Cost Of Travelling the World For 1 Year, Part 4: Travel Insurance

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I know it’s taken me FOREVER to write this post, which is part 4 of the cost of travelling around the world but in my defence there were WAY too many beaches here and not enough time to sink my toes into all of them, so that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

To see the parts 1-3 of the cost of travelling the world, click here.

“Massive heart attack”, “ICU”, “Might not make it”.

These are words you never ever want to hear, especially when you’re half way across the world.

We were in Thailand and Wanderer had just drifted off to sleep when he got the frantic call from his mom. His grandmother was in the ICU and doctors were giving her days if not hours to live.

After he hung up, we immediately booked the next flight home, started packing, and cancelled all our upcoming hotels and transportation.

Sadly, Wanderer’s grandmother passed away the next day, and by the time we got home, she was already gone.

As much we love our nomadic lifestyle, one of the biggest downsides is being so far away from family when an emergency happens. But this is the life we chose, and as with all things in life, you can’t have everything you want. When you’re travelling and get bad news like this, on top of the emotional stress you have to deal with, there is also the financial stress of buying last minute flights and losing money from hotel and flight cancellations.

This is why before we left for the trip, we were adamant about buying travel insurance.

Not only would travel insurance cover any medical emergencies, trip cancellation, and trip interruption, it also covers the costs of flying back home in the event of a family member’s illness or death.

Before we left on the trip, we look around at all the different options for travel insurance offered by banks, Manulife, Travel Cuts, and amongst them World Nomads easily stood out. The other places were either way more expensive for the same level of coverage or had all sorts of fine print that the insurance companies use as “gotchas” to get out of paying out your claim.

Here’s why we chose World Nomads:

Emergency Overseas Medical & Dental Expenses

World Nomads covers up to $5 Million in emergency medical expenses for each person. I’ve seen other insurance companies only cover $500,000 and cost double the amount that World Nomads charges. And knowing how many medical costs could add up if you’re ever in a medical emergency, this gives you piece of mind to do all those adventurous activities, and not miss out.

Covers 150+ Activities

Speaking of adventures, another reason we picked World Nomads is because unlike other insurance companies who love nit-picking on activities, World Nomads covers 150+ activities, like scuba diving, mountain climbing, bungee jumping, skiing, surfing, and many more. And given how much I love scuba diving, this was a must have for us.

Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption

When we got the unexpected news of Wanderer’s grandmother’s death, trip interruption completely saved our asses. The fastest last minute flight we could get back to Toronto cost us over $1000 CAD each, and along with flights and hotels that were non-refundable, the total cost of us having to cancel everything and fly back ended up being $3000 CAD. But thanks to the insurance, we ended up paying nothing out of pocket.


As digital nomads, the most important work tools we use on the road are our laptops. And given how often we move around, there’s always the chance they could be stolen or get broken. World Nomads covers repairs and replacement so we don’t have to worry about replacing them. As long as the items you are claiming are less than $2000 total for the two of us, the insurance covers theft and damage.

24-hour Support

When Wanderer needed to call World Nomads to confirm details of our policy, we were able to get support on the phone right away to answer our questions. Very handy to have when you need a quick response because you’re dealing with an emergency.

Best Price for Quality Coverage

With World Nomads, you can choose to buy coverage for 6 months or 1 year. The cost of 1 year is slightly cheaper at $1545 CAD/couple (or $1444 USD/couple) a year instead of $875 CAD/couple ($648 USD/couple)  for 6 months. So if you know for sure you’re going to be gone for a year, it’s better to buy the 1 year insurance all at once. We initially purchased insurance at 6-month increments, but now that we know we’re going to be travelling continuously, we’ve been purchasing 1-year plans. This might seem like a lot of money, but average out over the year, it’s actually only $5 per day. Totally worth it, since we would’ve had to pay $3000 to cancel our trip, but it was covered by insurance.

You Can Buy Insurance After You Start Travelling

Unlike other travel insurance companies, World Nomads is actually pretty flexible in that they let you purchase insurance once you’ve started travelling. Some insurances companies won’t even give you a quote if you’ve already left your home country. When we first quit our jobs, we didn’t know whether we would be travelling for a whole year, so we bought the insurance in 6 month increments. Once we were 6 months into the trip, we knew we were going to continue going, so we opted to renew. This helps a lot, since you don’t have to know ahead of time exactly how long you’re going to be travelling for.


Buying insurance is tricky. You always worry how many hidden “gotcha” clauses are in there to make sure the company can dance out of paying. But with World Nomads, it turns out we didn’t need to worry about this at all.

