Select International Tours Blog

What is the Cost of Cancellation?

What is the Cost of Cancellation?

Most people wouldn’t dream of owning a home without home-owners insurance. Most wouldn’t drive a car without car-insurance. But, when it comes to travel insurance, they often pass. Why? Because they couldn’t imagine a situation where they would need to cancel their trip.

As a group travel company, we talk to thousands of travelers a year. Those booking trips are told about travel protection multiple times in the booking process and even reminded after they book, because we know that many people benefit from travel protection. How do we know? Because we also talk to dozens of people a year who must cancel trips for unexpected reasons.

Travel plans, especially for international pilgrimage trips begin many months and often more than a year before the departure date. Grandchildren, weddings, and other unexpected life-events happen on a much shorter timeline. Global concerns—like the COVID-19 coronavirus—seem to materialize in matters of minutes. If any of these circumstances cause you to cancel without the proper travel protection insurance in place, you stand to lose some money.

Why Are There Cancellation Fees?

When you book a trip with a group-tour operator, there are several people working behind-the-scenes to book, tours, busses, hotels, restaurants, guides, and to purchase tickets to museums, sacred sites, group flights, and special events. All of these require deposits (and sometimes payment-in-full) which are non-refundable.

You may notice that the cancellation fees are different, depending on the destination and/or time of cancellation. This is because the fees coincide with the payments that the travel company is making on your behalf to the myriad services you will use on your trip.

When something unexpected comes up and you decide to cancel your trip, the group tour operator has already spent considerable time and money to assure your place on everything mentioned above. And they usually cannot recoup that money. The cancellation fees help to offset the losses in time and money that the group travel company has already spent in service of your trip.

Group Deluxe vs. CFAR

Many people opt to purchase some form of travel protection. This is advisable for many reasons. The benefits of travel protection reach far deeper than cancelation reimbursement. They can protect you from myriad medical and trip interruption costs that may arise while traveling. Since most US medical insurance does not cover doctors or hospital costs overseas, travel protection is an important consideration.

Both the Group Deluxe and Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) plans that Select International Tours and Cruises offer cover travelers the same while traveling. The only difference between the two is in the cancellation options available.

The Group Deluxe plan allows you to cancel, for a “covered” and documented reason, such as an illness or work-related restriction, and recoup 100% (less the premium) of your non-refundable costs.

Group Deluxe does not, however, provide provisions for less frequent situations, like volcanic plumes, civil unrest, or Coronavirus. This is where the Cancel for any Reason (CFAR) plan comes into play, because it allows you to cancel FOR ANY REASON, if you do so 48 hours or more before your departure.

Cancel for any Reason (CFAR) travel protection is the BEST way to protect yourself from unexpected life-events that require you to cancel your travel plans.

The CFAR plan will not pay back 100% of your investment but Select International Tours has negotiated a very special 90% payback, which is far better than the 75% industry standard. You can add this travel protection when you enroll in any trip with Select International or within 14 days of registering. Prices are based on the total trip cost. *Please note, that you may still recoup 100% of the non-refundable costs if you are cancelling for a “covered” and documented reason like in the Group Deluxe plan. The 90% payback is for all other cancellation reasons.

But I Didn’t Purchase CFAR

If you have a trip booked and opted to not purchase the CFAR travel protection, you may still have options through third parties. However, we are not licensed insurance agents, so we suggest that you seek their counsel for your specific situation.

You may, however, continue to purchase Group Deluxe protection through Select International up until the 24 hours before the date of departure. Please be aware that it will not cover pre-existing conditions, which is why we suggest that you purchase your travel protection plan at the time of registration.

What Happens if I Have Group Deluxe Coverage and Cancel?

If you decide to cancel your trip AND you are doing so due to a “covered reason” according to THIS DOCUMENT you will need to send your Travel Account Manager (they are listed on your registration form) an email stating that you wish to cancel and that you will be submitting a Group Deluxe claim. Then file a claim with Travel Insured International—or your travel protection insurance company. We will send you an invoice showing all your payments to date, for use in the claim. You will then work directly with the insurance company to recoup your money. Please note that you will need documentation supporting the reason for cancelation.

What Happens if I Have CFAR and Cancel?

When you decide to cancel your trip, you will need to send your Travel Account Manager (they are listed on your registration form) an email stating that you wish to cancel and that you will be submitting a CFAR claim. Then file a claim with Travel Insured International—or your travel protection insurance company. We will send you an invoice showing all your payments to date, for use in the claim. You will then work directly with the insurance company to recoup your money.

