It was the first time I was traveling that far from home and that long, too. I was going backpacking throughout South, East and Southeast Asia for three months non-stop, most likely even longer. According to all the travel articles and travel blogs I read about preparing for a big backpacking trip, I needed to protect myself. I needed to purchase travel insurance.
Coming to the Decision
Prior to going on this big trip, I had already travelled to a few destinations within my country and within a couple of destinations in Asia, too. However, most of the trips lasted only a few days to a week. I had a full-time job to attend to after all.
It was different this time. I had just quit my job and about to begin a career as a freelancer while, yes, travelling the world. I wanted to follow what many others in their 20s had done- explore, learn, and have an adventure. I had my savings to cover all my travel expenses and what I called my “career transition” costs. However, if any untoward incident should happen while I was travelling, I shuddered to think about the situation in which I, or my family, would find ourselves.
Thus, I made a decision a couple of months before embarking on my three-month journey. Along with my flights, my train journeys, hostel bookings and travel gear, I was to buy myself travel insurance.
Finding the Perfect Travel Insurance Package
The task at hand was finding the perfect travel insurance policy. As it turned out, there were a lot of options out there. Some were more comprehensive than others, covering anything from medical and dental expenses, to costs incurred due to a delay in travelling to a pre-booked event like a concert or a sporting game. I did not realise at the time that insurance coverage could be that specific. It made my task of finding an insurance provider a whole lot more difficult.
In choosing the perfect travel insurance for me (and me alone), I realised that the first thing I had to do was to determine what I (and I alone) wanted covered. I decided that I do not need a comprehensive insurance. I just needed one that could serve as a cushion should any untoward incident take place. I needed an insurance that could “take the edge off”, if you will.
As I searched online for good travel insurance, one kept popping up. It was always mentioned by the travel blogs I followed, many of which were maintained by long-term travellers. Even the big travel guidebooks mentioned it. I checked it out and found that not only did the insurance provider have an online appraiser in its website, but it also made things easy by offering interested individuals like me the option to buy an insurance policy online. I could pay via credit card. It was easy and convenient.
However, there was a big problem. I could not afford it. Because of the comprehensive coverage the policy offered, and because of the very good reputation it enjoyed among travellers and among the big travel brands, the policy was understandably expensive. At least it was for me.
Harder than I Thought
Finding travel insurance that was an ideal fit for me and my needs proved harder than I thought at that point. So I moved on to my next option. It turned out, my credit card company offered one. Like the first one, purchasing a policy was easy and convenient. I was to fill out and submit an online application form. The insurance provider would then bill my credit card. Three days later, I would receive my policy. Wanting to talk details about the insurance, I called my credit card’s helpdesk. That was when I hit another snag.
The insurance provider that my credit card company was associated with was specific about which countries in Asia it covered. Unfortunately, one country I would visit was not one of those “covered” countries. Also, more than any other country in my three-week trip, I needed coverage while travelling in that country. There, I was heading out into the wilderness and going trekking for more than a week. It was critical that be covered.
The Right One
Moving right along to insurance provider number three. It was recommended by a friend who had just come home after a six-month trip around Asia, visiting practically the same countries I was to visit. I could tell my chances were looking up.
After studying its policy, I realised that insurance provider number three was an ideal fit. The most important inclusions were present, namely, medical expenses, personal accident, baggage loss, loss of travel documents and a few other essential items. Should I make a claim, the coverage premium could definitely take the edge off. Most importantly, the cost of purchasing the policy was just right for my wallet.
In the end, I never got to make any claims. Thankfully, no untoward incident happened to me while I was away. I still consider the effort of finding the perfect travel insurance package worth the trouble. It gave me peace of mind while I was travelling. Now, that was priceless.
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