Be safe like a superhero
Step 5 – Health, insurance & travel documents
You are only three steps away from getting ready for your adventure.
Before I teach you how to pack like a pro we need to make sure that you travel safely and you are looking after yourself properly.
The following information covers the basic things you need to do before going on your adventure, read carefully, get prepared and be safe. You may be a superhero, but you are not invincible.
Visa & travel documents
Before you go traveling you should have a valid passport and consider the kind of visas you need to apply for to visit your specific destinations.
The visas and passport procedures change from country to country and they depend on your nationality. I would need to write a separate guide to cover all the information you might need. Therefore, I suggest you check with your local authorities and find out how to obtain valid documents for your trip.
Another option is to contact your local travel agency who can help you sort some of those documents out before you leave for a small fee.
Sometimes you will be required to apply for a visa prior to your departure, and sometimes the visas can be obtained once you enter the country. For a more in-depth collection of useful information head over to Wikitravel. Or check the information below.
One word of advice, when you gather all the proper documents and visas, make sure you make a copy of them and store them online too, so you will be able to access them from everywhere and in case of emergency.
If you are traveling around the developed world you don’t need to worry about strange disease and vaccinations. But if you are truly going for a wild adventure you should look into getting yourself checked and vaccinated first.
I am not an expert on the subject and it is always best to check with your doctor. Based on my research and personal knowledge, the most common forms of immunizations are the following:
Measles, Mumps, Rubella.
For further information, go check with your doctor, hospital or local clinic on which vaccinations you should take and when it will be recommended to take them.
CDC’s Travel Health, MD Travel Health and Travel Doctor offer a very in-depth and updated list of vaccinations and useful information for travelers. Go check them out.
There are several types of travel insurances. They are designed to cover your health, valuables and possessions and liabilities. The main typologies are the following:
Travel health insurance
This is the most common one, and it covers accidents, injuries, and hospital visits while you are away from home.
Medical evacuation insurance
This is aimed to cover your transportation to a major hospital for treatment.
Trip cancellation insurance
This is designed to cover unexpected interruptions in your travel plans.
Baggage & property insurance
This insurance covers theft or damage to your possessions while traveling.
Choosing the right travel insurance can be confusing and stressful, so I hope to give you an insight on what you should be looking for and ease your pain! :)
Why you should have a travel insurance
If you plan to travel for long periods of time and especially if you are going to undeveloped countries, get travel insurance.
In addition to that, in some countries you will be required to have insurance in order to qualify for an entry visa, Russia is one of them.
A travel insurance policy is very important when you travel. You never know what can happen and you don’t want to end up regretting the choice of not purchasing one.
I don’t mean to scare you, but it is one thing to break your nail, and it is another thing to contract a deadly disease and spend thousands of dollars to be sent back to your country.
In one sentence:
I am not talking just about travel health insurance. You should cover yourself from any possible threat that can damage your person, somebody else, or your personal belongings.
It is very sad to lose your expensive camera or get your computer stolen. It is even sadder to not have an insurance to cover the costs for you.
Choosing the right insurance
Before choosing a travel insurance make sure you are clear about your plans and truthfully answer the following questions to get an idea of what will suit you best:
Where are you traveling to?
How long are you planning on traveling?
Do you plan on taking expensive gears and electronics with you?
Does your current health insurance cover you overseas?
Does it also cover medical evacuation?
Do you suffer from some existing diseases?
What vaccinations have you gotten recently?
Some of the answers to the above questions can clarify important points and things you should consider before shopping for a travel insurance.
Considering the numerous options out there, finding the insurance that is right for you can be overwhelming to say the least. Use the following tips to get your head around some of the technicalities of picking a plan that is convenient for you.
High coverage limit
High coverage limit on your medical expenses is what you are looking for. The best companies provide up to $100,000 in coverage care. Some more expensive ones can even have higher amounts. This is important, because if you ever get sick, injured or you need some serious attention and professional care you want to make sure that the hospital bills are taken care of.
Don’t be cheap
When it comes to saving money, I advised you to do that on pretty much anything that stops you from your dream adventure. In the case of a health insurance, don’t be cheap, spend that extra buck. It is worth it.
Emergency evacuations have to be on your radar too when looking for a great plan. This should cover any potential dangerous situation where you will be required to be evacuated to a hospital. A volcano exploded and you happened to be camping up there?
The insurance has you covered! Another Tsunami has hit the beach? Chill, the insurance is taking care of you.
Evacuations should also cover the possibility of you being evacuated from the hospital to your country. Make sure the plan offers this option too.
Does it cover all the countries?
The insurance should cover all the countries you are planning on visiting.
Choose a policy that gets you covered in case of injuries or sudden illness.
It provides you a 24h emergency service in case you need imminent help.
It covers damaged, lost or stolen possessions, from documents to personal belongings.
Booking cancellation and travel delays
If you want to travel more comfortably, make sure the insurance covers booking cancellations and travel delays.
It covers any legal expenses you might have in the country you are visiting.
It protects you in case one of the company you are using goes bankrupt and you are stuck in another country.
It covers emergencies, such as strife in the countries visited that can force you to go back to your country early.
If you are carrying expensive gear and need an extra coverage for your electronics, make sure the plan you want covers that too.
Always read the fine prints and make sure you read all the documents and information before signing any insurance policy. If it sounds like a great deal, it usually isn’t. Be careful.
Important insurance info to consider
When applying for a travel insurance bare in mind that if you have pre-existing conditions and suffer of some diseases you are not likely to get covered for all your medical expenses or illness.
Make sure you check with your doctor and with the company to see what the plan covers and what it doesn’t.
Another important factor is extreme sports and/or activities, most companies won’t cover the expenses of your bills if you, for example, decide to do paragliding or rock climbing or expose yourself to dangerous situations.
Check with the company to get that sorted if you are a thrill seeker.
Whatever plan you choose, understand that travel insurance is designed to help you in emergencies and it can’t be used as a substitute for your normal insurance. So if you moved to another country and let’s say now you have lived in Germany for a few years, you need to switch your insurance to a local one, because the travel one can’t cover the basic costs of physical checkups.
Which insurance I recommend
My personal recommendation is to get a plan that suits your needs as best as possible.
I have personally used World Nomads and I have always been satisfied with their services. They are one of the most famous travel insurance companies and their policies have extensive coverage for any kind of adventure.
I always chose them a and most likely always will. World Nomads is also very good when it comes to making a claim so I would definitely recommend them to you as your best choice.
If you are not convinced yet, feel free to shop around and get an idea of what every plan offers you. Most likely you will not need to use the policy you bought, because if you take care of yourself and limit your risk, you will be safe, anywhere you go.
Having said that, having an insurance policy is mandatory in my opinion and it is better to apply for one rather than wishing you had one later.
Exercise 07: Passport, visas, vaccinations and travel insurance
Check out with your doctor/hospital/local clinic what vaccinations you need
Get your passport & visas
Buy a travel insurance
Objective: The purpose of this exercise is to sort out your most important documents. Passport, visas and to make sure you are safe while you travel. Think about safety first and fun later, I know I sound like a grandpa, but this step is necessary for your trip.
The next chapter is about packing your backpack like a superhero.