Pro Tips to Save Money When You Travel

Pro Tips to Save Money When You Travel

Traveling can make money disappear fast – from flights to accommodations to activities, costs can add up quickly. But the good news is, they don’t have to!

We got some inside tips from the traveling pros on how you can save big and find the best deals the next time you travel.


Tip #1: Search airline deals for off-peak rates using anonymous browsers.

The most expensive flights occur when most people are traveling. Use that knowledge to book flights during times when airlines are less busy such as mid-week or outside tourist season.

Tip #2: Sign up for credit cards that give you travel points.

If you love to travel, consider a credit card that gives you travel points. Many frequent travelers use this system to earn free flights or stay for free in their destination of choice.

    • You get bonuses from many cards just for signing up.
    • Then you have to spend to accumulate more points. Consider using this credit card to pay your rent or mortgage, car payment or other larger monthly bills. It’s like using any other account, but with a travel bonus!


Tip #3: Choose a destination where your money is actually worth more.

When you’re considering where to travel, think about countries where the dollar is strong. That will make your money go further.

    • You’ll find cheaper travel in Asia: Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand Laos, Indonesia Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Bolivia.
    • You’ll also find great deals in and near Europe: Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, and Georgia.
    • Some countries will even reimburse you for all or part of the retail sales tax that you spend there. These include Canada, Japan, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. Keep your receipts and fill out the forms. You will need an official stamp by customs at the airport.

Tip #4: Be creative in your accommodation choice.

You can stay in a hotel and perhaps earn loyalty points. Or you can find some unusual local places simply by searching for alternative places to stay.

    • Airbnb is one of the most well-known accommodation sites. But make sure you also have a look at its competitors:,,,,,, and
    • Save money by staying in the lesser-known town close to where you want to be.
    • Trade homes. Stay in a family’s home while they stay in yours. Check out sites like that matches you with your preferred destination.
    • Check out to see if you can housesit in the place where you’d like to vacation. Then you’ll stay for free!

Tip #5: Go local for activities and meals and embrace the discounts.

You may want to hit the highlights of your destination’s tourist sites, but chances are the most memorable experiences will be the ones that you discovered while you were there. In planning your travel itinerary, here are some hints.

    • Talk to locals and get their recommendations for things to do and places to eat.
    • You can eat with local families via
    • Research the free or discounted days and times at museums and galleries, book standing-room-only tickets at shows, and ask about age-related, student, and group membership discounts.
    • Take public transportation or walk rather than renting a car. You’ll see more and it will cost less. Consider a frequent travel card for public transport (Oyster card in London, Octopus in Hong Kong).


Tip #6: Avoid international roaming charges.

Your smartphone or laptop may work overseas but it could land you a huge bill for WiFi upon your return. Plus, the WiFi charges at hotels can come with extra charges. Take some steps to get inexpensive WiFi where you travel.

    • Check with your smartphone provider about an international travel plan to see if it’s cost-effective. You can also ask them to unlock your phone so that you may insert a local SIM card while you’re in a new country.
    • Rent a mobile router known as “pocket WiFi.” These hotspots are popular in Europe and Japan.
    • Rent an international cell phone. But remember, if you use your phone as a camera, you’ll want to upload those photos to the cloud (or use your original phone or a real camera to take photos).


Enjoy the journey—and the savings. Stay safe and happy travels.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or



How to Create a Travel Itinerary

How to Create a Travel Itinerary

After an entire year with little-to-no travel, if you’re like many Americans, you’re planning to go on a vacation this summer. Whether you’re taking a short road trip or a long getaway, creating a travel itinerary will help you and your family stay organized and get the most from your trip. 

Use this step-by-step guide to create a travel itinerary that’s flexible and fun!

1. Choose a timeframe. Set a budget.

Two important factors will determine where and when you can travel: time and money. If you have a certain number of vacation days or a smaller budget, you’ll want to plan your trip accordingly. (The good news is that there are plenty of places for budgets of all sizes.)

2. Select your vacation spot.

Choose a place with the types of activities that you enjoy. Some people like to sightsee. Others prefer to relax on the beach.  And some like to stay active, such as hiking and biking. The activities you want to do will help determine where you should go. Your vacation spot is the starting place for your travel itinerary.

3. Book your flights, transportation, and lodging.

Once you have chosen your destination, it’s time to make travel arrangements. Before booking you’ll need to make a few decisions. Will you be driving or flying? And are you staying in a hotel or renting out a location like Airbnb? 

