something that isn’t considered on the average vacation, but is a definite point of concern for the duration traveler is insurance. To be specific, medical insurance.
I can understand if this isn’t something that comes to mind when I say lets go travel the world. As most people never leave their natural surroundings for long enough to make companies waver policies or get serious medical issues while at the beach. For the standards 2 week crew, this actually isn’t a major topic. Most policies, if they cover whatever you are actually doing on vacation, will cover your vacation issues. Worst case, you get sent home for treatment. However, if you plan on traveling for an extended time or ex-patrioting for work, independent medical insurance is an issue that you will need to consider.
I have been carrying independent diving insurance for over a decade now. Diving has inherent risks, especially in unknown waters. Independent medical diving insurance is a must for the traveling diver. Personally, I use DAN – Divers Alert Network – for my policy. They have also covered medical insurance for other non-conventional travel experiences I have undertaken. (Think Running with the Bulls)
For the traveler that currently has an internationally recognized carrier, new insurance won’t be a major stumbling block. Both Cigna and Blur Cross Blue Shield offer international policies. Aetna also offers an international policy. Now, these policies will have pronounced restrictions, specified deductibles, and steeper premiums than the ones you get their your employer, but hey — you’re a traveler now.
If you are quitting your current employer, have one of the inexpensive Obamacare options, or are covered by a regional coverage group, there is a very good chance that your insurance without transition out of the country with your traveling. Fear not! Okay, maybe fear just a little, but don’t get crazy. All the above mentioned carriers, as near as I could tell, also take on new individuals. Also, the traveler standard places like MEDEX , Allianz Worldwide Care, and Healthcare International are places to shop for a medical insurance policy that might fit your needs. Another thought would also be AIG – Travel Guard.
All carrier have different coverage and different fee schedules. It pays to shop a couple and see where you can get better service for your money. But I would suggest that you think about this rationally. You do NOT want to try and argue your way through a crappy insurance policy in some far-flung land where you don’t speak the language. At least, I don’t won’t to. Maybe you like s challenge?
Like I said, if you’re part of the two week crowd this probably isn’t a major point of concern. If you choose to pick up your pack and travel the globe it might be something to think seriously about. Something as simple as getting Pharohs Revenge because you drank the water in Cairo can quickly turn nasty. (I had it, it’s not joking matter.)
Anyway, something more to consider. Face it, we’re not 20 anymore. Now, go on! Get out there!
Continuing on with the previous discussion on timing, there is one more idea that probably should receive consideration. That would be the idea of becoming an ex-patriot. As in, going to live and work in some other country for a period of time. While this is not an ideal option for many traveler these days, it does have a certain appeal to some.
I have to confess at this point in the post that I am one of the people that it has an appeal for. Living somewhere new is the best way to become fully immersed in another culture. Working in another country can also give you a different view of industry you happen to work in. Best of all, living in another country gives you a new point of origin from which to travel.
If you live in New York and can only afford to fly to Europe, you never see anything besides Europe. Not that there’s anything bad about Europe. I happen to love Europe. But, if you move to Europe to work, when you get vacation you can travel to Eastern Europe or Africa, or maybe the Middle East. It also make the previous choices of the weekender and standard 2 week usable options inside Europe, which will greatly increase the amount of land you can cover. If you live in California, you can do the same thing going in the other direction. Travel made easy!
Now, I admit, it’s not really all that simple. Actually changing work and moving to an international employer can be problematic. For one simple obstacle, most European countries look for people that are bi-lingual. There are firms out there that don’t require multiple languages, but one must be diligent when looking. Also, you will find that when you become immersed in another culture, it can be temporarily overwhelming. (Having been dropped in Germany when I was 18 years old, thanks to the US Army, I found this out first-hand.)
There are numerous other problems as well. Logistical problems with moving things to another country. Serious tax implications. If you’re married, then there are a whole host of family issues to be dealt with. Schools, housing, medical issues, etc. They are all important issues to be considered before taking off to another country.
If you’re single or divorced, the situations are simpler. Also, if you want to stay with a firm based in America, you’re situation is simpler. If you work for a large firm, the first thing I suggest is that you check with your current employer to see if they have employment options in other countries. If they do, well then, you really have things in hand.
There are a host of international employers based in the United States that can simplify the issues of working visa’s, citizenship, medical insurance, and relocation. There are also a host of international companies that will streamline these problems for new hires. They are usually especially happy to help when the project locations are in less than secure locations.
The real upshot to all these problems, once they are overcome, is that you can explore your new HOME country. Then, you can travel to new locations and see many new things without having to purchase airline tickets that drag you halfway around the globe, and drain your finances.
If you’re not locked into any specific region of the world, then becoming an ex-patriot is a viable option to be considered. It’s not a good idea for everyone. It can be a great idea for some. Working outside North America can be a rewarding travel and social experience.
Just something else to consider. Now, get out there.
