Posted in Beach, Europe, Travel

Traveling to Europe during refugee crisis

Being a European I have my heart in Europe, still have friends and family living in different countries. I love traveling there despite the refugee crisis and the travel warnings.  As sad as it is, the warning is not just for a country or two but the entire continent. The following message is posted on the webpage of the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs:

“EUROPE:  Credible information indicates terrorist groups such as ISIL and al-Qa’ida and its affiliates continue to plot near-term attacks in Europe.  All European countries remain vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations.

European authorities continue to warn of the possibility of attacks conducted by lone individuals inspired by extremist organizations that could occur with little to no warning.  Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theaters, open markets, aviation services, transportation systems, and public venues where people congregate.  Authorities believe there is a high likelihood terror attacks in Europe will continue as European members of ISIL return from Syria and Iraq.  European governments are taking action to guard against terrorist attacks; however, all European countries remain potentially vulnerable.”

In my opinion this crisis started to affect tourism, travelers tend to avoid certain airports and airlines with a higher concentration of Muslim residents or passengers, afraid to take public transportation at night or visit certain cities where rape rate and street disturbance is high.  More and more women are switching to organized tours for safety reasons instead of wondering around alone. I still consider Europe safe as long as you are taking the necessary precautions.

Greece: Yahoo News says that Greece’s island of Lesbos, a popular holiday destination for Europeans and Greeks alike, has found itself at the center of a migration crisis. Tens of thousands of people from the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia have traveled to the country’s eastern Aegean islands this year, using them as a gateway to mainland Greece and from there northward to new lives in more prosperous European Union countries. According to the USA Today vacationing in Greece might not be a completely safe experience but you have a good opportunity to have a great time and not be the victim of a crime. Tourists and vacationers are not usually targeted, but some may find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. In addition, there are terrorism concerns and other crimes that happen regularly.  Greek Landscapes says that the reality is that the Greek people are undergoing considerable hardship in the form of higher taxes and lost benefits, so perhaps a few extra protests and union strikes are expected over the summer of 2016. Solution: Pick any major Greek island further away from Turkey (Santorini, Zakynthos, Corfu, etc) and you won’t see refugees getting out of rafts flooding the beach and streets.

refugee.2

France: I have seen a big drop in hotel room rates in downtown Paris, just booked a deluxe suite in a 4 star hotel in a historic district for only $95 (with taxes) on Christmas day, where standard rooms usually start from $220 (plus taxes) and higher during a holiday season. France, for example, is still the top destination for American tourists, but it had a 10 percent drop in overnight stays through July in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris in November and in Nice last month, The Independent reported.  Street were vandalized and heavily littered with trash and personal belongings of the refugees.

france.2france

Belgium: According to Telegraph the Belgian Crisis Center said the threat level for Brussels is 4, meaning a “serious and imminent threat”, whereas the rest of the country is at 3. You should consider factoring in extra time for your journey due to increased security measures in place at UK ports, borders and airports.  A “Tent City” was set-up in downtown parks which is an eyesore for any tourist.

tent city

Daytime prayers are common in many European cities, you are not to disturb them.

london.2

 

belga

 

london.3

Sweden and Germany: According to News.com Germany, Sweden and other European countries are facing growing public unrest amid a wave of reports of sexual assaults since the Cologne attacks. New York-based conservative think tank Gatestone Institute has compiled a  shocking list of sexual assaults and rapes by migrants in Germany in just the first two months of the year.  Drawing only from German media reports, the list documents more than 160 instances of rape and sexual assault committed by migrants in train stations, swimming pool and other public places against victims as young as seven.

If you are taking a train don’t be surprised if you come across with police searching for migrants.

Lot of locals are marching against refugees blocking main roads and near government buildings.

germany

Turkey: Turkey Travel Planner reported several terrorist attacks in recent months and the July 15, 2016 attempt by elements of the Turkish armed forces at a coup d’état have rightly frightened potential visitors to Turkey.  On July 21st, the Turkish government declared a State of Emergency in the country, giving the president and other top leaders extraordinary powers. The State of Emergency is apparently to last at least three months.

According to travel experts only a small percentage of travelers cancelled their trips, a bigger percentage rather switched their destinations and paid the modification fee, which is a significant amount for European tickets. Instead of going to Turkey or Greece, tourists tend to pick Italy, Spain and Portugal, which have a similar climate but are considered safer.

Airfare is also lower than normal but keep in mind the commercial airlines are also trying to compete with European low cost carriers.

