TravelSmart is a great app for travelers.
Travel as much as I do and you quickly realize you are more and more dependent on my smartphone. Being a travel blogger means that I have to post updates on my social media on the go, and that I must rely on my phone to keep on top of the many emails I receive every day.
Come to think of it, nowadays all travelers use their phones when traveling. Whatsapp is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends; Google Maps is indispensable to find the way to the hotel; airlines have their own app that allow to check in and avoid having to print the boarding pass.
Adding to the list of must-have apps for travelers, there’s now an updated version of TravelSmart, which has recently been launched by Allianz, and I am sure it will become on of your favorites. Pity that the updated version has just been released – my sister would have saved herself a lot of hassle if she could have used it during her trip to Africa in October, when she had to make several claims for her lost luggage.
Why TravelSmart Is the Ultimate, Unmissable App For Travelers
What makes TravelSmart indispensable for frequent travelers? One sentence sums it up quite well: it’s easy. It’s easy to use, and it makes traveling and even dealing with emergency situations easy.
But, in more details, here’s why you will love it.
Real-time flight info
Through TravelSmart you can access real-time flight information. You just have to add you flight info using the “My Trips” feature, and then you only have to go to it to check the flight status and even the departure gate. Honestly, it’s very handy!
Easy access to your insurance policy
TravelSmart allows you to easily access my insurance policy. You can then confirm my insurance coverage and check your benefits. But there’s more: you can manage my policy, you can file a claim (how cool is that?) and easily add documents through the app. You can check the status of a claim, and even select how you want the claim to be paid. No more bouncing from site to email, from email to phone calls – it is all there, in one place.
One of the great things about TravelSmart is that it uses geolocation, which means the app always knows where you are. This allows it to offer a bunch of other features.
Easily available emergency numbers
The home screen of TravelSmart allows you to call any country’s emergency number via the Global Emergency Numbers feature. And the Assistance Around Me feature has a hospital locator that also includes doctor’s offices, pharmacies, police stations and (for United States nationals) even the contacts of U.S. Embassy offices. It even offers full directions to the required facility via the integrated Apple Maps.
Contact us buttons
There’s also a Contact Us button on the home screen that puts travelers in touch with Allianz Global Assistance medical assistance or customer service from any country in the world.
List of recommended health care facilities
As if this was not enough, the app doesn’t just list health care facilities recommended by Allianz Global Assistance, but also non-recommended ones. It’s super useful if you end up in smaller, isolated places – as it happened to me when I injured myself in Jordan, for example. That time I relied on the tip of a friend who warned me that the small village where I was staying had a clinic, or else I would have had to drive for a few hours to Amman.
Available in many languages
Last (but definitely not least) my favorite feature: TravelSmart translates a bunch of first aid terms from English to 18 foreign languages – it is super useful in those countries where you don’t speak the local language. TravelSmart also has the universal name for more than 750 common medications, which is very useful when going to the pharmacy when we are traveling.
TravelSmart is totally free of charge and it is available in the App Store.
Make sure to check out my post “Why You Need A Good Backpacker Travel Insurance.”
A good backpacker travel insurance is essential whether you are planning to go on a short term trip or considering long term traveling.
This post is for all those travelers who are wondering whether they need a backpacker travel insurance. I could go straight to be point and just say that yes, you do. But I have an obsession for explaining myself. Hence, I have decided to break down all the reasons why you do need a backpacker insurance, even when your budget is limited.
You see, backpacking is a lot of fun. I have done my great deal of it. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I still do it, even when I could actually afford to travel a bit more comfortably. One thing hasn’t changed though. Whether I go backpacking or on a more comfortable trip, I always make sure to get a good backpacker travel insurance before stepping out the door.
Yet, I have noticed that there is a dangerous trend in the backpackers’ community. Following discussions in a bunch of Facebook backpackers’ groups I am a member of, I realized that many travelers seem to think that getting a good backpacking insurance isn’t necessary, and that you are not a real backpacker (but rather, an unsuccessful one) if you do.
