My Thoughts On World Nomads Travel Insurance

Urging readers to ensure they have travel insurance and talking about how important it is, is one thing then the inevitable questions about which provider to go with hit my inbox. So who do I personally use for my travel insurance and would I recommend them?

I’ve travelled plenty and have used a range of travel insurance providers over the years’. I’ve had single-trip policies and multi-trip policies however, my current policy is with World Nomads and their policy is a little different. They’re set up for long-term travellers and due to my positive experience with them I will be renewing my insurance with them when it runs out.

You DON'T Have travel insurance you say...?

You DON’T Have travel insurance you say…?

My World Nomads Experience…

I’ve had a World Nomads policy for nine months now (or so… I think… it’s been some time) and at quote their policy seemed really reasonable to me. Information about them was easy to come by with most other travel bloggers using them, big travel brands recommending them and plenty of sites that compare policies talking about them in comparison to other providers and their insurance policies in relation to other insurance policies.

For me, knowing I’m with a big company who deal with issues that long-term travellers face specifically makes a huge difference to my piece of mind.

I’ve had to email them a number of times about my policy as my plans changed. I would ask them if it was okay to travel here or there and if there would be additional costs, to date there have been none and the service has been great with them responding to my emails within a few days’ with answers that I needed!

I’ve not had to claim anything and hope I never do have to (because who wants to get hurt while traveling, right!?) but know I’m covered if I do need assistance and this provides me with a great peace of mind.

Something I love too which I have not had to do (yet, but will need to do within the next few months’) is that you can renew your cover on the road (because where are most independent travellers anyway?) so you can keep traveling and enjoy your carefree lifestyle for as long as you can afford it rather than having to worry about what to do when cover runs out. I believe too that you can get cover after you’re on the trip although I’ve never tried to as I always make sure I’m covered before I go.

I don't have travel insurance and don't know if getting into this big, potentially bottomless pool is a good idea...

I don’t have travel insurance and don’t know if getting into this big, potentially bottomless pool is a good idea…

Would I recommend Work Nomads To My Friends?

The answer is a resounding “YES!” unlike other travel insurance companies I’ve been with these guy’s specifically tailor to long-term travellers, they also have extra things like cover for if you’re hurt at work which to me is super important as I do work as I travel.

I wouldn’t recommend any product I didn’t use myself and totally love so you can be sure this recommendation carries some weight behind it.

I like these guys – they have great service, reasonable prices (considering the cover you’re getting), are recommended by just about everyone including myself for a reason!

If you’re interested in getting a quote on your travel insurance and could do so using my link or the World Nomad’s widget to the right of this post in the side bar (which means at no additional cost to you I earn a small amount of money from the company) that would be great as you’re helping me to keep traveling and dispensing more awesome, super-relevant advice! Thank you in advance!

Ah, cool water! So glad I have my travel insurance now...

Ah, cool water! So glad I have my travel insurance now…

What It’s Really Like To Survive An 8.3 Magnitude Earthquake

Chile-Adventurer-StaceyI felt cosy tucked into bed in my pink, flannel PJs, I’d been talking to a girl who’d been placed in my dorm room maybe an hour before when the room started shaking. I was the first to notice as I was lying in bed and her standing. Like anyone who wants to be in denial I turned to the new girl and asked, “Is that an earth quake?” At first, she tried to laugh it off, “of course not! How could it be!”

I stood up anyway and walked to the doorway, I’d seen this in an American film. They had earth quakes in America and they always stood in doorways until it was over.

There was this guy feeding his well-dressed alpaca in a city park, awesome!

There was this guy feeding his well-dressed alpaca in a city park, awesome!

Quickly, a few things happened. A French-Canadian guy asked me if it was an earth quake too (apparently I’m not the only one who’s keen on denial) then a Spaniard jumped out of the shower, towel around his waist and asked me the same question. As the Spaniard got out of the shower and found me sharing my doorway with two other people, we all realised how funny the scene was and laughed. I laughed all the way down the stairs and onto the street as our hostel owner ushered us out of the building: you’re told to leave buildings and stand on the street in case of earth quakes as buildings often collapse and it’s best not to be in that collapsed building if you can help it, right!?

As we stood there plenty of locals passed us on the Santiago street. They all looked confused and some women even gave me a funny look. Where did all these gringo’s come from and what did that girl think she was doing, standing around in her PJs? I wasn’t the only fashion disaster as I stood next to the guy in his towel. Luckily we weren’t out there long – the first time.

I loved how excited people were for the national day - Chilean flags EVERYWHERE!

