Do You Need Travel Insurance? Tips to help you decide

“Nothing’s going to happen to me, I’m young, fit & healthy. Plus it’s expensive, and I only saved enough money for my trip…”

Have you had these thoughts before going on a trip? Wondering, do you need travel insurance?

You may be going backpacking for the first time and just have no idea what travel insurance is, or why you even need travel insurance.


You may have been on a trip before and nothing happened. You didn’t lose your passport, you didn’t get robbed, hell you didn’t even get bed bugs. Your entire trip was incident free.

We’ve been travelling for a while now and if there is one thing that we’ve learned. It’s a crazy unpredictable world out there, you never know what might happen.

[tweetthis]Life is unpredictable be grateful for every moment.[/tweetthis]

Do you need travel insurance

Especially riding on busses that look like this….

Do you need travel insurance?

No one is impenetrable. Unless you are Superman. And if that’s the case, dude, why are you even reading this article?

Our friends at Nomadasaurus were in a bus crash in Myanmar in 2014. Also Dave from The Planet D recently broke his back while on a trip in Peru.

Even I have had my run in with misfortune. I was involved in a whitewater rafting accident back in 2011 that required me to be rushed off to hospital for a back X-ray (all fine by the way – it was just a really, really big ouchie).

Medical difficulties aside, there are other reason you may need travel insurance.

During the last 2 years of travel we’ve had someone try to snatch my bag in Cambodia. Some kids tried to pickpocket us in FYR Macedonia. We’ve left electric razors in hostel rooms, left things behind on planes, buses & in taxis, and we’ve had electronics randomly explode due to power surges.

So, what I’m saying, is that if these shitty things can happen to ‘professional’ full time travellers – then they can certainly happen to anyone, anywhere in the world. I worked as a travel agent for 3 years back in Australia. Seriously the things I saw and heard about while working there – I personally would never go anywhere without some sort of travel insurance.

do you need travel insurance

Quick selfie in the Gobi desert, Mongolia. Taken just before we broke down in the middle of nowhere for 19 hours…

What should I look for in my backpacking travel insurance?

There’s a few important things to consider when purchasing travel insurance:

1. How much of your medical / dental costs will they cover?

If you’re going to the United States for example, medical costs are stupidly high. Make sure that if you happen to get hit by a bus while crossing the street, you don’t end up with a $500,000 bill at the end, that your insurance doesn’t cover.

Why wouldn’t they cover an accident like that? Because you didn’t get a policy with enough coverage for the United States. (That bus incident and the price of medical is a true story btw. It happened to this customer while I was a travel agent, who didn’t have any travel insurance – ouchie)

2. Do they offer medical evacuation if required?

As with Dave’s story from The Planet D, if you injure yourself while travelling, you don’t want to be stuck in some hospital in the middle of the Peruvian jungle. You want to be airlifted to a hospital with top of the line medical facilities that can handle your injury. Does the policy offer this?

3. Do they offer 24 hour emergency assistance?

This is a no brainer.

Can you contact them at any time of day or night no matter where you are? If you are having to wait until their opening hours to report an incident, it’s not really convenient for you, the paying customer. Also not the best if you’re have been robbed and you’re broke and hungry!

These 3 are really the big ones to look out for. The remainder of the cover you require for your trip depends on what you are taking with you, what you are doing and where you are going.

do you need travel insurance

*Continuing on from the last piccie. We broke down quite a few more times during our time in Mongolia….See shit happens when you travel!

What else should you be covered for?

Travel Delays

Let’s say you’re are on a month long trip around Europe, and the volcano in Iceland kicks off causing disruptions. Will you be covered for any flights you miss because you’re grounded thanks to a stupid ash cloud?

Do you need travel insurance for Loss of Luggage?

It can be something as simple as arriving at LAX and realising (after a long wait at the luggage collection), that zero of the bags you checked in have made it to LAX with you – another true story of mine #FML.

Does your insurer cover the cost of you buying some fresh undies, a tooth brush, toothpaste and other necessities you need until your luggage shows up?

P.S. they don’t all cover this I’ve learned the hard way.

P.P.S. Always carry a spare pair of underwear and your toothbrush and toothpaste with you on the airplane – even some wet wipes are a good idea. Trust me!!!

