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Destination: Worry-Free Vacation

Taking a few precautions will help your trip go off without a hitch

June 3, 2010
By Amanda Prischak

Time for Vacation?You can admit it—you need a vacation. What’ll it be? A secluded hideaway or bustling city? Exotic locale or not-far-from-the-familiar?

Farryn Weiner, senior editor at Jetsetter, a site that helps travelers discover and arrange dream getaways, has a few ideas for any style, ranging from Croatia to… Montana. (Who would have guessed?) Once you’ve picked the destination, ERIE’s Terry McConnell has some tips on getting your home, your luggage and your rental car ready to roll.

Farryn’s Top Picks for 2010

  • Off the Radar Romance: Big Sur, California—This central California region features many of the Napa Valley’s draws—dramatic coastlines, great hiking trails, breathtaking sunsets, and nearby wineries in Carmel Valley Village and Monterey County—without the crowds.

  • Comeback Kid: Palm Springs, California—Once the resort town of choice for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Elvis, Palm Springs is as desirable as ever thanks to a crop of stylish new hotels, a burgeoning art scene, and its many acclaimed restaurants. Adding to Palm Springs’ appeal is its weather, which Weiner describes as “perfect.”

  • Family Travel: Paws Up, Montana—Families may want to consider forgoing Disney in favor of Big Sky Country. With unparalleled opportunities to ride horses, fly fish, white water raft, mountain bike, and “glamp” (camping via luxury tent), there are more than enough opportunities for travelers of all ages to immerse themselves in the natural world.

  • Reality TV Junkie: St. Lucia—Situated in the southern end of the Caribbean Sea, this island nation boasts a lush landscape full of pristine rainforests, soaring mountains, and endless beaches—and the location of The Bachelor, Season 14.

  • Next for Nightlife: Croatia—The Balkan republic is a perennial favorite for its Dalmatian coast, where one of Europe’s most stunning shorelines doesn’t come with the high price tag of its continental counterparts.

How to make it worry-free
Vacations are for fun. But between remembering your (under-three-ounce) bottles of sunscreen, catching the connection and making your way to the hotel, there are a few reasons to feel anxious.

“The two most common problems that occur during a vacation are home burglaries and theft of luggage,” says Terry McConnell, ERIE’s manager of Personal Lines Underwriting. To relieve the pressure, Terry offers a few precautionary steps to protect all of your assets while you’re away:


  • Lock it upEnsure that all doors and windows are securely locked.
  • Either have your mail and newspaper deliveries suspended or have a trusted neighbor retrieve and safeguard them until your return. Not only do piles of mail signal that a house is vacant, but thieves can sift through letters to steal your identity. (If you’re worried about that, talk to your ERIE Agent about Identity Recovery Coverage.)
  • Maintain the illusion of occupancy: leave a radio on, arrange for someone to maintain your lawn if you’ll be gone for more than a few days, and have a neighbor check into the premises periodically.
  • Consider installing central alarms, motion detectors, or timed lights that will illuminate the area around your house at night.
  • Inspect your washing machine hose for any damage and be sure to have it replaced at least every five years. If deteriorating hoses break, water could flood your home for days on end.
  • Shut down computers and unplug smaller appliances to prevent fires.


  • LuggageConsider leaving expensive electronic equipment like laptops at home. Thieves are especially prone to swiping pricey gadgets. (You don’t need to work anyway—it’s vacation.)
  • Check in with your ERIE Agent about how much your homeowners or renters policy will reimburse you for lost or stolen items. Most policies max out at $3,000 per item for such things as jewelry and firs; if that isn’t enough, consider buying extra protection by increasing your personal property insurance.
  • Take special care to secure jewelry, passports, and anything financial in nature. Also make sure to lock these items in your hotel’s safe.
  • Never leave your luggage unattended.
  • Either inventory or videotape all of your personal belongings. Don’t skimp on capturing the details of what you own, and be sure to stash your inventory, tape, or DVD in a fireproof safe. Having this on record will make it much easier for you to be reimbursed for any belongings that may be lost or stolen during a trip. This free software makes it easy.
  • Attach nametags and snap a photo of each suitcase. This will expedite the retrieval process should your luggage be lost or stolen.


  • Car RentalsContact your ERIE Agent to find out if your auto policy covers leased and/or rental cars (the good news: most polices do).
  • Know that ERIE auto policies typically cover car rental insurance in the United States and Canada. When traveling to other countries, make sure your rental agency offers car rental insurance.
  • Consider a Personal Catastrophe Liability Policy (PCL) if you often rent cars outside of the United States and Canada. PCL, which is bought in $1 million increments, functions as a cross-border umbrella policy.  Should a large claim be filed against you anywhere in the world, an umbrella policy can help keep you protected.
And, if you’re not sure what your insurance does and doesn’t cover, give your ERIE Agent a call before heading out. Your Agent is there to make insurance easy to understand.
Amanda Prischak

Amanda Prischak is an ERIE Customer, avid reader, open water swimmer and traveler. On her latest trip, she and her father to journeyed to India, where they attended a friend's wedding and enjoyed sampling all manner of Indian cuisine.