The author at the Fortress of Tomar, Portugal, fall of 2009. I was doing some book research for my third novel.
Timing. Let’s face it, if you’re a working stiff and have responsibility, it’s all about timing. Where “they” would like you to believe you can jet off at any moment and spend time wandering some South Asian tropical beach, it just not really true. The “they” in that last sentence would be the Television and the Internet. The reality of things are somewhat greyer.
Adult professionals these days have structured lives. They work long hours and have high stress loads. They work all year for a valuable two weeks of vacation time each year. If our lucky, you’ll get four weeks of vacation. Sadly, that four years has to be broken up between a couple things. Maybe out of the glorious four weeks you can carve out one and a half weeks for yourself. Maybe?
Anyway, that being said, you have to decide how and when to spend your time. The travel advertisers out there want you badly to believe that you want a destination. You should pick a destination and go. I have picked many destinations over the years, some I’ve actually managed to get to. Some – are still on the list. Like I said, I stray.
The vast majority of mid-life working stiffs tend to do something that is much more typical. They look at how much time they can afford to take off, and then find a vacation destination/activity that fits their allotted time. When you actually get your coveted time off, hopefully you have enough time to do what you want to do, and sometimes you dump your ideas and do what you have time for. I have done this many times. Once again, I tend to stray from the path.
Having limited time to travel, things fall into categories of availability. In my opinion there are three different types, or durations of travel. The weekender, the two-week vacation, and trips longer than a month. They all have benefits and drawbacks, depending upon how you like to do things.
The weekender. One of my favorites is the weekender. You can see a lot of territory in a weekend, and not chew up coveted vacation time. I’m pretty sure that I started my traveling experiences with the weekender. When stationed overseas in the military, it’s unlikely to get more than seventy two hours off without taking leave. When those seventy two hours comes you jump a train and head it. Hopefully, you make it back to post before Monday formation. (Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn’t.)
Now days, the weekender means checking out some new city or hitting the Vegas Strip for the weekend. You can be on a plane Friday night, and be back by Sunday night. If you want to push it, take the red eye in for Monday morning and hit work with no shower. (I have done this numerous time in my life.)
For reference, I have numerous places in the United States over a weekend. Places like Yosemite, Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando, Key West, Monument Valley, Charleston, and Austin Texas in a weekend. I had a great time in all of them. You can also do international travel in a weekend as well, though you really need the red eye return flight. I did Bruges, Belgium, in a weekend. It was a great Idea. I also did Rome, Italy, in a weekend. I was not a great idea. You live and learn. At least I didn’t burn any vacation time.
Next on the list is the two week vacation. This is what I would consider to be the “standard package” travel option for hard working people. You have four weeks, of which you can carve out two weeks of actual travel time, and you want to pick a great vacation idea/package.
If you don’t believe that this is the standard timing idea in travel just take a good hard look at the internet. The vast majority of vacation packages are bundled into two loose groups of times. The seven to ten day package and the twenty one to twenty eight day package, with the hands-down winner being the seven to ten day option. European vacations, Caribbean cruises, South American adventures, they all come in seven to eleven day versions. You can actually leave the US and travel across Russia in eleven day with the right vacation planner. You can also just, buy a plane ticket and bomb around Europe or South East Asia for ten day, and then come back.
For the record, the buy-a-ticket-and-go plan is my preferred option. I do it as a rule. I like the freedom that the lack of an itinerary brings.
The Next option is the extended trip. Extended trips usually fall into the category of durations that are more than a month in length. These types of trips require a little more planning. They also require that numerous tactical decisions be made beforehand. Do you take a leave of absence from work? Do you keep your house or apartment while you’re gone? How do you handle paying bills on the road? What about insurance coverage when out of country? These questions and numerous others will be the topics of upcoming blog posts. Frankly, I’m also attempting to figure these out for myself.
The extended travel option has benefits. There are trips and places that just can’t be given justice in 21 days for packaged travel. Traipsing through the jungles of the South America or chasing surf waves around the South Pacific, maybe trekking around the Dark Continent of Africa, all of these really require more time than your standard vacation window allows. Trips that you put off until you can’t put them off anymore. Trips that need to be done. (For any number of reasons.)
Duration is always an issue. Lack of More Time is one of the big emotional issues that need to be faced down before planning a trip somewhere. There are no real answers for the issue of Duration. You take weekenders when you can. You take the two-weeker because you have to, most times. And, when you finally have to do it, you go All-In and do the big trip.
The assumption of the remainder of this blog will be based around the idea of the extended trip. Someone in mid-life that wants to go out on an adventure. An Adventure, not a Vacation. It’s the way we’re gonna role it.
Now go. Get out there.
Riding motorcycles around the four-corner’s area of the South-Western United States with two of my crazier friends, Billy and Curtis. Summer of 2010. A little short on sleep. A little long on beers. Started in Las Vegas and Ended in Las Vegas. It was a weekender.