page last updated: May 2015
Getting Travel Insurance for your Backpacking Trip
Why you need Travel Insurance
There a lots of things that people tell you to get that you don’t really need for a backpacking trip. However travel insurance is something that you need to sort out before you even think about stepping on an aeroplane out of your homeland. Most of you probably are well aware of the reasons why but the foolhardy hardcore adventuring traveller who believes they can handle any conceivable situation that could occur while travelling may wish to read on.
There are many many things that can go wrong on a backpacking trip. You’ve probably heard numerous horror stories and if you haven’t your parents or grandparents sure have and will be quick to let you know about them once they hear you’re off gallivanting around some jungle on the other side the world. You shouldn’t let these stories put you off travelling as most problematic situations are avoidable with good common sense. That said you can just be unlucky and the peace of mind of having travel insurance means you don’t need to worry about things going wrong as help will be there if you need it.
Theft is one of the most common problems that travel insurance can help with. Clearly in many countries, foreigners are a symbol of wealth and an attractive target for thieves. In addition budget hostels are often not the safest places to leave your belongings lying around and in our experience other travellers can be the thieves as well as the victims. Imagine waking up to discover someone has legged it off with your backpack. It’s not a pleasant thought and is very unlikely but without travel insurance it would be a disaster of biblical proportions.
Illness is another factor that having good travel insurance can help with. You can fall ill at home, so obviously you can fall ill when you’re away and it’s often much more likely in unfamiliar countries and climates. This ridiculously obvious statement may be clear to you but what you might not realise is how much it costs to get decent healthcare in many countries. At home you might be able to stroll into the doctors or hospital and get free treatment. However in many undeveloped struggling third world countries (and the United States) you can actually be refused treatment if you don’t have the funds to pay for it. Clearly this isn’t a situation anyone would ever want to find themselves in and having an insurance company willing to foot the bill is a massive weight off your shoulders should you ever be unlucky enough to get ill on your travels.
On a similar theme independent travellers tend to have an appetite for adventurous and often dangerous sports and activities. ‘Health and Safety’ isn’t really a concept that seems to even exist in some countries so injuries are not uncommon if you’re into that sort of thing. Although most are relatively minor, the risk of infection is quite high so proper treatment is important. Backpackers also tend to have a thirst for alcohol which needless to say often doesn’t end so well and drunken injuries are common place.
In conclusion get some travel insurance, use basic common sense and enjoy your trip. In the unlikely event of anything going wrong you’re covered.
Drunken Tubing in Laos. Possibly the best advert for travel insurance!
Best Companies for Backpacker Travel Insurance
There are a huge number of travel insurance companies out there but very few who specialise in travel insurance for backpacking trips. If you dig deep enough you can find travel insurance that won’t cost the earth and will cover you for all kinds of travel mishaps in all four corners of the world. Booking travel insurance is actually a relatively simple process and in a few clicks you can rest easy knowing that you are covered if anything should go wrong. We recommend a couple of companies that provide excellent travel insurance for backpackers.
1. World Nomads
They understand independent travellers much better than a lot of the bigger companies out there and provide excellent assistance should you need it. Their policies cover you for medical assistance and evacuation if you have an accident or fall ill abroad and extend to a range of adventure activities that many travel insurance companies steer well clear of covering.
They have won lots of awards for providing great travel insurance and receive excellent reviews with 95% of customers happy with their service. Again because they offer deals targeted towards backpackers and more adventurous travellers you are covered for a lot more activities than your regular holiday insurance provider gives.