When exploring the world, you can do almost everything for free. You can get from A to B for free by hitchhiking, you can eat for free by skipping, you can drink water for free from taps, you can sleep for free using free-camping and various other methods, and you can have amazing experiences without needing to spend any money just by using a little bit of progressive thinking. [Click here to read more about how to travel the world without money]
BUT, when you get sick, you NEED medical treatment.
With Leah (The Vegetarian Traveller), I have hitchhiked around Europe (slowly, quickly, and easterly), cycled 1,000 miles, rafted down the Danube river, lived on Jeju (a South Korean island), and lived in Istanbul (to summarise the first couple of years of our relationship), and for all of those experiences, we spent vast amounts of time outside, pushing ourselves to the edge. We occasionally ripped off toe nails or cut open our feet, there were the occasional bike crashes or minor sporting injury, but never where we unlucky enough to get hospitalised. But still we had travel insurance because at the back of your mind, you always know that something might, just might, go wrong – such as when I lived in France and took a little tumble in which I broke my back and had to pay €6,000 in medical fees. Except I didn’t, because I had travel insurance and they covered the bills for me that I could have never afforded by myself.
THEN THIS JUST HAPPENED
Our joint adventures recently continued more sedately as we took a little Irish road trip and then explored some of Scotland and northern England. As we sat on a sofa in Leeds, I took on my little brother in an impromptu wrestling match as Leah sat on the sofa (this is common for someone who has four brothers). Unfortunately, we happened to end the wrestling match on Leah’s outstretched ankle with a horrible noise. The hospital revealed that it was broken and she is now in a cast. I claim that I won the wrestling match as it was my brother’s back that landed on her ankle.
As this was more sedate than our usual journeys, unbeknownst to me, Leah had not purchased travel insurance – SILLY girl – thus we had to pay for her treatment (she is American and the accident happened in the UK).
Medical treatment is expensive and when you need it, you do not want to be worrying about whether or not you can afford it. This is why you must always have travel insurance: Health is life and life is great. Without it, you’d be dead.
As I carried Leah up the stairs of a plane (princess style) a couple of days after her accident, a stewardess said, “Oh, how romantic.” I couldn’t help but think she would say something different if she knew it was my fault.
So, wherever you are going (or even if you are at home), make sure you have medical (travel) insurance. We were lucky that the fees for this were only hundreds, not thousands, but if it was a big accident, it would have changed our whole lives as we would have been forced to work to pay the debts.
Two last things: