What Can Go Wrong on Your Trip: Travel Insurance is a Necessity, Not a Luxury

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By Ingle International
Photo by Toa Heftiba via Unsplash

We all know that travelling can put you in risky situations. However, never leaving home can pose an even greater risk to your development as a well-rounded human being. And with each challenge, you grow in ways you could never even imagine… until you venture outside your comfort zone. Literally.

If you’re not sure what I mean, I’ll tell you about my life and death experiences in 10 different countries. And you’ll see why travel insurance is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. In fact, travel insurance is a more luxurious choice. Most of us don’t have that kind of extra pocket money to pay for unforeseen expenses that really add up.

So, read on to learn about ridiculous—and downright scary—situations I lived through while travelling outside of Canada. All the while learning, adapting, growing, and turning into the person I am today.

1. Mexico

My friend and I went for an evening stroll along the beach just when the tides were beginning to come in. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal, except that the resort had huge barriers to protect buildings and tourists from nights like these. But it trapped us between a stone barricade and the approaching sea. Panicked, we clumsily re-traced our steps, running as fast as we could over the uneven terrain. We eventually found a way out, but a few minutes more and we may have needed emergency evacuation services to pull us out of an angry sea.

2. England

While visiting my cousin in London, I was suddenly hit with a pretty severe toothache. It was nice to have a family member take me to a walk-in clinic. But the cost of the visit to the clinic and the medication didn’t feel so great. I didn’t have travel insurance, so my one tooth cost me a whopping CDN $100.

3. Scotland

While enjoying my time in the 1700s—I mean Edinburgh—I decided to hop the train to Glasgow to experience a day or two in another city. Bad mistake. Not only was Glasgow harder on the eyes, but it was also COLD. I can handle a cold, Canadian winter any day, but a damp, bone-chilling fall? This was “cold” on a whole other level. I spent the night awake and shivering and was very lucky it didn’t turn into anything serious, like pneumonia.

4. Japan

I spent several years teaching English in Japan and learned just how precious extended health care can be. I ended up visiting several doctors for this and that during my stay. But the weekend I spent in the hospital to get my four wisdom teeth removed would have cost me thousands if I hadn’t had insurance. I ended up spending $400 for surgery, a very comfortable hospital stay, and some delicious sushi! (Yes, hospital food actually tastes good in Japan.)

5. Thailand

Where to begin? If I were a cat, 3 of my 9 lives were definitely lost in Thailand. Whether stuck on a boat where crashing waves threatened to pull us all in, crossing an old, decaying bridge that was swinging precariously over the rocky river below, or trekking through the jungle, unaware of surrounding poisonous snakes until we were on the other side, I made some pretty foolish decisions. But somehow I survived. And I didn’t even have to pay any out-of-pocket medical fees, luckily.

6. Singapore

While eating at a fancy restaurant on the water, our venue was rocked (and we were shaken) by a nearby earthquake. It turned out to be nothing but small tremors. At the time, it gave us a serious scare! One good thing to know: as long as the government of Canada has not issued a travel advisory, injuries due to natural disasters are covered by travel insurance.

7. South Korea

My time spent on Korean roads was filled with danger and adventure. I was almost hit—several times—while walking across the street at a green light. I came close to falling and breaking some bones while taking my seat on a speeding, lurching bus. And I somehow avoided injury after my taxi driver got into an accident on the highway. Lucky for me, I never had to ride in a Korean ambulance or worry about paying to get myself to a hospital!

8. France

While enjoying my time in la belle France, my trip turned ugly when a pre-existing condition acted up. I had to get prescription medication for the pain. My pain may have gone away, but my wallet was certainly hurting.

9. Italy

While travelling the country known for its mouth-watering wines, I had to refrain from drinking due to meds I was taking for a terrible toothache. I started to feel pretty sorry for myself and soon decided that one glass of wine with dinner couldn’t hurt. Wrong! Halfway through my meal, I started to feel woozy, and my travelling companion had to cart me back to our hotel where I instantly crashed. Good thing I didn’t require any medical care because alcohol-related illness or injury isn’t covered!

10. USA

I started feeling sick just as our plane prepared for landing in L.A. My nausea intensified as I rode the bus into the city. I felt a little better after a nap and a cold shower at my hotel, but if my symptoms hadn’t subsided, I would have gone to a clinic. And I had travel insurance to cover it! Good thing too because the U.S. has some of the most expensive medical care in the world.

So what does this say about me? For one, not all of my decisions are smart ones. But you know what they say: learn from your mistakes. And I learned about the importance of travel insurance. Though it won’t cover everything (think: falling down the stairs while intoxicated), it is there to protect you in the event of unexpected illness or injury while travelling. And, if you’re planning to live, work, or study overseas, getting yourself extended health care coverage means accessing health care when you need it!