Don’t worry too much about things going wrong when you travel.
Things will go wrong, of course. You may find yourself lost, and, while throwing yourself upon the pity of non-English-speaking-strangers, rediscover just how kind people are. That happened to me, in Florence, Italy, where strangers not only helped me find my way to the train station, but also bought me lunch on the way.
While many accidents are happy, others are not. Beyond my own, often literal, missteps, I got seriously ill in Rome. After four visits to the doctor, one to a hospital, and another to a group of nuns who did blood tests, I discovered I had contracted gastroenteritis— a nasty virus without any tailored medicine. The prescribed treatment was to sleep it off and drink lots of fluids. In that case, too, worry wasn’t very helpful.
I was in Rome with my university. The university administrators had worried beforehand, and required all the students to get travel insurance. It meant that I paid for the medical costs out-of-pocket--the total cost of a visit to the doctor was 50 euros, the blood tests were more--and was reimbursed after I returned home. When everything was added up, the biggest expense that my illness caused was the cab fares to and from various medical offices, and the week of missed classes. But if I hadn’t gotten better, the insurance would have paid for things like hospitalization, specialists, and even medical evacuation. I’m very glad that I had medical care abroad when I needed it, mostly because people more experienced than me had thought things through before any of us set foot on the plane.
You might already have some basic coverage through your health insurance policy, so check with your health insurer and make sure you are fully aware of any exemptions, limits, or deductibles.
For some people, your existing medical insurance may be enough. On the other hand, if your travels will include extreme sports, or if you know your health insurance coverage just won’t suffice, consider travel insurance.
So, what should you do instead of worry? Well, first, you shouldn’t let it prevent you from going. Whether you book a plane ticket to Paris, or point your car north, you’ll surely end up having adventures.
By putting yourself in places you’ve never been, you discover things you never knew. While we might think of the U.S. as having natural wonders and Europe as having culture, nowhere else has D.C.’s legions of free, world-quality museums; there’s nowhere but Switzerland where you can find snow in the middle of summer.
As Gandalf cautioned Frodo, "It’s a dangerous business, going out your door… there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to." While you might not end up saving the world from evil, travel is still a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Photo credit: enigmabadger