I loved how excited people were for the national day – Chilean flags EVERYWHERE! (Photo taken in Valparaiso, one of the most heavily damaged tsunami areas)

I messaged my parents (like any well-trained solo female traveller who had a habit of being in countries when they had natural disasters). My dad messaged me back quickly to let me know there was a tsunami warning and the earth quake had been a big one, he sent me this message even before people in-country knew what was going on. The power of the internet! I wasn’t really sure if I should worry about tsunami warnings however, so asked the hostel owner if this was a problem. He said we were inland and it wasn’t. I would read in news reports later that coastal towns I had just visited were affected by the tsunami and realised that I was lucky that I had come back to this hostel earlier than expected because I had had such a wonderful time here.

The second big earth quake hit again when I was in bed. Again I walked outside. Everyone teased the man who had previously been wearing a towel and told him he shouldn’t bother with the clothes he was now wearing before rounding on me to tease me about my poor fashion sense.

Santiago-Chile-Mountains-And-City-Adventurer-Stacey

Even with a light atmosphere I did feel a bit uncomfortable, I could feel this earth quake was bigger than the last one and that it had lasted longer. Later I would discover this earth quake was an 8.3 and the previous had been a 7.9. Of course I hadn’t been at the epicentre so the earth quakes I felt were not as strong as they were in other places.

Throughout the night it felt like there were aftershocks constantly. I had tried to sleep through them but was a little jumpy – getting out of bed two or three times thinking it was another big earth quake when it wasn’t – I eventually got to sleep and the next day discovered that my bed was half off its base, obviously in the night the earth quakes had moved my bed so much I was almost on the floor, yet I hadn’t woken up. Proof you can sleep through anything if you’re tired enough.

Life's tough for palace guard dog's as you can see...

Life’s tough for palace guard dog’s as you can see…

At breakfast we read more about the earth quakes – finding out how big they had been and the damage they had done. I was surprised the death toll was so small, I knew locals were used to earth quakes but that they’d managed to get through such a huge event relatively unscathed still surprised me. Of course there were huge problems close to the coast with people’s homes and boats being flung around by the waves.

Later that same day I met a local guy who was a friend of the hostel owner. His whole family were in affected areas and he was saying he would go there and help them rebuild – another testament to the generosity of Chilean people, he had no question weather he would go help his family: Family are important and it’s just what you do.

Reading reports of the earth quakes later inspired me to write my own story so others’ would see that they are not as scary as had been made out in media and that the world is much safer than we think. Also because I think Chilean’s are pretty awesome people and this is a place everyone should visit and not be scare off by seismic activity.

What qualifies me to give you travel advice

I read a lot of junk on the internet, plenty of it written by self-proclaimed experts in their fields. Most of the experts are just regular people who have plenty of experience in one area. For example, if someone has 10 years marketing experience, they might call themselves a marketing expert online. It sounds better than just talking about their experience, right?

Recently a friend introduced me as a “travel expert”. I had to laugh at this then thought about it, I guess I am as much an expert as people on the internet as I travel extensively, research widely and have several years’ experience at this, but that’s not why you should listen to me when you are planning your travel.

Berlin-Wall--Adventurer-StaceyI have said it before and I will say it again: on the road, I have made a lot of mistakes. I have gotten lost, gotten ripped off and potentially put myself at huge risks, with the thought in mind that I can handle anything. Worst of all, I get scared about travel and have my own fears of the unknown.

These things are natural and human, mistakes are common, fears are more so. Overcoming those fears is less common and getting back on the horse after making big mistakes and getting on with it is less so as well. I could have given up my dreams of travel at any time and retreated back to my comfort zone, but I didn’t and I won’t finish travelling until I feel happy with my personal achievements.

Travelling solo in NYC I made some new friends, check them out!

Travelling solo in NYC I made some new friends, check them out!

Travel has helped me develop as a person, to find my strengths in communication and negotiation and gave me the opportunity to exercise my personal charm and capacity for empathy. Travel has thought me a lot and continues to teach me. I am a student of life and love that the whole world is my classroom!

Right now I am in the UK at the beginning of my working holiday. It’s been a really good time full of new adventures and exploration. I have allowed myself the freedom to go anywhere in the UK and will be exploring more of Westeros the UK in this next two years than I ever have before. I’ll explore Europe further at a slower pace than I have in the past as a backpacker speeding about.

Free Falling (the wind in my cheeks!)

Free Falling (the wind in my cheeks!)

It was my travel dream to be here and I am achieving that as you read this. If you are going to get advice from someone that someone should have been where you are in the past and be living their dream now. To inspire you, they have to be doing what you want to be doing, right? I think I qualify.

