Our online guru Eli Orzessek answers your travel questions.
My wife and I had planned to travel to Brazil later in the year, but we're getting increasingly wary about the Zika virus - it just seems to be spreading more and more. Should we cancel and what can we claim back, if we do?


It's understandable to feel a bit panicked over the Zika virus - it's all over the news right now. But it doesn't mean you need to put your plans on hold just yet. Experts say the vast majority of people who contract the virus won't know they have. The main concern is around whether you and your wife have baby plans.

I've looked at some advice from Natalie Ball, Director of comparetravelinsurance.co.nz. It says that 11 airlines and three cruise ship companies have changed their refund or credit policies due to the virus. Air New Zealand is currently offering flexibility on all domestic and international fare types for passengers who are currently pregnant and their travelling companions. This applies to flights to regions confirmed to have the virus.

Unfortunately, most travel insurance policies won't cover Zika now that the risk is known.

However, you might be able to make a claim if you purchased a policy prior to February 1, when the World Health Organisation's declarations were made public.


"We've even had inquiries from women wanting to cancel their babymoon holiday to unaffected tropical destinations such as Fiji," Ms Ball says. "Unfortunately, travel insurance does not cover cancellation for fear of being affected by Zika."

My son and I (and several others) are travelling to Texas in June for a powerlifting competition. We will be in Killeen for the event, but were wanting to travel around the area for a few weeks after the event. We have been told car hire is relatively cheap in the US, so will plan a bit of a road trip. We are flying in and out of Houston. Any suggestions would be really helpful because looking at maps of the area, it is vast.


It certainly is vast - everything's bigger in Texas, they say. I asked an online friend of mine who's a local and she said road trips in Texas usually mean overnight - at least. She recommends checking out the hill country, Enchanted Rock, Cooper's BBQ in Llano and Fredericksburg - this town is quite close to Killeen and has a unique German heritage. Esteemed TimeOut editor Russell Baillie also recommended it. Big Bend National Park is also worth visiting - it runs along the border with Mexico and has some pretty incredible landscapes. If you're keen to see the coast, try Rockford.

My friend also recommended avoiding Austin during the South by Southwest festival - but that will be long over by the time you visit.

If you're after an organised itinerary, my contact at House of Travel had some suggestions for self-drive tours as well. One of their favourites is the Grand Texas Trails, starting and ending in Houston. The self-drive tour takes nine days and travels through Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston. For under $1500 per person, they'll provide you with a detailed day-to-day itinerary, eight nights' accommodation and eight days' mid-size Hertz rental car hire.

Alternatively, if you're looking to go it alone, Hertz currently has an Earlybird special for car hire in the States - if you book before March 31 you will receive reduced rates.

Happy travels and best of luck for the competition!

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