Conclusion

Traveling on pilgrimage is a tremendous reward. It opens our eyes to the faith in ways we can hardly imagine. It often requires overseas travel.

Traveling overseas always carries a degree of risk, which is one reason why travel protection is so important. Insurance is something that each traveler needs to consider on their own, but the protection it affords is undeniable. If you would like to learn more about the travel protection plans that Select International Tours and Cruises offers, information may be found HERE.

Holy Land Impressions by Rose Sweet

Holy Land Impressions by Rose Sweet

Back from our 10-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land. My heart is still in another world even though my feet are in California.

I knew I would experience emotions, but I also knew not to force it. Just sit back and let the Lord speak to me. I was unprepared for our very first visit to the Church of the Annunciation. When I stood at the steps and read the large letters HERE THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, I suddenly and literally could not catch my breath. Tears!!!

We visited so many holy places! At the Sea of Galilee I was deeply moved at the spot where Our Lord, post resurrection, called to the apostles to throw their nets on the other side of the boat… where ( I learned) the waters of the river Jordan flow through and draw large schools of fish. Because of my many past betrayals of the Lord, I especially associate with Peter. Jesus invited him, over breakfast, to express and affirm his love three times in contrast to his prior triple treason! At the fire, Peter denied him. At the fire on these shores, Peter accepted the Lord’s love and his mission to lead the flock. I was consoled that Jesus will still do the same for all of us. With my feet in the water, I grabbed a handful of small stones which I will give to some of my loved ones.

But the crowning moments were tracing Jesus’ steps through the rocky streets of old Jerusalem in the early and dark morning hours along Via Dolorosa. Eerily quiet and gut-punchingly REAL. Then to celebrate the old Mass in Latin mere feet from the stone where he was crucified. I hope I never become so insensitive that I forget. More tears.

Thank you to Edita Krunic and Select International for a life-changing pilgrimage. Well planned itinerary, lovely hotels, comfortable bus, skilled bus driver!! Warm and gracious welcome by local Shibly Edmond Kando and the BEST ( really!) Catholic tour guide ever, George- Sue Stephan!💕

The cherries on top were my co-leader, Elizabeth S. Westhoff  and chaplain, Monsignor C Eugene Morris. 💕😇😇😇

Please please please start saving your money so that SELECT International Tours and Cruises can make this truly life changing experience happen for you in the near future.

 

Rose Sweet,

Catholic Speaker and Author

February 25, 2020

What do I do if…

What do I do if…

If you are like most pilgrims, you are probably wondering what to do if things happen on your trip. Rather than wonder, take a look through these frequently asked “What-ifs” and put your mind at ease.

You miss a connecting flight, or your flight is canceled

Don’t panic. Flights are delayed and connections are mixed every day. Stay calm, follow this list and you will be on your way in no time.

Ask the airline how they are going to accommodate you and when you will depart

They may not know immediately, so be kind but persistent. Remind them that you are on a group tour with a specific schedule. Continue asking until you get an answer.

If you are with a Group of other Pilgrims

Try to stay together and elect a spokesperson to communicate with the airline, Select International, and the guide. When speaking with the airline, tell them that you are a group traveling together. Remain patient, pleasant, and persistent.

Keep receipts for everything!

If you eat, use a hotel, taxi, etc., you may be able to recoup the costs with a Travel Protection Claim.

REMEMBER: Be you own best advocate

You are in the best position to work with the airline. Be polite, but firm. Ask for answers and continue to communicate what you need. When you are rebooked, contact Select and your Guide to give them the new flight details.

 

Your luggage is lost

Lost luggage usually catches up with you in a day or two, but it can make things challenging in the meantime. Prevention is the best strategy. Make sure your bag is easy to spot in a crowded airport and have a picture of it on your phone.

If your bag is missing, enlist the help of travel companions and fellow pilgrims. If you have a picture of your bag on your phone, share it with them now. If you still cannot find it. Notify your guide and then head to the lost-luggage counter to file a claim. Be sure to have your itinerary with you, so you can give them addresses of the hotels where you will be staying. Keep all the paperwork in case you have to file a Travel Protection Claim.

 

You cannot locate your Guide on arrival

Don’t panic. Call the Guide. If they don’t answer immediately, leave a message and try again in a few minutes. Your Guide and Bus may be circling the airport to pick you up. If you have not found them within 30 minutes of arriving, please call the Ground Operator (listed in your documents). They will have the latest information on the location of your guide and transfer vehicle.

If you cannot reach either of them within 60 minutes, call the Select International 24-Hour phone number listed on the front of this document.

 

Your Passport is missing

A missing passport does not need to derail your trip! We have a whole post for you on this topic. It can be found HERE.

