TRAVEL INSURANCE for the Long Term Traveller?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Does living on the road sound pretty dreamy to you? Well, it can be - but often people don’t realise that as a full-time traveller there is a LOT of practical things to figure out, beyond just the logistics of that amazing travel itinerary! Thankfully, due to the rising trend in digital nomadic life, there are more and more solutions coming along that make life easier.


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Travel and Health Insurance - What You Need To Know

We always knew that long term travel and medical insurance would present us with some headaches but didn’t realise exactly HOW treacherous the path would end up being. Most resident-based health cover (medical aid) offers limited benefits while travelling and they are usually only valid for a short period - which might necessitate you to look for top-up solutions for longer trips. Long term travellers need to carefully determine their needs and look for product(s) that suit their individual requirements as most resident-based health cover and standard travel insurance products might not be sufficient or provide cover for the duration of your trip.

What do long term travellers and nomads need?

Most importantly you need emergency medical care, such as for unexpected injuries and hospitalisation due to illness or accidents. There is also assistance in case of travel emergencies, stolen or lost belongings, trip interruptions or cancellations as well as liability cover. It seems to come down to a blend of health and travel insurance.

What’s the difference between travel insurance and health insurance?

The first thing you should understand is that travel insurance and health insurance are two different things. Travel insurance is important to have, but as a long-term traveller or nomad, it might not be enough coverage on its own. Travel insurance generally only covers medical emergencies and things like cancellations and the loss or theft of personal items. It usually also only covers you for a predetermined amount of time. It’s therefore mostly suited for people on short term trips and holidays.

Having longer-term medical insurance is extremely important for those who are planning to live abroad, travel long term or base themselves somewhere as a digital nomad. Finding the right insurance as a nomad isn’t always easy as some of them can be overpriced for what they offer, some won’t cover you if you’re already travelling, and if you have no home base it gets even more complicated. As a nomad you pretty much have the following options for insurance:

Stay insured in your home country and get additional travel insurance

The easiest option for nomads is to keep a home base somewhere and where possible continue to use your personal health insurance (which often covers your healthcare abroad), and just get additional travel insurance to cover you for the travel-aspects of your trip (theft or loss of valuables, missed flights, etc). Depending on your home country you may find that most Medical Aid plans only cover you abroad for a LIMITED period. In South Africa coverage is limited to 90 days for international travel, where after you may have no further cover while abroad.

Only get travel insurance and get check-ups done in a cheap country

If you’re young and healthy you generally won’t make much use of general check-ups or preventative care this might work out fine - but it’s the exceptions you need to worried about. For emergencies, you should still be covered for pretty much everything else through your travel insurance and unless you fall seriously ill or contract a chronic disease, you should be able to deal with any urgent treatment. However, if you need any regular check-ups or treatment of pre-existing conditions, you have to pay for these out of pocket. It is, of course, risky to give up your health care altogether because you never know what fate has in store for you. Returning home and finding health insurance with a pre-existing condition can prove to be more difficult than you thought. The assessment of that risk is up to you.

Get a health care plan abroad

Every country you visit will have national health care. Expats might be able to choose local health insurance, but it often means you have to be a registered resident of that country. This, therefore, might only a viable option for someone relocating to a country for a longer time.

Get a global healthcare plan

Long term travellers that opt for a health care plan outside of their own home country, can get a global health insurance option which allows them to move around more freely and access health care in multiple countries. Health care is an incredibly complex topic, and which company and plan are right for you, depends primarily on your country of origin, the countries you’re travelling to, and your personal situation. It’s almost impossible to make specific recommendations that fit all needs but we would recommend looking into and requesting quotes from these companies, which are all popular health care providers for nomads and ex-pats. The prices for these plans are most likely going to be higher than travel insurance since this is actual health insurance similar to what you would have back home:

Regency For Expats


Integra Global


When considering any insurance take the time to thoroughly go through the policy document. Make sure you understand the fine print and the details of the cover relevant to yourself, your country of residence and your destination. You are ultimately responsible for the decision you make in choosing the right cover. Policy wording and conditions vary greatly so read them carefully and be sure to go with the company that gives you what you need – there are many good insurance companies out there.

Travel insurance: Simple & Flexible

You can buy, extend and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from is available to people from over 150 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

7 things you should know about travel insurance from

Trusted reliable underwriters is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24-hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support and claims management when you need it most.

Value for money with the cover you need provides cover for what’s important for travellers from over 150 countries. By focusing on what you need and leaving out what you don’t, World Nomads prices are some of the most competitive online we have found.

Flexibility when you need it most

In case you meet that good looking guy or girl and on the spur of the moment wants to extend your island party you can extend. You can extend your policy or claim online while you are still away. You can even buy a World Nomads policy if you’re already travelling.

Cover for a range of adventure activities

From skiing & snowboarding in Austria to whitewater rafting in Namibia, covers a range of adventure activities.

World Nomads keeps you travelling safely

All members have access to up-to-date travel safety alerts, as well as travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub.

More than just great value travel insurance

All members can learn the local lingo through a series of iPod & iPhone Language Guides and can stay in touch with family and friends with an online travel journal.

Commitment to exceptional customer service

We want to make sure you get the most from You can find out more about why travel insurance is important for your trip. If you have any questions about your travel insurance or travel safety in general, please contact directly.

PLEASE NOTE: World Nomads have added us to their affiliate program. When you use our links to check rates or sign up for cover we may get a small commission at no cost to you.

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