Dealing with the Unexpected

Dealing with the Unexpected

injuryWe’ve had our share of unexpected travel mishaps.  It is frustrating and disappointing when you’ve spent a lot of money anticipating a trip and something disastrous happens shortly before you leave–or worse–during your trip.  The best way to ease the pain of a bad situation is to plan ahead.  Of course, you can’t plan for everything, but you can plan for a lot of contingencies.

Travel Insurance Can Help Protect Against the Unexpected

Evaluate whether you need travel insurance and what you need to have included in your policy. Travel insurance options and policies vary a lot.  If you decide to purchase travel insurance, read your policy so that you know what is covered and what isn’t.  Some policies provide cancellation coverage only.  If you become sick or involved in an accident shortly before your trip, you can get some of your costs back. Other policies provide health insurance and medical evacuation coverage during your trip.

Should You Get Cancellation Insurance?

It depends. I base my decision on the amount the trip will cost and how squirmy I get at losing that amount of money. Generally, I don’t purchase cancellation insurance for domestic travel. I won’t be out more than a night or so for lodging and I usually book either bargain airfare than I could stomach losing or refundable tickets. But I will purchase cancellation coverage for international travel and cruises where I have a larger chunk of cash on the line.

We actually took advantage of one of these policies on a recent trip to Paris.  We had planned a family trip, but days before our trip our daughter, Christine, developed a kidney stone that would not pass and ultimately required surgery to remove.  While not life threatening, she was in extreme pain.  Flying overseas was not an option until she passed the stone. We had been planning our trip for months and were suddenly faced with having to cancel. When the stone still had not passed the night before our trip, we concluded that I would go on the trip with the twins, and Kenny would stay behind with Christine.
Allianz Travel Insurance

Fortunately, I had purchased cancellation insurance with Allianz, and their flights were completely refunded. We made a claim online and had to get the doctor to sign off on paperwork confirming her medical condition. Within just a few weeks, we received a check for the entire amount of their flights.

I was able to cancel our second hotel room directly through our hotel, even though I was just outside the cancellation window with the time difference. However, insurance would have covered lodging, too, had it been needed. I was only out of pocket for tickets I had pre-booked for the Eiffel Tower and Catacombs, a minimal expense.

We now have an affiliate relationship with Allianz and may be paid a commission if you purchase travel insurance through Allianz. The experience described above occurred before our affiliate relationship began and is why we chose to partner with Allianz.

Should You Get Health and Medical Evacuation Coverage?

You should seriously consider it if traveling abroad because your health insurance at home likely won’t work in other countries.  Without health insurance, you may be left paying out of pocket.  In some countries, you may not receive treatment unless you are able to pay cash up front.



Equally important is the evacuation component. If you are injured or become ill while abroad, you will have to get home. depending on the accommodations you require, this could be very costly. And if the very worst occurs, your evacuation coverage should cover the cost to repatriate your remains, relieving your family of this costly and emotional burden.

Making Do When Other Things Happen

Figure Out Your Options

Exactly a week before we were scheduled to leave for a week on the beach in Puerto Morelos, Mexico Becca cut her big toe open and had to have stitches.  Stitches in your toe are not conducive to a beach vacation, where all activities involve sand or water. We know this well because three years ago the same kid had to have stitches in the same foot right before our vacation to Key West .

So what the heck are we going to do? First, we told the doc who stitched her up about our travel plans. He gave her heavy-duty antibiotics to reduce the risk of an infection while we’re traveling.  We normally wouldn’t want prophylactic antibiotics, but I think they were justified in this case.

Second, I ordered a waterproof cast cover in case she wasn’t completely healed. This should keep out both sand and water and keep her trip from being completely ruined.

I’ll update on how well it worked after our trip.

 Be Flexible

flexibleIf only I had known about the waterproof cast cover the last time Becca cut open her foot! On that trip, we rearranged our travel to accommodate her limitations. We cut days off of our Key West trip, since a boat charter and snorkel trip were out of the question, and added a day at Disney World. I really wanted beach time and wasn’t very excited to give it up in favor of Disney, but Disney is a great place to take a kid with an injury.  We just rented a wheelchair, and off we went. It wasn’t the trip we had planned, but it was a whole lot better than no trip at all, and we still managed to have a good time.

Know When to Slow Down a/k/a Avoiding Heat Exhaustion in Canada

Toronto from the ferry to the Toronto Islands

The family teases me endlessly because I suffered heat exhaustion in Toronto. We’re Texans after all, accustomed to extreme heat (my car read 103 degrees F today). But  Toronto was in the middle of a heatwave when we there, and it was unusually warm. We walked miles that day,  and I almost certainly didn’t drink enough water.

I wanted to see as much as possible of Toronto before heading to Niagara Falls later that day, so I kept pushing forward until a migraine rendered me almost useless.  By the time we reached Niagara Falls, all I wanted was for my family to leave me alone in a dark hotel room with the air conditioning running full blast and a damp rag on my forehead. They went exploring, and I slept it off.

I had pushed too hard and not cared for myself and my body forced me to slow down.  This isn’t the first time this has happened.  The kids joke that mom gets a migraine on every vacation. Sometimes you just have to sit and have a drink or stop and take a nap.  Otherwise, you may never live down being the Texan who had heat exhaustion in Canada.

Nothing in this post is intended as legal advice or the interpretation of any law or insurance policy in any jurisdiction.


I am a 40-something lawyer and mom of 3 teenage girls. I love exploring new places, and when I can't be on the road, I'm planning my next trip. Over the years, I've learned a lot about how to travel in a pack of five. Our trips range from budget-friendly road trips with the family, to more luxurious trips for work, either solo or with my husband, Kenny.

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