 

There is a problem with your hotel room

Contact reception at the Hotel. If they cannot/will not address your issue, contact your guide for assistance. Your guide is the best person to help with nearly any situation you encounter. She or he are familiar with the locations, language, and customs of your destination and they are there to help you have the best experience possible.

 

You get separated from your group

Contact the Guide. Make sure that you write down their phone number on your Passport Supplement (which will arrive with your travel documents). If you cannot reach them, contact your Bus Buddy. What is a Bus Buddy? Great question!

When you are traveling, it is good practice to exchange contact information with someone else on your bus. This way, if you get separated from the group, you can let them know so you can reconnect. If you are traveling with someone else, you should STILL find another Bus Buddy, in case you and your travel companion become separated from the group.

 

You become sick or injured

Alert your guide immediately. They will assist you in finding necessary help. Keep receipts for everything! You will need them to file a Travel Protection Claim. It is important to understand that you may have to pay for medical services, out-of-pocket. If you have purchased Travel Protection Insurance, keep records and receipts for claims. If you are admitted to a hospital, Travel Protection Insurance companies will often guarantee payment ahead of treatment. As soon as you are able, contact the Travel Protection Insurance company to alert them to the situation and begin a claim.

 

In all other circumstances

It is always best to speak with your guide first. They can assist with most situation and resolve any situations as soon as they occur.

COVID-19 Statement

COVID-19 Statement

IMPORTANT UPDATE

In response to NJ Governor Murphy’s most recent statement regarding non-essential businesses, Select International Tours and Cruises is closing its office until further notice.

Our entire staff will be working from home. We have access to everything we need to continue service. Please watch our website and social media accounts for updates.

If you need to reach us, please use the form located here: https://selectinternationaltours.com/covid-19-question/

Thank you for your continued support.

The Select International Team

UPDATE: March 20, 2020

We understand that wait times for pilgrims filing Travel Protection Claims via phone are abnormally long. We suggest using the online claim form. View a simple step-by-step guide on how to do so here: https://selectinternationaltours.com/how-to-set-up-an-online-claim/

UPDATE: March 19, 2020

Fellow Pilgrims,
IMPORTANT NOTICE
Late this morning, we were notified that the Oberammergau Passion Play is postponed until 2022. As you might imagine, this affects you and the thousands of pilgrims who planned to attend the play.
Trips to Oberammergau have many moving parts and several third-party suppliers. Everyone at Select International is working hard to assure the best outcome for you and the many other pilgrims who are affected by this news. There are many questions, and we are working hard to get answers. We understand how disappointing this is and how frustrating it is to wait for responses. We appreciate your patience.
The COVID-19 epidemic is an unprecedented international challenge that has made the everchanging landscape of global travel more complex. The entire travel industry is working with continually changing information and fluid logistical challenges.
The entire Select International staff is working tirelessly to navigate each challenge and provide our pilgrims with the best possible outcome. As soon as we can confirm and negotiate details with suppliers and Group Leaders, we will communicate the next steps for your trip; this may take some time.
The Oberammergau Passion Play Ticketing department does not expect to begin working with travel companies until after April 6, 2020, as they need the time to put systems and procedures in place for this unprecedented situation. Your understanding and patience are appreciated.
Please continue to watch this page for regular updates. Specifics for your trip will come via email as soon as they are available. Again, this will take time.
We are working with groups by departure date, so those with scheduled departures later in the year may have to wait longer. We appreciate all of you, and we want to give you all the service you deserve, so please be patient as we assist those ahead of you.
Please know that we are working at full capacity to attend to everyone affected. We serve thousands of pilgrims a year, and each phone call and email takes time. Half of our staff is working at home to observe responsible social distancing practices, routing phone calls to them takes additional time. Please check our Update Page regularly and hold calls and emails regarding status updates. Your patience will give us time to work with the pilgrims with departure dates earlier than yours.
On another note, thank you for the many prayers and words of encouragement you have sent our way. It is heartbreaking for us to see so many pilgrims affected by this outbreak. In our 34 years, we never could have expected such challenges. Your trust and prayers are giving us strength in these trying times.
Thank you.
The Select International Team

UPDATE: March 17, 2020

Fellow pilgrims,

Thank you for your continued patience and prayers as we navigate the uncharted waters of the travel world in the time of COVID-19.  Like you, we have all been reeling with the constant influx of information and opinion.

We have spoken with many of you over the past several days and we truly appreciate your patience, kindness, and understanding. The fluidity of the changes has shaken the entire travel industry and our outstanding partners, stateside and overseas, have been working around the clock to address new challenges as they present themselves.