They say that a backpacker insurance is too costly and likely to be a waste of money. They argue that in most countries they can get prescriptions (including antibiotics) at the pharmacy (let me not get into a discussion about why you should only take antibiotics if a physician prescribes them). They believe that if they are desperate they can go to the emergency room. And they comment that the odds of something happening are very low. They could not be more irresponsible.
In this post, I explain what a backpacker travel insurance is for, and the reasons why you are better off getting one.
You never know when you may need a travel insurance
What Is A Backpacker Travel Insurance For?
I admit that the term backpacker travel insurance can be less than clear and that it can mean several different things.
Yet, a backpacker insurance is an essential item for a trip overseas, one you can’t really see until you have to use it. It’s not like an actual backpack that you stuff with your clothes; or like a pair of good hiking boots that you will wear every day on the trails. In fact, it’s the kind of thing you buy hoping you’ll never really need to use it.
It pretty much means hoping for good luck while at the same time knowing that, in the unlikely event something happens – whether you get robbed; you have a family emergency and need to fly home; you get sick and need to be hospitalized; or you have an accident while walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – you have a net of protection and don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars to get help.
Nowadays, many companies offer backpacker insurance, and I know for a fact that picking the right one is easier said than done. I think it took me weeks of research, questions and considerations before deciding which one to buy. SafetyWing is an excellent backpacking insurance, for example.
Whichever backpacker travel insurance cover you decide to get, make it a point to read and understand all the conditions of the policy before buying it. I suggest calling the company, browsing the site, and even enquiring with a reliable travel agent who, selling several insurance policies along with tour packages, is bound to be knowledgeable on the subject.
The main characteristics of a good backpacker insurance aren’t much different from those of a regular travel insurance. These are the things which – as a minimum – you should be looking for:
- Medical insurance, and especially emergency medical and repatriation. This means that you will be covered for things such as accidents, and you will get hospital and doctors’ visits during your trip. It means that you can access a doctor if you break your leg, and even if that traveler’s diarrhea doesn’t go away on its own. Medical repatriation means that if there is no good hospital to assist you nearby, the insurance will cover the costs to transport you to a major one.
- Personal accident. This means that in the unfortunate case you lose a limb or are left disabled or blind, your insurance will pay you a set amount.
- Personal liability. This means that if, by accident, you cause injury to someone, or damage or cause loss to someone’s property, your backpacker insurance will cover the costs.
- Baggage and property insurance. This means that your backpacker travel insurance will cover you in case of theft, loss or damage to your luggage (if the airline doesn’t deliver your backpack); and even loss or damage to any gear such as smartphone, laptops, cameras etc. One thing to be aware is that most insurance companies will put a limit to the number of items you can insure. If you travel with a lot of electronic gear (that’s the case for me!) you do need an insurance that covers more than one item.
One thing you likely won’t need is trip cancellation, which is a classic of most insurance policies but won’t be as relevant to a backpacking trip where you plan to move from one country to another. Trip cancellation usually refers to unexpected interruptions and sudden changes to your travel plans caused by factors such as flights being cancelled or other reasons that stop you from traveling.
Another thing you must absolutely consider is the kind of activities you plan on doing during our trip. For example, if you enjoy things such as hiking and adventure sports, you may have to pay a little extra for a sports travel insurance, or for a trekking insurance. If you plan on renting a car every now and then, you may want to get an insurance that also covers for “collision damage waiver excess.”
Finally, you want to make sure that your backpacker travel insurance has an emergency number that can be contacted 24/7.
Are There Things A Backpacker Travel Insurance Won’t Cover?
There certainly are. I have already explained that most insurances won’t cover things such as extreme sports – for those, you need to look for a specific plan. But there are other things you should not expect to be covered by your insurance. Here they are:
- Incidents that are caused by the use of drugs and alcohol – if you really want to do drugs (personally, I have never had a fascination for them, but we’re all different I suppose), stay at home where you can be taken care of if anything happens. Similarly, don’t go around getting trashed with alcohol during your backpacking trips because incidents caused by abuse of alcohol won’t be covered.
