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When in Rome...Have Travel Insurance

Who knew that on a fun, fall European vacation my mom would break her ankle in two different places on the second night in Rome? Not me, especially not her. I guess that’s why people say to expect the unexpected (and make sure to get travel insurance no matter how superfluous it may seem).

Since I was about 10-years-old, I told my parents I wanted to go to Europe so badly (specifically Italy-- mainly for the food, but having ancestral ties to Rome/Napels was the main selling point I was badgering my parents with).

Finally, once I was 22-years-old with my B.A. in Communications, I was surprised with the trip of my dreams. My parents said that my graduation gift would be a little late, which I was not at all concerned about because I was just ecstatic to be done with college….well, until I went to get my master’s degree. (Tangent about college over, back to the point).

I was speechless, which is something my parents were not used to dealing with, as they told me we would be spending five days in Rome, then three in Paris, and rounding off this adventure with three days in Barcelona. It would be my first time going to Europe, but not out of the country— with Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and the Bahamas being my prior adventures.

However, on night two in Rome, the unthinkable happened. We were walking to dinner and my mom tripped over the uneven cobblestone and busted her knee. She was in so much pain and could not stand up. After a few minutes, my dad and I managed to get her to lean against a nearby building. None of us spoke the language or really knew where we were, so I began to (inwardly) panic. Maybe I have been jaded from living in Los Angeles too long, but I was pleasantly surprised by the great kindness from the locals. Several people stopped and asked if my mom was alright or if we needed any help. Isn’t it kind of sad that we don’t receive this basic level of human kindness very often anymore in our life and travels?

If you know my mom, you will not be surprised that she refused an ambulance and wanted to walk back to the hotel herself. Thankfully, a few blocks away, we found a pharmacy and grabbed whatever first-aid essentials we could before heading back to the hotel with my mom leaning on me for support. She, reasonably so, was devastated. She was crying (which breaks any child’s heart to see their mother like that) and claiming that she ruined the whole trip. This just speaks to her selflessness as my mom was more concerned about our trip, not her own broken ankle which seemed to be swelling more and more each second.

I never really gave a second thought to buying travel insurance, but, thankfully, we did. Many people dismiss the purchase of travel insurance and deem it unnecessary, but my family and I no longer agree with that notion. Without this, my mom may not have been able to see a doctor, due to us not being Italian citizens, or would have had to wait an unknown amount of time in an ER to see one.

Our travel insurance actually was able to have a doctor come to our hotel room the very next morning to check on my mom. However, we were supposed to spend the day in Naples. My dad and I told my mom that we would miss that so she would not be alone. But, in true mom fashion, she refused and said she would be even more sad and upset if we stayed in the hotel room with her. She knew we were both very excited to (finally) see the city where our ancestors came from and did not want to take that experience from us. It was a tough decision to leave her alone, but she nearly pushed my dad and I out the door and said, “If I can’t go, you best believe you guys are going— this experience cannot be wasted.”

With that, we left and set course to the train station for Naples. It was an amazing day spent walking around the historic town and tasting all the incredible local foods (my favorite was the arancini which was to die for). Also, it seemed to be kismet that we were there because our tour guide's name was the same as my dad’s! Anthony Sorrentino could be the Italian equivalent of John Smith, but it was a crazy travel anecdote to say the least.

The following day, we took my mom to a hospital for X-rays and a second opinion to see if we should cut the trip off early. This doctor reaffirmed that her ankle was broken in two places, with stretch ligaments, but she does not need to be on the next flight home. As long as we could get her an ankle boot and crutches, my mom would be able to enjoy the rest of the trip and stabilize the pain. (Great news!) But, the hospital did not offer any boots or crutches and we were expected to find it on our own as they ushered us out of the hospital. I was checking to see if Amazon could send an ankle boot to our hotel as my parents searched for pharmacies that were open on Sundays. Thankfully, we found the one that was and our Uber driver hastily drove us there before close.

Even though the trip had a scary start, my mom was safe. Also, thanks to travel insurance and the helpful hands of pharmacy workers, she was able to persevere and navigate the rest of our family's European adventure with Italian-made ankle boot and crutches. Our trip may have taken a stumble, but, if I had learned anything from traveling, you sometimes just have to go with the flow and embrace challenges. More often than not, it leads you to your most fond memories— which is what this trip turned out to be to my family and I, despite it’s shocking start.

Hopefully your trips will never take a hurtful turn, but, if they do, never underestimate the helpful savior that is travel insurance.

Grazie di aver letto la mia storia!

Sierra Sorrentino

TWM Fall Intern 2021

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