After a few years of living and travelling overseas, you’d think I’d have a few systems in place to make life a little bit easier.
You know…a packing routine, a strategy for booking flights, a place to put important documents, buying travel insurance, and making sure all my finances add up.
But I don’t.
I take the same clothes everywhere, winter, spring, summer, and/or autumn. The one time this failed big time was in Mongolia where I did buy a hoody after arriving with no long sleeved clothing. It was snowing.
I rarely book flights/buses more than a week or two in advance (I’ve just booked a flight for the 13th…it’s the 9th, so that’s exciting).
Travel insurance? Meh, I buy it every now and again when I remember. When people ask why I don’t use it, my main excuse is its negative expected value (totally deflecting the blame away from me), which isn’t.
I finally did buy some travel insurance with SafetyWing! And the main reason for choosing SafetyWing is that it’s on a monthly subscription basis. This is great for those of us who travel frequently and might be at home when you are already covered by the national healthcare (cheers New Zealand). Though if your country doesn’t have great National Healthcare and you’ve spent 90 days abroad with SafetyWing, you’ll still receive medical coverage for 30 days after arriving back in your homeland.
It’s affordable too! And I don’t say that affordable as a disguise for being slightly cheaper than the most expensive insurance plans. It’s great for budget travellers.
I do recommend reading exactly what’s covered, specifically the sporting and adventure activities. I’ve heard a few stories of people not reading what they’re covered for (not related to SafetyWing) and only learned after the fact (when something happened they aren’t covered for).
As someone who has travelled most of the last five years without any valid travel insurance, I’ve been incredibly lucky not to have anything bad happen and be even further in debt. There have been some close calls, and while they make a half decent story to tell, it’d
When I fell off the scooter the night before heading to Myanmar
This was totally my fault. It was a Wednesday night, and I was at the weekly Couchsurfing meetup with the crew having a couple of beers. I was dropping off various guests to their hostels and hotels during the night and I probably would have been over the legal driving limit in New Zealand, but honestly, I have no idea what the limit is in Thailand.
Anyhow, I was on my third drop off when for whatever reason I decided to come into a corner faster than normal. I had slowed down and was most of the way through the turn when the front wheel slid on some loose gravel and I soon felt my head crash onto the road. Thankfully I had my helmet on and wasn’t knocked out or anything, with the only damage being some scratches on the scooter. My head did hurt a little bit but carried on back to the party and it was only when a couple of friends asked if I was okay did I know that I had some bruising on my face.
When told of this, I went home to assess the damage as I was heading to Myanmar the following day…it wasn’t too bad, so slept on it. I woke up and with an early start packed my bags for the trip, but was hesitant as there was some swelling on my face as well as the bruises setting in. People say not to mess with a head injury, and that was on my mind. But I felt fine and was excited for this trip.
I resolved to take a selfie every couple of hours the following day and send them to my brother, a doctor, to get his thoughts. I would be much more comfortable going to a hospital in Chiang Mai where I have spent lots of time, compared to northern Myanmar, which is a totally new place and not visited by so many foreigners. If he said I should go to a hospital, I’d cut my trip short and go back to CM.
I sent them over later that night, with a tiny bit of concern I would die in my sleep in Kengtung.
Thankfully, he replied in the morning saying that there isn’t a major concern. While it looks bad, there isn’t much you can do to actually treat facial injuries that aren’t major (don’t quote me). Anyhow, if I’d had travel insurance, I may well have gone to the hospital the night of the accident. Maybe not though…I’m quite stubborn and hate hospitals.
A rough case of India’s Delhi Belly
“Haha, you’re getting owned!” – Jub
That’s what I said to my mate as he went to the toilet in our Agra guesthouse for the third time in the hour. We’d been to visit the Taj Mahal early the same morning, and now he’d started to take a turn for the worst with a suspected case of Delhi Belly. Two India bucket list items ticked off?
I did feel a little bad as he was only on the third day of his trip to India. Not exactly much I could do I figured, it’d run its course in the next 24 hours.
It was only after the fourth visit to the toilet in the space of an hour the following morning did I admit (I eat lots of fibre as it is) that I might be coming down with a dose of Delhi Belly myself.
I’ve always hated taking any kind of pills, but also hate not being able to explore when I want. So my ego won over and despite feeling like crap (pun intended), we made an effort to see other attractions around Goa. This wasn’t the smartest idea as I wasn’t exactly doing anything to make myself better (wasn’t drinking much water) and would just make sure we didn’t venture too far from a western-style shitter.
By this stage I’m convinced the villain causing this inconvenience is a samosa. A samosa from a large pile of uncovered samosas. A samosa from a large pile of uncovered samosas surrounded by flies. A samosa from a large pile of uncovered samosas surrounded by flies who had been landing on nearby fresh cow poos earlier in the day. I ate one of these samosas. That’s my theory anyway.
We caught an overnight bus to Rishikesh. I’d starved and dehydrated myself the whole day in an attempt to minimise the risk of needing to shit on the bus ride. Miraculously I came out of the bus clean giving me confidence. This was soon defeated with a short hike resulting in me running to a nearby bush a short while into the walk and…and you don’t need to know the details.
It was at this stage, Tyler had started to feel better when I was contemplating visiting the doctors. I wouldn’t get better with hourly toilet visits when I was awake. But I didn’t have travel insurance and with no idea what the costs are, trudged on. Eventually, I did start to feel better but would feel the remnants for the next month with a dodgy gut ready to explode at any time.
The she’ll be right attitude worked, eventually, but no doubt the doctors could have fixed me up in a quicker time, with a likely small price.
When I was called a terrorist in Turkey
I’ve shared this story on the blog before. In short, I was on the way to a Couchsurfing meet up in Antalya when a policeman grabbed me on my shoulder from behind and repeatedly called me a terrorist. He was started to mention deportation at which point I was thinking about where I might want to go if I get a say in the case. Georgia would be nice to see again, though Europe would be the cheapest to fly too as I’m guessing they’ll expect me to cover the costs of the flights even though they’re deporting me without any real reason. The worst would be if I needed to buy a ticket to New Zealand which would cost thousands at the short notice. Travel insurance would cover me though yea? I didn’t have any…
Fortunately I managed to convey that I wasn’t a terrorist, just a bearded kiwi.
So there you go. I’m growing up a little bit by having a monthly subscription for travel insurance (no minimum period, you can cancel any anytime) thanks to Safety Wing. The only other potential twist is whether or not I remember to upgrade the package to cover travel in the USA when I get back there. You get worldwide coverage, except for a few countries, but the only exception is the USA. You can simply upgrade your subscription for the time while you’re there. Sweeet!