Below Arwen shares why she never goes without travel insurance these days:
Come Holiday With Me, I Dare You!
The only advantage of being an unlucky traveller is having a good yarn to share in the pub. However, I now have a good twelve years worth of holiday disasters to moan about. It got me thinking, are there others with similar stories? Not just your usual run of the mill disasters, like missed flights (I’ve missed many) or arriving to the airport a day or a week too early. I was affected by both the recent ash-cloud fiascos, I’ve returned home with a tropical illness and I even acquired a stalker on one particular trip to Zambia. While the AA won’t cover you for the mental anguish caused by a stalker who wants you to join his religion (cult), they will cover you for a lot of other holiday issues you encounter. For instance, if you miss your connecting flight, you’re covered up to €1,000.
Looking back, I should have figured out at a much younger age that travel insurance was a must. My first holiday disaster occurred when I was in fifth year in school, when my parents decided to take me and two of my friends to Cyprus. I was recovering from a number of operations on my mouth after a hockey accident and they thought I could do with a break. On the last night of our trip, in a very packed nightclub, I stepped on a tall glass which was on the floor. I was in flip-flops so when the glass crushed under my weight, I severed my Achilles tendon. Ouch I know it still makes me wince a bit. When my parents arrived at the hospital, they asked for me to be strapped up as they wanted me to be operated on at home. I suppose it was handy that I was leaving the next evening as my parents would probably have had to fork out serious money to get the five of us home. So after a day of being carried from place to place (they had no crutches for me), a porter pushed me in a wheelchair to the plane, where I was loaded on in a lift, with the food trolleys.
My next trip was the infamous Sixth Year Holiday. I worked six days a week in a pub the summer before sixth year and every weekend during the school holidays to save up enough money for the big trip. On our first night in Hersonissos in Crete, I was feeling a little unwell but that was nothing in comparison to how I felt when I woke up. I was barely able to breathe. After a trip to the medical centre I was diagnosed with acute bronchitis, put on antibiotics and given my first ever inhaler. The humidity made my breathing a lot worse and we had no air-conditioning in the awful apartments we were staying in. I had to stay in all day, while my friends lounged by the pool and spent my nights alone, wide awake and coughing in bed. After a week I’d had enough, with no travel insurance, I had to give my holiday rep the last of my spending money to pay for a flight home.
Another more memorable trip was a romantic holiday to Cuba in 2004 with my boyfriend. We booked two weeks in a very nice, all inclusive hotel in Varadero. On day two of our trip the news channels started talking about a serious hurricane travelling north up through the Caribbean. Day 3, we found out it was a force 5 hurricane, the strongest there is and it was heading straight for us. Yes straight towards little Varadero attached only to the mainland by a narrow bridge. On day 4 the governments in Canada, Britain, France and Germany started evacuating all their citizens. They were all a little shocked that the Irish government weren’t doing the same. One Canadian lady told us she would pray for us, as she sauntered past us towards her airport-bound bus. RTE News was all over the story with a number of deaths reported. My Mum rang us a little hysterical. I think her exact words were; “I don’t care how you do it but get out of the country”. Again as we were young and very naïve, we did not have travel insurance and we had limited funds. Thank god for credit cards I thought, but sadly we found out the hard way that as Visa is an American company and the Americans and Cubans are not exactly friends, my Visa card would not work. Visa accepted everywhere…except Cuba. We decided to head to the airport anyway to see what we could do. The queues for Heathrow-bound flights were out the main door of the airport and down the road. We tried the shortest queue; Air Canada. The man at the desk was offering us tickets which we couldn’t afford but after I let out a few sobs, he agreed to take all the cash we had, in exchange for two tickets to Toronto. It was six days before we could get a flight back home so my credit card took a bit of abuse, which sadly took me a further six months to pay off.
It turns out though that I’m not alone when it comes to holiday disasters. We held a competition at the end of January on our Twitter account @aaroadwatch, to win an AA Travel Insurance policy. My fellow jinxed travellers tweeted in the masses. One unfortunate chap fell into roadworks while in Ibiza. I’ve been there my friend! Another lady had to deal with the aftermath, when her husband put their passports through the spin-cycle. A couple, while on day four of a romantic break, found a pair of ladies undies under the pillow, which were owned by neither. Our winner however, had our sides splitting with laughter. While on honeymoon in a fancy hotel, she had the unfortunate experience of having her backside sucked into the Jacuzzi vent only for her new husband to have to pull her out.
Moral of the story – things can and do go wrong when you travel! Although most of us aren’t quite as unlucky as Arwen! To get an AA Travel Insurance quote today click here. You’ll be glad you spend the few quid.