To stay organized during this step, record all of your information in one place on your computer or other device. (Microsoft Office offers free itinerary templates and so do Adobe and Google docs.) Include flight numbers, Airbnb or hotel addresses, rental vehicle information, and other confirmation numbers so you won’t have to search for them later. 

Don’t forget! If you aren’t bringing your pet with you, you’ll also need to find them lodging.

4. Research the sights and activities.

This is when it gets fun! Check out the location’s history, food, family activities, and nightlife. Search for unique experiences at your destination. Involve every member of the family who is traveling with you to get their ideas. When you have your list compiled, rank your “must visit” spots and “must-do” activities. 

Need help finding activities in your destination? Good sources of information include the local tourism office and online travel reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, Foursquare, Yelp, and Google.

5. Map it out. 

Start with a map of your destination—either paper or online. Mark the location for each of your activities. Mark the place where you’re staying. Then, divide the map into sections. This will give you a guideline for grouping activities and help you time out your days.

6. Build the Itinerary.

Work in the same template where you recorded your flight and lodging information (in step 3). List each day that you’ll be traveling. Start with the first section of the map and assign activities to the first day. Determine how much time you will spend at each spot.  Don’t forget to consider hours open, downtime between each activity, meals, and rest time. Continue through the trip timeline, and be realistic. If you’re traveling with a toddler or your pet, for example, you’ll need to be flexible. 

7. Book your tickets and excursions.

Once you know where you’re going and when you can book your tickets. Keep copies of confirmations in your itinerary for easy access. Booking ahead will often save time but if you’re unsure that you’ll get to a certain activity that day, you can always make the purchase onsite.

8. Remember that less is more. 

Your vacation should be relaxing, not stressful. Leave several hours free each day for interesting sidetracks or unexpected opportunities. You may find recommendations from a local that could be the highlight of your trip.

9. Plan for the unexpected.

Maybe it will rain, or you’ll miss your connecting flight. You might not have Internet access in the place you’re traveling. If any of these things happen, don’t get down and frustrated. Think ahead and have a “Plan B” in place when you are creating your itinerary. An alternate inside activity could help in inclement weather, know the steps to take if you miss a flight so you can board the next one, carry a book in case you don’t have Wi-Fi, etc. Remember this is your vacation and your attitude could affect your entire trip and those traveling with you. If something unexpected happens, go with the flow and don’t let it ruin your fun.  

10. Travel safely.

Take the precautions you need to make it a safe trip. Make copies of your important documents from passport to driver’s license. Share your itinerary with a trusted family member or friend. If you’re traveling abroad, register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This will allow you to receive important information from the U.S. Embassy about the country you’re visiting.

11. Lastly, consider adding travel insurance.

Travel insurance provides a safety net in case your trip is canceled. Check to see if you need specific coverage. For example, you will want a tourist auto policy if you’re driving to Mexico and a recreational vehicle policy if you’re traveling in an RV.


A Little Help from an App

There are several websites and apps that are specially designed to create travel itineraries. These tools can be timesavers and many have free versions that you can use, including: 


It’s exciting to plan a vacation, but it can also be overwhelming. Take a step back and consider why you are traveling. Then focus on the things that are important to you, such as spending time with loved ones. The rest will fall into place. 

Remember life is all about the journey, not the destination. Safe travels.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.800.800.9410 or

10 Spring Break Safe-cation Destinations

10 Spring Break Safe-cation Destinations

As the weather warms up and the open road calls out, spring break fever is in full gear! But just like last year, everyone’s 2021 spring vacation will need to be a spring safe-cation, complete with social distancing and other safety measures.

Worry not, we’ve gathered up 10 great and safe outdoor destination ideas for you and your family — because you deserve some fun after a full year of quarantining, putting big travel plans on hold, and converting your whole life to zoom.

Get out there and enjoy your break! Here are fun 10 safe-cation ideas.

1. Rent a cabin. Lake? Mountains? Beach? Take your pick. Break out a map and check out destinations within a few hours’ driving distance. Choose based on what you want to do while you’re there (hiking, fishing, small-town strolling or just relaxing on the property). Ask the rental or property owner about their cleaning policies and review other guests’ reviews. Once you arrive, do your own sanitizing of high-touch surfaces just for peace of mind.

2. Get your hike on. Springtime is hiking heaven. Ocean, forest, desert, or something in between? Take a family vote. You could go for day hiking adventures or book a longer backpacking or trekking tour. Check with tour companies, many of which are open. If doing the former and you want to hike in local, state, or national parks, definitely check the parks’ websites to see about closures and safety precautions.

