Seeing the world

Since my husband and I are both retired we have decided to travel and see the world for as long as we are physically and financially able to do so. We lived carefully while our children were growing up so that we could give them a good education and assist them in developing into independent their adults. Now that they are both married and settled in their own homes we have decided to SKI – spend the kids inheritance and it is great fun.

Why are so many parents so concerned about leaving their children a good inheritance. Most of us baby boomers came from families with parents who had lived through the Great Depression and we learnt to work hard for what we needed. When our parents died they did not necessarily have much to leave as an inheritance but they were money-wise and ensured that there was enough to cover funeral and other related costs. Well, we have ensured that it will be the same for our children and we plan to enjoy the rest! We cannot take it with us, can we?

In the last 6 years we have travelled to most places in SA as well as Europe and the UK. Recently friends from the US stayed with us for 3 weeks and we took to the road to all corners of KZN. It was real  fun discovering our province with people who had not been to SA before. They had been given some really strange advice about travelling to SA. They were asdvised not to touch our water at all and also to have a number of vaccinations before coming here. Happily I was able to let them know that we have very clean water  and that we do not have Yellow Fever or Malaria in our area.

What was important and, with our experience of travelling I was able to confirm, is that travel health insurance was essential. We do have excellent private health care here in SA but when one is on holiday, worrrying about medical bills is the last thing anyone wants to do. Two cases of the need for medical insurance by friends just recently show that, even if you do have insurance, it can be a frustrating experience, so I can only imagine what it might be like without it.

Case 1 – a SA woman over 80 years of age fell while on holiday in Russia and had to have a hip replacement. She was most impresssed with the doctors there and the op, done without delay, was a success. The frustration set in when it came for the insurance company to get her home. She already had a ticket but instead of arranging for that to be adjusted, they insisted on having her use their choice of airline. This took so long that her visa expired so she spent an extra week in the hospital. At least, because she had insurance, she could fly 1st class with a dedicated nurse but think what might have been if she had not had insurance!

Case 2 – A young lady from the UK had to have surgery a couple of weeks ago.  It took over 2 hours as well as a couple of calls to and from the UK insurance company to have her admitted. The hospital needed written confirmation that they will be paid in full. It turned out that if she had not had the insurance she would have had to pay R30000 up front!

Thus, there is no question that travel insurance is essential and, we have discovered that, as we get older, the premium is higher but we would rather pay that than the costs of a hospital in a foreign country. These policies also cover dying while on holiday. Having done the research for my book, I know that if one dies in another country it can be very expensive to get a body shipped back home.  Currently this can cost as much as R15-20 000 as the coffin needs to be lead-lined and undertakers have to do all the arrangements. Bringing ashes home may not be as expensive but there are still procedures to follow and costs to cover.

Fortunately, up until now, we have not had to use our insurance but we will never travel without it. I do hope that as many of you reading this as possible, will take the opportunity to see the wonders of our beautiful country as well as other parts of the world, but never without insureance. We are looking to visiting Eastern Europe in 2014 and we are already getting excited about it.


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