Backpacking - the travel insurance debate

When planning a backpacking trip, travel insurance may be the last thing on your mind.

The result is that many backpackers leave the UK without such a policy in place despite carrying an average £600-worth of luggage, according to a survey carried out by one travel insurance company.

In the consumer society we live in it is quite usual for a backpacker's luggage to contain mobile phones, digital cameras, laptops, mp3 player and other expensive items. The minimum value of the gadgets carried by the average backpacker currently stands at £200 - with many carrying far in excess of this amount.

Yet a third of travellers fail to take out any insurance policy, which means these items are uninsured against loss or theft.

Statistics appear to show that one in 10 tourists have found themselves the target of thieves whilst travelling abroad. The average loss in these cases stands at over £100. It may not sound a lot but when you're travelling on a budget £100 can go a long way.

In addition, 8% of travellers have their luggage stolen from the baggage carousel in the airport - without travel insurance in place this can be very hard to replace without using a large amount of the spending money you originally set aside.

Finding travel insurance for a backpacking holiday is not that hard - in fact many companies offer cover aimed specifically at this type of vacation. You will usually find that it is very cost effective, with the average policy costing less than £5 per week on a 12-month trip.

The majority of those who fail to take out cover do so purely because of the cost which is really a false economy. With over £600 of luggage and a 12-month policy costing a fraction of this, they stand to lose a lot if they should become the unfortunate victim of a crime.

It seems that the biggest reason for failing to take out travel insurance is not so much the cost as lack of awareness and understanding. If you take some time to read the key features of a policy you will find you are covered for many eventualities and the benefit of the policy becomes self-evident.

Finding cheap travel insurance is easier than you think, as long as you are willing to spend a little time researching the topic and visiting several sites to get a good spread of quotes. Aim for a minimum of three quotes.

The same applies when looking for hotels and accommodation in advance. There are now many comparison sites that make the process of finding and booking accommodation online considerably easier.

You can usually find an internet café on your travels and you can often book just a day or two ahead. You may find that using this method makes your backpacking trip that little bit easier - and your money stretch further still.

by Chris Rowlands


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