This article was first published on SingSaver
When it comes to travel, every Singaporean has a bucket list. Us kiasu folk are only content with epic travel goals and destinations, especially if we are spending a bomb on plane tickets, train passes, or car rental.
But the most epic trips are usually the ones that also require extra planning and extra cost. More importantly – what can go wrong, usually does.
Given how much effort and coordination these trips take, it is paramount that you protect your holiday. Here are 10 bucket list travel experiences that you’ll want to make sure you have the right travel insurance for.
Bucket List #1: Backpacking
This is the vacation starter-pack for many Singaporeans crossing the threshold from uni student into adulthood.
A backpacking trip through Europe, India, United States, or Asia can be fun for Millennial-types or similar who don’t mind slumming it in hostels and coach class. If you’re thinking of backpacking through Europe, it has certainly become easier to plan since my salad days, thanks to the Rail Europe website.
This is the kind of trip where you can stretch your dollar to cover a lot of ground. You’re young, travelling light, and partying hard, not caring much for creature comforts.
Sometimes, travelling on the cheap and cheerful may involve bedbugs, food poisoning, missed connections, being pickpocketed, and many other unsavoury incidents.
While no one can predict bad luck, a general travel insurance package from providers like FWD, HL Assurance and Etiqa will give protection for all, if not most, of these unforeseen circumstances. Package prices are also extremely reasonable for fairly comprehensive coverage.
Bucket List #2: Diving and water sports
We’re blessed to be close to plenty of gorgeous sea sports and Scuba diving locations. Most diving enthusiasts will start somewhere like Pangkor Island, eventually working their way up to Sipadan, Similan, Malapascua, El Nido, or even the Maldives (for the ultimate jelly-inducing social media posts).
Whether you’re a beginning or expert diver, crossing this type of trip off your bucket list does carry a tad higher risk than sitting on the beach (where your only worries are sand flies and SPF).
First of all, there’s the necessity of knowing (or learning) how to dive. Some hazards include the possibility of not being able to decompress. In worst case scenarios, this can result in a burst eardrum, causing partial or full deafness. Also, reaching an exotic dive site like Misool Eco in Raja Ampat typically requires multiple connections, including domestic flights, overnight layover accommodations, and local boat charters.
Depending on tide or weather conditions, you may also be delayed and lose your deposit on various bookings, including your dive sessions, equipment hire, and even accommodation. And while “Baby Shark” is a cute theme song for your trip, close encounters with other creatures of the sea (jellyfish, urchins, and other venomous creatures) may not be super adorable.
Make sure your travel insurance covers all accidents and medical mishaps related to your trip. Also ensure that it covers curtailment, cancellations, and protection for your dive equipment and gear from loss or damage. We recommend FWD, MSIG, or AXA travel insurance that cater specifically for dive trips.
Bucket List #3: Snowboarding
Singapore’s sunny shores make snow a novelty for most Singaporeans – which explains why so many of us look forward to skiing or snowboarding vacations! Popular snowboarding destinations for Singaporeans are Whistler Blackcomb in Canada (because there’s decent Chinese food in Vancouver) and the nearer Hokkaido, Japan.
After all, what could be more kawaii and envy-inducing than being decked out in winter clothing, surrounded by world-class champagne powder snow!
To make sure that you’re fully protected (and can focus on having a good time shredding the slopes), make sure you have the right ski gear and be sure to sign up for proper lessons (I recommend one 3-hour lesson for every two days you’re there).
Make sure your travel insurance covers snow sports like skiing, tobogganing, and snowboarding, which can be considered as extreme sports. The types of possible injuries sustained (broken bones from falling or head injuries) can require more coverage. Many travel plans like Amex My VoyageGuard, FWD and MSIG travel insurance cover “skiing” and “snowboarding”, but other companies may need you to add on a specific rider for this.
Bucket List #4: Seeing the Northern or Southern Lights
Here are some secrets to guarantee the highest possibility of actually seeing the Aurora Borealis in either Iceland, Norway, Finland, or North America.
- Make sure you pick the right season. If it’s too snowy, the skies may be too cloudy for the lights to be visible (and you won’t last very long in the cold).
- Plan to chase the lights rather than remain in one place. Chasing Lights in Trömso, Norway has a very good reputation for chasing down the Green Lady (as the lights are called) for their customers.
Usually, a few chases are recommended, with each duration lasting between 8 to 10 hours. It can be grueling, especially if you’re not used to the freezing, nose-biting cold. That’s why it’s extra important for you to keep your strength up and not fall ill, or you risk not being able to withstand the search.
Northern Lights trips near the Arctic Circle are not something you want to rush through, especially if you don’t want to come down with a cold or fever. Get either Allianz or AXA travel insurance that covers doctor visits as well as cancellations.
