Firstly, I should be saying thank you to anyone that is taking the time to read this blog. It’s actually people like yourself that have made me want to fight back and continue running a travel blog. If you’re following me on social media you will have realised I faced the toughest travel situation I have ever been in back at the end of July, the start of early August. It made me question a lot of things including why I’m blogging, is travel worth it and most importantly is Chile safe?
For those of you that don’t know why I haven’t been running a travel blog for the past few months here it is.
Arriving In San Pedro de Atacama
It was back in July when things were far different than they are now. I was travelling in Chile after having just completed a one-way tour of the Salt Flats from Uyuni to the Atacama Desert, a great tour that I highly suggest. I was travelling with my Kathmandu backpack that had been with me for every one of my adventures previously, it was carrying 18kg of clothing and it was still as comfortable as ever to carry. This was supported with the newest addition I had purchased just a few months earlier, a Lowepro protactic 450 camera bag. This had all my toys I was using to run my blog, capture awesome pictures and video content and much more. I had hardly let this out of my site the whole trip, I think my girlfriend was even getting a little jealous of the connection we had. Head to my “tech gear I recommend” blog if you want to no more about the tech gear I travel with.
When arriving at the Atacama we were keen to explore as much of the region as possible, there is so much to see here that you need at least 3 or 4 days minimum to achieve half the locations. I suggest visiting El Tatio Geysers, Valley de Luna and visiting the salt flats. As a result of wanting to cover so many areas we contacted the company Wicked Campers and pitched an idea to them for a promotional partnership during our trip, they agreed and gave us an awesome deal to have a camper van for 12 nights and transport it from San Pedro de Atacama to the North of Chile to a small town called Arica.
This was amazing and we were working with an international company and getting to have 12 days of complete freedom, no buses to catch, generic tours to go on etc. We were in control and could do everything our way. That evening we spent hours going through Google and studying brochures Wicked Campers had supplied us trying to come up with a road trip to see everything we wanted and we did. More blogs on this in the South American section of the website.
What happened when leaving San Pedro de Atacama
After spending 4 nights travelling to all the hotspots you have to visit in and around San Pedro de Atacama it was time to begin heading Northeast towards the Chilean coastline. We spent the night in a large cleared out section of land just outside a mining town called Calama, it was one of the coldest nights we had endured so far and actually made us more excited to be finally heading out of the desert and towards the coast. I forgot to mention that the Atacama Desert can be freezing overnight.
We decided to spoil ourselves this particular morning and grab something from a supermarket rather than another jam sandwich for breakfast like we had the previous 4 mornings, we were still backpacking in South America after all. This is the simple decision that ended up changing the rest of our 2019 year.
We were cautious of where to park our vehicle the whole time after all this was South America and we knew we had to be careful. We drove around for about 15 minutes in a town that really isn’t overly big looking for somewhere that looked secure and safe.
Bingo we found the perfect spot, or so we thought.
It was in a small outdoor supermarket car park that had a perimeter fence with only one way in and one way out. We checked and the area was patrolled by 2 security guards and the car was visible from the supermarket, it ticked all the boxes. We locked up, went inside and grabbed a few supplies for the road, no more than 10 minutes had passed by the time we arrived back to the car. As I opened the car boot my heart sank. No longer was my black Kathmandu backpack, that had been with me to every country I visited, there. Nor was my girlfriends brand new 70L backpack that she had purchased for her first backpacking adventure four months previously.
We quickly rushed to the backseats as this was where my partner had her day bag and I had my camera bag, both were also gone. We were now standing outside our Wicked Campervan with all the doors open and literally nothing we were travelling with was in our possession anymore.
Locals had started to see the panic we were showing and gathered our way, my Spanish girlfriend was telling them the devastating news and one member of the public had gone in to get a supermarket worker. Some had even just witnessed 2 males running down the street carrying our bags, unfortunately, they were long gone by now, we were the sorry victims of a well-organised crime group that no doubt involved at least one member of the supermarket security guards. The fact he couldn’t even look at us told the full story of his guilt, plain and simple.
How We dealt With The Situation
Once the shock had passed slightly we had to quickly gather our thoughts and figure out our next moves. The staff member from the supermarket gave the police a call and we waited by our car for them to arrive. The car didn’t have a scratch on it, no smashed windows, only the small sign of forced entry on the driver’s side keyhole, another sign of how well organised and efficient they were.
An hour passed and no sign of any police, we later found out the station was on the same road about 1km away. After numerous more phone calls, we were advised to walk to the station and report the crime in person, a good start to resolving the situation.
Once finally getting seen by an officer we were told to go back and get the vehicle so they could see it, of course, we assumed they would want to see the vehicle where it was, at the scene of the crime but nope. After sitting down with pen and paper and trying to remember every item we had packed for the 8-month trip we finally completed the police report, my goodness was that an experience, we even were suggested a few Facebook Pages to “like” so we could try and buy our stuff back. Yep, everything works a little different in this part of the world.
