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Going Places Mailbag: Cabo Commercialism, And Travel After Diagnosis

Ed Ronco
We're checking the "Going Places" mailbag this week. (OK, fine, it's an e-mail inbox.)

This week on Going Places, we’re answering listener mail. Have a question of your own? You'll find a link to ask it at the bottom of this story.

A Rough Time In Cabo

Last week, we heard from Matthew Brumley while he was vacationing near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, at the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. He said he was having a great time.

That didn’t line up with the experience of listener Jan, who called Cabo “the worst vacation I’ve ever suffered.” Here’s what she said:

“The hawkers, as we came to call them, were … relentlessly pecking and squawking at us right from the airport, through to the rental car pick up, all through the marina and right up to the gate of the condo.”

She’s talking about people selling everything from crafts to time shares. Brumley said he had a similar experience.

“As we were collecting our bags, and heading out [from] the airport, my wife and kids and I looked at each other and said, ‘OK, are you ready to run the gauntlet? Here we go,’” Brumley said. “It happens all over the world, and that’s just part of travel.”

Brumley says he was able to quickly escape it. His strategy: Just keep moving. And look for accommodations that take you off the beaten path. Staying in the heart of a tourist district is sure to bring more of this. But even traveling just a few blocks can make a difference.

“And then all of a sudden you’re experiencing the real Florence, or the real Venice, or the real Cabo,” Brumley said. “Book yourself into a quiet hotel or house just down the road, and you’re in a different world.”

Travel Insurance, With Medical Questions

We also heard this week from listener Abe. He’s traveled a lot but never spent the money to get travel insurance in case of flight cancelations. But about a year ago, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lymphoma, which scuttled a trip to Germany. After wrangling with the airline, he got half the price of his tickets refunded.

“Now that my chemo and radiation are done, I am gleefully and thankfully still alive, and have booked travel with my two sons and my mom to Rome. My mom … asked me to go get travel insurance, and I don’t know what’s the best way to approach this, and if I am eligible.”

First of all, Abe, we're glad you’re feeling better. 

As for travel insurance, Brumley says you and he have something in common, in that you haven't typically used it.

“For the first time, only two weeks ago, I took out travel insurance,” Brumley said. “It’s annual protection … for things such as lost luggage or missed flights. It does not cover me for preexisting conditions.”

While it's possible to find travel insurance with a pre-existing condition, Brumley says it will take some conversations and could be extremely expensive.

So begin elsewhere: Call your health insurer to see what medical coverage you have while you travel. Then, check with your credit card company. Sometimes they cover things you purchase through the card, like plane tickets or rental cars.

And there are sites like Squaremouth, which act as a clearing house for travel insurance.

Unfortunately, Abe, there aren’t many easy answers here, except to explore your options and shop around.

Have a question for our travel expert? Comment below or drop us a line through e-mail.


"Going Places" is 88.5's weekly exploration of travel topics. Matthew Brumley is the co-founder of Earthbound Expeditions on Bainbridge Island, which provides small-group travel to clients including KNKX. Never miss an episode again. Subscribe to Going Places with iTunesGoogle Play or Stitcher.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.