan (way) ahead. The U.S. State Department's Passport Services unit is experiencing a major backlog in processing applications. Rather than taking four to six weeks, routine applications or renewals are now taking 12 weeks. Even expedited service takes about three to four weeks. And, because the service uses a centralized system, travelers cannot get their documents faster by submitting applications directly to a regional processing facility.

At CME, our nurses and physicians experience many of these travel challengers on a daily basis when traveling. CAMTS requires all of our medical staff to have travel insurance and we also encourage all travelers to have it. Depending on the type of policy you have, you may be entitled to a variety of benefits when situations such as those described above. Safe travels this summer!


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