What’s your travel dream? What do you want out of travel? In years from now when you’re in a nursing home talking to all the other elderly women and men, what will you tell them? Will you tell them you followed your dreams and had your own adventures or that you let your fears stop you?

NYC-Central_Park-Adventurer-StaceyTime to take the next step? As always, I’m here to help and am available for travel consulting sessions via skype. Yes, even in old Blighty, I’m here for you guys.

Adventurer Stacey, Travel Consultant At Your Service!

Adventurer-Stacey-WaterfallAdventurer Stacey so far has evolved very naturally. After years of answering the same common questions about travel, I launched a blog first to help clear up common misconceptions about travel and urge people to take the plunge by both sharing my journey with them and with straight up advice on how to travel independently on a budget. I then grew a website around the blog with travel guides and all.

After over a year of blogging primarily for my friends and family, I now have readers who I have not met face-to-face. It makes me really happy to think my little blog is making a positive difference in the lives of people I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting.

On top of maintaining my website, I also write a weekly email newsletter with tips, travel deals and other info I only talk about in email, I also spend a bit of time on social media, forums and travel related websites helping people with their travel plans. I really enjoy interacting with the online travel community and knowing that people are going to get more out of their journey because I helped them.

While I was answering a question about itineraries about two weeks ago I thought, “hey, I give advice, whether through my website, to my email list subscribers, through social media or forums. It’s good advice and no-one complains, everyone seems really happy with my help but I never get to see their travel coming together and I mostly just give odd bits of advice people then take and make their own plans with.” Although this is usually fine, I saw a great opportunity to extend myself further, polish my skills as a blogger/travel consultant and start offering one-on-one sessions.

I set to work putting together a page on my website where people can get in touch and book a time to consult with me while I asked around what my friends’ and family thought of my idea. They loved it but kept telling me that I wasn’t charging enough for the service I was providing.

Realizing that most people are not aware of the hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars they pay commission based travel consultants/travel agents, I decided to start with low rates and then offer higher rates as the travel consulting arm of Adventurer Stacey grows. I think this is the way I want to grow this as the first people who come to me are taking a (very small) risk that I might not be a very good consultant. I say the risk is small as I assume most people who’re interested in my travel consults have read my blog and know how knowledgeable I am.

My rates will rise after six months, so right now is the time to book a travel consult.

If you’re planning a trip soon and are unsure where to start with your travel planning, I can help. If you’re tired of paying too much for travel, I can help. If you’re wanting to experience the joy and freedom of planning your own travel, I can help.

I am very excited about this and hope I can continue to help as many people as I can in the future.

Happy travels,

‘Australia Girl’ loses her tour group in Italy

No, that wasn’t a typo. I really am “Australia Girl” in this storey. I really enjoy telling this story now but at the time it felt like the end of the world, Sort of like a lot of stories of mishap on the road are to the ones that tell them.

I was on a tour in Italy with a girlfriend from university. We had seen a few cities (it was a multi-day tour) and were stopping at a small Italian town for lunch. The stop was only supposed to be an hour and the town would have drifted from my memory if it hadn’t been the site of some pretty pivotal goings on in my life as a traveller.

I had separated from my tour group knowing where we would all meet up again and wondered down a lane, then down another and another until I saw a place that was advertising (in English) for a sandwich (pancetta, amazing!) with a cup of wine for four euro. I can tell you now the lunch was worth plenty more than four euro and it was so nice to slow down and talk to a local rather than talk to the backpackers on the bus about what they thought of the locals.

Italian food ... or at least food consumed while in Italy!

Italian food … or at least food consumed while in Italy!

After two cups of wine and a filling sandwich I looked at the time. I was supposed to meet everyone back at our meeting place ten minutes ago – I was late. I thanked the lovely old Italian man and rushed from his shop. Getting disorientated I went the wrong way then rushed to a local who gave me directions in Italian (I don’t speak Italian but beggars can’t be choosers and there wasn’t anyone else around!). I eventually found my way to our meeting point and predictably there was no-one there.

I rushed towards where our bus had been parked (now having my bearings after rushing around lost for the last fifteen minutes) but my bus was gone along with my passport, backpack and most of my money (I’d only taken ten euro into town in my pocket).

I didn’t know what to do and being that I was so overwhelmed by this point I just cried for a moment and let myself feel sorry for myself. After this I made a plan: I would find the local police and get help. People did silly stuff like this all the time and I was sure they would know what to do.

HUGE Church we the meeting spot, don't know how I couldn't find it!

HUGE Church we the meeting spot, don’t know how I couldn’t find it!

I made my way back into town, keeping my ear to the ground for English speakers. I managed to find enough people to get some rough directions however, it was an unusually cold European winter and the snow drove most of the Italians inside and out of my reach quickly.

