Hit The Road
Insurance now saves trouble later
Whether you are going on a trip for a few days, a couple of weeks or several months, there is one thing you must not neglect. While it is important to bring lots of clean underwear and a power adapter for your blow dryer, this is even more crucial. In fact, if you don't have this one thing, it may be a while before you travel again.
This mystery item is traveler's insurance, which is always offered to those who study abroad, but not often made mandatory because of its cost. Considering the possibilities of what could happen without insurance, the couple hundred dollars that you'll spend on a plan far outweigh the havoc that could result from passing up on it.
Travel causes considerable physical stress; it's not exactly natural to pass through several time zones in a day. After arrival, you need to adjust to strange food, different weather and a new schedule. All of these changes can cause your immune system to collapse, and as a result, you could find yourself very sick.
A friend of mine participated in a study abroad program in Australia. He didn't buy travel insurance the first time he went abroad because it seemed too costly, especially considering he's a pretty healthy guy. About halfway through his trip, he suffered a bad case of stomach flu, which caused him to become dehydrated. The school he was attending had nurses on staff, but he needed medication that cost him almost as much as the insurance. On top of that, he ended up injuring his knee and needing more medical attention. He later told me that he spent twice as much as he would have with the insurance.
I MADE THE mistake of not buying travel insurance on my first trip abroad, and as a result, I spent three months at the chemist's shop (British for pharmacist), buying nearly all its inventory of over-the-counter medications. I cringe when I imagine what could have happened had I broken a bone or chipped a tooth.
Travel insurance also covers things like trip cancellation, lost baggage, dental problems and emergency evacuation. It is particularly important to insure yourself if you are going to a high-risk area, and because of the state of our political relationships around the world, everyone should think twice before turning down a policy.
Avoid making the same mistake thousands of first-time travelers have made. Even if you are lucky enough not to lose your bags, get sick or injured, lose a tooth or break a bone, you will have peace of mind, and that may be enough to prevent you from worrying yourself sick.
Joy Uyeno travels frequently throughout the year, and her column geared toward beginning travelers or youths experiencing their first extended stay abroad appears the second Sunday each month in the Star-Bulletin Travel section.