There are many, many reasons you should purchase health insurance when traveling abroad, the most obvious being to protect yourself in the case of an emergency, though some countries are beginning to require health coverage as a mandatory condition of entry, meaning travelers no longer have the choice to travel without a plan.
Expat hubs around the world are beginning to require mandatory health insurance before issuing a visa, and more and more countries are deciding to refuse entry without it. Many travelers don’t realize that without the correct insurance, they could be turned away from the destination they are visiting before they make it past airport arrivals.
The following countries are among those jumping on the trend of making health insurance mandatory for those wishing to travel or live overseas.
The idea to attempt a long walk had been in my head for some time. The book Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, came into my hands, shortly followed by Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts; two autobiographies which detailed epic adventures across magical landscapes on foot.
It became clear to me that something very special happens to a traveler in this situation, so I decided I had to be involved. Though having never walked long distance before, I had to figure out where I should start.
The obvious choice for most travelers these days is the Camino de Santiago, or Way of St James. One of the most popular long distance routes made famous by films such as The Way with Martin Sheen, thousands come from all over the world to walk it every year. I imagined I’d probably be one of those thousands until – surprisingly – I started to learn a little bit more about European pilgrimage routes.
With the travel season quickly getting underway, now is the perfect time to address motion sickness. And while you may not have suffered from it in the past, this is a common condition that affects millions of people, and the reality is that motion sickness can ruin anyone’s trip.
Sometimes referred to as car sickness or sea sickness, motion sickness is a disturbance in your inner ear that is caused by repeated motion. Hiking up the highest peaks or cruising across the ocean can easily be derailed. This not only applies to those heading on a cruise, but could develop if you find yourself traveling in countries with poor road systems or stuck on a horribly crowded buses. Even turbulence from a plane could set you off. And unfortunately, many sufferers don’t do anything to treat it, or treat it with the wrong products and ineffective methods.
But for those of us who live our lives in motion, it’s critical that we know how to prevent and deal with motion sickness should it occur. Because it’s something that is easily treatable, and as such shouldn’t ruin anyone’s trip.
Forget snakes on a plane. Worry about the germs. Research shows that air travelers are at a higher risk for infection than people going about their daily lives.
The good news is that, for the most part, airplanes’ air filtration systems function well enough that you’re unlikely to contract more serious illnesses. Instead, your greatest risk is contracting the common cold or a classic case of the flu.
While that’s all well and good, it may be little comfort to people who don’t particularly want to have a cold or the flu while trying to enjoy their vacation. Luckily, it is possible to decrease your risk of infection from germs on a plane. Here’s how to maximize the chances of disembarking the plane as healthy as you boarded it.
Water is the most crucial condition for life of all kinds. All living organisms need it in order to survive, though there are more than 780 million people worldwide without access to clean drinking water. 345 million of them live in Africa alone. Every 21 seconds, a child dies from a water related sickness.
Instead of turning a blind eye, Charlie Christensen decided it was time to do something about it. On May 18 2015 he freed himself of his job, his apartment, and most of his possessions to begin Walking for Water; a philanthropic pilgrimage, on foot, from Denmark to Tanzania.
This means walking for 18,000 kilometers, through 28 countries, over 2.5 years. It is a journey to inspire the beginning of a movement meant to combine the trends of explorations and self realizing journeys with the noble cause of supplying the world with clean drinking water, wherever needed.
Almost one year in, he will cross the straight to Africa on the 18th of May 2016 to continue his journey.
This year has been a frightening year for those who travel – terrorism appears to be on the rise, governments have been issuing overblown safety advice, and travelers are becoming more and more paranoid about whether or not it is safe to travel (it is).
Realistically, cities like London, Prague and New York have some of the highest crime rates in the world, though no government agency advises against travel here. And you have just as much chance of being caught up in an attack on your own country as you do while traveling abroad, yet no-one lives permanently in a bunker underneath their home for fear of coming out.
So many New Yorkers are cancelling their plans to go to Paris, but look what occurred right in their own backyard on 9/11. You can’t let it stop you from traveling and you can’t live in fear.
Because the truth of the matter is that it’s not travel which is dangerous – it’s LIFE. And we should never let the fear of extremists activities stop us from doing what we do. If you stop traveling, the terrorists win.
So don’t stop traveling, just travel smart. Here’s how to travel safely in the face of terrorism.
International medical coverage is such an important issue for those who travel abroad, and since becoming brand ambassadors for Individual Health and GeoBlue, we have written a whopping 22 articles on the many different reasons why comprehensive health coverage is something you never want to find yourself stuck overseas without.
Because you don’t have to be on an adventurous trip for something to go terribly wrong, and you could be in the very best of health, however the fact is that environmental factors are beyond your control. All it takes is one major health incident to bankrupt you for life, or worse, see you refused emergency medical care because you don’t have the insurance and can’t afford to pay. Traveling without health insurance in this instance could very well cost you your life.
So why do so many travelers still travel without it? You wouldn’t go away without your tickets or your passport, so why risk going away without a proper health insurance plan?