- Incidents that are caused by reckless driving – chances are that if you are driving you will be covered by car insurance too. Make sure you do, because chances are your travel insurance won’t cover you for anything remotely dangerous you may have done while on the wheel.
- Pre-existing medical conditions – if you have a chronic disease, for example, your insurance won’t cover you for that. The same goes for a condition you’ve had prior to stipulating your insurance.
- Pregnancy – make sure to triple check this one with your insurance provider, as chances are that if you are pregnant you may have to pick a specific plan.
- Stolen cash – unless you are on a more comprehensive plan, this isn’t generally included.
- Visa issues – if you need to get a visa to enter a specific country but for whatever reason you are refused one and have to cancel your trip, chances are your insurance won’t cover you for that.
- Civil unrest that doesn’t require evacuation – if your government hasn’t started procedures to evacuate its nationals visiting a country that’s going through civil unrest, your insurance won’t cover you for that.
- Knowingly traveling to dangerous places – keep this in mind if you insist on visiting places where natural disasters have just occurred, or where a war has been going on. The reasons are pretty obvious, if I may add.
- Breaking up – unless otherwise specified, if you decide to cancel a trip you were meant to take with your (now former) partner, your insurance won’t cover you for that.
- Medical tourism – you can’t really claim things such as a nose job or even dentistry you got overseas on your backpacker travel insurance.
Now that I have clarified what backpacker insurance is and what it should cover and what it won’t cover, let me explain why you do need it.
Continue reading to find out why you need to get a good backpacker insurance.
Sometimes trips don’t go as planned – that’s what insurance is for
11 Reasons To Get A Good Backpacker Travel Insurance
You may get sick during your backpacking trip
I have yet to meet a backpacker that never got sick on the road. Sure enough, I got my good deal of food poisoning (in fact, I think I get food poisoning every time I am in Mexico), throat infections and the like, and each time I did I was glad that I could call my backpacker travel insurance to sort out a doctor’s appointment, get all the tests done, and get the necessary prescriptions.
You may need prescription medications
Would you go to a pharmacy in your home country and expect to get prescription medications without an actual prescription? Well, you wouldn’t really. So why would you do it while traveling? Don’t get me wrong – I have certainly tried my luck with this; and even very recently if I may add so.
During a recent trip to Argentina, I recognized that the symptoms I was having were those of a urinary infection. It was a Saturday evening, I was in Buenos Aires and I was getting ready to go out for a drink. I thought about popping into the nearest pharmacy and asking for some quick fix before getting back to business (aka drinking beer).
As soon as I asked the pharmacist to please give me the prescriptions (I thought) I needed, she asked me whether in Italy I can get them off the counter or if I’d need a prescription. She had a point!
I ended up having to call my insurance company, who sent me to the nearest hospital where a doctor examined me and prescribed the necessary medications. The insurance even located the nearest pharmacy for me – and all medical expenses were covered by it.
Not a pretty photo: the terrible wound I got in Jordan
You may injure yourself
If you enjoy hiking as much as I do, a good backpacker insurance company that covers for hiking, or even a sport or trekking insurance is necessary. While hiking isn’t dangerous per se, accidents while hiking may occur. I was hiking the Jordan Trail when I accidentally wounded myself going through some thick bushes, and sure enough I couldn’t apply stitches myself – good thing my insurance sent me to the nearest clinic for that.
Your precious laptop may get stolen
Or your camera, or smartphone. The point I am trying to make is that while not all backpackers carry a laptop or a camera, they all carry a smartphone or a tablet. Chances are that you may leave your tablet locked away in your room when you go out; but someone may snatch your phone out of your pocket – yes, even if it is zipped up! In fact, someone may even steal your locked away tablet.
Though you may have saved all your documents and photos in the cloud, what about the actual phone or laptop? A good insurance will cover for it and help you replace it.
Or you may be the one losing things
Moving from hostel to hostel, or better from country to country while backpacking means you will inevitably lose things. It is not the end of the world if you drop a sock, a headlamp or a book – they can be easily replaced.
