American Alpine Institute Travel Services
Our Travel Counselor has the ability to research many travel options to assure that you reach your destination efficiently and that you get the best value for your travel dollar. Whether you need flights, hotel reservations, a car rental, or special bookings before or after your AAI program, we will be happy to help you navigate the multitude of travel options you have in this rapidly changing industry. Especially for travel to our international destinations, our travel coordinator will assure that your routing and schedule are the most dependable and efficient.
The travel counsel and booking fee for trips within North American is $35 and for trips outside North America it is $50. As you would expect, there is no fee for simply booking early arrival, standard stay, or after-program hotel nights at the properties that we use for our climbing and trekking programs.
Lisa Greif, Travel Counselor
Phone and Fax: (509) 972-4028
AAI's Travel Coordinator Lisa Greif arranges travel itineraries for AAI clients' and staff members' domestic and international programs. She also works with the hotels and transportation providers in the foreign countries where we operate and plays an important role in making trip logistics run smoothly.
Lisa is adept at arranging special excursions and tours before and after AAI programs for climbers and trekkers who want to take advantage of their long distance travel for additional relaxation or adventure. From independent travel to the Galapagos and the beaches of Thailand, to private treks to Machu Picchu and through the Swiss Alps, Lisa can make great things happen for you.
Lisa has many years of experience and is expert in the North American, South American, European, and Asian travel markets. She has extensive experience in the airline industry and worked for another international tour operator before joining the Institute staff in 2001. Her university study was in tourism and travel administration. Besides being extremely knowledgeable, Lisa is a lot of fun to work with!
Travel Insurance Recommendations
We strongly recommend that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance that includes trip cancellation coverage. Unlike many vacations that are less physically demanding, a climbing and trekking vacation can be ruined by an illness or relatively minor injury that occurs before departure. While you can still tour a city or head to the beach with a sprained ankle or a very bad cold (albeit, less conveniently), such an injury or common illness can stop you in your tracks short of your climbing or trekking destination.
Please note that the following is only a general summary of possible coverage, and is intended as a basic introduction to travel insurance. Please do not rely on this brief summary as a description of coverage and exclusions. For complete policy details, please see the Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance website or ask us to mail a brochure to you.
Trip cancellation insurance provides reimbursement of non-refundable program expenses in the event that an illness or injury prevents you or your traveling companion from going on your journey. It also protects you if a family member or business partner of you or your traveling companion has an illness or injury that prevents you from going on the trip. Coverage also is effective for many other listed causes.
You will also be covered for trip interruption (the value of the unused portion of your trip), if you or your traveling companion has to cut it short because of illness or injury so long as you purchase the Select policy along with the Adventurer Pak which covers mountaineering, extreme skiing, etc.
Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance
Ripcord is our primary travel insurance provider, offering coverage for trip cancellation, trip delay, baggage, medical evacuation and other eventualities. We recommend Ripcord highly.
Click here to Purchase Ripcord.
Why does AAI so highly recommend travel insurance?
Over the years, we have seen a number of climbers choose not to buy travel insurance and then need to cancel their climbing trip at the last minute due illness, minor injury, a family emergency or death, and other unforeseen circumstances. We were unable to issue a refund because of the last minute cancellation, and as a result, the climber was out not only the cost of the plane ticket, but the cost of the trek, climbing course, or expedition as well.
We urge you to view the program that you have booked with us as an investment, and very much urge you to protect this investment. The cost of the insurance is minimal, especially when compared with the magnitude of financial loss in the event that you need to cancel your trip.
Why does AAI recommend the comprehensive plan?
We recommend the Comprehensive Plan (rather than the Trip Interruption Post Departure Return Air only up to $1000 Plan) because pre-trip illneesses and injuries are the most common cuase of losses on these programs. Additionally, most if not all of the the many parts of the Comprehensive Plan are likely to be useful including:
Travel Baggage Coverage: There are some things to consider in relation to Travel Baggage that are not found in your application leaflet: Travel Baggage will insure your luggage and belongings during your entire trip, whereas coverage you get from an airline will only ensure compensation for baggage lost during your air travel. It's a good idea to check with your airline ahead of time to see whether their policy of compensation suits you (some airlines will give cash for a loss while others will only give you an air ticket for the amount of loss).
If you already have homeowner's insurance you should check to see if your belongings would be covered for loss during travel. If they will cover loss during travel there are still two advantages to consider in purchasing a one-time policy like Travel Insured's policy: 1) if you do need to file a claim there is no risk to your ongoing policy rate being raised; 2) if there is a deductible on your homeowner's insurance you can get Travel Insured to cover that because they have no deductible. Travel Insured gives primary coverage in all areas so even if you have doubled up coverage you can still always collect from Travel Insured.
Is it important to save documentation for potential claims?
Keep in mind before, during, and after your travels that insurance companies need documentation for any claim you make. If you get sick during your travels see a doctor within 12 hours of the onset of your illness (or as soon as is possible) and get a letter from him or her; if you can't get to the airport due to adverse weather conditions, cut out an article on the weather from the local paper; hang onto receipts.
Other Important Notes
- Please read your policy carefully before you leave on your trip. The comments here are inteneded as helpful notes and they do not purport to represent all the coverages or limitations of the insurance policy.
- Filling out the application form may look straightforward but there are two mistakes people frequently make. To help avoid minor hassles and possible delay in processing your application, be sure that you've counted the number of days correctly - if you plan to leave on the 15th and get back on the 30th, don't subtract 15 from 30 and conclude you have a 15 day trip. It's a 16-day trip because you need to count the first day - the 15th - as well.
- Ideally, complete your application with plenty of time to spare in order to receive your policy prior to departure. Keep in mind that Travelex will waive the Pre-exisiting exclusion in their policy if you cover your entire non-refundable portion within 14 days of making your initial deposit. See their website for details. Please be sure to fill the application fully and carefully as any areas that are incorrect may cause delay or a refusal to process the application.
- If you prefer to use a printed application rather than applying on-line, just let us know and we will send you one.
We hope this information is of assistance to you in making your decisions about travel insurance. If you have any questions, please email or call AAI Travel Coordinator Lisa Greif at firstname.lastname@example.org or (509) 972-4028 9am to 2pm pacific time, Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday.
Medical Considerations for Travelers and Climbers
Climbers who are preparing for expeditions to foreign countries or to high altitude have special medical considerations. AAI recommends that you consult with a specialist in travel medicine as well as with your personal physician if you are unfamiliar with the medical issues raised by your travel plans.
If you are in need of a travel medicine consultation, we recommend Frank James, MD, of Travel Medicine Northwest, located in Bellingham, WA. We have worked with Dr. James for many years, and many of our climbers have relied on his advice.