Last Updated: 5/7/21 | May 7th, 2021
Travel insurance is probably the most boring topic to discuss when it comes to planning a trip. Dreaming up the perfect itinerary, finding cheap flights, buying gear — all of these things all much more glamorous!
For that reason, many budget travelers actually skip buying travel insurance. Unlike a flight, a travel backpack, or applying for a visa, travel insurance just doesn’t seem necessary.
And since it’s not always cheap, travel insurance is often tempting to jettison.
I mean, how often does something terrible happen when you travel?
Not often, right?
But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Sure, over the years, I’ve rarely had to rely on travel insurance.
But I have still had to use it from time to time — including recently when I was stabbed in Colombia.
Remember: you’re fine until you aren’t, which is why you need travel insurance!
Yes, for most trips you won’t need your travel insurance. You’ll buy it, save the details in your inbox, and never look at it again.
But a time might come when you need it. And if you don’t have it, things can get expensive fast.
I was thankful for having travel insurance when I needed to see a doctor in Argentina, when my camera broke in Italy, when my eardrum popped in Thailand, and when my luggage was stolen in South Africa.
It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
In this post, I’ll show you everything you need to know to help you make an informed decision about your travel insurance plan and whether or not travel insurance is a worthwhile purchase for your next trip.
Table of Contents
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
To illustrate why travel insurance is worth purchasing, here’s a quick list of what the best travel insurance plans cover (for most countries):
- Medical emergencies, sudden illnesses, and injuries
- Emergencies, strife in your destination, etc., that cause you to head home early
- Emergency evacuation
- Cancellations, such as hotel bookings, flights, and other transportation bookings, if you have a sudden illness, death in the family, or some other emergency
- Lost, damaged, or stolen possessions, like jewelry, baggage, documents, cameras, etc. (Also, there is some coverage for your electronics, and often an option for a higher coverage limit.)
- Twenty-four-hour emergency services and assistance (you don’t want to call to be told to call back later)
- Financial protection if any company you are using goes bankrupt and you are stuck in another country.
Yes, robberies and natural disasters are rare. But things like canceled flights, minor illnesses, and petty theft happen often.
With a comprehensive travel insurance plan, you’ll be covered.
The Best Travel Insurance Companies for Travelers
- Best for people living overseas.
- The closest thing to normal health insurance.
- Available for non-US residents.
- Flexible pricing
- Short-term and annual plans.
- Extensive medical transport coverage.
- Available for residents of USA, Canada, and Mexico
- Limited time spent in foreign medical facilities.
- Super affordable plans.
- Basic coverage options.
- COVID-19 coverage.
- Can purchase while abroad.
- Comprehensive plans
- Includes coverage for all kinds of activities and excursions
- Available up to age 70
- COVID-19 coverage
How to Decide if Travel Insurance is for You
If you’re not sure if travel insurance is the best choice for you, here are some questions to ask yourself:
Do you have a lot of money saved up for emergencies?
If you have thousands of dollars lying around to cover you in case you get injured or delayed, or need to be evacuated (emergency evacuation can cost tens of thousands of dollars), or in case your items get lost or stolen, then maybe travel insurance isn’t necessary for you.
Are you traveling somewhere with expensive medical coverage?
Sure, a quick hospital visit in a budget-friendly country might not cost a lot. But in many countries, medical emergencies can cost hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars (especially if you need comprehensive care, emergency surgery, or evacuation).
Do you have a lot of money invested in your trip?
While none of us ever plan to have a trip canceled, the fact of the matter is that emergencies and surprises do happen (such as an illness, a death in the family, and work conflicts). Unless you’re comfortable losing out on that money, travel insurance might be a worthwhile purchase.
At the end of the day, unless you’ve got tons of extra cash just lying around that you can spend on emergencies, travel insurance is likely worth the money.
I know it’s not cheap (especially if you’re a budget traveler), but at the end of the day, it will be much, much cheaper than paying for an emergency — and I say that from personal experience!
Why Buying Travel Insurance is a Must
No, you never really can.
And that’s why smart travelers get insurance.
Because, for just a couple of dollars a day, you’ll have all those eventualities covered.
I hope nothing bad happens to you on the road, but if it does, travel insurance will be there to help. It’s more than just health coverage — it’s “something bad happened to me” coverage.
Yes, it’s an extra expense. But if something goes wrong you’ll not only save hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re properly covered.
So, be a smart traveler. Buy travel insurance!
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day
My New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to travel for free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation. They are what keep me traveling so much for so little. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.