Day 8 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – Thoughts on Being a Nomad
“Your health is the most important thing in life,” my paternal grandmother told me (in Dutch) when I was a teenager. I looked at her and shrugged. I had much more important things going on, like making sure that my friends and boyfriend liked me.
“You are so right about seeing the world while you are still young,” my maternal grandmother said, when my nomad behavior was frowned upon by everyone else. “So many people wait until they are too old and their health is not what it used to be,” she wisely added. I was in my twenties and I agreed with her. About my age being perfect for living outside the box, ignoring the possible health issues part. I kept traveling.
“And, how is your health?” my mother would ask after we talked for a while on Skype about other things going on in our sailing life. “Fine, of course,” I answered, thinking, What’s with the health? Always the health? Mark and I are in our thirties. We are totally healthy. Ignorance is bliss.
“At least you are still relatively young and in good health,” a retired cruiser friend uttered, when I was complaining about always having to be careful with money, because we barely have any. Mark, 42, and I, 38, nodded in agreement. Except, we weren’t healthy. We just didn’t know it yet…
With health comes health care. When I was backpacking and traveling by camper in my earlier years, I had health insurance in Belgium and bought additional international year plans. I never read the small print, saying that I could only be abroad for three consecutive months at a time. I was gone years on end… Ignorance is bliss. Luckily, nothing serious ever happened. Later on, no more travel health insurance was purchased. I have my annual dentist and doctor check-ups done when I visit friends and family in Belgium. When things needed immediate attention, I would take care of it locally. Health care outside the US is usually pretty affordable, especially in less developed countries. Mark is in the same situation. He is only covered in his own state (Massachusetts) and in all of the US for emergencies. For health care abroad, we rely on our savings and appreciate the lower costs for doctor visits (sometimes free in French Polynesia). For serious stuff, we return to our home countries at our own expense. Recently, I have health care in the US as well.
Now, I am 40. Ignorance in regards to my health is not allowed anymore. When my mom asks me how our health is, I don’t scoff any longer. I dutifully answer her questions, appreciating her concerns. Over the years, a lot has happened and many items have been added to our list of health struggles. We discuss topics like headaches, painful joints, tumors, cancer treatment, Lyme disease, tennis elbow, foot issues… or nothing, which is a good day. Fortunately, because of the amazing health care we have experienced everywhere, we are in pretty good shape again these days.
Remember how I wrote that freedom is the main draw to my life as a nomad? Well, that freedom would be worthless, if one is not healthy enough to enjoy it. Health is important. My grandmothers were right. Now, let’s travel!
Have you had to deal with health issues during your travels? Do you buy international health insurance when going on vacation? Do you have an interesting, or funny, health story to share from being abroad?
(Tomorrow is Sunday, so the A-Z bloggers take a break. Monday, I will be back with “I is for Internet” in the “Thoughts on Being a Nomad” series.)