I found the local police station which was closed for lunch. I grabbed an officer who was on his way outside for a cigarette. He tried telling me to come back later to my response, “But I’m lost now!” using jesters (I had no Italian and he had no English) he asked if my passport was lost and I explained that I was lost. When he finally understood he laughed with relief to finally “get” what I was saying then caught himself: this wasn’t funny at all.

The officer guided me inside and told his colleagues what had happened in rapid-fire Italian. Between the dozen or so officers they managed to communicate with me through the one or two who had some English. I was trying to be patient because I could see how hard they were trying with me and how easy it would be for them to turn me away as this lost tourist wasn’t really a police issue.

First I was put on the phone to a woman who worked in a travel agency in the town. She had some English and would translate between me and the police. After much to-and-fro the police put me onto my consulate. Funnily enough this wasn’t what any of us had thought to do first.

My bus had left half an hour ago now and were on their way to Rome. I discussed with the Australian embassy how I would get to Rome where the Australian consulate was located and how they could help me when I had no documents proving who I was and now only six euro in my pocket. They could get me on a train and then put me up in a hotel until they could work out what to do with me. I was relieved. Thank god I was a citizen of Australia!

Cute statue bum break: don't worry, this storey ends well, keep reading when you're done admiring his form.

Cute statue bum break: don’t worry, this storey ends well, keep reading when you’re done admiring his form.

All at once, four police came running in, one of them was calling me “Australia girl!” which was what they had been calling me the whole time, he said, “Australia girl! We found your friends!” the whole office was abuzz. All of these officers had been working together to help me and had also called the patrol cars who’d found my returned tour bus.

No-one could really communicate with me what was going on but I got the point: we were going back to my tour bus. They saved me!

The captain who’s office I’d been sitting in and who’d put me in touch with the travel agent then my consulate donned his coat and hat in that proud way only Italian men can and showed me out.

We walked through the town until I could see a police car. The officers were both so happy to see us that I felt like a bit of a celebrity. They spoke to my officer in Italian and he took me to my tour leader who hugged me tight. We thanked the officer and she spoke a little Italian to him (wish I had those language skills! How much less stressful this whole situation could have been!) Before we headed back to the bus.

My tour guide told me how they’d realised they’d lost me after they’d left and had turned around and had spent the last hour or so calling all the hospitals, “Our driver (an Italian) was telling them you were his daughter because it was too difficult to explain the relationship any other way! We’ve been so worried!” they’d checked with everyone before flagging down a police car and being told that yes, they did have Australia girl and were happy to return her safely.

I felt a right idiot walking back onto the tour bus and no-one let me forget what I’d done but I was happy being amongst my backpackers who talked about locals, not to them and knowing my genuine local experience taught me so much about Italians and their generosity of spirit.

I made it to rome in the end. :)

I made it to rome in the end. :)

Gotten yourself good and lost before? Share your storey in the comments below.

Put your loved ones at ease about your travel plans

Credit: Flickr user Jaap Joris

Credit: Flickr user Jaap Joris

It’s an ongoing battle getting your loved ones to understand that you’re just fine wherever you’re choosing to go. Especially for those of us whose parents didn’t backpack in their twenties and thus do not have the firsthand knowledge to know that the world isn’t as scary as the six o’clock news would have them believe.

When I told my friends about backpacking in Europe the first time I went they were shocked. Was I crazy!? Didn’t I know how dangerous Europe was and hostels, well… they’re full of thieves, drug addicts, sex addicts and other assorted crazy people with antisocial tendencies. They’re just like homeless shelters, aren’t they!? They had no idea and were scared for me needlessly.

When I told my grandmother about how I wanted to visit Latin America she kept an eye out for news of bad things happening there: there were abductions in Rio De Janeiro, abductions in Mexico and god only knows where else. I looked up the numbers myself and went over them with her, taking care to explain how abduction happens everywhere. Ever heard of a custody battle? Plenty of those end in one parent taking the child without a courts permission, hence it’s legally abduction. This is added to the crime statistics yet often other abductions are not, it’s an under-reported crime. Regardless of what was happening to the odd unlucky person, worrying myself about something that has not happened was not going to serve me one little bit and wasn’t going to help my loved ones either.

After years of travel and a variety of reactions from loved ones, I’ve learned the best thing I can do is listen to what they say then go away and do my own research. When I am ready I go back to the person, explain that although their fears are very common (as they normally are, we’re all told the same fear myths about the world) the chances of myself being the victim of whatever crime are 1000:1 (for example) as it doesn’t happen as often as the news makes out and that if thousands of people can travel to that area and not have a problem, I probably can too. Even if I am so unlucky to have any of these things happen to me, I have good life skills and can deal with whatever life throws my way. I’ve lived in this dangerous world for so many years now and these problems are just as likely to crop up at home.