But what if you lose your passport? Now, that is a nightmare! I only know too well: I forgot it in the photocopy machine at a random shop in Nicaragua right before crossing the border to Costa Rica. I was able to retrieve it then, but what if I hadn’t been? A good backpacker insurance usually includes passport loss coverage, which means that you will get help sorting out a new one.
Just in case – you do need a good insurance!
The airline may lose your backpack
You are just starting your trip. You check in your backpack, board your plane, and 12 hours later find yourself in a different continent. Pity your backpack didn’t make it there: the airline lost your luggage. It’s one of the most annoying things that can happen to travelers. Chances are that you will be getting your stuff in a day or two (or nine, as it happened to my sister once). But you will still need some clean clothes and toiletries to get by while you wait for your luggage to arrive. A good backpacker insurance will cover the costs of replacing your backpack and all the items in it.
You may want to join a guided trip
What? A backpacker going on a guided trip? Believe it or not, it does happen. Unless you can drive through the Sahara desert by yourself, or cross the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia alone, obviously.
Ok, back to being serious now. There are places you won’t be visiting independently, because it is simply too complicated. When you join a guided group trip, and even more so one that has a high level of adventurous activities, the operator will require to purchase a good travel insurance. That’s when your backpacker travel insurance will come in handy.
Or go to countries where it is required
Did you know that there are some countries that will deny you entry unless you don’t show proof of having a backpacker insurance? Make sure to double check whether you can enter the country (or countries) that you are planning to visit, and to get your insurance accordingly.
You may miss your flight
No matter how hard you try to leave nice and early for a flight, you may get stuck in traffic. I remember I was in the very civilized London once, and I left something like 4 hours in advance to get to the airport nice and early. Pity that there were power cuts along the rail line and I was stuck on the train, and by the time I made it to the airport I was unable to check in and board my flight. If this happens to you, your insurance may be able to cover the costs of the new flight you may need to purchase, and help you get a refund for the missed flight.
Most of all, remember to have fun during your trip
Just because it hasn’t happened yet, it doesn’t mean it won’t
One of the most frequently asked questions in backpacking groups across Facebook is whether you need proof of onward travel when traveling to Central America countries. I won’t hide this from you: I get annoyed at it every time.
You see, the simple answer to this question is that proof of onward travel is required by law, and you may or may not be asked for it. However, every time this question comes up, I also see comments by travelers saying they were never asked, or that they were asked but managed to get through the border somehow.
My point is always the same. Just because someone, or even everyone has been lucky and wasn’t asked, it doesn’t mean the law is not there and that there are no chances you’ll be the one who gets asked.
Why am I ranting about this, now? Because the exact same principle applies to backpacking insurance. Just because it’s never happened to you or anyone you know before, it doesn’t mean it never will.
The costs to benefits ratio is – actually – great
I know what most of you are thinking: why pay for something that you are hoping you will never use? Because to be fair, it is not that expensive, and once you think about the cover that even the most basic backpacker travel insurance will provide, then it’s not bad value at all. After all, it’s better to pay a policy that costs a mere $2 USD per day (yes, that cheap!) than having to pay thousands in case something happens. Your good luck costs just $2 USD. If you ask me, that’s totally worth it.
And if you don’t have that extra $2 USD per day, then maybe you shouldn’t be traveling altogether. Work for a little longer, save a little more and postpone your trip when you can make sure you can actually fully afford it in a more responsible, sensible manner – backpacker insurance included.
Planning on doing some adventure sports? You definitely need a good travel insurance
So, What’s A Good Backpacker Travel Insurance?
There are hundreds of good insurance companies out there. However, researching which policy is the best for a long term trip that involves visiting more than one foreign country; during which you may be off grid at times; during which you may be practicing adventure sports; while you will be carrying all sorts of gear such as cameras, laptop and other electronics – may take you weeks. And let’s face it, shopping for backpacker insurance isn’t exactly fun.
I like SafetyWing, a good insurance perfect for people who, like me, move around a lot, going from one country to another and hardly know their itinerary in advance, and carry their job with them.