Images: theparkmanpost, Slate.com, drsunilgupta.com, tvn24.pl, wvtf.org, telesurtv.net, vestnikkavkaza.net, britanfirst.org, shoebat.com, thinkinghousewife.com. telegraph.co.uk, London Media Press Ltd

 

Posted in Budget, Dental Tourism, Europe, Travel

Dental Tourism

Choosing a good dentist is as important as choosing a good surgeon and if appearance is important to you so is dental hygiene. If you have a dental insurance most likely it does not cover oral surgeries, braces and cosmetic treatments and if it does, it may just be a small percentage of the total cost which is still sky high.  High premiums have small deductibles, small premiums have a high deductible so either way you are paying way too much for dental care, feeding the pockets of your insurance company and dentist.

What if I told you that it does not have to be expensive and you could combine it with a vacation?! You are not going to fly across the ocean for a check-up and cleaning but if you need major work than consider getting it done outside of the United States.  You will save a lot even with the air tickets! If you have family and friends living abroad you may have a free place to stay but if you can arrange your dental appointment during a business trip, you get your airfare and hotel for free! If you don’t know anybody abroad and don’t travel for business, you can still do it, it is so easy!

What is dental tourism? It is a network of dental clinics that specialize on foreign patients arriving to a country for major dental work, staying for a short time and traveling between dental visits.  You are NOT going to be bed-ridden after dental treatments so basically you can do anything from sightseeing to rafting as long as you take care of your teeth and follow doctor orders. There is no consultation because they only need to look at your medical records and X-ray online and by the time you get to the clinic the dental supplies are already delivered and the staff is prepped for surgery.  These high end clinics don’t do check-up and cleanings or take walk-in clients, which means that you never have to wait just because a local walked in with an emergency.  These clinics are considered to be expensive for locals; only cater to foreigners and schedule appointments months in advance. Whatever you need from implants to bone transplants and skin grafts, from braces to crowns and bridges, you can get it done. Yes, even braces, they can put it on for you, just get the monthly adjustments done back home. So, let’s do this step by step.

First, pick a country you would like to visit and google “dental tourism”.  You are going to get a list of dental clinics, read their reviews and select about 4-5 of them.  These clinics have a professional website featuring their dentists with credentials and listing their services and fees but for specific information and availability you need to send them an email first. If you don’t hear back from them within the next few business days, eliminate them. Having a good communication and customer service is essential when you are a foreign patient. European clinics speak multiple languages so if you speak one of the major languages, you will be fine.

Once you made contact with a dental clinic, you will have to email your dental records and X-rays then choose between materials and treatment options in order to estimate a total price.  Keep in mind that you will have to pay with their currency but they accept all major credit cards. Use a credit card that does not have a foreign transaction fee and awards you with either miles/points or a cash rebate.  I do not suggest you taking a large amount of cash with you abroad for safety reasons.

Based on your needs they are going to assign you a dentist, tell you how long you must stay in the country and explain you how the appointments will be spread out during that time.  It is advised to schedule your treatment soon after you arrive because you need to leave time for a follow-up visit or in case something goes wrong.

If all looks good and you agree to the plan, go ahead and purchase your air ticket.  You already know how long you need to stay abroad so choose your travel dates, and if you want to travel a bit leave some extra time for that.  The sooner you want to leave the more expensive it will get so my recommendation is to pick your travel dates within the next 3 months to get a good deal for air travel.  This blog is only about dental tourism but if you need tips on how to get good deals, please read my other blogs on www.travelbigspendsmall.com.

When you have your tickets, notify your dentist about your arrival date, flight number and the time of arrival because a driver will pick you up at the airport (his fee is incorporated into the total cost).  He will be in charge of transporting you between the airport, the clinic and your hotel or accommodation.  The clinics usually offer a few hotels to stay and normally can get you a lower room rate than a travel agency would simply because they work with the hotels directly and buy in bulk.  If you need a hotel for your stay that is going to be an extra cost but the driver is included for your convenience either way.

We have tried dental tourism in Hungary since we have friends and family there so we saved on hotel.  It worked out perfectly fine, the dental work looks great, can’t be happier.  We got an estimate here in the USA for $25K but by getting the work done in Hungary we saved 75% including airfare (two air travel 6 months apart).  As a matter of fact we got more jobs done for less than whatever was proposed for $25K.  Consider flying to Budapest, enjoy what the city has to offer, visit a thermal bath or take a trip to Prague or Vienna in between the dental treatments, they are just 3-4 hours away.

Image: TrustedHealthProducts.com