In summary:

  • Don’t dismiss their fears, listen to them and treat them with respect, this is someone you care about showing concern for your safety after all.
  • Do some research and come back to them with hard figures, yes crime stats are not perfect but numbers will engage the logical part of the brain rather than the emotive part and thus will make it easier for you to get your point across.
  • Point out that these things happen everywhere all the time and there are actual people just like you living in these areas and thousands travelling every day so your likelihood of becoming a victim if you are savvy is low.
  • Explain that you are savvy. It’s a good idea to bring up your quick wits, safety knowledge and self-defence training (although, this shouldn’t be the first thing you bring up). It’s important to point out that you can handle it and they have no need to worry.
  • Thank them for their concerns even though they have no need to worry and let them know you’ve had a good hard think and have decided not to let their fears dictate your life choices (do this politely again, they were showing they cared about you).

Now it’s your turn! Have you ever been in a situation where someone was stressing about your travels? How did you handle it?

Travel safety (not just for us women!)

I realise there are risks to personal safety men come into contact with when travelling, however as women’s travel safety is a hot topic I wanted to address it as a woman traveller.

I was in Bangkok, the heat was draining from my body slowly as darkness descended upon the city. I was hungry and as always, thirsty for a beer. It was December 2013 and I was irritated by the nearby protests like everyone else in the city, they had stopped me moving around and now there was talks of people shooting one another to death in the same protests which made me feel more apprehensive than usual.

I’d bought my $1 street food and had ordered a $3 beer (interesting prices proportionately, don’t you think?) from two different street vendors in the Kho San tourist district. The barman was like a bee to honey straight away, “I Thai boxer, you feel my muscles!” he demanded after a few false starts, unsure in this foreign tongue we call English.

I felt his muscles, then got him to feel mine. We both laughed and he went off to serve some loud German guys’ their beer. I watched the street in front of me, everyone was so white! I’d just come from rural Vietnam where I was often the only white person the tribal children had ever seen.

“I have something to show you” he was standing over me again. Not intentionally I’m sure, but it didn’t help what happened next.

“No, I don’t need to see anything – you show me when I finish eating!” I informed him, motioning at my food, buying myself some time hoping to god he wasn’t going to flop out his penis there on the crowded street, while standing over me.

He looked at me, confused then excitedly, “I show you! I show you!” he started to lift up his shirt oh no, not now when I’m eating…  and there it was, his gun. Not his penis but a firearm, staring at me. I looked up at his face and smiled. What else could I do?

He smiled back it was darker than mine had been, “You tell no-one!” ….

Displaying 2013-12-02 13.23.56.jpg

Bangkok’s backpacker heart Kho San Road when the city was being rocked by protesters: deserted and shut up.

Despite telling my mother and female friends this story when I came home and having everyone hysterically saying, “OH MY GOD! How did you handle it!?” as my mother smiles knowingly, I don’t know how you could not handle it. I have a reasonable level of intuition, the gut feeling we get when we know that something is wrong and I know when to step back and when it’s time to run.

In this instance, I finished my food and drink and calmly walked away like nothing unusual had happened. The young man, not wanting to feel he’d lost face (which is a big deal in his culture), checked I was coming back the next night. I told him I was which we both knew was a lie and he didn’t do anything crazy. I think he was trying to impress me, like all young men all over the world do when there’s a young woman anywhere nearby. He was just doing it in a way I’m not quite used to.

I know there’s so many websites out there that preach safety for women and I realise that it’s an important topic. As a female traveller who’s normally solo I know the risks however I rarely see people saying, “use your gut, it will tell you what to do.” Instead I often see (usually written by male writers) specific advice for example telling women to wear a wedding ring. A wedding ring works if the person has enough respect for you to honour your (albeit fake) marriage but this it’s naïve to think that someone who is dangerous is not going to attack you because of a piece of dainty gold around your finger. Being able to discern a situation yourself or having the skills to stand up for yourself are far more valuable to you. I am not blaming anyone for being attacked or assaulted but I wish we would give women more credit in our society. We’re stronger than we think we are!

I do not tell this story to scare other women off travel, far from it. I want to let other women know they have the resources to deal with sometimes scary situations and I’d also like to point out that this is an isolated incident. Thai’s are wonderfully friendly, hardworking people.

Don’t be scared of the world, you’ve managed to live this long without incident and are not any less safe walking down the street in a foreign city than your home town.