Having traveled to 27 countries, we have had to decide about buying travel insurance or not. When we were first started traveling, many years ago, we were younger in university and notably without jobs and/or poor! But we always found a way to travel because it was (is!) our priority. But being younger, in university, and not having jobs or great paying jobs, we had to do everything as cheap as we could. So we had to do tons of research to find the cheapest flights (or find programs that paid for your flights!) and find the cheapest hostels that we wouldn’t catch a disease in! It took a lot of time and research to be able to travel to all of the amazing places we have been to on our very minimal budget. Now a days, I always buy my annual multi-trip travel insurance but before, that wasn’t always the case.
We definitely learned from our mistakes in the past when we really wished we had bought travel insurance. One of those instances, was in Thailand. We had read horror stories of people buying bus tickets from fake companies in Bangkok to Chiang Mai and during the night the bus was abandoned in the middle of nowhere with the people still in the bus but all of their belongings gone. So going from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, we were very careful and made sure to buy tickets from a real bus company and we felt good about it. But we were not quite smart enough. As always, we were traveling with our backpacks as our luggage which were too big to bring on the bus with us so we put them in the luggage compartment underneath the bus with everyone else’s luggage. While we were innocently, enjoying (well maybe not enjoying) the bus ride, little did we know that the luggage compartment had actually been expanded and was big enough for someone to be in there! While we were all aboard, they were down below going through our bags and taking what they pleased. In the end, they took some American dollars from us (maybe about 50) and an mp3 player. It would have been nice to have travel insurance at a time like this!
Another time that I thought we were in real trouble was when we were traveling in Northern Ireland and Joe ended up having to go to the hospital in an ambulance. We were so worried how we were going to end up paying for it and were calling home to find out if maybe by some luck his insurance in the US would cover him! After we got to the hospital and we waited hours in the waiting room and got back to finally see the doctor for what couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes, we were finished and they just let us leave. They didn’t even want his name, no questions about paying, nothing! We couldn’t believe it. We were very very lucky. Even though we have been lucky before, we have learned our lesson and don’t think we will be risking it again.