It is important that you know that we are working hard to serve your needs during this time. In order to protect our staff and to comply with local requirements, we have begun limiting our staff’s time and contact in the office. Much of our staff will work from home for the time-being. We has been working behind the scenes to assure that each mmber of our team has access to every resource they need as they continue to serve you.

As always, we are committed to serving pilgrims. Your questions and concerns about traveling are important to us. Below are answers to some common questions that we have been receiving.

If you have questions that are specific to your situation, please email your Travel Account Manager directly. Their email can be found on the brochure for your trip. For general questions, we ask that you please use the link below. The message you leave there will be directed to the individual most able to help you. We will do our very best to respond to ALL questions within 1 business day.

During these tumultuous times we continue to work on future trips and projects. We all remain dedicated to honoring the relationships we have forged over three decades as we offer our unwavering optimism for the future. We’ll keep you posted on new developments and will be excited to have you travel with us in the future. We are keeping all of you in our daily prayers and petitioning the Holy Spirit to guide the decision-makers and offer protection to all!

Thank you for your loyalty.

Your team at Select International Tours and Cruises!

Is My Trip Cancelled?

We are notifying pilgrims as their trips become cancelled or postponed. If you have not heard from us that means your trip has not been cancelled at this time.  Please know that we will communicate changes in your trip as soon as we have the information to do so.

Why is Select not cancelling trips?

Select International Tours is a tour operator. We organize, administrate, and advise group leaders on travel details, bookings, itineraries, transportation, and guide services for over 100 trips a year. Our job is to provide travel arrangements. Our role is to advise and recommend.  Decisions for the group ultimately belong to the group leader for each trip. Your group leader will be in consultation with us to make the final decision regarding your trip.

Is Oberammergau cancelled?

As of today, March 17, 2020, the Oberammergau Passion Play Committee has NOT announced closures or postponements. We are watching the situation closely and we are in frequent communication with our partners in Germany. If something changes, we will know about it very quickly and we will communicate it with our pilgrims as soon as possible.

Is it true that Group Deluxe Travel Protection does not cover Coronavirus?

Yes. Group Deluxe Travel Protection only covers cancellation due to sickness or death of you, your travel companion, or an immediate family member, or a work-related issue. If you would like to review the policy terms, please visit our Travel Protection Page and select the documents for your state of residence on the right-hand side near the bottom of the page.

What happens if…

There continue to be many unknown and impossible to predict changes. The list of possible situations that may present themselves are unfathomable, however, the following guidelines continue to inform Select international Tours’ decisions and should serve as a roadmap for potential changes:

  • If your group leader decides to cancel or postpone the trip, Select will do it’s best to negotiate a travel credit with the suppliers we have paid in service of your trip.
    • Please note, that many airline and hotels are offering refunds to individual travelers, however, this is not necessarily the case with Group Air reservations.
  • If you purchased Travel Protection, as advised by Select, at the time of your reservation, you may file a claim, depending on what type of insurance you chose to buy or to take a future travel credit.
    • Complete terms and conditions regarding the future travel credit will accompany communication regarding the cancellation or postponement.

What happens to my Travel Protection coverage if I take the future travel credit?

We have successfully negotiated the credit of your Travel Protection coverage if you opt to take the future travel credit in lieu of a Travel Protection claim. You will be able to carry the same coverage policy over to the new trip; however, you cannot upgrade your coverage.

My trip has not been cancelled; can I still purchase Travel Protection?

Yes. You may purchase Group Deluxe Travel Protection up until the time of departure. However, please be sure to understand what is and is not covered by Group Deluxe coverage. Details can be found on our Travel Protection page.

Cancel for Any Reason Travel Protection can only be purchased within 14 days of registration.

My trip has not been cancelled by the Group leader, but I wish to cancel, what happens now?

If you decide to cancel, please email the account manager (their email address will be on your most recent invoice) and inform them of your intention to cancel. If you purchased the suggested Travel Protection, they will advise you on how to file a claim with Travel Insured International. All cancellation fees, per the Terms and Conditions on our website and your registration form, apply.

With all that is happening, will Select International still be in business?

Yes! Select International Tours and Cruises has been in business for 34 years and has endured many challenges. In each, we have learned, grown, and come out stronger. Our company is financially sound and sufficiently staffed to continue to provide service to group leaders and pilgrims during and after this most recent challenge. We are dedicated and passionate about pilgrimage and we look forward to helping you reach your pilgrimage destination as soon as possible.

