As travelers, we don’t always anticipate that things will go wrong on our trips — and often they don’t. But what happens when disaster strikes unexpectedly? It can be a very dangerous position to put yourself in, and one that I hope none of you ever choose. For this reason, I wanted to share my personal story and World Nomads review with you here to show why it’s so important to buy travel insurance before your next trip.
Now, after almost three years as a World Nomads customer, I can honestly say that they are not only the best travel insurance for backpackers, but they’re a great affordable travel insurance option for almost any trip — and I don’t get on a flight without them, period. Here’s my story…
My True Story and World Nomads Travel Insurance Review
I’ll never forget that morning waking up in Hong Kong. I was about 3 days into my visit, sleeping in my friend’s bed while she was already up and off to work when I received the text.
In fact, it wasn’t just a text. It was a text and a missed call and a cryptic message through my mom’s snapchat account. They were all from my stepdad. I immediately knew something was very wrong. My step-dad was desperately trying to get ahold of me and it didn’t take the phone conversation for me to know that the thing that was wrong had to do with my mom.
I was one month into my round-the-world trip…
At the time, I was about one month into my round-the-world trip that was supposed to last about 1 year in total. Earlier in February, I had flown out to India to begin this exciting new chapter. Twenty-two days later, the second destination on my list, Hong Kong, was cut short without warning.
The plan had been to stay about 6 days in Hong Kong then fly on to Chiang Mai, Thailand to meet up with some of my new friends I’d made in India. I had already booked the flight to Thailand along with a couple of nights in a hotel, but you’ll probably guess at this point in the story that I never did end up making it there.
Instead, I learned that my Mom who had been battling breast cancer for about 8 years (but seemed to be in a good place at the time) had been admitted to the hospital after she fell in the night. She had experienced her first seizure, something that had never been a symptom of her cancer before.
I was terrified. And about as far away from home as you can possibly be. I immediately got online and booked the first one-way flight home for that day, set to depart just a few hours later.
The bill: $1,100
This may not seem like a monumental amount to some, but I had just quit my 9-to-5 job and had completely uprooted my life for this dream of travel. I was relying on every single penny I’d saved to make this dream a reality. With the flight to Thailand that I had already purchased plus a few hotel nights I couldn’t refund, my total losses were $1,452 — not exactly an amount I was expecting to lose only 1 month into my trip.
World Nomads insurance gave me peace of mind…
Luckily, I had purchased World Nomads travel insurance, but honestly I was so distracted with worry about my Mom that I barely even gave the cost a thought at the time. I had never made a World Nomads claim at that point, but I felt pretty confident that they would do something, so I didn’t stress too much about the expensive flight. That was the last thing I needed to be worrying about in addition to the fear of losing my mom.
When I finally got home and attended doctors appointments alongside my Mom, who was still acting a bit loopy and impacted from the seizures, we were told by oncologists at UVA that her breast cancer had metastasized to her brain and the options were bleak. They gave her about 3 months if left untreated, or she could endure “whole brain radiation” (I literally shudder just writing that) and maybe extend her life by a few months. Our family was in a state of panic and despair, to put it lightly.
This isn’t really meant to be a story about the trials and tribulations of our family during some of the darkest times before my mother’s death (she outlived their prognosis without the whole brain radiation by about one year, but passed away on May 23, 2017).I’ll share more about my mom’s passing when the time is right. Rather, it’s meant to share my personal story about why I’m so adamant about travel insurance in the hopes that I can save some of you from getting into a bad situation in the future.
Buying travel insurance isn’t just about the money…
You see, having travel insurance isn’t just about saving money or having a back-up plan when things go wrong — it’s about ensuring that during some of the biggest times of stress that you encounter on your travels, that money doesn’t have to add to the pile of your burdens.
World Nomads took so much stress off me during that dark time in my life that I’m literally a life-long customer and wouldn’t choose any other insurance provider. They made the claim process super easy and were understanding throughout the whole ordeal. And the best part: They reimbursed me for every last cent that I claimed.
Making the claim…
It didn’t happen overnight, but after getting myself together long enough to file a claim with World Nomads, they ended up refunding me the full amount for the last minute flight, the flight to Thailand I never took AND the hotels I never stayed at. And while the process was thorough and detailed, it didn’t make me want to pull my hair out or scream at the person on the other end of the phone.
The team at World Nomads did an incredible job of walking me through the process and answering questions I had to make the claim as painless as possible, and for that I am eternally grateful.
So I know you’ve probably asked yourself this question before a trip…
Should I get travel insurance?
And if you didn’t get the gist of this post yet, well then let me break it down for you. The answer is YES.
Travel should be enjoyable — heck, it should provide some of the greatest memories of your life. It’s simply not worth the small savings in forgoing travel insurance to risk putting yourself in a serious financial position, not to mention completely ruining your trip or the potential for others in the future. What happened to me felt horrific at the time, but it was a small incident compared to what others have encountered while on the road.