SafetyWing is a very affordable insurance (it starts at $37 per 4 weeks). It is a fantastic combination between a great medical insurance for travelers, and a great old school travel insurance. At the moment, SafetyWing doesn’t cover electronics (so it’s better for those who don’t carry too many valuables with them) and extreme adventure sports – however, they are working on adding these two options in the next couple of months.
What I like about it is that it works like a subscription: you pick a start date and can cancel whenever you want. There is no maximum duration for your trip (so it’s perfect even if you don’t have a return date set) and you can set up monthly auto-renewal so that you can be sure your coverage won’t expire. And instead of paying it all at once for a year (if you are traveling that long) you just pay every month – so you don’t have to shell out a huge chunk of money all at once.
Another great advantage of SafetyWing is that it actually gives you some (limited) coverage in your home country. In my case, I still get free medical assistance in Italy by virtue of being still a resident (this is where I pay all my taxes!), but I know that in some countries like the US you need to have a health insurance, so this is very convenient.
The actual final monthly cost of SafetyWing depends on a number of factors – ie your age and the countries you will be visiting (it’s going to be more expensive if you plan to visit the US). Each quote is personal, so I recommend visiting SafetyWing website to get a quote for your personal backpacker travel insurance.
At times our trips don’t go so smoothly
What You Should Do After Buying Your Backpacker Travel Insurance
Once you finally got convinced and bought a good travel insurance, there are a few things you should do before you set off for the trip of a lifetime.
First of all, make a note of your policy number, your insurance emergency contact number and its e-mail. Download a copy of the policy: keep one for yourself, making sure it is easily accessible even if you don’t have internet; and share a copy with a family member or your best friend. Make sure to also keep a copy in the cloud – just in case!
Most year long policies have auto-renewals, so you don’t have to worry about it expiring. This is the same for SafetyWing, which you pay in monthly installments. If your backpacker insurance doesn’t renew automatically, set up a reminder a couple of weeks before it’s meant to expire.
Final Thoughts On Getting A Backpacker Travel Insurance
I suppose you get the idea of how important I think having a good backpacker insurance is. I’ve had to use my travel insurance a bunch of times, and it really helped me. What you need to understand is that life is unpredictable, and even when we want to be optimistic and keep a positive attitude, we can’t foresee the future.
I always hope that I won’t have to make use of my travel insurance, and I sincerely hope you don’t have to use it either. But in case it is necessary, I am glad I bought it. It helps me face unexpected emergencies, and it is a responsible thing to get as an adult.
Have you ever had to use your backpacker travel insurance? Let me know in the comments!
Legal Disclaimer: This post was written in cooperation with SafetyWing. The views provided remain my own.
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If there’s something I always invest on when I travel, that’s a good travel insurance policy. In fact, I travel so much nowadays that I eventually decided to get a 365 days policy, so that I don’t have to worry every time I step out of town – not to mention, the savings are considerable. It comes down to little over $1.50 per day, and I believe that it is a good investment.
That’s why I cringe every time I hear someone saying he travels without travel insurance. It’s especially a backpackers’ habit, and there are various reasons backpackers refuse to buy travel insurance. The most typical one is that it is too costly and they are trying to travel on an extreme budget (I guess I am an unsuccessful backpacker, then!).
Yet, most people decide not to purchase travel insurance because the odds of something happening that requires that kind of assistance are extremely low.
But are they, really?
I could go mention a million nightmare stories I have heard from other travelers that would convince anybody to get travel insurance. Instead, let me tell you a few reasons why I always get travel insurance. But first, let’s get the basics covered and let me clarify what travel insurance is.
Here’s why travel insurance is really necessary
What Is Travel Insurance And What Should It Include?
The term travel insurance can actually be confusing, as it may refer to a number of different things. There are many travel insurance companies around, and picking one isn’t always easy. Some are quite reliable.
Whichever company one may opt for, travel insurance policies should always be read and understood before being purchased, and a good way to go about it is via a travel agent, who typically sells that many that he can clarify almost all questions.
