Have you ever made any totally irresponsible decisions? You know, the kind that seem like no-big-deal at the time, but in retrospect were a terrible idea? Mine was traveling without travel insurance. Not purposefully, mind you. But it’s still not very smart, to say the least.
Luckily, this isn’t a horror story. Those few times when my insurance lapsed, where long-term travel got the better of me and I forgot to renew it, in those moments I got lucky and nothing too bad happened. When I did get struck down by illness in India, thankfully I was covered – albeit by a travel insurance company I had never tested before, one of which has mixed reviews online. So, what happened?
Choosing the Right Travel Insurance Company
Selecting travel insurance can prove a challenge. It’s one of those things that you (hopefully) rarely need to use, and sits as a safety net in the background while you travel. However, when things go wrong, they can go really wrong. In fact, over on the World Nomads blog they’ve got an awesome selection of customer disaster stories, if you’re in the mood for a good tale!
Everybody has different priorities when it comes to insurance, but long-term travelers face different needs and challenges from your regular holiday makers.
Unique Needs of Long-Term Travelers
Most travel insurance packages are tailor made to fit in with the needs of a regular holiday maker. As somebody without a permanent base, or with two years worth of plans to trot around the globe, my requirements were a little different. I needed:
- A policy that I could take out, and is extendable, while away/ mid-trip
- Doesn’t require max trip length of 90 days
- Understands the unique conditions of people who travel long-term
When Illness Struck Me Down
After a month of exploring Rajasthan, in Northern India (not to mention a couple of years under my belt of exploring Southeast Asia and Mexico as well), I was feeling rather proud of my seemingly iron stomach. But, if anywhere is going to break your digestive system, India will give it a damn good shot.
What’s worse than a relentless case of food poisoning? This isn’t a question I had thought too much about. However, I now know that 8 hours into a 32 hour cross-country bus trip (non-sleeper, may I add) is a plausible answer. Just after we crossed the border from India into Nepal, I started feeling queasy.
Earlier that morning I’d boarded a long-distance bus from Delhi to Kathmandu, and even earlier – the night before in fact – I’d made the famous mistake of devouring a chicken curry in Delhi. As the churning stomach and relentless nausea steadily increased, so did my regret surrounding eating poultry in Delhi. The roads that run from West to Eastern Nepal are hilly, windy and bumpy, and I got to spend 20 hours, under the incredible stars, surrounded by fireflies and vomiting non-stop out the bus window.
By the time we arrived in Kathmandu, I was weak, exhausted and severely dehydrated. I had a fever and couldn’t keep anything down. Not even water or medications. It was time to take a visit to the hospital.
Experiencing a Nepalese Hospital
I’m not sure what you imagine when you think of Nepalese hospitals, but I know for me, my visions were of remote, developing country clinics where I’d have to purchase my own needles and have never-ending hygiene freak-outs. Although to be fair, I was exhausted, sick and feverish and even that sounded preferable to the nightmare bus trip.
I got to CIWEC, the foreigners hospital in Kathmandu thanks to the recommendation of two fantastic girls who happened to be on my bus ride, and took pity on the poor, vomiting solo traveler. They were even kind enough to carry my bag and come with me to the hospital to make sure I was OK. CIWEC was impressive, to say the least. Modern, clean and with highly experienced, English speaking doctors and nurses. I shared my hospital room with just one other person, and between us we had a private bathroom and television.
The hospital had WiFi, so getting in touch with my family and insurance company was simple. I was well looked after, thoroughly checked out and felt safe and comfortable for my recovery.
Insurance with Mixed Reviews
I’ve used a number of insurance companies in my life, however when my travelling hobby became a permanent lifestyle choice, many of my normal options were ruled out. Most of my go-to travel insurance companies only offer 90 day maximum trip coverage, and require that you apply for it before leaving your home country. Not quite suitable for someone on a 2-year trot around the globe with no return ticket.
In the end, I went with World Nomads insurance. Having been recommended by a number of travel bloggers I admire, and one of the few options designed specifically for people like me, it seemed like a good choice. There was only one setback – negative reviews. Not all negative however, plenty of positive too. Just with something as serious as insurance, it’s not hard to find yourself spooked by a few bad reviews! But the more I looked, the more I found that ALL insurance companies had their share of negative as well as positive reviews. So in the end, I took my chances.
World Nomads Saved the Day
I was pleasantly surprised by World Nomads. They were friendly, quick and helpful, and my excess was really low. They called straight through to my hospital room to clarify things, and there was no delay in them confirming payment to the hospital. After two years travelling and never needing to call upon any insurance, it came as such a relief to know that when things went wrong, I was covered and everything went smoothly.
After such a horrible experience being so sick and a nightmare 32-hour bus ride vomiting extravaganza, getting looked after by an amazing hospital and a helpful travel insurance company was exactly what I needed.
Why buy travel insurance from World Nomads.com?
- Backed by specialist insurers and global assistance partners
- Buy Online, even if you’ve already left home
- Extend and claim online while travelling
- Covers a range of adventure sports and activities
- Give a little back and support a community development project
P.S World Nomads Insurance are a partner of mine (and for good reason!). As you have read, I use and truly believe in this company. So if you use any of the World Nomads links on my blog I will get a small commission. This comes at no cost to you, and you might have noticed use very few affiliate companies as I refuse to recommend something I don’t use myself. If you have a problem with affiliate links simply google for World Nomads and check them out affiliate-link-free.