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Dealing With The Loss Of A Loved One While Traveling

Dealing With The Loss Of A Loved One While Traveling

In November 2011, my 89-year-old grandmother passed away peacefully in her sleep in Melbourne, Australia after a long battle with illness. I desperately wanted to attend her funeral the following week but unfortunately our circumstances, being in Amsterdam at the time, made that impossible.

Losing a loved one while traveling is a scenario that many face before embarking on long-term travel and Amy knows exactly what she would have done in the same situation. Unfortunately I departed on this trip with a cavalier attitude, believing nothing bad would happen while I was overseas.

Fly home or not?

To fly home or continue traveling?

But it did happen. And as a result, I faced a very difficult decision on whether to end our adventures and come home early to say goodbye. With my family’s blessings we continued on our travels but it was a very difficult few weeks.

There are many of you departing on round-the-world journeys soon and I really hope this post can help you be prepared for an event like this.

Here are the things that you need to consider before your departure date.

Have a plan

Before you depart on any kind of extended travel, you need to be prepared for this kind of scenario. Regardless of whether someone in your immediately family is ill or not, life is short and it’s impossible to predict what will happen tomorrow.

Know exactly what you will do if a loved one becomes ill or worse and stick to that plan. Will you drop everything and go home immediately? Or will you continue on your travels?

Discuss it with your family before you leave

After Skyping with my parents they told me that they would be angry if I came home for the funeral, despite my strong desire to attend it and be there to support them. Although they also said it would be great if I could be there, they reminded me that we were on the trip of a lifetime and nothing should stop that.

This led to quite an awkward discussion and I know that my grandma would want me to continue traveling. But you need to discuss this before you take off on you big adventure!

Check your travel insurance policy wording

A lot of travel insurance policies cover unexpected expenses incurred by the loss of a relative. Unfortunately for me, the definition of a relative only covered family members under 85 years of age. This meant that if I wanted to go home for the funeral it would need to be completely out of my own pocket.

I can understand why this clause is in place, but it hurt a lot knowing that I might have been able to come home had the policy been worded slightly different. Know before you leave whether travel insurance is a viable option if anything bad does happen.

Have an emergency fund

This is crucial – don’t put all your eggs in one basket before leaving on your journey. Have at least $2000 in a rainy day fund that you can use to cover any last-minute flights or expenses incurred if you have made the decision to go home.

Even if you travel insurance policy does cover you, it probably will take several weeks for your claim to be processed so you need to have the money there and ready to use.

If you’re traveling soon, I hope you bookmark this post and take my advice. It may save you from a lot of heartache!

Flickr Photo: Kalexanderson