A good travel insurance typically includes health insurance, which means coverage for accidents and hospital or doctors’ visits while traveling. This means being able to go to the doctor if that food poisoning isn’t going away on its own.
Travel insurance should also include medical evacuation insurance, which means that if something happens during the trip and there’s no hospital nearby, the insurance will organize transportation to a major hospital.
Trip cancellation means that the travel insurance also covers for unexpected interruptions and changes to travel plans – ie when a natural disaster causes flights to be cancelled; or when a variety of reasons means we can’t go on that trip anymore.
Finally, a good travel insurance also has a baggage and property insurance which covers for thefts, loss or damage to luggage and gear while traveling. The most typical example of this is an airline not delivering luggage, or a phone being stolen while on the metro.
Now that we are clear on what travel insurance is and what it should cover, let me clarify the reasons I always get travel insurance.
Travel insurance may protect against natural disasters
Ten Reasons I Always Get Travel Insurance
Luggage actually gets lost…
… and although airlines say that they will deliver lost bags the next day, it takes more than that to get them back. That may be one of the most annoying things that can happen when going on holidays, but a good travel insurance provides coverage to replace the lost items.
I know the odds that an airline loses luggage aren’s so high, but trust me: it happens. Indeed, I don’t even know how many times Alitalia lost my bags or those of my family and friends. We almost take it for granted that our luggage will be misplaced – and the only thing we can do to protect ourselves is getting travel insurance.
Many of you may be wondering why I keep flying with the same company since I know that they regularly lose my stuff, and why I don’t pick another carrier. Guess what: that’s easier said than done. I live in Sardinia and my options are limited. If I want to go to get out of Europe, I usually have to fly via Rome Fiumicino and Alitalia is the only airline that takes me there.
The good news is that while there’s not many airlines that fly out of Cagliari, there’s excellent travel insurance policies I can pick from.
Adventurous travelers should always get travel insurance
Stuff gets stolen
But a good travel insurance will protect against that. As a travel blogger, I almost always carry my precious MacBook everywhere. While not all travelers take their laptops everywhere, most carry at least a smartphone, and many go around with expensive cameras or a tablet. Besides, we all have ATM and credit cards in our wallets.
While I always recommend my readers to keep valuables locked in the room while out exploring, I know that theft can happen and that’s why travel insurance is necessary. For example, sitting down at a café, most of us take the smartphone out of the pocket and place it on the table: someone may walk by and steal it, and it would be gone in a matter of seconds.
And what about the time I was working as a tour leader and took my group to Chichicastenango Market, in Guatemala? I remember warning everyone not to take any valuables inside the market, but sure enough someone did and within a few minutes someone told me that his wallet was taken right out of his pocket. Thankfully he had a good travel insurance that assisted him to replace his documents and stolen credit cards.
Travel insurance is recommended when traveling to Thailand
Sometimes I forget my prescription medications…
… and I will need a refill. I have asthma. It is nothing major: I keep it well under control swimming, but I am on regular medications too. I should be used to packing my prescriptions, then.
The sad truth, however, is that whenever I pack my bags for a trip (which generally happens a couple of hours before my flight) I forget something – it can be a pajama when I am meant to sleep in a dorm; and even my asthma prescriptions. That’s when my travel insurance comes in handy, as it will help me locate the nearest pharmacy and get a prescription.
I often lose things
Never mind losing a book, a head lamp, or a pair of socks while I am doing laundry. That happens and while it can be annoying (I want to know how a book ends!), it hardly disrupts any travel plans and no travel insurance company will ever cover it.
But losing a passport? That’s a wholly different thing.
And it can happen even to the most experienced travelers. For example, I forgot mine in a shop in Nicaragua moments before getting on a bus to Costa Rica. Luckily, I could trace it back and managed to retrieve it, but it would have been a nightmare had I not been able to do that.
A good travel insurance can also include passport loss coverage and that means helping in the process of getting a new one.
