Expert Advice for Active Travellers and Backpackers



Every year, millions of individuals embark on exciting around the world backpacking holidays; visiting a must-see destinations and participating in new activities. While people of all ages enjoy this form of low-cost, independent travel, it is especially popular with those in their late teens and early twenties.

Ideal for students as a gap year around university, before the responsibilities of later life arrive such as mortgages and an established career, others simply wish to escape the stresses and strains of the working world. Backpacking offers the freedom from pressures of everyday life, with the chance to explore new terrain and enjoy each day bringing something different.

Regardless of the reasons for travel, whilst still on home soil the prospect of travelling around a foreign nation on an extended trip can seem particularly daunting. Being prepared in advance is the key to a stress-free experience, so to help we have amassed the best expert advice to assist you on your backpacking journey.

Am I covered for any extreme sports or impromptu activities?


Part of the thrill of backpacking is taking part in once-in-a-lifetime activities you wouldn’t normally do at home. If you’re visiting Rotorua in New Zealand – the home of extreme adventure pursuits – then you’ll be daft not to give something thrilling a go. However before you go on a bungee swoop or throw yourself out of a plane it’s essential to make sure your insurance package covers you, just in case the worst does happen.

Holidaysafe’s Activity Pack One covers you for over 100 different sports and activities as standard. This includes some of the most popular backpacking hot spots and enterprises such as surfing, climbing the Sydney harbour Bridge, swimming with dolphins and abseiling.

More extreme activities are covered in Packs Two, Three and Four, these packs include cover for all of the basic activities included in Pack One, plus more extreme activities such as shark cage diving and sky diving. It’s worth taking the time to think about what activities you may want to do before you leave, or ensure you call your insurer and extend your cover during your trip.


Swooping about in the waves on the sea or taking a lazy paddle down a river is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon and even work on those muscles, however your cover will depend on the type of water you’re venturing out on to. Pack One will cover you for up to grade 2 rivers as standard. If you wish to undertake kayaking in grade three rivers or in-land waters you will need the Pack Two bolt on to cover you.

Bungee jumping

A popular one on the bucket list, especially for those with a ticket to Australia or New Zealand, this is perhaps surprisingly classed as a relatively low-risk activity and will be covered as standard in Pack One. Always make sure before undertaking any bungee jumps, swoops or other extreme sports that the company is operating with all the necessary safety equipment and has policies in place.


For those hitting the slopes, perhaps in Canada or Europe, it’s definitely a must to ensure you have the right cover. Snowboarding is covered in Pack Two for a small additional premium.


Can I get insured before I know where I’m staying?


Yes you can, we understand that many backpackers won’t have 6 months’ worth of accommodation booked before they leave the UK, so that is not a problem at all.

Most people wait to buy their insurance until they have paid for their travel and/or accommodation (or at least paid the deposit), as until that point there isn’t really anything to insure. Once you have paid any money towards your trip, (whether you’ve just booked your flights or you’ve booked a package deal,) you should immediately purchase travel insurance to protect your pre-paid costs against cancellation.


Is it too late to add extreme sports to my existing policy?


If you decide to add on extreme sports to your policy then you can simply call us at any time during your trip to add the necessary cover. Bear in mind that if you think it likely you will want to try some adrenaline junkie experiences then it can be an excellent idea to get the complete cover sorted before you go. Preparing for any eventuality will save hassle, allowing you to enjoy your trip fuss-free.


Is my policy still valid or transferable if my visa is declined?


When planning a trip it is vital to check if any permissions, such as visas, are needed to enter the country. These will also detail whether you are permitted to work or study and how long you may stay.

If you’re travelling around Europe then you’ll likely be covered under EU law, but farther flung countries such as India often need visas and this process must be started before you leave. It can be a lengthy and bureaucratic process so getting this organised ahead of time is a must. When visiting America an ESTA must be completed, unless you are planning to work in which case a visa may be applicable. These rules and regulation can change so make sure to check the up to date advice for specific countries. This handy widget can help. Visas can also have a consequence on your insurance cover. If you are unable to go on your trip as planned because you failed to obtain the required visa or ESTA in time then we will not pay for you to cancel the trip.


What if I am injured during a trip with no fixed end date? What is covered/how long?


It’s understandable that not all backpackers know the exact length of time they will be away, after all this flexibility is part of the fun of the trip. Whilst Holidaysafe doesn’t need an end date in order to cover you, we can only cover you for a trip up to a maximum 24 months. In the event that you do need to make a claim on a trip without an end date then we will ask you to provide written evidence that you do intend to return to the UK. This could be a letter from an employer confirming you are on a sabbatical, a university place, a doctor’s appointment, plus many more examples.


Is hired equipment covered under my insurance policy?


Under our backpacker range, equipment would not be covered, as there is no section covering equipment under the policy. When you hire equipment abroad, you will usually be asked to take out a small insurance package against damage and similar events, so ensure you use a reputable firm and purchase this additional cover when offered.


If I’m injured, will I be provided return transportation if I can’t afford it?


If you get injured whilst abroad we’ll make sure you’re able to return home as soon as possible. Our Backpacker range covers you for the event of repatriation – up to £10 million. Our medical assistance service team will liaise with you to make sure you get home safely and that any additional costs are approved and covered.

It is important to note however that the policy will only cover you to come home early if medical treatment is not available locally, or if you cannot continue the trip due to injury or illness. If you need to stay a little longer to recover, we’ll automatically extend your cover until you are well enough to fly. Just make sure in the event of an incident to speak to our specialist team.


How long does it take for remuneration of costs by insurance?


This will depend on a number of factors, including the amount of the claim, the complexity of the circumstances involved, the information on your claim form and even the time of year. To try and make the claims department’s job easier, try to include as much information as possible in your claim form or in a covering letter, and ensure you have provided all evidence on the checklist. This will hopefully prevent the team from contacting you to request more information, and slowing the process down.


Can technology and gadgets be replaced to my location or only when I return?


There is no cover for electrical items and photographic equipment under Holiday Safe Backpacker and Backpacker Plus policies. If your gadgets are lost or stolen whilst travelling then unfortunately they will not be covered on these policies. However, gadgets are covered as standard on our Longstay and Longstay Plus policies, so consider upgrading your cover. We would not usually replace the items for you, but would give you a cash settlement minus your policy excess and wear & tear.


Please note, Holidaysafe's online prices automatically include a 15% discount against our Customer Service Centre prices.
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