3. Hit the bike path – on or off-road! As with hiking, you could choose more casual daily biking from a central spot, such as a rental cabin, or book with a bike touring company. If going for the latter and your family isn’t already in biking shape and has equipment, start training ahead of time.   

4. Check out local (hidden) gems. Stay home and make a series of day trips to local destinations. There are probably plenty of places you’ve said you wanted to visit but have never had time to. These could be local geologic wonders, tucked-away waterfalls, wildflower spots, or hiking peaks. Keeping it local means you can fall asleep each night in your own bed – while keeping your activities both safe and affordable.    

5. Climb some rocks. Maybe your kids were just getting into rock/wall climbing when the pandemic hit? Or maybe you were the aspiring rock climber! Either way, climbing rocks outdoors is great for exercise, mental agility, and family bonding time. Check to see if there are local destinations that have rock features, or you could travel by car to destinations a bit farther away.

6. Giddyup! Any riders in the family? Horseback riding is a great way to take in the grandeur of the great outdoors. Check out pack train outfits and guest ranches. The former usually entail a several-day trip on horseback, complete with camping in your own tent and prepared food. The latter is a bit more luxurious, with hotel-like accommodations and daily rides on or off the ranch grounds. Many times beginners are welcome!

7. Go fish. Another favorite American pastime! Find a river and you can find fish. As with hiking and biking, you can plan and prep your own trip or go with an outfit. Kind of depends on what areas you might want to fish, fishing permit logistics, how remote the river and fishing spots are, etc. Do a little digging to find your perfect trip.   

8. Dust off the camping gear. Campfires, s’mores, star-filled skies – Covid didn’t ruin everything! You can keep this very safe, just be aware of the bathrooms and showers. Unlike pre-pandemic times, though, you’ll need to do a lot of research beforehand as many parks, campsites, and other locations are closed or have limited capacity. That said, look into local campsites, state and local parks, hipcamp, and other private camping options.

9. Visit a tiny town. Sometimes it’s nice to hole up in a nearby tiny town, exploring nature and local charm by staying super low-key. Businesses have a year of Covid cleaning and protocols under their belts, so you should feel fairly safe – but definitely act according to your own safety standards. That might mean bringing many of your own supplies, eating take out and taking long walks or drives, etc.

10. Take an RV road trip. If the siren call of the open road is too great to ignore, you can always rent an RV and have a traveling home for journeys longer than a weekend. Companies are adhering to strict cleaning policies, but make sure to do your own deep clean anyway. Cozy, fun, and adventurous – RVs are made for the American highways and all the natural beauty along the way. Take note: rentals are way up these days, so start your research/booking process sooner rather than later!

If you are still wary about traveling by plane, don’t fret, a vacation can still be in your future this spring break. Take advantage of exploring your local area – we’re sure there are plenty of gems waiting to be discovered. And as always, stick to your Covid precaution measures (we know you’re a pro by now!)

For more road trip safety tips click here.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

No Matter How You Travel, Do It Safely

No Matter How You Travel, Do It Safely

After months of Covid restrictions and lockdowns, many people are reviving travel plans for work or to see family.

Travel increases your risk of both spreading and getting Covid-19, so if you’re looking to book a flight, hotel or rental car soon, check out these tips to keep yourself, your family, and others safe.



pandemic travel


General Precautions

You can decrease risk of transmission by doing the following during your entire trip.

  • Always wear a face mask (and carry a few extras) when around others.
  • Follow social distancing rules – stay at least 6 ft from others as much as possible.
  • Wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds. Carry hand sanitizer with you and use it as a back-up if you can’t wash your hands.
  • Avoid contact with frequently touched surfaces such as elevator buttons, kiosks, or handrails.
  • Stay away from anyone who exhibits signs of illness such as sneezing or coughing.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Check local requirements and restrictions. For instance, some cities require travelers to self-quarantine for two weeks if they’re traveling from a coronavirus hot spot.
  • Be sure your packing list includes cloth face masks, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and a thermometer.



pandemic travel



Most people who fly use rideshare services to and from the airport. Those encounters, in addition to various check-ins and queues at the airport as well as your time on the airplane itself, all bring you in close proximity with others who may carry the virus. You can protect yourself by employing the general precautions above and also doing the following once at the airport.

