So, I’m here to share with you why emergency medical travel insurance is a must and my medical story. I’m from Canada and whenever I travel, either down to the US, across the ocean to the UK, or around the world to Vietnam, travel insurance is always on my list between plane tickets and accommodations.

preparing stuffs for traveling
Stuffs prepared before a trip

If you already have travel insurance on your travel credit card or through your private medical insurance, then perfect. It’s one less thing to consider. However, for those of you who don’t, you have a variety of travel insurance options.

Your options usually include trip cancellation and interruption, emergency medical, baggage and personal effects, and/or flight/travel accident insurance. (Tip: if you can, get a credit card which offers at least the non-emergency travel insurance options). You can either buy all or just the single type of travelers’ insurance at any major financial institution, through your airline, or travel agent.

Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

Yes, it’s worth it! I’ve had to purchase emergency travel medical insurance for the majority of the trips I’ve taken. 99% of the time, I have not had to use it (knock on wood).

Depending on your age and travel details, travel insurance price can range from $75 to $150 CDN for a single trip. This is of course if you don’t have a pre-existing medical condition and are under the age of 65. Most travel health insurance will include hospital visits, helicopter transfers, emergency dentistry, surgery, etc. (Be sure to read the fine print so that you know what you’re insured for and how much). One visit to the emergency room can cost you thousands of dollars.

It’s completely worth it to spend this money for the peace of mind.

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The Medical Story – Heading to the Hospital

The one time, I found myself in a medical emergency was during a visit to Vietnam. Having seen the conditions of some of the local hospitals, I was not looking forward to my hospital stay.

After a couple of days of walking around in the hot sun, I thought I had heat stroke. It first started with a fever and some fatigue. I continued to take my trusty Tylenol, but my fever wasn’t going away as it usually would. Within 24 hours, I was feeling completely drained, exhausted and nauseous. Something in my body wouldn’t allow me to fall asleep. So finally, I agreed to go to the doctor.

meet the doctor
“I agreed to go to the doctor.”

After we met with the doctor, we went immediately to get my blood tested. This confirmed the doctor’s diagnosis. I had contracted Dengue Fever, a mosquito-borne tropical disease which can be fatal. My family immediately took me to the emergency room. When we arrived at a local hospital, they refused to help. They saw that I was a “Viet Kieu” or overseas Vietnamese and said that I needed to go to the international hospital. As I was barely hanging on, they hustled to the hospital Pháp Viet or also known today as the FV Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.

The FV hospital was a very nice hospital. I was admitted immediately and put on IV straight away. I’m not sure how many bags they gave me the first night; it must have been at least 2 or 3. I felt much better after my IV meal!

Sparing no expense, my family was prepared to support me in any way possible. However, lucky me, I had a travel insurance! My emergency medical insurance paid for everything, including any follow up medical needs. I was in the hospital for 10 days in a private room which had a giant bathroom (with a shower). First-class hospital accommodations.

Dengue Fever

Mosquito spreads dengue fever virus
The mosquito spreads dengue fever virus

The symptoms of dengue fever that I experienced included lots of diarrhea, bleeding, fever, rashes, vomiting, fatigue, and uneven levels of red and white blood cells. It was very bad actually. I spent most of my time sleeping, vomiting, visiting the bathroom, or having massive nose bleeds. Every day, the nurse would come in, take my vitals, and take some blood to be tested. I would’ve preferred an alarm clock over medical tests to wake me up in the morning, but sometimes, you just don’t have a choice.

Meanwhile back in Canada, my mom coordinated with the Canadian medical agent, the hospital, and my family in Vietnam to ensure that all the documents and payments were taken care of. This allowed me to focus on getting better.

Food, Weight, and Family

The hospital had a large menu that you could choose your daily meals from. So, I did have a choice in the food I got to eat. Did I eat any of it? No. The only things that would stay in my system was the IV fluid, water (sometimes), and ChocoPie. I’m not sure why a chocolate pastry stayed in my system, but it did. It was disappointing that I was unable to eat any of the food. I’m sure it was delicious. I lost 10 lbs in 10 days, but eventually got better.

It wasn’t all unpleasant. I did appreciate my family visiting me at the hospital. It was nice to have them there while I mostly slept. My aunt, Di Nga, stayed with me the whole time as my caregiver. My other family members come in and out constantly and my parents called all the time. When I was ready to go back to Canada, my dad flew with me.

come back to family after a long trip in Vietnam
Family in Canada

I am grateful and do consider myself lucky to have had the support of my family, both in Vietnam and Canada. We’re also thankful to have had a medical agent who was understanding and helpful.

In the end, my hospital stay cost approximately $3,000.00 for the care and services of a world class medical facility, doctors, and nurses. I paid approximately $75.00 for the insurance. So, although you don’t want to use it, you’ll be glad you have it. Happy travels!


The Broad Life's Travel Tips, Canada ContributorKim Nguyen
Travel Tips, Canada Contributor
Kim Nguyen is a Vietnamese-Canadian from Toronto. She enjoys traveling and has been to various countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. She believes that travel is good for the soul. It helps cultivate compassion, empathy, and understanding among people.


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22 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with you. Travel insurance is very important to have before we leave for a vacation. It is our top priority in planning for vacations.

    • Travel insurance isn’t expensive at all compare to the risks that you may face on the trip. Hope that you will consider it when you travel 🙂

  2. We have traveled a lot and have had the travel insurance just once. Now we are going to new country soon and already purchased the insurance just in case. It gives us a peace of mind if something should happen to us.

    • I agree. Everytime I travel with an insurance, I always feel better and more enjoy the trip. Like you have someone always take care of yourself so you don’t have to worry about that 🙂

  3. wow! travel insurance is so important but I am glad I haven’t had to use it on any of my trips. Glad that you had travel insurance for youe trips because that would be nerve wracking without it getting sick so many times!

    • In any cases, having something to prevent the worst situation is always a must. Just in case, but definitely useful when you are in a strange place without any help or know nothing

  4. I always get an annual travel insurance plan. You can never be too careful with things like that… your trip can turn south, and you always should be prepared for anything.

  5. I’m glad that you’re now better, it’s scary to be ill when you’re out of the country. During a family trip to Disney World I developed a high fever and spent half a day in bed before I decided to go to hospital. I was admitted, put on an IV, had blood tests done, and diagnosed with bronchitis. It cost us out of pocket over $1000 Cdn but our travel insurance reimbursed most of it when we got home.

    • Yeah just when we are in the situation we know how important the insurance is. I’m happy that’s everything is good to you 🙂

  6. Wow! I’ve heard of people pushing travel insurance here and there but no one tells a reason why! This is a good one. Do you recommend a specific insurance?

    • I would suggest you trying World Nomads. They have many types of insurance that cover a lot of things from travel accidents, travel health, baggage, stolen stuffs, and trip cancellation, delay, to even assault, terrorism, or natural disaster.
      Depend on your trip or your purpose of being on a journey, you should have the one which really fit with the situation, so not just spending too much on the insurance but really help the one that protect you. Hope this help 🙂

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