The process of getting the claim and payment from World Nomads was pretty straight forward, albeit a ton of paper work. They assigned an agent to work with us every step of the way to make sure we had all our ducks in order.

The whole process took around one month, but, now that we’ve gotten our claim paid out, we know they are reliable and they really came through for us. Every single penny spent on travel insurance was absolutely worth it.

That’s why we will continue purchasing travel insurance from World Nomads.

That being said, even though travel insurance saved our butts when we had to fly home and cancel everything, it’s not necessary for every traveller. If you’re travelling for a short time like 14 days or less, some credit cards already offer medical, trip cancellation, and trip interruption insurance, so as long as you book your trip with that credit card, you will be covered (but be sure to read the fine print to make sure you understand all the terms). Credit cards generally don’t have coverage for longer trips as far as I know.

But for those who’s credit card doesn’t include it or they are travelling longer, insurance is a MUST. You never know when something unexpected could happen like a medical emergency, unexpected illness or death of a family member, or needing to cancel the trip due to unexpected events in your destination. Trust me, you DO not want the stress of losing lots of money from emergency medical expenses or cancelling your trip when you’re already dealing with an emergency.

If you’re interested in buying travel insurance from World Nomads for your next trip, use the calculator below to figure out your cost (full disclosure: this is an affiliate link, so I will get a portion of the proceeds if you end up purchasing travel insurance. But if your credit card already has coverage, feel free to skip it):

Also, if you buy travel insurance, make sure you are aware of your insurance expiry date. You don’t want to end up like this backpacker, who was on the hook for $100,000 of medical expenses after getting hit by a bus in Peru. She didn’t realize that her insurance had expired.

So double-check and triple-check your insurance expiry date! Shit happens and you don’t want to be caught with your pants down when it does (pun intended). Safe travels everyone!

This is part of a series called “Cost of Travelling the World for 1 Year”. Click here for the Part 5 “How to Avoid Paying Bank Fees While Travelling.”

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38 thoughts on “Cost Of Travelling the World For 1 Year, Part 4: Travel Insurance”

  1. Strangely enough, World Nomad won’t cover residents of Quebec.

    We’re a little less than 3 years from taking early retirement and becoming nomads as well. Being over 50, our rates will probably be a lot higher than yours. How good are they with non-life-threatening pre-existing conditions like osteoporosis?

    1. That’s odd. I just put in our Country of Residence as Canada and it doesn’t mention anything specific about Quebec residence not being eligible. Where did you find that information?

      They do have a pre-existing condition clause but it’s for life-threatening illnesses. I doubt osteoporosis would count, but your best bet is to call them and ask. From our own experience, they’re quite responsive.

      1. When you add Canada, they ask for your province of residence but Quebec isn’t an option. Maybe they don’t want to translate their contracts in French.

        1. It’s more likely due to Quebec laws. There are tonnes of headaches. That being said if you plan on retiring and world traveling why not move to New Brunswick for 6 months first.

        2. Hm..that’s odd. I did quick search and it looks like World Nomads doesn’t cover Quebec residences. Maybe it has something to do with Quebec’s provincial rules. Have you tried Travel Cuts? That’s another travel insurance company we’ve used before and like.

  2. First of all, I’m sorry for Wanderer’s lost. It’s sad when your beloved ones are gone. And it’s more tough when it happens while you’re traveling.

    I believe in insurance, despite the fact it costs you money. But you pay some money to protect even more. When I’m not OK with paying $$ without feeling pain, I buy insurance.
    I buy car insurance (for now), I buy term-life insurance and even travel health insurance for my mother when she’s visiting us in the States.
    I’d rather pay now some $ than $$ when something happens.

    1. Yes, when travelling, insurance is a must. You never know what’s going to happen.

      Thanks for the kind words.

  3. I wonder how you feel about MMM’s take on insurance (paraphrasing: “only insure for things where you can’t afford to self-insure”). You do have enough money to pay for trip cancellation out of your pocket if you need to, so perhaps it would be better if you kept the profit margin that the insurance company keeps for itself.

    In such a world, it makes sense to pay for insurance if you know that you’re more likely to use the insurance than the insurance company thinks you are.

    Very few people have enough money to pay for US health care costs. But you don’t spend that much time in the US either.

    1. “only insure for things where you can’t afford to self-insure”.

