Why Buy Travel Insurance: Family Travel Essentials

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If your family is traveling, then buy travel insurance. Seriously. When I was young, I took big (and occasionally stupid) risks. One of them was going without insurance. Now that I have kids, it’s a different story.


If you’ve read this blog before, then you may think that we’re big risk-takers. Perhaps we are. We take our kids rock climbing and zip lining. Our family has ridden motorcycles through central Vietnam and have gone on a night walk to look for poisonous snakes in Taiwan. We’ve jumped off of cliffs in Spain and tubed down rivers in the Sumatran jungle.

We’ve taken risks. Some of them are our favorite travel memories. However, all of those risks were backed up by travel insurance.

The reason to buy travel insurance is simple: you do not want to take any chances. Period.

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The Difference Between Now and Then

When I was young and single, I took risks…too many risks actually, and more than a few that perhaps shouldn’t be explained on a family blog such as this (*blush*). During most of those crazy years, I had no health insurance. None. Zero. I was only traveling for short periods, and only in Southeast Asia, where medical expenses were cheaper than getting it covered by insurance. I told myself that I didn’t need travel insurance.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t.

I was pretty reckless in my 20’s, and now I am so grateful that I never had an accident or emergency back then. If I had, I would have been in serious trouble. I know that now.

I can’t take that risk with my kids. In fact, I can’t take that risk with me, either. If I get hurt or have some huge hospital bill to pay, it still affects the family. So I get travel insurance now and have since my son was born in 2002.

What is the best travel insurance? Every family’s travel plans are different, so what’s best for us might be different than what’s best for you. Use what I’ve written here and apply it to your family, your destinations, and the kind of trip you plan to take.

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Buy Travel Insurance for Unforeseen Emergencies

We’ve had a few situations where the unexpected happened. A motorbike whacked my son and all four of us got food poisoning during the very first week of long-term travel.

Three months later, I nearly shattered my spine falling off a waterfall. In the waterfall case, medical expenses in Malaysia were so cheap that we paid for my emergency room visit out of pocket. For the other situations, we filed for compensation for our hospital visits and were happy to receive it.

The biggest situation we’ve dealt with thus far (knock on wood) is medicine for the occasional illness. We’ve had situations in Thailand, Taiwan and the USA where one or more of us have been rather sick. We were glad that we bought travel insurance to cover the costs.

Buy Travel Insurance for Extreme Situations

Most plans don’t cover routine health checks and teeth cleanings, but the right plan can save you from paying a $150,000 in medevac expenses when your son breaks his arm in Mongolia and has to be flown to Hong Kong for surgery. It can save you tens of thousands more when a tsunami wrecks the holiday resort your family is staying in and all you want to do is go home.

Am I coming on too strong here?

Both of the above situations are real — the first happened to a blogger I read, and the other happened to a guy I know — but hey, let me dial it back a bit.

Of course, it’s best when travel is trouble-free and when everyone is healthy. In most cases, that’s exactly what happens. However, there are the outlier scenarios, and they happen to the occasional unlucky person with alarming consistency.

Travel insurance is a safety net. It won’t keep you from falling, but it’s there to break your fall. This can be liberating.

What I've Learned from Family Travel: 15 Insights - First Year Review

Buy Travel Insurance to Replace Stolen and Damaged Goods

Technology’s great, ain’t it? I don’t know about you, but I love shooting pics with my cameras, reading articles on an iPad, Skyping my parents on my laptop and updating some Instagram pics with my iPhone.

Those gadgets are expensive.

I know several people who had their phone pulled right out of their hands by a motorcyclist in Vietnam. I know an RV family who had their windshield smashed and their backpacks (fully loaded!) swiped from their truck. There are even more who have waited for their luggage to arrive only to find it’s been opened and items are missing.

These things happen rarely. But they happen.

Theft is one scenario, but accidental damage is a more common situation. A porter could drop your camera bag, or you accidentally fall out of a boat with your laptop in your pack. These things are rare, too, but they too are real situations you should be prepared for.

Buy Travel Insurance for Travel Disruptions

A lot of people don’t think about this one — I know we hadn’t. Neither did Jason and Michelle Marshall when they left on their Gap Year trip with their son James. However, as Jason explains in episode #42 of Epic Education Radio, it impacted them directly.

Michelle’s mother passed away unexpectedly, and the Marshals needed to return immediately to Texas for the funeral and to meet with family. The problem was that they were in Turkey at the time. As you can imagine, “A last-minute flight from western Turkey to Texas is not cheap” (timecode 16:45).

The Marshals were reimbursed for their flights home, as well as for several non-refundable flights that they missed as a result of the sudden change in plans. Thanks to international flight insurance, they were reimbursed thousands of dollars.

This is just one example, and an extreme one, for sure. However, any number of health reasons and other mishaps can prevent you from boarding a flight, checking into a hotel, or stepping onto a cruise ship before it leaves the dock.

Buy Travel Insurance for Rental Car Liability

Sometimes, the best way to see a country is to drive through it. Listen, I love taking trains and buses. I love walking in new places more than anything. However, sometimes driving is the best option. But here’s the problem: driving in an unfamiliar country can be scary and unpredictable. Has that stopped us? No way. It shouldn’t stop you, either.

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We like World Nomads travel insurance and have used them multiple times. We also know dozens of other families who have had a good experience with them. They’re one of the biggest providers for long-term traveling families, and now I know why.

Why World Nomads?

We’ve had a great experience with World Nomads since 2013 and have seen no reason to try anyone else. Below I’ll try to outline the reasons why we like them.


World Nomads traveler’s insurance was one of the best deals we found when we looked for a plan that met our needs. The amount of coverage they offer for the price is really hard to beat for families.


You can apply for coverage or renew your coverage online — even while you are traveling. We’ve done both and it was super convenient and stress-free. They also have 24-hour assistance, and every time we’ve used them, that assistance has been a human, which is quite nice.

High-risk activity coverage

Fortunately, they cover a lot of the slightly dangerous activities that we enjoy, including surfing, motorbiking, rafting, stand-up paddleboard, trekking, hiking, and caving.


Check with World Nomads to see if you like what they offer. I hope you find the right policy for your family!


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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel. Why buy travel insurance? I hope this post helps you realize that it’s truly a family travel essential.

Image credits: #5,  #7


  1. Thanks for sharing!!!