Clumsy travelers need travel insurance
Volcano erupts… (and flights get cancelled)
… and airlines duck out when it happens. Airlines don’t refund tickets when flights are cancelled due to things such as natural disasters, strikes or terrorism attacks, and I only know too well. Thankfully a good travel insurance helps sort things out.
During my first trip to Argentina, back in 2012, first a strike caused the cancellation of one of my flights: I was meant to go from Buenos Aires to Trelew, but the flight landed in Bahia Blanca, about half way, when the pilot came out to announce that due to a strike he couldn’t go forward and passengers would have the option of either returning to Buenos Aires or land there, and make their own way to the final destination. My travel insurance covered the costs of the shuttle that took me to Trelew.
On the same trip (what are the odds of more than one flight being cancelled on the same trip?), a volcano erupted in Chile causing flights cancellation. That meant I had to change my itinerary, and give up on some places (and flights) altogether – because I simply could not make it to the destination in time. My travel insurance refunded me for that too.
If a flight gets cancelled or delayed, it is actually possible to claim compensation for flight delay or cancellation. Various companies help travelers get their money back in case of a cancellation, and even in case of a delay, and it’s much much easier to go through them than dealing directly with the airline, having to spend hours on the phone or emailing back and forth to just obtain what is – quite simply – within your rights as a traveler.
With the risk of food poisoning, it’s better to get travel insurance when going to Mexico
I am clumsy
This means that at times I injure myself. I trip, fall, bang my head – stuff like that. A good travel insurance helps me locate the nearest hospital or doctor, so that I can get medicated.
Sure enough, this is what happened when I traveled to Jordan in March 2017. I was on a 5 days hike from Dana, a lovely historical village, to Petra, the famous archaeological site. But on day 3 of the hike, following my guide, I walked through some bushes and a hard, wooden branch got right into my leg, causing a deep, painful wound.
I was in the middle of nowhere and had no choice but to continue walking, but the first thing I did as soon as I was able to get phone reception was call my travel insurance, which immediately sorted out a doctor’s appointment at the nearest hospital and paid for all the expenses, including the antibiotics I had to take to prevent any infection.
Long term travel means I may get sick on the road
And sometimes seeing a doctor is actually necessary. A good travel insurance will sort out doctors’ appointments, pay for any test the doctor may want to run and also cover the prescriptions.
I mostly travel to developing countries. Travel insurance is a must when going to these places, because not all hospitals are good, and the hygienic conditions are not always ideal. I use all precautions: I try to only eat street food that’s cooked in front of me, for example. But at times this just isn’t enough.
I remember one time in Mexico when I was actually thankful the toilet was right next to the bathtub – you can figure out why. I was so sick, I could not even hold down water, and had to call my travel insurance who managed to find a doctor that could come visit me in my room.
Another time, in Peru, I had a bad sore throat – in fact, it had been lasting for over a month. I eventually decided to seek the advice of my travel insurance, who recommended I get all sorts of tests to see if I had some sort of bacteria and sent me to the international clinic, where the doctors ran all sorts of tests and determined I had a staph infection, for which I needed strong antibiotics.
Some tour companies require travel insurance
I generally prefer traveling independently (and solo), but I occasionally go on a guided tour, sometimes even for a week or so. Most tour operators, and especially adventure ones that take travelers on hikes and other fun activities, actually require people joining their tours to purchase travel insurance, which normally has to include trip cancellation and medical coverage.
And some countries too
But there’s more! Some countries actually deny entry to travelers who don’t show proof of having a travel insurance. One of them is Cuba, and other countries are thinking of implementing this policy too.
Why I Always Recommend Buying Travel Insurance
I can hardly stress the importance of buying travel insurance. It’s helped me, my family and friends a bunch of time. The thing is, life is really unpredictable and for as optimistic as we want to be, we really can’t predict the future.
I always hope that I don’t need to use my travel insurance, but in case I do, I am glad I have it. It is a safeguard against the unexpected, and as a responsible adult I know it is worth having it.
Make sure to also check out my post “Why You Need A Good Backpacker Travel Insurance.”You can buy your travel insurance here.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to rely on your travel insurance?
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