This year I am working with Allianz Travel Insurance to help provide new content and as a new travel partner. I’ve long taken out travel insurance on my trips and, from experience, it’s an important aspect of the travel experience. Granted, most times I don’t need it but that’s not why I’ve been taking out travel insurance for so many years. No, it’s for those instances when I don’t just need it, but I really need it that it’s become indispensible. Today I want to share an instance when travel insurance was an important part of my travel experience.
Losing Everything in Oslo
I consider myself a fairly lucky traveler. I say that because, for as much as I travel, I have had precious few bad things happen to me. That all came to a screeching halt when flying from Washington to Oslo, I fell victim to that dreaded of European anomalies – the strike. While intensely annoying at the time, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world but I did want to share the lost luggage experience with you and a few things I learned from it all.
There were 7 other people there with me, staring at the baggage carousel as it stopped, intellectually understanding what had happened, but not prepared for it emotionally. After a very long travel day with no sleep, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is missing luggage, but that’s exactly what happened to me as I arrived in Oslo. Back in Copenhagen, a massive airline strike was underway wreaking havoc at all levels and, I would later learn, causing thousands of bags to not be routed to their final destinations. All I knew at the time of course was that I was tired, cranky and a little bit smelly and all I wanted was to change into something fresh. That wouldn’t happen for a couple of more days.
Given a handy web address and phone number to check into periodically, I was sent on my way and told the bags wouldn’t be far behind. By day two of no updates anywhere and customer service reps who didn’t seem to care about either customers or service, I began to give up hope. Still wearing my slip on loafers and a very light flannel shirt, I was due to leave the next day for Alta, Norway, in the far northern reaches of the country. Much colder, I was expected to go dog sledding, snowshoeing and many other outdoorsy and cold sounding activities for which I had nothing to wear – not even gloves and a hat.
I was in Oslo, infamous around the world as one of the most expensive cities in which to live. After a couple of days of buying snacks and coffees, I understood where that reputation came from and I was terrified how much money I’d spend if forced to go out and replace my clothes and luggage. I waited until the last minute and when no information from SAS was forthcoming, I slipped my wallet into my slightly stiff pants and set out into the heart of the downtown, hoping for the best but expecting the worst.
In the end, I spent a full day shopping; time I honestly could have been spent seeing Oslo’s many sights instead of its malls and shops. It was a long, annoying and extremely expensive process as I went through and bought everything from a new suitcase to socks and underwear to snow boots and more. I had to compensate for all of the special winter gear I had brought with me originally. Is it the worst thing to have happen? No, of course not, but I also didn’t intend to spend an entire day and $800 shopping during my first trip to Norway. Travel insurance was indispensible to me though throughout the entire process. Nowadays, companies like Allianz can actually front you the money so that you don’t have to pay out of pocket to replace everything. While I didn’t have that particular perk back then, I was paid back for everything I purchased, even though I was later reacquainted with my bag and clothes. It taught me a very important lesson though that life and especially travel are both unpredictable and even though we feel as if nothing bad will ever happen to us, that’s of course not true.
More Benefits Than You Realize
In an unscientific poll of my close friends, most of them said that if they take out travel insurance, which isn’t too often honestly, it’s because they’re going on a trip where they think their lives are in immediate danger. A bungee jump expedition to Nepal or trekking with lions I imagine would both qualify. But on normal trips, like most of us take, to relax and enjoy some time off, they typically don’t. This fact still boggles my mind; the point of insurance, whether its auto, home or travel is that we 1) can’t predict the future and 2) we can’t time travel to fix mistakes. We take out insurance policies for every other potential mishap in our lives, so why not travel? Disaster can happen to any of us at any time doing anything. I could be strolling along the beach, trip and break a leg. I have a friend who was walking down a boat dock on a trip when he slipped and broke his back. Stuff happens, and we need to be prepared for anything whether it’s in the safety of our own home or on the road.
But travel insurance is about so much more than physical ailments and falls. I’ve had to use travel insurance a couple of times in the last year thanks to our friends at the airlines. Bags lost for so long that I had to buy a new wardrobe meant that I spent a lot of extra money I hadn’t planned on, but luckily insurance covers that eventuality. More recently I was on a long haul flight that was delayed. I missed my connecting flight and had to spend the night in a hotel and book a new flight, both costs covered by my travel insurance plan. Travel insurance can cover a lot of these unfortunate events and more when we vacation, depending on which plan you choose.
We Are Not Invincible
As I get older the more I realize that I’m not really invincible after all. Things do happen and I’m now at the point in my life when I not only realize that, but I want to take certain steps to make sure I’m protected. I travel for a living, so it would be easy for me to become used to the travel experience and get lazy about taking out the proper travel insurance plan. But I try to stay vigilant and take out a policy whenever I’m on the road, because weird and bizarre things DO happen and as often as I’ve tried, I still can’t figure out how to time travel to fix those accidents and mistakes before they happen.