Perhaps you would like to stay in touch via social media? We are active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Follow us for the latest news about Select International!

Oh no! I Lost My Passport!

Oh no! I Lost My Passport!

Losing a passport while traveling doesn’t have to ruin your overseas trip. There are a variety of ways travelers can protect themselves and obtain emergency replacements. Still, sometimes things go awry, headaches and unexpected costs can pile up when you don’t have back-up plans.

Recently, one of our group leaders—while traveling with their group in Barcelona—had her bag stolen in a restaurant. The bag was slung over the back of her chair. While she got up to go to the buffet someone took her bag, including all her money, credit cards, and her passport. This was on the second day of a twelve-day trip, which included a seven-day Mediterranean cruise sailing to three different countries.

Our group leader immediately reported the incident to the restaurant management and insisted the police be called and a report filed. She then took a cab to the American Consulate where she was told she could be issued a passport the next day.  The problem was that the ship was sailing that evening.

She went to the cruise ship but was denied boarding as she did not have proper documentation. She helped her group of 42 people board and went back to the hotel where they were staying. The hotel was sold out and she had no reservations, but they helped her find nearby accommodations. She had borrowed money from the group for out of pocket expenses which were now piling up. She called Select International’s Office from the hotel and we were able to get her a copy of her passport which helped with the American Consulate.

The next day she returned to the American Consulate and received her new passport. However because the ship had already sailed and was at sea for the next two days she missed out on that part of the trip, her group was without their tour leader, and she had to incur additional out-of-pocket expenses to purchase an airline ticket to meet up with the cruise ship, pay for additional meals, hotels, and transportation service. Two days later with a brand-new passport in hand and over $ 1200.00 in unplanned expenses she had caught up with the group.

Here a few things you can do to protect yourself from the added aggravation, expenses, and lost trip time that a thief or pickpocket can invite:

  • Don’t carry your passport on you unless you must (i.e. when changing hotels or are informed by the tour manager to bring it). Most hotel rooms have safe deposit boxes where you can leave your passport, money and a spare credit card.
  • When you must carry your passport, always carry it on your person or in a bag that you never take off, or at least one that you only place on your lap during meals. NEVER hang your bag on the back of a chair or leave it on your seat while getting food or using the washroom.
  • Don’t carry expensive jewelry with you while traveling and if you do leave it in the hotel room in the safe deposit box unless you are wearing it.
  • Leave a copy of your passport in the safe deposit box and another one at home with a family member or a friend. If you are traveling with a companion, each should carry a copy of the other’s passport.
  • Prepare a separate list with your credit card info (without the security code) and cc company phone numbers (which you will need to report a stolen card) with you also to be left in the safe deposit box.
  • Don’t carry all your cash with you and when you must, carry it in two or more locations (i.e. some in a purse and the rest in a money belt).
  • Be sure to empty out the safe deposit box before you check out of the hotel.
  • Your phone should always be password protected just in case it too is stolen.

In the rare case that your property is stolen, always insist on calling the local police and filing a report. With a copy of the passport and the report go to the nearest American Consulate or Embassy where they will be able to issue you a new passport usually within 24 hours.

Be sure to call your credit card company as soon as possible to report the stolen card.

Never pack your passport in your suitcase! It should be on you whenever you are carrying it.

Being prepared is the key to carefree travel!

Is it Safe: Traveling to and from the Holy Land

Is it Safe: Traveling to and from the Holy Land

Anticipation

“Oh, please be careful. It’s so dangerous over there.”

I knew my friend meant well, but her words were not comforting. I was only a few days away from departing for the Holy Land and my nerves were already raw from packing, checking flights, reading weather reports, finding someone to care for my cat, and scheduling a ride to the airport.

This is the place where the Angel appeared to Mary and told her that she would carry Jesus.

The Church of the Visitation

I had dreamed about visiting the places where Jesus walked since High School. That dream was jaded by year upon year of news reports featuring skirmishes and wars in and around Israel. The picture the media had painted was unnerving. I wanted to be excited, but in all honesty, I was a little scared and my friend’s words were not helping.

A family-member drove me to the airport, warning me on the way to, “please be careful.” Was I making a mistake? Was I putting myself in harm’s way? I am normally very excited to get on a plane, but all these warnings made me very anxious.

I flew through Toronto on my way to Tel Aviv. The first flight was uneventful, and I arrived with plenty of time to make my connection. I found my next gate on the monitor and headed there to wait for boarding. When I arrived, there was an additional security checkpoint…only for our gate. I had never experienced this before. I waited in the line and reached the guard who examined my passport and boarding pass and asked me a few questions. He directed me to yet another bag check.