      That’s why I believe travel insurance is a must. It’s not just trip cancellation, travel insurance covers medical costs up to $5 million dollars. Your trip cancellation costs won’t derail your retirement but medical costs can. And since US is included in the list of countries we’ll be travelling to, we DEFINITELY don’t want to be caught without insurance in a country with some of the most expensive medical costs in the world.

      One of my friends gave birth pre-maturely in the States while on vacation and the bill ended up being $2 Million because her baby had to be in NICU for 2 months! Luckily she had insurance, so it covered most of it. But that could definitely wipe out your portfolio.

          1. Apparently, Canadians get higher limits with better prices.

            Us: 1200/yr with 100,000 as limit

            Can: 850/yr with 5,000,000 as limit.

  4. Where did you get the pricing for the 6/12 month insurance rates?

    Bought from this company just a couple days ago and we paid about $1150 CAD for 6 months plus a week for a couple.

    1. It changes depending your age, where you are travelling to and your country of residence. We also choose the “Standard option” instead of the “Explorer option”. Are you a Canadian resident in your 30s, picking “Worldwide” as your option?

      Oddly enough, for the 6 months range, it also changes depending on when in the year your travel date is. When I put in Sept 1, 2017 to March 1, 2018 I get $866.17 CAD per couple, but when I put in July 1, 2017 to Jan 1, 2017, I get $981.31 CAD per couple. So either certain times in the year is more expensive, or they charge less if you buy insurance in advance of your travel date.

  5. I am so sorry to hear about Wanderer’s grandmother. That’s the worst kind of news, and my heart goes out to you two.

    Thanks for all the great information on insurance, as well.

    Hang in there.

  6. I debated a lot about travel insurance and decided to skip it. We have emergency insurance cover through our regular health insurance, and I figure we’ll just lump it and pay the small cancellation fees for airbnb, train, and flights (though those points might be lost!).

    How did the financials work out for the trip back home for Wanderer’s grandma? Did they cover both of your tickets? Refund of other plane tickets you had already purchased for onward travel elsewhere? Any deductible?

    I’m just afraid we would buy a policy then they would figure out an exemption to avoid paying us should the need arise. And I have a general philosophy to avoid insuring losses in the several thousand dollar range but don’t mind paying for $10,000-$1,000,000+ insurance coverage.

    1. They covered both of our tickets to fly back, refunded the non-refundable flights and boat tickets to other destinations we had to cancel, as well as the non-refundable upcoming hotel costs. No deductible.

      I was afraid there would be all sorts of clauses to avoid paying too, but nope. They paid for everything.

      We did a lot of research and looked at reviews from other people who made claims before I bought, so we were pretty confident that they would pay out. Turns out we were right.

  7. Thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry about Wanderer’s grandma. I know that’s hard.

    I love World Nomads too. I bought their insurance the last time I was funemployed (which seems to be an annual occurrence 🙂 ). I love that they cover you in your own country if you’re 50 miles from your home because when I’m funemployed I’m never home though I might still be somewhere in the US. I also have the Chase Sapphire card and have decided to keep it despite the $95 annual fee because it keeps paying out (I just filed a claim for $300 for a last minute night in Boston after my flight to a wedding was delayed 4 hours and made me miss my next leg). Insurance for the win! (I never thought I’d say that)

    1. “funemployed”….ha ha, love it!

      World Nomads rocks! I heard good things about the CS card too.

  8. Sorry for your loss. I only had to get trip insurance once, and I just decided to get it on a whim because there were murmurs of a winter storm. I decided to get a hotel room near the airport the night before our flight so we didnt have to get up 2+ hours extra early to make the drive, and lucky I did.

    We were trapped in the hotel for an extra 2 nights due to heavy snow, a state of emergency, and flight cancellations, luckily it was a Homewood Suites so they had kitchen/fridge/microwave. We went across the street to the grocery store (who surprisingly was open) and bought small amounts of freezer food (microwaved burgers for the win). The hotel still served a hot breakfast (and we hoarded the bread and peanut butter packets for lunch since we were trapped), so we made out decently well. We left 2 days later than we expected, but it worked out.

    Vacation insurance paid us back for the extra hotel nights stay, the food we had to buy, and the travel to the airport. We recovered all extra money. I’ll buy vacation insurance every time after that experience.

    Great article, definitely worth the investment.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Bill! Glad the insurance paid out for you! I was debating on whether travel insurance was worth it, but now that they’ve paid out when we needed it them, I’ll also continue to buy travel insurance going forward.

