We were eagerly looking forward to our 10-day trip to India, but my fiance, two friends, and I had a feeling that our journey would not be a walk in the park, so we read up as much as we could about the perils we could expect on our vacation.
The travel guides we read alerted us to a myriad of risks: from the possibility of getting sick from drinking unsafe water, to the flocks of touts we had to fend off at the train stations. Other pieces of advice include: Use bottled water to brush your teeth; always buy a taxi ticket from the licenced taxi booth; get the name of the person whom the hotel is sending to pick you up - you won't know if the person holding up your name on a card is just a tout who has copied it off another card.
Despite our valiant efforts in taking various precautions during the trip, we still could not avert misfortune.
Our horror story unfolded on the fateful night we arrived in Delhi. Our group of four decided to split up on our way to our hotel in Chandni Chowk. After getting two tickets from an official-looking booth, we boarded two auto rickshaws separately. We didn't sense anything amiss besides the fact that our friends' driver spoke a little English and ours none at all. That was until the rickshaws went separate ways at an intersection.
We managed to arrive at our hotel safely. Our friends didn't show up until two hours later.
It turned out that their driver had brought them to a quiet street where he told them that our hotel had burned down and was no longer in business. (Obviously, that was a lie.) His burly friends appeared, claiming they knew of another good hotel nearby, run, as a matter of fact, by the driver's cousin. Would madam and sir follow them?
Thankfully, our friends managed to hail a second rickshaw which brought them to our hotel.
Unfortunately, the horror did not stop there.
On our second-last day in India, a cup of chocolate my fiance drank undid all his efforts to avoid questionable food and drink for the past eight days.
And on our very last train ride on the Indian Railway, the foldable sleeper bunk slammed onto my knee, and the area swelled massively. Thankfully, we were only about 18 hours away from Singapore by then. I hobbled to the doctor at Changi Airport Terminal 3 to have my hematoma attended to as soon as we landed.
The saving grace? The medical bill, which was pricier than my travel insurance package, was fully covered by the plan.
We all know that it's fine to get on the plane without your toothbrush, or anything else that you can buy at your holiday destination. But there is one travel essential that I will not fly without: travel insurance.
Some may think that travel insurance is a waste of money. I don't, and it certainly proved more than its worth on this trip to India.
Mishaps on overseas trips are never within one's control regardless of how well prepared or vigilant one is. Travel delays, flight cancellations, travel agencies going bust, sickness, accidents, and the loss of personal belongings are just some of things that could happen on a trip.
A good travel insurance plan is an inexpensive way to cushion yourself from these unforeseeable events. Thanks to travel insurance, I can still look back on the trip to India and say that it was an adventure, and not a disaster.
While not all my holidays are "adventures", I insist on getting travel insurance for my peace of mind. To me, that is truly priceless.