With all the police stuff taken care of, it was time to return our car to Wicked Campers in San Pedro de Atacama and begin the task of making our way to Santiago so I could go to the Australian Embassy and replace my passport, luckily my partner was carrying her’s on her at the time in a handbag so she at least had that.
What happened Next
Once we dropped the car off we made our way back to the accommodation we had stayed in the night we first arrived in San Pedro de Atacama. To this day we are still incredibly grateful to the amazing staff member that allowed us two free nights accommodations while we started all the formal phone calls and paperwork to our travel insurance company. The backpackers was called Hostal Pangea and really was a great choice for your accommodation in San Pedro de Atacama.
But before all that we did what anyone in our situation would do, found a good cheap pub with loud music and got ourselves drunk.
The next day, slightly hungover, we began the task of notifying our travel insurance company, we were using World Nomads travel insurance, and trying to collect as much proof of purchases evidence as we could of all our travel possessions. We also began planning our next move, I still had to get to Santiago, 30 plus hours south by bus, to replace my passport. We completed all the formalities and then grabbed ourselves 2 tickets for the exciting bus ride to the capital city of Chile.
How Helpful Was Travel Insurance – Using World Nomads travel insurance
Before leaving for this big trip we completed a lot of homework to decide which travel insurance company to use. We opted to go with using World Nomads travel insurance, a well-known company that has a reputation of having great coverage for digital nomads travelling and working from anywhere in the world. As previously mentioned, we had a lot of expensive gear to run this blog including laptops, camera, drone and hard drives, so a quality travel insurance was something we didn’t want to skip.
They had a reputation of being the standout company for this exact situation we were now facing, so did they live up to all the hype?
Unfortunately when leaving, as my partner is Spanish and me myself Australian, we were advised we were unable to have a joint partner travel insurance policy. This made for the next process to be a slightly longer and more painful experience as if it wasn’t already. This is because we basically had to submit everything twice as the European insurance operation is run in Ireland and Australian side of things in Australia. We made two phone calls, two claims and then had to wait 10 days to hear anything. No worries we thought, 10 days is not so bad, we can continue our trip and get the result when we are crossing into Peru. After all, we had gathered all the information, done everything correctly and had the best travel insurance company. Things should go smoothly.
On the 10th day, we received an email as promised and were advised that World Nomads required another 10 days to have our police report translated from Spanish to English, fair enough, but I didn’t think this would take a huge international company 10 extra days. We had to be patient though as with any insurance claim, things don’t go so easily or quickly. The process dragged on for a few extra months but we finally were paid some payments each in mid-September, around 7 weeks after the initial 10 days we had been advised and were hoping for.
What got covered by World Nomads
We finally had been paid by World Nomads after a few weeks of back and forth conversations. The staff on these phone calls were really helpful and offered much support throughout the whole process from beginning to end. We both were able to receive some sort of payment for our lost items and travel delays but what exactly did they cover?
Unfortunately, World Nomads failed to live up to the hype of being the best company to cover a digital nomad in my eyes. I received full cover for all my passport expenses, the extra travel and all clothing, travel bags etc… not so bad I hear you saying and I agree. Where I was left a little (by little I mean a lot) confused and disappointed though was when they opted to not cover any of my tech equipment, no coverage for my laptop, drone, Nikon camera, hard drive or any other of the main items that I generally brought the coverage for.
Where this got a little more confusing was when they opted to cover fully my partner up to the maximum amount, more on that issue shortly. So here I was left with no coverage on my expensive items and left to make many angry phone calls without being able to talk any change (some would say sense) into the claims staff members. Disappointing to say the least, around $6,000 worth of equipment not covered after opting to purchase the premium insurance coverage from World Nomads in case of a situation as this occurred.
What we learnt about World Nomads coverage
As mentioned above my partner had a far more successful experience with the European World Nomads than I did in the Australian one. She was denied a couple of travel expenses to go to Santiago with me to get a new passport that, at the time were told would be covered. All in all, she should have been happy, that was until we found out what her maximum coverage limit was compared to mine.
After reading through the coverage section by section, when purchasing mine, we had been less worried about all that with my partners as we thought we were purchasing the same policy. She opted for the €1000 premium coverage with World Nomads as well, the same as me. I had coverage for $12,000 so we automatically and somewhat foolishly thought coverage for her would be equivalent. We were certainly wrong, after paying the €1000 to get the coverage it worked out her maximum coverage was only €2,500, well short of the same offered in the Australian policy. This was despite her paying almost double, €1000 compared to my $940 odd Australian dollars.
She was told she was covered for everything she claimed but only to the maximum claim limit. She had around €6,000 worth of gear, clothes etc stolen but only received back €2,500 or really only €1,500 if you take off the initial payment made when signing up.
