As anyone planning a long trip would know, the tension begins to build a good 2 months before departure date. It’s about the time that you realise that all of this is going to be real and that life as you have known it is about to take a big change.

In our case, we had life pretty good for the planing of such an event. We both held positions as Store Manager in two rival coffee shops (Sammy worked for Costa coffee while Carl worked for Caffe Nero), and while we may not be able to walk back into the same position, we left on very good terms and had the understanding that some sort of work may be available on our return. In many instances, people in other jobs are able to arrange for a sabbatical, but we were unsure of the date of our return so didn’t feel comfortable leaving our employers in the lurch.

Can you imagine the excitement as our time to leaving work drew to an end? We knew that we would miss our work friends and customers immensely, but the thought of not setting for an alarm at 5.15am or the thought of not having to finish 45 minutes late because a deluge of customers decided to visit last minute, was very, very nice. So the act of handing our stores over to the new managers in a lot of ways was an exciting one. Who knew what our future lifestyle was going to be like?

We were also in the fortunate position of renting our house (see, it pays not to grow up and get a mortgage). The terms of our contract stated that we had to only give 1 months notice, so we gave it and started packing in between working pretty much 50 hrs a week each.

One of the major obstacles in our preparation was the fact that we are animal lovers.

Our 5 year old rat

Our 5 year old rat

As such, we keep animals. When we say we keep animals, we have a zoo comprising of a snake, 2 budgies, 5 rats, 2 chinchillas and 3 mice. To say that it was heartwarming that our friends offered to keep them safe during our journey is to put it mildly. It was the one thing that we had worried about.

Carl wasn’t worried that he still hadn’t got a passport.

Or that we still hadn’t applied for our Indian visas

Or that the only plan we had was “I dunno…. I guess we fly to New Delhi and take it from there”

(To this day, that is our philosophy. “see what happens and take it from there”. We don’t like to make plans.)

So the main thing that happens when you tell people that you are leaving to travel the world until you run out of money is that they want to see you. Not to say hello. To get you really drunk for no apparent reason. In England, this is a very normal thing.

Between us, I’m sure that we had around 4 or 5 leaving do’s. We were so thankful to see all our friends and it was basically the end of an era. The last of the do’s, however, was with our very own family. The in-laws and the in-laws and a few of our closest family friends.

And it’s really this that is the point of the whole article.

It’s the night before the night before the night that we fly. We are at the point where there is NOTHING left to do other than pack our bags. This is the first night that we could truly just sit and enjoy the pleasure of our company and savour it. In Pizza Express.

Imagine the feeling of packing up your life completely. Quitting a job that you actually like, but that has drained so much of your energy, selling the car, emptying a house and visiting 5 different refuse sites within the space of a week in a white rental van, saying goodbye to your family, cuddling your pets (not the snake) for one last time, making sure you have everyone’s email address, making countless “to do” lists and not really completing them, telling the bank and credit cards that you are going overseas, finally getting the passport and the visas just in time, trying to do f****ng DIY in the house you just rented to make sure that you get your deposit back (you know you won’t), selling the car and telling the insurance company and basically, tying up every loose end that you can possibly think of.

“Oh. Travel insurance” Says sammy.

“Oh yeah….let’s do that now before we forget”.

So we did it. Did we get a good deal? I think so. Sort of. It really does feel like you’re choosing the best of a bad bunch a lot of the time and pretty much hoping that you don’t get ill. Travel insurance paid, we had about enough time to get ready to meet our family for the last time for quite a while.


carl modelling the backpack that would be his home for the next year

True to our eternal style, we arrived to Pizza Express after everyone else. We enjoyed the meal and savoured the company of our closest family and friends, knowing that they would be the only reason for any potential homesickness. We ate pizza because we didn’t really know when we would eat pizza again. We said some pretty teary goodbyes and agreed between ourselves that we would just pack the next day. No rush.

The next day, we woke up casually late, went out for a bit, came back and started to think about packing. Kevin (Carl’s dad) was picking us up later that day to transport us to the hotel at the airport that he had kindly booked and paid for and was no doubt prepared to give us our obligatory “don’t trust anyone….be careful….don’t take any drugs” speech.

Sammy sat on her bed about midday with her backpack open. Clothes, toiletries and travelling paraphernalia was scattered around the room. Downstairs, Carl’s belongings looked very much the same.

It was at this point that Sammy began to feel noticeably ill.

Everyone else blamed it on the stress of the past few weeks and put it down to anxiety, but as Sammy began heaving into a bucket (every household in the UK has a sick bucket, right?), she knew different.

As the afternoon became evening, things progressed worse and worse to the point where Sammy was unable to construct a sentence, let alone drink water or eat dry toast. These for sure were the signs of food poisoning.

Bag still not packed, it was looking possible that we might not make the flight even if Sammy got miraculously better.

The evening came around and Sammy was not better, but worse still. She had not been able to drink water for well over 10 hours and couldn’t respond to anyone. Still vomiting water. We had made the decision that we would not be able to stay in the hotel airport overnight, but Janet, Sammy’s mum had offered to take us early in the morning if she felt well enough to travel.

It was at this time that we began to think about making our first claim on our travel insurance.

There was no way that a doctor was going to come out in the middle of the night to assess a patient in order to confirm that they had contracted food poisoning. The best bet was to visit the doctors the next day. So we did.

We had already missed our flight.

“The sky is blue and our plane is in the sky, but we’re not on it” (Facebook update 13/03/15)

We dragged Sammy out of bed and had to assist her in walking to the car so that we may take her to an appointment with the doctor. After waiting 40 minutes in the surgery, we were called in and basically told by the doctor that they were able to write proof that she had visited the doctor to report a food bug, but was unable to confirm that she had one until she provided a stool sample. This would then be analysed and reported.

If you have ever had food poisoning, you will know that it passes out of your body pretty much the same rate as it gets in. Later that day, she was not vomiting anymore and only feeling weak due to the fluid loss and lack of food. Stool sample was done, but decided not to send it.

After speaking with the insurance company a number of times, it was clear that they wouldn’t pay out unless they had conclusive proof that she was unfit to fly, and that proof was going to be almost impossible for us to get.

We booked alternative flights for later that week and had the intention of following the claim up with the insurance company.

On Friday 13th March 2015, The Vagabond Beans got on a plane. Birmingham to New Delhi. After several emails with the insurance company, we decided that it was fruitless to make a claim on our policy and so the stool sample remains in Sammy’s parent’s house to this day. Sorry Janet.

We are pleased to announce that neither of us contracted “Delhi belly” during our visit there.

Read about New Delhi in our next article.

Have you experienced similar issues with travel insurance companies? Have you ever had Delhi belly? Please leave us your thoughts and feedback below. It makes us happy to know that people might read this.

Lots of love,

~The Vagabond Beans~


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