Getaway Day: 7 Destinations Where You Really Need Travel Insurance

Lisbon -- and all of Europe -- is a destination that really requires travel insurance. (Sharyn Alden photo.)
Lisbon — and all of Europe — is a destination that really requires travel insurance. (Sharyn Alden photo.)

There are two types of trips: Trips where you need travel insurance and trips where you really need travel insurance. (Actually, that’s a total lie. There are many other types of trips: trips to the store, trips to the dentist, trips downtown, trips to Nana’s, trips up north. But we had to kick off this story somehow, and admit it: We had you going there for a minute.) Today we’re going to focus on the second category: trips where you need travel insurance – and more specifically, destinations where it really pays to have travel insurance.

We know too well that travel is expensive and opportunities for travel are scarce and dear. You don’t want to mess up, and you don’t want someone or something to mess it up for you. So if you’re headed to these destinations this summer or fall be sure to keep your wits about you – and get some high-quality travel protection before you leave.

Europe: Granted, all of Europe these days is in you-just-never-know mode, and the air-traffic controllers are on strike, but could you be a little more specific, please?

Barcelona: Thank you. If you Google “worst cities for pickpockets,” Barcelona comes up first every time – even when they don’t list cities alphabetically. The hustle and din of Barcelona can be disorienting for first-time visitors. They lose focus, get caught up in the whirl, and the next thing they know they’re minus a wallet, a purse, a passport, credit cards, money, and more. We recommend taking a multi-step approach to staying safe and in one piece in theft-happy destinations like Barcelona: heightened awareness at all times, theft deterrents like Pick-Pocket Proof Clothing from Clothing Arts, and travel insurance from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. Barcelona (and you can throw Prague, Rome, and Paris in there, too) are magical places; you don’t want the magic spoiled by a continuous feeling of unease and suspicion.

Oslo: So why is Oslo on this list? It’s clean, safe, relatively free from pickpockets and other scammers … and incredibly expensive. This might come as a surprise, but when you start to research the world’s most expensive destinations Oslo consistently tops the list. You may not associate Oslo with luxury travel, probably because you’ve never heard your really rich relative, the one with the yacht, say something like, “I’m blowing it all on a trip to Oslo.” Where Oslo shines is in the consistently high cost of everything for everyone. Six dollars for a bottle of water from the corner apothecary is steep even by Yankee Stadium standards. If you’re a casual traveler tooling around Europe, and Oslo is part of your itinerary, it’s likely to be your most expensive stop – and a great reason to buy travel insurance.

Gold dripping from the walls of one of St. Petersburg's glorious palaces.
Gold dripping from the walls of one of St. Petersburg’s glorious palaces — put there by some enterprising scammer, no doubt. (Sharyn Alden photo.)

St. Petersburg: A popular travel scam in this exquisite Russian city has someone drops money on the ground, someone else “finds” it and offers to split it with you, at which point the “dropper” claims the money has been stolen and sets up a commotion. In the confusion someone winds up losing money, and that someone is you – along with the other contents of your wallet and quite possibly your passport as well. Add in a semi-corrupt and bribable police force and St. Petersburg shakes out as a destination that demands a multi-phased approach similar to Barcelona: keep your wallet close and your camera strapped across your body, consider money belts and other theft-deterring clothing, travel with an official guide, and buy ExactCare from BHTP before you leave.

Destinations just coming off of the U.S. travel-alert list for political instability: if you visit the State Department site and check through their list of recent travel alerts and warnings, you’ll find these countries at the top of the list: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Honduras, Nigeria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Haiti, in addition to that perennial all-star, North Korea. Let’s take Turkey as an example, and let’s suppose the travel warning to Turkey is lifted a month from now. It’s not as though the political climate in Turkey, and traveler safety, is going to be markedly different one month and one day from now as it was one month minus two days from now, when the travel warning was still in effect – though many travelers see the lifting of a travel warning as their free pass to travel as usual. Even though the Turkish people are extremely friendly and Turkey as a country desperately needs western tourism dollars, a country coming off a travel warning is still a dangerous place to be in, relatively speaking, and as long as a travel insurer will cover your trip there, you owe it to yourself, your fellow travelers, and your family to get covered with quality travel insurance.

Active destinations: Insurance is a game of odds. What are the odds of something happening to you while you’re traveling? Well, any insurance oddsmaker will tell you that the more things you do that might trigger a claim, the greater your chances of having a claim. So if you’re snorkeling and windsurfing and kayaking, your chances of getting hurt or losing something are greater than if you sit out on the lanai all day watching Netflix. So consider this to be a rule of thumb: the more you do on your vacation, the more you need travel insurance.

All those other trips and destinations: Let’s face it: We’ve talked about places with pickpockets, places undergoing political turmoil, places where crime is rampant, places where you’re active, and expensive places as destinations deserving of travel insurance. Well, isn’t that just about everywhere? Yes, yes it is: It is just about everywhere. And that’s not even mentioning the Delta incident of this past week, the best reason ever to buy AirCare. So just get travel insurance. You’ll be happier because you’re have the peace of mind to travel your way (though you still want to be appropriately cautious and alert), and we’ll be happier because … well, because this is what we do.

Are we good? We are — as long as you have some travel insurance.



Author: Kit Kiefer

As content engineer for Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, I have one of the world's great jobs. Not only do I get to write about travel, but I get to edit the work of fantastically talented contributors from around the world. Plus I get all the maple syrup I can drink.