As this is written by True Traveller Insurance, this won’t contain information on where to find the best cheap hotel or the best meal in town, we’ll leave that to Lonely Planet! What we will do though is share some tips with you we’re picked up on our travels, and also some lessons some of our clients have learned when they’ve been travelling, and had to claim!
Travel Insurance obviously is an item when you’re travelling that no-one really wants to buy, but put into perspective, generally it costs you less than a cup of coffee a day. But if you lose all your belongings, become ill or have an accident, no one is going to offer you any financial assistance whatsoever aside from your travel insurance or your friends and family.
What to do before you leave
1. Go to the dentist.
No one ever wants to go to the dentist, but if you’re away for more than a few weeks, you probably won’t want to see a dentist in a far flung area of the world. You’d be wishing you’d just gone to see your dentist before you left!
2. Scan your Passport Information page and your birth Certificate and e-mail it to yourself.
If you do lose your passport abroad, getting the local Embassy to issue you with an Emergency Travel Document (ETD) is made an awful lot easier if you can print out copies of your documentation for them! Note for British Passport holders, you only get an ETD which is very restrictive on what it allows you to do, and is not the same thing as a new full British Passport. Getting a full new British Passport when you’re abroad takes many weeks to process, so, if you’re going through lots of different countries on your journey you may want to consider getting a second passport before you leave and get a family member to FedEx it to you should your original passport be lost or stolen.
3. Get a Pre-Paid currency card.
Getting one of these is very useful, as usually you get free withdrawals from cash machines throughout the world, rather than the 2% or more your bank will probably charge you. You can do all the transfers to it from the internet, and usually you get a secondary card just in case you lose your first one!
4. Make a note of important telephone numbers!
If you do lose your money and cards, you have to phone up all the card issuers to cancel your cards before you get scammed by the thieves. Remember you’re usually responsible for losses before you inform the financial institutions that your cards have gone, and it will save you an enormous amount of time if you have all the numbers you have to call tucked in an e-mail you sent yourself before you left home!
5. Get your Travel Insurance now.
Your travel insurance covers you for cancellation from the time you’ve bought it, and everything else comes into effect on the day you want your cover to start. So if you have an accident before your trip and you have to postpone it or even cancel, your insurance should pay out all those cancellation charges your travel agent will no doubt charge you.
You can get True Traveller Insurance once you’re already travelling, but we’re one of the very few who allows you to do this. Most travel policies are only available for you to buy before you start travelling.
Check your insurance will cover the activities you’re going to be doing on your trip. If you’re going to be doing some manual work like farming for example, most standard policies won’t cover that. So, check the small print!
How to look after your belongings
6. Don’t take anything of value
Pretty obvious really, but thieves won’t steal anything if they can’t get any money for it! If you do take your laptop with you and a very expensive camera, when you’re on the road really keep a very close eye on it, and be especially circumspect when getting on an off busses and trains, as that’s then the thieves strike!
7. Wear a money belt
When you’re travelling, put your passport, cash and cards in your money belt. No one will be able to steal them without you knowing.
8. Don’t carry a lot of cash
There is no point in carrying more than $200 or so of cash at any one time. Just use your card and get more cash out of a cash machine.
9. Use the hotel safe
If there’s no safe in your room, there will be one in reception. Use it, and put your cash, cards and passport inside it, and your camera and laptop as well if you’re not using them. Then just go out in the day with a small amount of cash and one credit card.
10. Don’t put anything of value in your main rucksack
Use a day sack for your camera, laptop etc., and wear it on your front when travelling with your main rucksack.
How to look after your well-being
11. Buy a Mosquito Net
If you’re in a malaria zone, use mosquito spray (buy it locally) but most important of all, use a mosquito net when sleeping. It’s a good idea to buy one before you travel from Amazon, as more often than not, mosquito nets in hostels have seen better days. Malaria is rarely fatal, but no drug is 100% effective against all the different strains. Prevention is better than cure!
12. Food and Drink
Always buy water from regular stores and check the seal! Buying bottled water off the street can leave you feeling very ill, as sometimes it’s just re-sealed by enterprising children looking to boost their income! Apart from fancy hotels and restaurants, avoid ice in drinks as well. Remember refrigeration overseas isn't up to our standards, so rather than eat meat which may be spoiled, go vegetarian for a few days!
13. Take a mini Medical Kit with you
You can buy these on the web in handy small bags, and they have plasters, antiseptic wipes, Paracetamol and bandages in them. If you do have a mishap, you’ll be pleased you bought it! And, if you do use something from it, don’t forget to replace it when you get the opportunity!
14. Don’t do anything you wouldn't do at home
Sounds strange, but when we go away we suddenly think we’re invincible! It may be due to the euphoria of travelling, maybe a few too many beers or peer pressure. Sure, if you go to Queenstown you’ll have a go at Bungee Jumping, but don’t jump into a river from a great height thinking it’ll be fun when you’re in Vietnam. The water may only be a few inches deep!
15. Avoid motorised Scooters
OK, you can’t avoid them totally, but the accident levels in Asia and South America are eye-wateringly high. Our travel insurance covers you if you ride a motorcycle up to 125cc and you wear a crash helmet, but do be careful, and be especially careful of motorcycle taxis. If you ride a motorcycle at home, you probably already know that if you fall off, you’re always the loser.
16. If you’re ill, go to a Doctor
If you've been ill for a few days, go to a Doctor. It’s better to do this than not go and then get admitted to hospital a week later. Ask your hotel/hostel for the name of a local Doctor or go to a medical clinic. True Traveller Insurance will pay for the costs if you have your insurance with us, as to be honest it’s cheaper to pay $200 for your Doctor, than maybe $2000 or more to a hospital a week later
If you keep to these tips, you will lessen any chances of illness and losses on your trip. And don’t forget to stick to them as well!