If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that one of the things I highlight are the all misadventures that travelers so often encounter. I’ve discussed my own tales of woe - from getting sick in San Francisco to burning my hair in Cambodia to getting scammed in Morocco.
I’ve also had a chance to talk to other travel bloggers about their own overseas snafus through my Misadventure Monday series. Sickness, Visa Mistakes, even Kidnappings – so far we’ve heard it all. In every interview I ask the same question, “What advice would you give other travelers?”
The answers range from “Keep an open mind” to “don’t take rides with strangers after dark in Bangladesh.” And while all of this advice is valuable (particularly the part about not riding with strangers after dark in Bangladesh) I wanted to throw my own tip in the pot.
Buy Travel Insurance
I am always shocked by the people who will faithfully pay rental and car insurance every month but fail to insure their vacations and trips. Sure, travel insurance is great to protect the (often large) investment you have put into your trip, but it’s also important to protect you in case of an emergency situation. Medical care and emergency evacuation can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
People often don’t realize that their own insurance will most likely be worthless on a trip outside of the US. And, depending on the part of the world you are traveling to, it may be necessary to take an emergency flight back to the US to get proper treatment.
As you can imagine, these costs can add up quickly. And don’t think that if you get into some kind of trouble your home country will foot the bill for your safe return. Take into the account the story of Reini Weigel, a German citizen who was kidnapped in Columbia and upon her rescue was forced to repay the German government for the cost of her evacuation.
Get the Right Policy
On that note, its important to buy the policy that best fits your trip and make sure you understand that policy before you leave. Some policies won’t cover issues like terrorists attacks or pre-existing medical conditions. If you are worried about a particular issue, make sure its addressed in your policy.
The same holds true for any extreme sports or activities you plan to participate in on your trip. Some insurance may cover tandem bear base jumping (let me know if you find one…) others may not.
By the same token, only buy the insurance you need. If you aren’t traveling with a lot of valuables or won’t be severely impacted by a trip delay, look for insurance that doesn’t charge a high premium (or doesn’t cover) this issues.
The bottom line is to shop around and educate yourself on your options before you purchase.
One other very important note. Many travel insurance policies require that you buy your insurance at the same time or soon after your initial trip deposit. Otherwise you might not be covered for some cancellation issues. For example, if you book a trip and then find out you two months later have to work that week, you can’t then buy travel insurance with a “cancel for work conflicts” clause.
I found this out the hard way in 2010 when the volcano in Iceland almost stopped my flights to Morocco. I had purchased my “cancel for any reason” insurance 3 months after I bought my tickets and now I wasn’t covered. Luckily, our flights took off without issue and I had a great trip.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by a third party, Good2Go Travel Insurance. All thoughts and opinions are my own.