You leave your passport in the back of a taxi

This happens more often that you may realise. People get to their destination and are tired, jet lagged and a bit out of it – leaving your passport in a taxi is very easy to do. Sadly, not all taxi drivers are good law abiding citizens who will return it to you out of the kindness of their hearts. Will the cost of purchasing an emergency passport be covered?

This is to name but a few things you need to be covered for… really depends on the trip you’re doing.

So with all that said – with all the up’s and downs of trying out different travel insurance policies, is there any travel insurance company that actually offers real nomad insurance? A company that offers you flexibility in your policy to add in the additional cover you may require depending on your trip. And just all round has your ass covered.

I have to say that there is only one winner – World Nomads.

Why? Let me Explain…

My Little World Nomads Travel Insurance Review

World Nomads is a company that was set up by travellers for travellers.

What makes them a great nomad insurance option, is because they realise that we want to explore off the beaten track, discover thrills and adventure, get up to mischief and have the best possible trip ever.

Here’s a few benefits of a World Nomads Travel Insurance Policy

  • You realise in all of the excitement of planning your adventure that you forgot to actually buy your travel insurance. You’re now getting ready to climb Machu Picchu and you have no insurance. No problem – you can apply for World Nomads insurance online from anywhere in the world. **this depends on what country you come from. World Nomads cover people from over 140 different countries.
  • Happen to be having a great time overseas, and you’re not ready to go home yet?  You can extend your policy online, with ease.
  • We are in the age of the gadgets, and you will most likely be travelling with your laptop, iPhone, tablet, DSLR camera and other electronics. Their policies all provide cover for these items. I actually saw a competitors policy the other day where baggage wasn’t included – you had to pay extra.
  • Want to get a little crazy and try some new adventure sports? They cover you for that as well. You’ll be covered for everything from snow boarding in Banff to bungee jumping in Queenstown. Even air guitar is covered – #TRUTH. Worldnomads cover over 200 different adventure sports.
  • They have an easy to fill in online claim form – I can’t begin to tell you how much easier this makes life. You don’t have to return to your home country before you can make a claim – which is actually something you have to do with a lot of other insurance providers.

I learnt this the hard way after getting bitten by a cow in Burma (long story). But after going through a series of rabies shots, I discovered my insurance (with another company) would only pay out once I returned home. I then had to pay more money to see an Australian GP and get them to approve my medical costs.

Seeming we have been permanently nomadic since 2013, and haven’t been back to Oz, that was some serious money flushed down the toilet. Both in the money spent on medical costs and also in the policy in the first place…

do you need travel insurance

The nepalese village in Myanmar that is home to the vampire cow…

Which brings me to the next part…

What about the true world nomads? The digital nomads who need long stay insurance?

As I said earlier. If you decide you are enjoying your new found Travel Freedom and you want to keep travelling, or perhaps you fall in love with a little town in Cambodia and you want to stay longer. It is possible to do this with World Nomads Insurance.

We originally went with a different insurance group when we left Australia in 2013. We were covered for 1 year (the maximum you could purchase), at which point we thought we could just easily renew. This was NOT the case.

Always read the T’s & C’s people!

It turns out that many insurance companies will not touch you with a 5 foot pole unless you return to your home country and apply for a new policy.


This is how you find yourself just about to head to India thinking – “Fuck, I have no medical insurance!!!” And we are not the first ones to find ourselves in this situation – we see it all the time.

Also being digital nomads, we carry around a lot more tech gear than the average Joe on vacation. Well I thought we did. We just managed to fit our lives into two, 44 litre carry on backpacks. But I continue to see backpackers, with their 70+ litre backpacks filled to overflowing with what I can only presume is a surplus of elephant pants.

do you need travel insurance for your elephant pants?

The important thing to take away from this post is – Do you need travel insurance?

Does a one legged duck swim in circles?

Yes it can seem expensive, and I remember the feeling of being young and invincible. Like nothing in the world could stop me. But seriously give you self some peace of mind and make sure you are covered. Protect all of your expensive gadgets you’ve worked so hard to buy, but most importantly protect yourself.

Take those chances – just have a backup plan, get travel insurance.


Have you ever needed to claim on travel insurance while abroad? What was your experience – let us know in the comments.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please remember to share the love with your peeps on social media – that would totally make my day!

Disclaimer: We are affiliated with World nomads and get a commission if you buy a policy. We could recommend any insurance company but World Nomads is the best one we’ve found and we believe it’s important to have travel insurance. Opinions are our own and all stories in this article are 100% true.

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