  • Follow the rules posted at airports, which have put precautions and protocols in place to reduce crowding and maintain social distancing.
  • Some airlines are leaving middle seats open or otherwise spacing guests out. If yours isn’t, and your flight is relatively empty, you can ask to be moved to a more isolated seat.
  • Keep in mind that most viruses and other germs are not spread easily on planes because of how air is filtered and circulated onboard. That said, if anyone near you is coughing or sneezing, turn on the air vent above your seat and aim it toward you – this will blow any airborne droplets away from you.
  • Although most airlines are doing deep cleans of passenger areas between flights, it doesn’t hurt to sanitize the most used areas: seat belts, armrests, tray tables, overhead controls, light buttons, call buttons, and the lavatory handles.



pandemic travel


Car Rental

When it comes to vehicles, they actually pose a fairly low transmission risk because viruses don’t live long on hard surfaces and any that are present would typically be present in a low quantity (“low viral load”). Transmission risk is between people than between people and objects. Still, there are a few good rules of thumb to go by.

  • Try to go with a company that has touchless check-in and drop-off, and uses a socially distanced protocol for rental activities.
  • Check with the rental company’s cleaning policy and make sure you’re comfortable with it.
  • Once inside the car, wipe down the most-used surfaces: key fob, seatbelt buckle, gearshift, steering wheel, buttons or knobs on the console, door handles, etc.
  • If you’re using the rental car to go on any multi-day journeys, check our tips for road-trip safety.



pandemic travel


Most hotels have adopted major overhauls to how they’re cleaning and sanitizing guest rooms, lobby areas other areas of the hotels. That said, you can do things to further reduce your risk.

  • Check their website for enhanced cleaning/sanitizing protocol.
  • Be especially cautious in the lobby, elevator, and at the front desk — these are high-touch places where people tend to congregate.
  • If possible, ask to be put in a room that’s been vacant for 24 hrs.
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces in your room: light switches, doorknobs, tables, countertops, latches and handles, remote control, faucets, desks.


For travel safety during the age of Covid, consistency is the name of the game – consistency of safety habits and precautions. But being a good traveler also means being ready for the unexpected, so in addition to the above, make sure you have a plan ready for if you or a family member does get sick along the way. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but having a plan will make a trying situation a bit less stressful.



This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

5 Tips for Driving Safe in Holiday Traffic

5 Tips for Driving Safe in Holiday Traffic

The holidays are HERE, and unfortunately so is the holiday traffic. As millions hit the road to travel near and far this holiday season roadways will quickly become overly congested, traffic delays more frequent, and holiday road rage will start to set in for many drivers.

If you are like the thousands of Americans hitting the road this season, follow our holiday traffic safety tips below.


holiday travel


1.Plan Head

Before you hit the road make sure your vehicle is properly maintained and ready for the trip. Plan out your route ahead of time, and if it’s possible, avoid driving through areas you know will be jammed with holiday traffic. Before you head out it’s also a good idea to check the forecast and plan ahead for inclement weather. Don’t forget to pack your emergency car kit!



holiday travel


2. Practice Defensive Driving

The more traffic, the higher the chance for an accident. It’s important not only to drive safely, but also to keep an eye on other drivers. In holiday traffic jams always expect the unexpected, watch for drivers cutting you off, slamming on their breaks, speeding up and slowing down, etc. Be prepared for anything, and always stay attentive behind the wheel.



holiday travel


3. Avoid Distractions

Distracted driving causes thousands of fatal traffic accidents every single year. Add in holiday traffic and distracted driving becomes even more dangerous and deadly. We know it can be hard to avoid common distractions like your phone, especially when you are driving long distances by yourself, but it’s important for your safety that you keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel at all times.



holiday travel


4. Keep Your Cool

If someone makes a decision that makes you angry when you are driving, try not to let it affect you. This may be hard, but getting angry doesn’t solve anything. Road rage is a form of distracted driving because you cannot think clearly. If you start to feel yourself becoming angry or anxious try listening to music, taking deep breaths, and remember there is nothing you can do about other driver’s decisions or to make traffic move quicker- so stay calm.



holiday travel


5. Watch for Animals

Deer move with cold fronts. This means as the temperature continues to drop and as we get closer to the end of the year, the likelihood of seeing or hitting a deer increases. Hitting a deer, or any other animal, can total your vehicle, hinder your plans, and even cause serious injury (or death). Stay alert and watch for animals, especially if you choose to travel in rural areas at night.


If you plan on making multiple stops or staying at any hotels during your trip, be sure to follow our Traveling Safely During the Pandemic guide.

Safe travels and Happy Holidays! 🙂


This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Road Trip Safety During the Pandemic

Road Trip Safety During the Pandemic

Whether you’re making the trek to visit relatives for the holidays or finally taking that delayed summer getaway, you may be getting ready to hit the open road again.

