Backpacking Through Europe
You’ve packed your bags, and are soon going to backpack through Europe... But are you really ready to go?
Are you eagerly planning a gap year in Europe after four long years of high school? Or are you treating yourself to a few months abroad before entering the working world for good? Whether your plan is to perfect your French while working at a café in Paris, or to relax on the white sandy beaches of Greece by day and party with fellow backpackers on the Mykonos islands by night, you know one thing: You are more than ready for the European romance and adventures to come!
But wait – are you really ready to go? Yes, you may be reading up on affordable hostels along the coast of Italy, searching the ‘net for the best places to party in Prague, or bookmarking exciting travel blogs in anticipation of all the fun to come, but… what about the boring stuff?
You can definitely find some great advice in travel books, on online forums, and through experienced backpackers in your circle of friends, but keep in mind that these sources of information may not always be up to date, and that travel advisories and government regulations can change from year to year. Also, entry requirements can differ depending on the country you are planning to visit, so it’s important to inform yourself as best you can before embarking on your trip.
For example, you now need travel insurance if you plan to travel to Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, or the Ukraine. You will need documentation to show that you’ve purchased insurance prior to your departure, and if you haven’t, you will likely have to buy supplementary insurance right then and there—or you will be refused entry!
Travel insurance is an essential part of planning any trip, even if you’re not heading to one of the countries listed above. And provincial health care will barely cover you if you are in need medical treatment outside of Canada. Don’t believe me? Let me tell you about my summer in southern France. I’ll never forget living the dream – waking up to the smell of freshly baked croissants and cafés au lait, spending my evenings drinking red wine and chatting with cute French waiters – when one day, I banged my head on an open window in the quaint French apartment I was renting. The force of it actually threw me to the ground and left me with a throbbing headache. But it was the blood from the gash on my head that sent me hobbling to a nearby clinic, where I was checked for a concussion and given minor stitches for the wound. In the end, I was okay – but my wallet certainly suffered.
Because I didn’t have travel insurance, I ended up paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket. And, I was lucky. If my accident had been more serious, if I had required urgent care or hospitalization, I could have been looking at an astronomical medical bill that would have taken months (or years) to pay back. (Who needs that on top of student loans?)
Travel insurance is not a luxury, but a necessity. A medical emergency can pop up when you least expect it, and travel insurance keeps you healthy and safe, and your money where it belongs: in your pocket.
This article, written by Kathleen O'Hagan, is provided by Ingle International, specializing in travel insurance since 1946. Ingle International has partnered with StudentAwards to provide students with the best travel health solutions for their overseas adventures. For more information, visit our partner site at http://inglestudents.com/studentawards/.
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