Boring! The tedious side of getting ready for a trip.

This week I have been mystery shopping. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. I have been doing yet more preparation for our trip to Europe in our trusty camper van (if it comes back from the garage in time). There has been so much to do, from packing up the house to sorting out what we are going to take and what kind of insurances we’ll need. Happily I got a great deal from the AA to cover us for breakdowns in Europe. I would call that an essential. The last time we went away to France in a camper we had a smashed windscreen on the motorway that delayed us for 2 days and meant we had to stay in a hotel whilst a new one was found. Our policy covered it.
Another of those boring essentials is travel insurance. We have EHIC (the old E111) cards but, as few people realise, they don’t provide the kind of medical cover we might need. An EHIC card will only cover us for the same level of free medical treatment that citizens of that country receive. So that means no repatriation, no special treatment, no free non-urgent treatment if you fall ill.
Let’s also face it, accidents do happen. Last year on a trip to the Outer Hebrides daughter number one, Maggie, fell off some monkey bars about five minutes after we had reached our final destination, Eoropie on the Isle of lewis, and suffered a green stick fracture to her arm. Off to hospital we went for a patch up. It was minor but it changed our holiday, as Maggie, whilst proud to have a plaster cast, soon realised that she couldn’t surf, swim, ride her bike or jump off stuff. I daresay it could have been worse. That's her above, making the most of it.
Hence my mystery shopping. I have been looking for travel insurance to compare with the policies offered by one of my clients, World First Travel Insurance. It might seem like a standard thing to do, but for us (and for lots of other people with medical ‘baggage’) it’s different. We have medical conditions to declare. My wife, Jo, was ill with Ulcerative Colitis a few years ago and still takes medication as a result of the condition. Maggie had leukaemia as a baby. Whilst she has been in remission for 8 years we still have to declare it because, if we didn’t and she got ill as a result of that, we’d find our cover would be useless. It’s the same for Jo. If we didn’t declare her condition, our cover would be invalid. It isn’t worth the risk.
That means that ‘normal’ policies, from companies like Columbus Direct, become expensive, whilst others won’t cover us at all. We went for Columbus’ top policy for four of us, for 70 days away, with all the knobs and whistles including delay, baggage, curtailment etc and it came to £190. I thought that was pretty reasonable. Then I declared the medical conditions and the cost jumped to £340. This is for conditions that are ‘cured’ so I can only imagine what kind of a hike the price would take if I was undergoing treatment for a condition like cancer or was over 70. The Post Office wouldn’t cover Ulcerative Colitis at all.
Time then, to look to the specialists, namely our old friends at World First Travel Insurance. I know them well but even so, wanted to benchmark their policy costs for our trip against others. First of all they accepted the medical conditions, then offered us a policy including £5 million medical cover, baggage cover and cancellation cover at £239 with all conditions covered. So that’s that then - the client comes good with a low cost answer. Phew.
Next job: packing
And don't forget.... We are still looking for brilliant suggestions for places to stay, eat and play. Our route is the Atlantic Coast, with our final destination somewhere in Galicia. Over to you. Answers on a postcard....


  1. Can I suggest a stop in Mundaka, we went there for a long weekend in 2006. It was one of last minute things to watch the ASP and we loved the place even if it was a nightmare for a pair of veggie's. There is a campsiteon top of the hill

    1. Mundaka is great I surfed some huge waves there years ago and ended up hurting myself. But it's a beautiful place and would love to show the family... Also Bakio round the corner I liked.

  2. Hello Martin, if your looking for a great view try It can be crowed in the summer but on the right pitch the view of the ocean, waves and Spain makes up for it all!
    In Augustus you have "Fete du Thon" in St. Jean de Luz. If you buy Thon (Tuna), bread and whine you'll support the local sportclubs.
    If you're into art:
    Looking forward to read more about your travels!
    When will there be a dutch translation of your new book? Thanks!
    Save travels!Regards,

    Diederik& Early bay '71 from the Netherlands

    1. Guggenheim is a must! I have tried twice to go. Once was closed, another time my friend refused to see art!!!! This time!!!

  3. Hi Martin. I came across your blog while googling the subject of campervans. It's my aim to buy one (after a significant period of saving!). I did a similar trip to the one your planning with Spout in the late 80's. You are probably familiar with the places I remember as being fantastic- biscarosse, Lacanau, Biarritz, st jean de luz. I look forward to reading about your trip it's a great blog. Lynn

    1. hello! Of course you did! I hope you are well. I never did the trip with Spout but plenty of times to see Nick. We'll be popping in to see him and also Shoz I think, in Brittany. Hope you get your van soon. Keep in touch...

  4. Hi I wasn't sure you'd remember me after such a long time! I am very well thank you. I have 3 girls who share mycampervan plans! Just got to persuade their dad! I hope you all have a fantastic trip. Please say hi to nick from me. Lynn

  5. Very nice. I wish I could also do the same for myself. I would also like to travel and take a little or should I say short vacation from work. My professional arizona web design should allow me.


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