Of course, a road trip during a pandemic is quite different from our carefree road trips of the past. But with some prep work, some new safety habits, and a go-with-it attitude, you can still make your trip memorable and safe.


covid travel

Service and Prep Your Vehicle

You want to be comfortable and safe on your trip, so put your mind at ease by giving your car a little love before heading out.

    • Get it serviced. Schedule your car for a full service and inspection, which may include oil change, fluids check and top-off, tire check, brakes, etc.
    • Double-check the emergency kit. Add, update, and replace items as needed. Use our handy essentials emergency kit article as your guide. Make sure it includes a first aid kit.
    • Add Covid-specific supplies. Throw in extra masks, sanitizing wipes and gel (at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol), and disposable gloves into your kit.
    • Pack for comfort. Knowing you’ll be spending hours on the road, pack music, tablets, blankets, comfy shoes, and flip-flops, as well as jackets and easy-to-throw on layers. Sunglasses, stick-on sunshades, and sunscreen will help protect against all those UV rays (though not as hot in autumn, the rays can still do damage).   
    • Limit shopping along the way. Bring along things from home that you know are not contaminated, such as snacks, bottled water, medicine, phone chargers, and trash bags.


covid travel saftey

Plan It Out & Prep Ahead of Time

A lot has changed in the last several months, which means you’ll need to do a little more legwork ahead of your trip.

    • Map out your route. Even if you’ve made this trip before, there may be unexpected closures along the way. Use a mapping app to get ahead of any problem areas.
    • Check states and counties for Covid-19 case counts. Avoid traveling through areas with high breakouts or infection rates.
    • Check travel restrictions for your destination and locations along the way. Some states and cities are requiring travelers from other areas to quarantine for 14 days upon entry (or are outright barring visitors).
    • Before setting out, download one or two payment apps such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay to limit the number of germy PIN pads you have to touch.
    • Have a plan in case you or a family member gets sick. This virus is wily, and sometimes sickness happens despite all your best prevention efforts. So have a contingency plan ready to go.


covid travel safety

Have a Plan for Dining & Restaurants

Restaurants can be especially risky as hotspots for coronavirus transmission. Reduce yours and your family’s risk with these tips.

    • Bring your own stash of non-perishable food in case of restaurant closures or limited dining options.
    • Utilize drive-through, delivery, take-out, and curbside pick-up options if you want to reduce your exposure. Pack a family-sized picnic set (and blanket) ahead of time so you’ll have utensils and plates at the ready. Scout out parks or lakes where you and your family can eat.
    • If a restaurant offers outdoor seating, choose that over sitting indoors. Bring coats and lap blankets if it’s chilly.
    • If dining indoors, choose restaurants that maintain social distancing between tables indoors. Wear your mask as much as possible.


covid travel safety

Know Your Game Plan for Hotels & Lodging

Because hotels are high-traffic areas, it’s important to take extra safety steps before, during, and after your stay.   

    • Research hotels and reserve in advance.
    • Call ahead and ask about their policies on cleaning and disinfecting, as well as contactless check-in and check-out.
    • Whatever the hotel’s stated cleaning policies, make sure you swipe high-touch areas in your room with disinfectant wipes: doorknobs and handles, bathroom fixtures and counters, light fixtures, TV buttons, and remote control, and any surface where you might put bags, computers, purses, etc.
    • Ask the front desk to forgo housekeeping services, as it limits the number of people in your room.
    • Minimize use of high-traffic areas such as lounge areas, dining areas, saunas, fitness centers, and salons.


covid travel safety

Must-Do’s for the Entire Trip

Make a habit of the following, and safety will soon become second nature.

    • Follow the basics at all times: Frequent handwashing, mask-wearing in indoor public spaces (and outdoors where you can’t socially distance), and 6 feet distance between you and others outside your household.
    • Limit the number of stops along your route.
    • Use contactless payments wherever possible.
    • Be cautious when touching fuel pumps – diligently use hand sanitizer after every use or use disposable gloves.
    • Use hand sanitizer every time you enter your vehicle (same goes for family members), which will keep your vehicle’s interior clean.
    • Wipe down your car’s interior every day – preferably multiple times. Especially germy surfaces include door handles, steering wheel, gear knob, stereo and temperature control dials, cup holders, and seatbelts.
    • Have your whole family make a habit of wiping down their phones multiple times a day – phones may well be our most-touched item.

While road trips in 2020 may be nothing like those of the past, yours can still be something you and your family look back on with fondness, good feels, and probably some laughs as well.


This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

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