I know you’ve seen those GoFund Me pages for people who got in an accident abroad and need the funds to be airlifted home. Those are people that didn’t have travel insurance. Those are people that will be in debt thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars if they don’t get help from others simply because they didn’t spend a few dollars a day to cover themselves. I’m not putting blame on them, maybe they didn’t know. But if you’re reading this then learn from their mistakes. If you get seriously injured in another country and need to be airlifted home, you could be looking at years — potentially a lifetime — of trying to pay that debt back. And it’s just not worth it.
But there are other reasons to get travel insurance. What if you drop your camera by accident and it breaks? What if you fall biking and crack a front tooth? What if you need to cancel your upcoming trip due to terror attacks? What if your luggage gets stolen and you’re without clothes your whole trip? These are all things that could feasibly happen and you’ll be so happy you were prepared.
I feel incredibly lucky that the most I’ve ever had to claim throughout my years of travel is this $1,500 worth of flight and hotel expenses, because I’ve heard stories that are far worse, and every penny I’ve spent through World Nomads since then has been worth it for my peace of mind.
How to Purchase World Nomads Travel Insurance
The best thing about World Nomads is that they make it super easy to get a travel insurance quote in about 30 seconds flat. You can try it for yourself in the widget below! Just enter in a few details about where you’ll be traveling next and voila!
Once you receive a quote, you’ll be given the option between buying a Standard Plan or an Explorer Plan. The difference between the two are laid out clearly below your quote prices with dropdown menus that explain each line item in greater detail (I’ve included screenshots of what you’ll see below, although the prices will be tailored to your trip).
The main differences are in the amount of coverage you get for each line item, but note that things like Collision Damage Waiver and some more extreme sports are not covered in the Standard Plan. I typically go with the Explorer Plan because it gives me more peace of mind and I like that they cover baggage up to $3,000. My camera gear and lenses alone cost more than that, so as that’s a necessity for my business I want to make sure I’m covered should it get damaged or stolen.
Another thing you’ll want to look at is the specific activities that you plan to include in your trip’s itinerary. Things like snow mobiling, sandboarding and parasailing for example, are covered in the Standard Plan, but if you want to go paragliding or heli-skiing then you’ll only be covered in the Explorer Plan. World Nomads makes it super simple to determine which option is right for you. Check out the full breakdown of activities that are covered in either plan here.
How to Make a World Nomads Claim
In the unfortunate event that you need to make a claim, World Nomads has a detailed breakdown on their website of how to do this that will be the best resource for you.
But here are some of my helpful quick tips to get you on your way:
- Make sure that you’ve read your policy in detail so you know exactly what is covered and what isn’t before you try to make a claim — this will help you avoid disappointment and potentially save a lot of time on your end
- Don’t do stupid shit. You won’t get reimbursed for that 😉
- Make sure to save ALL receipts, emails, dates and records that pertain to your claim
- This might be a little OCD, but if you’re really worried about any of your personal belongings getting stolen on your trip, it’s not a bad idea to take photos of everything you brought along with you when you first arrive in your destination or before you leave so that you have a time stamped photo of your personal property as proof.
Why I Chose World Nomads in the First Place
I did a lot of research on the best travel insurance for backpackers before I left for my RTW trip back in 2016. I couldn’t afford to pay for health insurance back home when I wasn’t going to be in the U.S. for the majority of the year (I DON’T recommend this but I had no choice at the time), so I was very adamant about finding the best travel insurance that would make me feel secure on my trip.
Throughout my research, World Nomads was the company that was recommended over and over again by other travelers, major globally recognized companies and travel bloggers that I respected. Now that I have personal experience with World Nomads three years later, I understand why they’re the go-to provider of choice for so many.
A Few Reasons Why I Love World Nomads
- World Nomads is a company by travelers and for travelers, so they know what it’s actually like being out there exploring the world
- They are vetted by some of the biggest travel companies on the planet like Intrepid Travel, Eurail, Contiki and Lonely Planet
- I can literally purchase their insurance before a trip within 2 minutes because their interface is so user-friendly and intuitive
- It may not be the absolute cheapest insurance out there for travelers, but it’s the overall best and most comprehensive plan for the price, especially for backpackers and those that plan to partake in adventurous activities
- Their customer service is the bomb!
I hope this post has helped you to better understand why buying travel insurance before your trip is so important (PS– Keyword in that last sentence: BEFORE. You have to buy it prior to your trip if you want to be covered).
I don’t ever want one of my readers to risk going bankrupt or having to ask their family for thousands of dollars out of their hard earned savings. You’ll feel so much better on your trip knowing that you’re in good hands should anything go not so according to plan.
Feel free to leave a comment below with any questions you might have, and happy travels!