Jamal and Hani made sure I was well fed.

Jamal and Hani made sure I was well fed.

My mind raced. Why is there so much security? Is there a threat? Is something wrong? Should I walk away from this flight? The questions echoed in my head as I eyed every passenger waiting for the flight. With each reverberation, I heard the words of my loved ones, “Please, be careful.” It was only through the grace of Our Lord that I boarded that flight. My mind was working overtime to convince my body to abandon it.

The Truth

If you have never traveled to Israel, I imagine you are facing the same fears that I did. I imagine that the news, friends, and family are warning you to, “please be safe,” as well. Most of all, I imagine that you are asking the same question that I did; “Is this trip even worth the risk?”

Let me put your mind at ease. Yes, it is worth the risk. And, perhaps more importantly, the “risk” is unjustly amplified. I have never traveled anywhere in the world where I felt safer than the Holy Land. Now that I have traveled there and back, I would return in a heartbeat! But I did learn a lot along the way that might help you feel a little more prepared for your trip.

Additional Security

I learned that additional security is normal for Israel. In fact, the security in place while boarding a flight is only the beginning. There are special restrictions to stay in your seats while in Israeli air-space. There are multiple security stops in the immigration and customs line. And, while traveling through the country, there are random security checkpoints on roads and at Palestinian Territory borders.

It was initially unnerving to answer questions of a security officer dressed in military fatigues and holding a weapon, but, in my experience, they were always pleasant and calm. They asked simple questions, checked my passport, then sent me on my way.

Church of the Multiplication

Church of the Multiplication

Crime and Common Precautions

Crime rates, in most cases, are significantly lower in Israel than the USA*. Violent crime is significantly less common. Still, this doesn’t mean you should be naïve. Petty theft from pickpockets and burglaries at tourist hotels still happen. So, take the same precautions you would take when traveling to any major city: use the hotel safe, carry a secure backpack or purse, and keep all your belongings on you.

When you stop to rest, eat, or sightsee, keep your belongings attached to your person or on your lap. Don’t leave your bag on the ground or hanging on your chair. Additionally, ALWAYS carry your passport and leave a photocopy in the hotel safe.

Mentally Prepare

The political complexity of the Middle East requires additional patience from travelers. Mentally prepare yourself and expect to wait in security lines, answer questions about your travels, and show your passport. Pay attention to your guides’ instructions. They are familiar with the checkpoints and security requirements and their insight can significantly reduce the inconvenience. Security personnel are simply doing their job to keep everyone safe. A warm smile and friendly demeanor on your end will often be met with the same from them.

The Synagogue of Capharnaum

The Synagogue of Capharnaum

Upon Departure

Departing Israel from the airport is far different from most places in the world. There are multiple security checkpoints and it can take much longer than usual to get from the curb to your gate, so be patient and allow yourself plenty of time.

On my most recent trip, we were stopped in the car—before entering the airport—for twenty minutes. They checked my bag, asked me and the driver several questions, and checked my passport and flight documents. When entering the airport, I had to go through two security checkpoints before entering the bag check. At the second checkpoint, they asked me several questions then instructed me to one of four bag-check lines.

In Israel, they profile every traveler and send them to a specific line depending on their “reading” of the individual. Don’t let this frustrate you. It is just part of the trip. While standing in the bag-check line, you will be asked the same questions you were already asked several times. Again, a warm smile and friendly demeanor will serve you well. They will check your bag thoroughly…meaning they may remove every item and inspect it, x-ray it, chemically test it, or even ask you questions about it. The process takes significantly longer than a TSA check in the USA, so exercise patience.

On my most recent trip, I arrived at the airport 3 hours and fifteen minutes before my flight. After all the security checkpoints and bag-check, I arrived at my gate, ready to board, with forty minutes to spare. The whole process took two hours and thirty-five minutes.

Conclusion

Church of the Primacy of St. Peter

Church of the Primacy of St. Peter

After a long flight, I walked to the Immigration officer at Newark International Airport. She glanced at my passport and asked how long I had been in Israel. “Seven days,” I replied.

“Wow. Short trip. Welcome home.” She waved me through.

I found my friend waiting for me outside the bag check. “Well, how was it?” She asked.

“Great. Israel is nothing like I expected. I can’t wait to go back.” I said.

“Really?”

Yes, really. My trip was short, but life-changing. There really is no way to translate all that happened to me in the Holy Land. I know that I’ll never be the same after the trip. I can see the whole story of our faith so differently now. And when friends ask me if Israel was frightening to visit, I tell them, “It was, no big deal.” They think I’m an intrepid traveler, but really, I’m just being honest.