Bucket List #5: Luxury dream cruise
Cruises are perhaps the ultimate in lazy luxury. Think about it: cruise liners are pretty much floating amusement parks/hotels! My favourite is the Disney cruise – you get to experience a more exclusive version of Disneyland while travelling from port to interesting port.
Not a Disney fan? A bucket list trip to South America to see Machu Picchu in Peru can also easily be combined with seeing the Amazon River or the Galápagos Islands.
Being on a ship, however, is a notoriously easy way to fall ill. It’s not hard to imagine, given that there are between 3,000 to 10,000 humans in one vessel, all touching railings and coughing/sneezing in the same space. Other horror stories include food poisoning and motion sickness from rough seas. We’ve written all about the dangers of cruise travel and why you need to get protected.
Preventive medication and seasickness wristbands are good measures to take, but do make sure that your insurance plan specifically covers cruise journeys. Cruise trips are unique in the sense that you travel from port to port and have various stages (such as connections and transfers from land to sea). Plans like Amex My VoyageGuard and Allianz Global Assistance have specific clauses that cater for this.
Bucket List #6: Bungee jumping and skydiving
Extreme sports like bungee jumping, skydiving, and hang-gliding are among the top trending #yolo moments when it comes to showing off on Instagram. Top destinations for these activities are New Zealand and Australia.
But while adrenalin-boosting, these activities carry a higher degree of risk and are thus not covered by many basic tier travel insurance plans (read: the cheapest option you bought on your way to the airport).
If the activity provider offers special insurance onsite when you sign up, definitely fork out the extra! Also make sure you check out FWD and MSIG travel insurance or add on riders that cover these adrenalin-inducing but high-risk activities.
Bucket List #7: Mountain hiking
If roughing it out and testing your physical limits on treks to Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp, or even Mount Kilimanjaro are on your bucket list, then definitely make sure you’re well protected. Even exploring exotic locales like Paro or Punakha in Bhutan and Ladakh in India are increasingly popular among Singaporeans.
Travelling to these remote destinations via long car rides (which could meet with landslides or roadblocks in military zones) and through dodgy airlines or airports might sometimes be the only option. Never mind the loss or delay of baggage, possibility of altitude sickness, diarrhoea, or food poisoning could necessitate emergency evacuation due to lack of good medical services.
In addition to a good supply of altitude sickness pills, you should also keep yourself protected with a plan like MSIG travel insurance that covers all the above, in addition to trip delays, curtailments, or cancellations.
Bucket List #8: Dream destination wedding (or Overseas pre-wedding photoshoot)
Everyone and her second cousin twice removed seems to be planning a beach wedding in Bali (or Bora Bora depending on budget) these days. Even if you’re not having a destination wedding, it’s de rigueur to at least have your wedding photography shoot overseas – the usual locations being Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and farther afield (for those with more moolah to spare) in Paris or Prague.
Here’s the rub: having your wedding photos shot overseas may be dreamy, but damaging your wedding gown or suit en route is not.
Not being on home ground when your special day goes haywire (catering gone wrong; bridal arch collapses; loss or damage of photo or video equipment) can also cause much stress. Having some costs covered could go a long way to alleviating the burden and keeping things going smoothly.
Plans from Amex My VoyageGuard and MSIG travel insurance have stepped up to specifically offer wedding reception and wedding photography riders to ensure that your epic wedding shoot goes without a hitch.
Bucket List #9: That epic golf vacation
Golfing at the local club on your off day is a treat. Teeing off at either St Andrews Links in Scotland or Pebble Beach in California is – for most golfers – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The last thing you want to happen on such a trip is to mar the experience with lost or damaged clubs, accident, or injury.
Be smart and pick out a golfing travel insurance rider, like the one offered by MSIG travel insurance which covers injuries sustained during a game, loss of or damage to equipment, or third-party injury or damage (say if your killer swing, ahem, knocks out a passer-by). Bonus: it gives you a round of celebratory drinks (up to $2,000) if you score an elusive hole-in-one!
Bucket List #10: The ultimate road trip
No, I’m not talking about your regular cost-saving exercise buying groceries across the causeway. I’m talking about the big, iconic road trip routes including The Great Ocean Road spanning Melbourne to Adelaide, or Route 66 connecting St Louis, Missouri to Amarillo, Texas.
On such trips, it may be wise to accept the insurance plan offered by the car rental company that covers Reduction, Complete Waiver of Excess, and Collision Damage Waiver. Nothing is certain on foreign roads – including speed limits and traffic rules that you may not be familiar with, and unfortunate accidents and scrapes.
If you are planning a road trip that covers thousands of kilometres, make sure you’re well prepared. From minor accidents that result in minor scrapes and inconveniences, to major mishaps that might require hospitalisation and emergency evacuation, always be prepared. Check out plans like Allianz and AXA travel insurance that give you peace of mind, specifically for these types of trips.
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