You never know what will happen while traveling. Some things can go as planned and others may go very wrong. I would much rather be prepared, which is why I always purchase travel insurance for my trips. Luckily I have never had to use my insurance, but that’s no reason to travel without it!
Whether your trip is tomorrow or six months from now, don’t skimp on your health. Learn from other travelers who have used their travel insurance or wished they had it while on the road, and leave home prepared with travel insurance for your next trip.
Moldy Hostels and Lung Infections
By Hannah of Eat Sleep Breathe Travel
I’m clumsy as hell. I have a knack for tripping on nothing, walking into things, and just attracting trouble in general. As a girl who is constantly covered in bruises and cuts at home, you can bet I always get travel insurance. And after 4 years of wandering around Europe; this past September I finally needed it.
To be honest it was my own fault. I stayed in a mouldy hostel in Bosnia, figuring I was only there a few hours at night I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal.
I thought wrong.
Within a couple days I developed a cough. I thought it was a cold, then my asthma acting up, but nothing I got from the pharmacy would help. I ended up going to the doctor two weeks later only to discover I had a lung infection and needed 9 antibiotics a day, and a chest X-ray.
Being Canadian, I wasn’t used to paying for health care. The 50 euros for the doctor sucked, and (3 months later) I’m still waiting for the dreaded hospital bill. To be honest, I wasn’t sure insurance would cover it at first. I had two separate plans on different dates and getting sick kind of fell between the two of them. It took a bit of back and forth but it in the end they said they would take care of it. Now I just need the scary X-ray bill!
Read the full story of Hannah’s experience getting a lung infection while traveling.
Hospitalized for 6 days in Rome, Italy
By Chantell of Budget Travel Babes
On my first ever international trip, I experienced one of a traveler’s worst nightmares. It was the summer of 2009 and I was on a 32-day group tour around Europe. Right from the beginning of the trip, I had been feeling unwell but had assumed it was just the common cold. As the days went on, my symptoms became worse and strange purplish spots began appearing on my legs.
We had arrived in Rome and were enjoying the majestic sight of the colosseum when I almost fainted and was taken up to the hospital. Initially the doctors thought I had had an allergic reaction and gave me a shot in the bum then sent me on my way. That night however I was up all hours with horrible cramps and nausea. The next day I was literally screaming in agony and an ambulance had to be called.
I was rushed to the emergency room and after a few hours of prodding, the doctors told me that I had “swine” flu. This was at the time that the illness was at an epidemic level, however in Italy there had been only 80 or so cases reported and I was the worst they had seen. I was transferred to a hospital that specialised in infectious diseases and kept under quarantine for six days. I was lucky for two reasons: the first being that Italy had an agreement with Australia so that they did not charge me upfront for medical expenses. Secondly, that I did have medical insurance which covered the cost of the bills as well as compensating me for a percentage of the tour cost.
An Emergency in the Middle of Nowhere
By Theodora of EscapeArtistes
Travel insurance is for when something major goes wrong. Such as my son’s broken arm. A break which, back home, would have involved nothing more complicated than ringing an ambulance to take him to the hospital for surgery cost our travel insurers more than $150,000.
Our travel insurance helicoptered us from a rural clinic with no running water in the middle of nowhere, Outer Mongolia, to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, for an X-ray at the best clinic in the country. Then they flew us to Hong Kong, on a private jet, for surgery at the best emergency hospital in all of Hong Kong. And then they flew us “home”.
If we hadn’t had travel insurance? My son would have travelled 12 hours overland in a jeep to a primitive hospital in a town of 30,000 people to get to an X-ray. And, because his arm had been badly splinted, he’d likely have had permanent nerve damage by the time he arrived.
Read the full story of Theodora’s experience using travel insurance when it was needed most.
Internal Disaster in Buenos Aires
By Molly of Molly on the Road
My own personal disaster struck on a Saturday afternoon last spring when I was living in Buenos Aires, relaxing in a cafe in the Recoleta neighborhood. I started feeling an intense pressure, as if I had just drank an entire gallon of water. The moment I rose to leave, I was hit by an extremely sudden, excruciating pain in my upper left abdomen. Knowing it wasn’t my appendix—that’s on the right—I had no idea what was happening to me. I crawled my terrified and debilitated self into a taxi and whimpered for the driver to take me to the hospital.
After being wheeled around for several rounds of ultrasounds and CT scans, I was hooked up to an IV of painkillers and told to rest: I had a kidney stone. The images showed the tiny but ferocious 6.7mm pebble careening down my ureter, scratching it and inflaming it and causing the supposedly childbirth-like pain. Luckily, I had been able to get in contact with my travel insurance company, which then directly covered most of my tests and medications onsite. I ended up staying the night in the emergency room, and visited a urologist later in the week when the pain had dulled but still persisted with quite a punch. Had I not had insurance, I would have either been digging deep into my pockets to pay the bills, or worse—I would have gone back to my apartment, scared and in unbearable pain, never to find out what happened to me or receive medical care. Now when people ask me for travel tips, my number one recommendation is to invest in travel insurance. You never know when something unexpected will happen!
Travel Insurance for Trip Cancellations
By Danielle of The Thought Card
I wish I purchased travel insurance when I booked flights to spend 4 days in Cancun, Mexico with my boyfriend. We found a great deal from New York City and booked immediately for dates in January 2016. After booking, I auditioned for a professional dance company and to my surprise, I was accepted as a new member on the team. My excitement soon fizzled when I found out that my first major performance would be on the same day as my departure. My boyfriend and I decided to cancel our trip since we did not purchase travel insurance and could not reschedule. We learned the hard way that sometimes life happens and that it is better to spend the extra money on insurance for peace of mind.
Racking Up Hospital Bills
By Stefan and Sebastien of Nomadic Boys
We spent 17 months eating our way around Asia and after lots of research and reading about travel insurance online, we ensured we had complete cover throughout our trip.
We realised how important this was when Sebastien fell quite ill in Sri Lanka (we think it was caused by a mosquito) and had a fever for 2 weeks. Our next stop was Bangkok, where we visited the hospital. The service was absolutely perfect with really efficient and friendly staff, but the hospital bill following all the consultation and treatment made us realize just how important having travel insurance is!
Travel Insurance for Mishaps on the Road
By Lance and Laura of Travel Addicts
There’s really only one reason to have travel insurance: Murphy’s Law. Time and again, on our vacations, we’ve proved it. It’s actually become a bit of a running joke with colleagues – what’s going to happen on my next vacation. We’ve got the track record to prove it. There was the time I was caught in the middle of a civil war in Nepal. We traveled to Egypt immediately after the revolution during massive political instability. We’ve had “automotive mishaps” in Ireland, Italy, Germany and South Africa. We’ve had sprained ankles in Italy and Slovakia, I sliced my leg open in St. Kitts, we’ve had jellyfish stings in Mexico, and food poisoning in Peru. And that doesn’t include the earthquakes and volcanic eruption. Sometimes we’ve had to use our insurance and sometimes we didn’t – but we’re always glad we have it!
Do you have a story to share about using your travel insurance or wishing you had it? Let me know in the comments below!