 

*According to nationmaster.com (accessed September 12, 2019)

The Camino on New Knees with Michelle Lloyd

The Camino on New Knees with Michelle Lloyd

Michelle and Gus Lloyd walked the Camino de Santiago with a group of 26 pilgrims in August of 2019. If you have any doubt how much a pilgrimage like this can impact a person, we invite you to read Michelle’s letter to her Doctor. It is always wonderful to hear stories like this from group leaders and pilgrims on Select International trips.

September 5, 2019

 

Dear Dr. Lyons,

 

Hello! I hope this letter finds you well. I just wanted to reach out to you to share a recent adventure I was part of. First, a little back story. Last August, my husband, Gus was able to begin a bucket list trip with about 25 other people of walking the first half of the Camino de Santiago, a 480 mile walk that has many routes to get to the final destination of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Not sure if you are familiar with it, but about 10 years ago the movie “The Way” came out about it and there are many others as well, but if you are at all curious, I would recommend watching “I’ll Push You” as it is a very inspirational story of two friends who do the Camino together and one of them is a quadriplegic.

 

Gus and Michelle Lloyd Live on the Camino de SantiagoIn 2013, I came to see you and scheduled my first total knee replacement but I ended up cancelling the surgery because we decided to move and I didn’t have time to deal with it then. Funny fact, the night before that surgery was supposed to take place, I saw you at Lowe’s in Carrollwood in the carpet department. Eventually, my pain got so bad that I didn’t want to get up off the couch to do anything because it hurt so badly with each step I took, so I decided to look into stem cells procedures after a friend of mine shared a Facebook ad with me. I felt like I really got my confirmation to go forward with that at church the Sunday before I began the procedures when I heard this scripture from Hebrews 12: 12-13 for the first time that said. “So strengthen your drooping hands and week knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed, but HEALED”. Sounds like a confirmation, right?? So I did the procedures twice on both knees but I never found the relief that I need to have an active life. So my husband started hounding me and asking our friend who lives in Kansas that is also an Orthopedic Surgeon to talk to me to try and convince me to just go ahead and bite the bullet and do the surgery. Honestly, my husband was ticking me off but I know now that he just couldn’t stand seeing the person he loved be in so much pain anymore and just wanted to try to help me find the answer I needed to get my life back So, unbeknownst to him, I had made an appointment to see you and scheduled my first total knee replacement with you about ? weeks before Gus left for Spain last year. I was obviously not able to go with him. You did my second total knee replacement in December of 2018 and I was 8 months out from that surgery when it was time for Gus and his group to go back to Spain to finish the walk this year. I decided that I wanted to go, not knowing exactly what I was getting myself into, (in hindsight, that was probably better). Now, I have always been a person who would work out to videos to keep in shape but I was never a hiker or runner. This year’s journey began in Leon, Spain and ended in Santiago. We walked 8 stages to complete the mileage needed to finish the walk (an average of 15 miles per day). The terrain was very difficult, especially the first two days, filled with many mountain climbs and many boulder-filled paths going down for miles. I believe at the end of the 2nd day the grade of going up the mountain was 23 %. Can you say, out of breath? Each day proved to be a very strenuous walk where I felt it in some part of my body, if not everywhere, but I have to tell you, MY KNEES FELT GREAT THE WHOLE TIME! I guess, maybe because I actually had the youngest knees on the trip! If I had any issues, it was with my feet which is to be expected walking 15-17 miles per day but I also have Morton’s Neuroma in my right foot to deal with. As I began each day, I knew we were going to walk, but I didn’t know what journey would unfold before me that day until I actually experienced it, but the one thing that resonated with me throughout the whole trip was a sense of THANKFULNESS. Gus and Michelle Lloyd Select International Tour Camino de SantiagoTHANKFULNESS for the beautiful vistas I was able to see and walk through each day, THANKFULNESS for the people I was able to share this experience with, THANKFULNESS that I have a husband that has an adventurous spirit that he has shared with me, THANKFULNESS for the feeling that I actually feel like an athlete now, THANKFULNESS for all that I was able to accomplish each day, THANKFULNESS for being hounded by my huband to get the surgeries, ( I told him that I really got the sense as I walked that me not wanting to be cut open again made me realize that I was kind of like an alcoholic, in that, I had to hit rock bottom with my pain in order for me to bite the bullet and have the surgery done not only once but twice), THANKFULNESS for God answering my prayer through the scripture He gave me, even though it wasn’t through the stem cell healing that I wanted, but most of all, THANKFULNESS that I had a doctor that was the first one in his family to get a college degree and that I was blessed to have YOU and your knowledge and skill to perform my surgeries and GIVE ME MY LIFE BACK! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for following the call on your life Dr. Lyons! We are all capable of doing so much more than we ever think possible and I’m so glad to say that I would never have known this without your help in my life! I am forever grateful! Know that you are changing the lives of your patients.