I’ve been phrasing that as a rhetorical question across my 22 posts to date, however hadn’t stopped to actually address why. Why do travelers risk everything to travel without insurance which could ultimately save their life?
The following are a list of reasons why travelers head overseas without health insurance, and if you happen to be one of them, hopefully we can make you realize the critical importance of changing your mind.
When an emergency happens and you’re in a foreign land what do you do? Do you speak the local language? Do you know which medical facilities are qualified to treat your medical needs? Do you have the financial means to satisfy the local providers?
What if you are in a rural land, or even worse, one which doesn’t have medical providers that meet western standards of care? These are all very real problems for a person traveling abroad. Not knowing what to do or where to go could cost you your life.
So why do so many travelers still travel without insurance? You wouldn’t go away without your tickets or your passport, so why risk going away without a proper health insurance plan?
The following are 10 reasons why traveling without international health insurance is a stupid idea. Because if you can’t afford to travel with health insurance you shouldn’t be traveling at all.
The flight into La Paz, Bolivia was an incredibly scenic one. Our commercial airliner was soaring through snow-capped Andean peaks. Though it wasn’t by any means that the pilot was flying low, rather that these mountains stood at dizzying heights. And the same can be said about the city of La Paz.
Compelled to experience the city’s unique cultural energy and street life, we set out on mission to explore on our first day. Though it only took 10 minutes of a leisurely stroll before we turned away. While relatively fit and quite used to hiking and climbing throughout many climates and conditions, a casual city stroll had left our lungs gasping for oxygen we couldn’t have.
If there is one thing we learnt from our time in La Paz, it was that any destination at this altitude is to be savored over time, as it’s important to properly to acclimatize. When you’re traveling this high, your lungs need time to adjust to reduced oxygen and breathing thinner air. Otherwise altitude sickness kicks in.
If you know that you are going to be traveling to high altitudes, follow a few simple steps to prevent altitude sickness.
Never underestimate the importance of traveling with a solid first aid kit – in fact, this should be one of the very first things you pack.
According to a recent survey, a massive 80 per cent of us are not equipped to deal with minor medical emergencies in our own homes – let alone when we’re out on the travel trail. This means we are making thousands of unnecessary emergency visits to hospitals and GP’s for relatively minor, simple to treat conditions such as grazes, blisters and splinters.
You generally don’t have to be a doctor to help yourself, or others, in an emergency, though you do have to have the first aid skills and tools to administer the care required; you need to be traveling with a first aid kit.
Before you embark on your upcoming holiday, use this check-list as a guide to things you may need in your travel first aid kit. You may need less or more, depending on your travel destination (don’t forget to take into account the remoteness of your visit). The ‘perfect’ travel first aid kit will prepare you with the tools required to meet any potential problem abroad.
I was two weeks out from arriving in South America when I realized I would need to produce a Yellow Fever Certificate. I was horrified at the thought. Proof that I had already been stabbed 4 years earlier existed somewhere, though for the life of me I couldn’t find that little yellow book. It had likely been misplaced after my Africa trip, or probably even thrown out.
One of the few mandatory vaccinations for many South American destinations, not having proof of the vaccine meant I was going to have to take it again. A costly and particularly nasty injection, it was bad enough having been subjected to this needle once, let alone a second time, which could have been prevented if I had harbored the sense to keep my documentation in line.
People often take their drinking water for granted. In most western countries we don’t think twice before grabbing a glass and sticking it underneath a tap. But when you’re traveling the tap water may not be safe to drink.
You need drinking water no matter where you go, but with travellers diarrhea, giardia, hepatitis A, typhoid and cholera among the illnesses that can be transmitted with bad water, it pays to know which parts of the world guarantee clean, safe tap water, and where you should be sourcing bottled water instead.
The water you need to be most concerned about is water that might contain microorganisms that will make you sick, and in less developed countries, you are more apt to run into water that contains a variety of microorganisms you want to avoid. But according to the CDC (United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), you may be drinking bottled water more often than you think.
It’s a popular meme, “come to Australia, you might accidentally get killed“, and while granted, we do have more deadly snakes than any other country in the world, and over 2,000 species of spider, it’s not exactly like we have wild lions, tigers, elephants, grizzly bears or hippopotamus roaming around!
True, Australia is probably the only place on earth you’ll ever see a python swallow a salt water crocodile whole. And we do have a snail that can fire a poison dart. Though realistically, you’re more likely to be eaten by a domestic cat than by a shark, and bees pose more of a threat throughout Australia than our spiders do…even though it’s the spiders who seem to incite more fear among visitors to our very foreign shores.
Despite the bewildering variety of frightening animals found in Australia, no-one should be put off visiting for fear of encountering them. With a little common sense, no one visiting Oz should be unduly worried about the wildlife; quite the opposite, it’s a great reason to visit.
The following is a field guide to the most deadly Australian creatures. Keep in mind that you’re more likely to be killed by a horse, but it can’t hurt to be clued up about Australia’s most poisonous fauna.
While traveling through Alaska recently in June, there came a night where we genuinely thought our moment had come. It wasn’t until that night, where we faced the possibility of not waking up the next morning, that I realized I wasn’t afraid of death. And that’s largely due to travel.
