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Travel and Safety in 2021


Travelers have various risk tolerance, but COVID-19 has proven the value of travel assistance plans that help travelers facing medical emergencies.

More than half of all baby boomers plan to travel in 2021, signaling a shift from feelings of fear and anxiety felt throughout the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic to those of hope and optimism.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) recently reported that most boomers — people between the ages of 56 and 74 in 2021 — say travel restrictions had prevented them from planning the trips they wanted to take in 2021. But, as more and more people get vaccinated, they’re feeling increasingly eager to check travel destinations and adventures off their bucket lists.

What’s particularly noteworthy is that most of these travelers say that fully refundable tickets and reservations would provide a compelling incentive for them to travel in 2021. While refundable trip expenses are certainly meaningful, it’s mandatory to also consider medical emergency situations and the protections you can put in place for yourself and your family before traveling. 

COVID-19 is top of mind, but there are other medical emergencies that travelers could face in 2021 and beyond. When selecting the protection needed for your upcoming travels, the U.S. Department of State recommends considering whether the plan provides:

  • Emergency medical care
  • Medical transport back to the United States
  • Travel/accommodation costs
  • 24-hour U.S. based contact line
  • Sufficient financial coverage
  • The region(s) you travel in
  • Duration of travel
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Activities you plan on engaging in

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Beyond COVID


According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the most common medical emergencies people face while flying are lightheadedness or fainting, respiratory symptoms, nausea, cardiac symptoms and seizures. 

More broadly, the CDC reports that most travel-associated sickness, injury or medical emergencies are related to road accidents, bug bites, infections, food and drinking water safety, animal bites, sun exposure and physical accident risks related to recreation, swimming, alcohol intake and more. Naturally occurring health emergencies from preexisting conditions are also a top concern.

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Knowing Your Risks


With 25 years experience assisting travelers around the world, Emergency Assistance Plus® (EA+®) reminds people in a post-COVID world that many other travel risks need to be considered when booking trips. These include seasonal weather concerns, natural disasters, political instability, public health concerns such as disease outbreaks, civil unrest and more. 

As for COVID-19, case numbers and outbreaks vary around the world. When choosing the perfect vacation destination within your comfort level, it’s important to do your research on local regulations, case numbers, hospital capacities and other details.

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Emergency Assistance Plus contracts with On Call International to service their members as they travel around the world. On Call International offers travel risk management and assistance services to millions of travelers each year. In March of 2020 alone, On Call serviced 300 cases per day and helped almost 2,000 members get home.


Travelers should always register for the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which provides updated travel safety information while also providing the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in foreign countries a way to contact you during emergencies. 

Benefits of registering for the program include:

  • Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
  • Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
  • Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

For additional guidance regarding the security landscape of a particular country, visit the country-specific information pages or consult with your travel assistance provider. 

The U.S. Department of State provides travel advisories broken into tiers/levels:

  • Level 1: Exercise normal precautions
  • Level 2: Exercise increased caution
  • Level 3: Reconsider travel
  • Level 4: Do not travel

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Do Your Homework


It’s necessary for travelers to do their homework before traveling to make the most intelligent decisions based upon their own risk tolerance. 

On Call International’s Global Security Team says, “Levels of risk tolerance and vulnerability differ between destinations and from person to person—so it’s important to cut through the noise and separate fact from fiction before letting fear and anxiety get the best of us.”

Some airlines have been offering free cancellations and the ability to rebook within a year, but as vaccinations become more widely distributed, policies are becoming less lenient. Travelers should review their airline and hotel cancellation policies before booking travel. If you’re not clear, call the reservations line and ask questions. Also make sure to research if your destination has insurance requirements for entry. Some countries require pandemic coverage in order to enter. 

EA+ encourages travelers to take a look at On Call International’s COVID-19 Travel Outlook Map. It is a great resource for updated information on individual countries’ travel advisories, COVID-19 case trends, travel restrictions, and healthcare capabilities. 

Before making a vacation choice, be sure to ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Can I go? Travelers should understand the destination’s operational status, including whether the borders are open and quarantine regulations. Is commercial transportation available in/out of the country, or are there any state restrictions to consider? What do I need to get back home? Does the destination require specific insurance or coverage in order to enter?
  • What are the risks if I go? Travelers should understand what the COVID-19 case trends look like, if the hospitals have the capacity and equipment to test, isolate and treat patients with or without COVID-19, or who are injured. Travelers should consider if they are at higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus, and if so, what services are available locally to assist.
  • What will it be like if I go? Travelers should review government warnings and restrictions in place to understand some of what to expect. Travelers should understand that U.S. Embassy and other essential services may be limited if traveling overseas. What are the social distancing measures like? Are temperature screenings in place? What do they require entering local businesses, hotels, etc.?
  • Should I go? Finally, the traveler needs to determine if they are comfortable traveling to the destination. Again, each individual’s risk tolerance is different, but considering all the factors above should help lead you toward lowering the risks of a vacation gone wrong.

5 Reasons About EA+

About Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+)


EA+ is a travel assistance product that protects members whenever they are traveling away from home and become hospitalized due to injury or illness. EA+ delivers more than 20 services to help members in this time of need.

EA+ is a membership program, not an insurance plan. Once members pay the annual fee, they do not have to pay for any of the provided services. EA+ makes all arrangements and covers all of the costs for the services on the members’ behalf, so they never have to worry about submitting claims for reimbursement. Member’s have to call EA+ during their emergency to be eligible for services.

For more information about rates and membership benefits, click here.