 

May God continue to bless you abundantly!

 

Michelle Lloyd

 

 

Does Medicare Cover You When Traveling Abroad?

Does Medicare Cover You When Traveling Abroad?

Most of our clients are concerned about medical coverage while traveling abroad. We always recommend the purchase of a good Travel Protection policy which includes coverage in case of illness or accident. The Travel Protection (Travel Insurance) policy provides peace of mind for you in case you need medical attention during your trip.

Select International Tours and Cruises offers an excellent policy through Travel Insured. Please refer to your trip page for details or call us at 800-842-4842.

Many travelers will call us to ask if they are covered by their current health insurance policy or Medicare. We recommend you call your insurance to clarify coverage. However, sometimes the information about coverage is confusing and even conflicting.

According to Medicare.gov, Medicare usually doesn’t cover health care if you need it when traveling abroad.

Here is the link to Medicare.gov which addresses the issue of coverage during international travel. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/travel

You may purchase a Medigap policy which will cover you during international travel. Here is the link to the information you may find useful.

https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/medigap-travel

Important to Remember:  Most foreign-based medical service providers will want to get paid on the spot. They will provide the paperwork for you to file a claim when you return but they will not do this work for you, nor will they be willing to wait for payment, so be sure you have a credit card you can use for emergency medical expenses.

Be sure to get copies of all your medical records from the medical service providers abroad as well as copies of all invoices and payments. Upon return to the USA, it is important to share your medical records with your doctor and file a claim with Medicare or another insurance company if you have a different policy or supplemental coverage. They may deny it but the system is so confusing it is worth a try.

The travel company cannot advance funds for any medical service! 

We are Partnering with the Catholic Feminist Podcast

We are Partnering with the Catholic Feminist Podcast

Catholic Feminist Podcast Select International

The Catholic Feminist Podcast is, “…a podcast for Jesus-loving women who want to be inspired, involved, and intentional. Each week, we speak with women who are living out their faith in a radical, real way.”

That is a mission which is easy for us to get behind!

Select International Tours and Cruises is excited to announce our partnership with the Catholic Feminist Podcast. We understand that the word “feminist” is not usually associated with “Catholic.” Which is one of the reasons we are so excited about this partnership.

Words have the power to elicit an emotional response—we can all agree on that—but sometimes the emotional response is based on our experience of the groups that speak the word the loudest.

The word, “feminist,” is an excellent example. For many, the word dredges up a cloud of mire. Associations with competing social agendas, lifestyle choices, and political ideologies come to mind and the easiest thing for us to do is put the word in a box labeled, “Poison.” Is that really the best response?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, feminism is, “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Weigh that definition against Genesis 1:27-28, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (RSVCE).

 

Can One Be Both Catholic and Feminist?

 

In a recent interview on Grottonetwork.com, show host Claire Swinarski answered the question this way: “…people don’t feel you can be both because society has completely warped the idea of what a ‘feminist’ is.”

“The Church asks us to value women, embrace their gifts, and uphold their place in society. It does so within the writings of Edith Stein and John Paul II too many times to count. So it isn’t so much that there’s a ‘middle ground’ as it is a full embrace of Church teachings.”

 

Why This Podcast?

 

The decision to support the Catholic Feminist Podcast did not come lightly. The title caught our attention and we wanted to know more. A few episodes later, we could see how important this podcast was in bringing attention to women’s issues and proving that a strong faith was not at odds with being a strong woman.

Consider this episode with Colleen Carroll Campbell. If you are not familiar with Colleen, she is a best-selling author and speaker. She was also a speechwriter for President George W. Bush and served as a North American delegate to a Vatican Congress on Women. In this episode, she discusses the challenges of perfectionism and how she has learned, through the lives of the Saints, to “trade in [her] view of ‘perfect’ for God’s.” The Catholic Feminist Podcast brings topics like this into the light and discusses them in a way that honors God, Scripture, and the Church.

Supporting the work of The Catholic Feminist Podcast is directly supporting the myriad women of faith building a firm foundation of faith in their homes, churches, and workplaces. Our hope is that many of these women will hear about and go on pilgrimage. We pray that those experiences will deepen their faith, so they can continue to move their families, friends, and children toward a more developed experience within the Universal Church.

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