Sure, there’s still a lot more of the world to see, and while I’m not overly keen to leave this world having died young, I’ve realized that I wouldn’t feel ripped off it came. Upon reflection, if death came knocking on my door, I could say with absolute honesty “I swear I’ve lived”.
At first I wondered how long it would take the hotel staff to find us if we weren’t to wake up. Then I wondered what the hell would happen next.
I certainly didn’t want to be buried in Alaska or left for the bears, and obviously the costs and logistics of preparing and returning a set of remains to Australia would end up being an additional burden on my family.
Ever walked above an ocean of clouds? Or hiked through a zone where you smell nothing but fresh laurel or rosemary? Well, that’s exactly what it’s like to hike in Gran Canaria’s outback. An unforgettable journey through diverse and impressive landscapes.
It’s like traveling from Sherwood Forest to Jurassic Park, while taking in Middle-Earth and the Grand Canyon all in one trip. You’ll discover fairytale places you could have only ever imagined.
Though as in all fairytales, there are certain dangers to be wary of …
Terrorism is something we try not to think about as travelers. And it’s certainly not something we jump to promote in our attempts to inspire others to take that life changing trip around the world.
But even though various articles online put your chances of being caught up in a terrorist attack at roughly a 1 in 20 million, that doesn’t mean terrorism isn’t real. In fact it’s very real. Global terrorism is a fact.
So why do so many travelers still travel without insurance? With more people traveling for business and leisure, and attacks occurring literally across the globe, some people are going to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Do we travel anyway? Absolutely. We should not let extremist activities stop us from doing what we do. BUT there does needs to be a happy medium. Traveling with adequate health insurance which covers you in the event of terrorism is that happy medium, but too many insurers have a blanket exclusion for all terrorist activities, refusing to pay out on emergencies or injuries related to terrorist attacks.
It’s something we take for granted far too often – traveling to a foreign land and expecting our English will be understood. And while most of the time it’s easy enough to get by, knowing what, how, and when to say a phrase in a foreign language can sometimes prove necessary when you find yourself in an emergency situation which may not be possible to resolve in English.
Unfortunately, travelers do suffer injury or illness on occasions, and it’s in these situations where it is important to be able to communicate the need for medical assistance before a condition becomes unbearable.
Hopefully you won’t have to use these, though it’s always better to travel prepared. The following are important health and medical phrases you should know in every language…well, the language of the destination you’re traveling through at least! Translate them before you go and write them down to keep with you on your trip.
He broke his back on a pleasure cruise through the Amazon; she was fire twirling in Thailand when she set herself alight. One traveler lost his vision on a river cruise of the Rhine, and another found herself receiving stitches after an Asian air-conditioning unit decided to attack.
It’s important to remember that we’re not invincible while traveling abroad, and the stupidest thing you can ever do is to think it will never happen to you. Though the following war stories from the road are not to dissuade you from traveling abroad, as life can catch you anywhere, including from the comfort of home. On the contrary, the hope is that after reading you’ll understand the importance of never traveling without insurance, and if the need for such while traveling doesn’t hit home after this we don’t know what will!
The following are war stories from the road – the best, the worst and the most embarrassing injuries travelers have sustained abroad.
Whether you’re hiking through the Arizona desert, trekking through the Amazon, or perhaps exploring the tropics of Northern Queensland where pythons have been known to swallow Australian crocodiles whole, chances are you may come into contact with a snake at some point during your trip. And, after having stepped on a venomous cottonmouth in Florida, watched as a boa wrapped itself around our camera tripod recently in Joshua Tree (see featured image above!), and aggravated a deadly rattlesnake in Arizona, trust us, we would definitely know!
As a global traveler it’s important to be prepared – the following are essential tips and tricks you should be aware of re snakebite for emergency situations while hiking abroad. Would you believe, all photos are our own!
They were on a comfort cruise through the Amazon with International Expeditions when the unthinkable occurred, when Dave slipped and broke his back.
The world’s favorite adventure travel couple, Deb and Dave have an impressive resume of extreme adventures, so getting hurt on a cruise made for birdwatching, village visits, and daily boat rides out to explore the “calm tributaries of the Amazon River” wasn’t something any-one saw coming. But it happened.
A medical emergency is something no one wants to face on a camping trip abroad. It’s often difficult to access proper medical care while so far from home, and camping in a remote location means you’re likely too far out of range to manage a call for help. Though arming yourself with the proper knowledge of first aid and an understanding of the risks involved with your specific trip, you’ll be properly equipped to resolve an emergency while camping.
The following are a few tips on how to deal with an emergency while camping abroad so that you can keep your cool if it happens to you.
I was traveling through Budapest when it happened, when I collapsed and my lips turned blue. It began with a coughing which just wouldn’t stop, though as I felt my airways narrow and swell, I freaked out because I knew.
As you would expect from most 19 year old backpackers on Contiki through Europe, I had spent the better half of the evening reaching an early stage of incredibly drunk. Not too long after we got back to our campsite I was on the ground.