I like to think that travel is as simple as hopping in a car or on plane or train and just going.
But there are a few more details that one should consider.
Like insurance. And other things as well.
I recently received this email (edited here) from Solo Traveler reader, Lisa.
“I've been following the Solo Traveler and the page on Facebook for a few years now… I'm currently planning a reasonably extensive driving trip through Southwest France in September … for the first time I bought trip insurance (though I know you recommend it highly I just never did before now). Perhaps it's my age, and perhaps it's because I'm now a homeowner, but all of that has me now pulling together a set of documents (will, living will, insurance info, etc) to email to a friend before I go… I thought it might make an interesting column for your financial series…”
I thought so too.
So Lisa and I corresponded back and forth. She has gone into much greater detail than I ever have to prepare for a trip and I think her wisdom needs to be shared. As she says:
“I realize this could all seem a bit morbid and over-the-top to some but I feel like it's a real kindness to whomever might be left with the burden of taking care of all the details unexpectedly.”
Beyond Travel Insurance: Wills, Living Wills and Instructions for your Loved Ones.
Lisa started by reading her insurance coverage carefully. She read it from the perspective of her friends and family. What if something were to happen? What would they need to know about her wishes if she could not express them herself? She's still in the process of putting all the information together. Here are the issues she is considering, her thoughts on each and how she is addressing them.
Communicating her Wishes
Lisa is putting together an email to send to one family member and also to a friend who has already agreed to be her executrix. They will both receive the same email at the same time so that they each know that the other has the information. Here's her opening:
“There is a lot of information contained here and you do not need to read any of it unless something happens to me while I am traveling. For now I encourage you to just save the email unopened and delete it after I get back in October.”
The Fundamentals of Her Email
In the email she shares her general travel plan and the names of the places she'll be staying. As she explained to me:
“Using Google Maps I plotted out my hotel bookings using ‘driving directions' and have found that you can create a shareable-link to this route. Clicking on any of the names on the route brings up contact information for the hotel. This would not be as useful if using AirBnB or another sharing platform, so in that case I would be sure to include full info for the arrangements.”
To her email she will also include the trip insurance policy with access numbers etc.
- I have trip insurance with RoamRight,
- Order #xxxxx
- Policy number xxxxxx
- Account Access Code: xxxx
- Destination: France
In some cases she also relied on insurance provided by her credit cards so she included this information in her email as well.
- “The rental car was paid by my Chase Freedom credit card and carries expanded coverage per the terms of their agreement.
- The airfare was paid by my Capital One Venture card and carries expanded coverage per the terms of their agreement.”
The Morbid Part of her Email
In reading the coverage provided by her insurance policy she found that the largest piece of coverage was for Evacuation and Repatriation of Mortal Remains. This is the morbid part of her email which she addresses with courage and on her own terms. Here's her thinking behind what she will communicate in her email.
“This is a highly personal issue and I recognize it could be crucially important for many to have a loved one returned for the family. I just know that I, personally, would not want that and I don't think any of my friends or family would need that to happen either. But having to make the decision in the midst of such a disorienting event would be so difficult, and indeed they might simply assume that it has to happen without thinking to question.
This is what she plans to write:
“Note: If something happens and I die while on this trip my wish is that my remains are not repatriated. I prefer to be cremated locally and my ashes spread in one of the beloved rivers in France that I have been visiting (even if this has to happen sneakily). I ask you LH, my Executrix and trip insurance beneficiary, to direct part of the trip insurance payout to take care of this quietly. Bring Di with you. Rent kayaks for the day. Have a glorious Gascon picnic. Raise a glass. Leave me there.”
Her Will and Living Will
Lisa's estate is not extensive so she created her will and living will using Rocket Lawyer's one week free trial. At the point of writing to me they were not yet notarized. If they are not by the time she sends the email she will include:
“I am completing a Living Will that classifies me as DNR: Do not resuscitate. If this is not fully executed before I leave, it is still my expressed wish. I am finalizing a Will that I hope to have notarized before I go. If it is not fully executed, I attach the final version here with the wish that it be used as attached. All files last saved by me 10APR16.”
Hope for the Best. Plan for the Worst.
We all travel with the hope for the very best trip possible. We believe that will be the case. But to plan for the worst is advisable.
My thanks to Lisa for sharing this information with us. Her thoughts and approach to these issues are, I believe, helpful to all.
You may also be interested in: Do I Need Travel Insurance? Top Bloggers from 6 Countries Respond and When to Buy (and not buy) Trip Insurance?