Summary of using World Nomads Travel Insurance
Without a doubt, the general service and advice we received from using World Nomads travel insurance were fantastic, especially when we were sitting in Chile with literally just the clothes on our back. They offered clear and calm advice that got us back on track and thinking that it was, in fact, possible to continue our trip without letting this ruin all our plans.
We managed to continue travelling in South America for an extra few months while the situation was being dealt with. Ultimately though when we found out that coverage was less than half of what we had lost and also coinciding with a family emergency for my partner in Spain the difficult decision had to be made. We decided to end our 8-month backpacking trip at the 4-month mark.
We also strongly recommend that everyone reads the individual policy of the particular country they are getting insurance in, this was a rookie mistake we made after just reading the Australian policy. As experienced travellers we still got ultimately “caught out” by this and I certainly wouldn’t want that to occur to you.
We have since had some more successful claims made with World Nomads because as I mentioned above my partner, unfortunately, had some family issues and I recently also had surgery in Spain which they covered. Although we are still going through the claims process for both, it looks as if both will have a more successful outcome. They are a good company with solid customer service but ultimately we were left with no coverage on any items that we specifically chose them for. Probably not good enough considering the premium prices you pay for their coverage compared to others on the market.
Why I Started Blogging Again
I spent months after this thinking should I start running a travel blog again or should I just throw in the 2 years of hard work and find something new once I got back to Australia. I had loved the 2 years but to be honest it is so much hard work and needs a lot of commitment to run a blog, let alone a successful one. If you are looking to start your own I have a step by step guide that will get you started in less than a day, plus a great 7-day course that offers more in-depth assistance. Just be warned that it takes commitment, time and hard work, something other people seem to avoid telling you and instead advertise as a “get rich” quick scheme.
After much deliberation and encouragement from so many loyal followers just like yourself, plus family members and friends, I decided it was worth going again with my website. The break gave me time to question why I’m blogging and has opened my eyes to what I want from it in the future. As mentioned in this post, my partner is Spanish and our future will no doubt involve many trips from Spain to Australia regardless of what location we decide to settle in for the long term if we ever settle (sorry mum).
Blogging gives us a chance of living with a sense of freedom, it undoubtedly will take years of hard work, we have needed to replace our belongings to enable this to continue but we hope in the long run this is just an incident we look back on and remember as the moment that shaped us. Currently, I’m earning an amount from my blog each month and I’m reinvesting that to build a future where we can have a sense of freedom that everyone is craving in life these days.
It seemed a waste to not continue this journey just because a couple of people decided they wanted our possessions more than us but ultimately I also really enjoy sharing travel advice with other like-minded people. I want to be a travel blogger in Australia and across the world for many years to come, that is known for sharing valuable tips for travelling cheaper to everyone I can.
What is next for Aussieinwanderlust
Currently, I’m in the process of completing a new blogging course from Nomadic Matt to increase my blogging skills and take my website to the next level. I’ve also invested more time into the social media platform Pinterest, I also began a course to hopefully master this and finally, I’ve begun to look back over a previously purchased course called “Making sense of Affiliate Marketing” to find ways I can take my small monthly earnings to the next level.
I’m aiming to up my skills in a range of new ways, improve my writing style and make my posts far more SEO friendly to have Google loving my content as much as some of you obviously do, going off the many emails and messages of support I received when I wasn’t blogging.
I have also begun to complete some freelance work for a website called TomsCatch in Barcelona and have hired 2 people on a monthly basis to assist with the operation of running a travel blog. I can’t wait for 2020 to see where this wild ride continues to take me and my partner.
Is Chile Safe
Before I leave this blog post I also wanted to add that Chile is overall an area that requires travellers to be aware of their surroundings and have their wits about them the whole time. Is chile safe? It certainly isn’t a place I felt completely comfortable in the whole time but equally not somewhere I thought I was going to get robbed at every corner of the street. It’s a country that requires your care but by no means should be avoided. It has some amazing places like Patagonia in the south, Easter Island and the driest section of desert in the world, the Atacama Desert. Be smart and alert and you will find Chile to be just as safe as other South American countries, people can be unlucky anywhere in the world. This time it was our turn.
Starting a travel blog the right way
I have either taught myself a lot by doing loads of research or enrolling in desired courses and mentor groups. Some certainly have been more beneficial than others. Below are some blogs I have written that can give you some great FREE advice.
As I said I have tried and tested a few of the so-called “great courses” on the market. Some have been fantastic and others have been a complete flop. Below are the three that have really benefited my learning and earning capacity online.
We all love to find tools or resources that make things easier and quicker in life. In blogging, this is no exception and can be vital to ensure you get the time you need for more important tasks. Below are some of my favourite blogging resources.
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