  9. Kristy, I’m sorry about your and Bryce’s loss. My grandfather recently passed away as well (very abruptly), and it’s tough when people you know and love pass away. I think insurance is a critical topic. I think a lot of us want to get rich, but I think it’s more important not to become poor. Insurance insures that never happens. Or at least mitigated if a black swan type event happens in one’s life.

    1. Thanks, Tim. It’s definitely important to look at mitigating worse case situations. Always have a backup plan for everything.

  10. Sorry to hear about Wanderer’s grandmother. A death in the family is never fun.

    As part of the nomad life, you must be buying tickets ahead of your next move to realize cheaper prices. How far ahead do you typically book tickets and rooms?

    In my experience, about a month ahead of time seems about right.

    1. Thanks, Mr. Tako. Like you, we tend to book about a month ahead of time. Sometimes I can cut it a bit close for hotels (as in if we decided to change the itinerary based on a local’s recommendation), but even then least 2 weeks in advance. We tend not to just show up and find a place like backpackers do. That would drive me nuts.

  11. a bit off topic but not exactly

    what if you buy insurance for say 2 months of travel .. get injured say with a motorcycle hitting you in India ( quite likely these days sadly )

    and one needs long term rehabilitation back in Canada for years and years …. ??

    does the insurance cover it for that extended time ?

    because hospital care in india is very cheap . . but its the post treatment that might be the issue .. .


    1. Travel insurance will cover your emergency medical expenses and transportation, as well as repatriation back to your home country. But after that, your insurance at home takes over for any long term rehabilitation.

  12. Thank you for your advice on travel insurance. To date I have been traveling without travel insurance. Checked with World Nomad and they don’t have coverage for people over 66. I happen to be 69, and the insurance companies I’ve checked out quote $400 to $500 a month for a maximum of 4 months. And lots of gotchas.
    I’m on the road for 6 to 8 months of the year. Any ideas where I might find comparible insurance?
    Love your site. Excellent advice on living and traveling. Congratulations. Well done.

    1. It’s definitely more challenging to find comprehensive coverage if you’re older. I don’t currently know of a good insurance company for your situation, but I’ll ask around the expat and nomadic community and let you know.

      1. Yes, please do. I’m finding it more and more difficult to find long term insurance (I typically need 1 year at a time) and am dreading the day when I have to stop travelling – or only do 2-3 week travels, because I can no longer obtain insurance. I’ve searched for on-line forums for this topic without success, thus far, so any help would be appreciated. It’s not a burning issue yet, as I still qualify for World Nomad (unless they decide to change their age limits), but someday it will become problematic.

  13. Hey! Not sure if you are still checking comments on old posts like this, but wanted to let you know that I went and bought a policy from World Nomads for a trip we’re taking to Mexico next month. Wasn’t sure if it was necessary or not, but the cost was really inexpensive so I figured, what the hell. Better safe than sorry I guess. Having your post and honest feedback was really helpful, since there are several vendors for this type of thing. So…thanks to you both!!

    One thing I was wondering though – does this type of travel insurance cover you if you go back to the US or Canada? Not important to us now of course (we live in the US), but we’re seriously thinking about long-tern travel eventually. While we would out of the US most of the time, we’d like to have the option to go home sometimes and visit family periodically. Of course, in this scenario we wouldn’t have any US-based insurance at all.

    If getting this type of insurance precludes you from ever going home, then we’d have to rethink our plan. Is this even an issue for you, since you are both Canadian and (presumably) don’t have the crazy health insurance mess that we have in the states?

  14. Hi there, I just heard your guest interview on Bigger Pockets Money—my mind was blown away, you two made my year, thank you! A quick question, did you guys purchase Expat health insurance as well, or just travel insurance? I think I heard you mention health insurance in the podcast, but you don’t mention it in your article…so, just curious about that—being from the US, the health insurance expense has been our family’s largest expense 2nd to our mortgage ? We’re new to this FI movement and community, but are already hooked—thank you so much for the inspiration!! ~Kyra

  15. “But this is the life we chose, and as with all things in life, you can’t have everything you want.”. Just hit me like a ton of bricks! We struggle at times with our choice to move to Hawaii to stack that cheddar to achieve FIRE faster. Every time we visit family, there’s so much aging (of the babies & the parents). You are an inspiration to us. Mahalo for sharing your experience in this wild game of life!

  16. standard plan . one year for couple worldwide. i put in sep 12 22 till sep 11 23 .. home BC

    quote i got was $2566 age 61.. i guess its the age thing

    what you think ?? thanks

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