What is backpackers’ travel insurance can be thought of as defining what a 21st century vagabond needs to explore a part of the world.
Backpackers, as opposed to those who buy regimented vacation plans from resorts or tour operators, tend to explore the world in all its vastness and also in minute detail at an unknown pace. For this kind of exploration, a backpacker needs no calendar or clock but rather an unknown number of hours, days or weeks to explore, to sample and to ponder.
This article will show you how to extend coverage to meet unexpected opportunities while backpacking. You’ll learn which coverage limits to increase, while ignoring other travel insurance coverage as unnecessary.
You’ll want to start with a comprehensive travel insurance policy. It will cover the nuts and bolts of travel problems. Mundane insurance coverage like delayed flights, lost gear and baggage, emergency medical care, medical evacuations and cancelled reservations will be addressed. Once that is covered, you’ll want to add specific coverages to meet personal needs and goals.
Backpacking Isn’t a Disneyland Trip
Backpacker travel insurance strongly leans toward a long term policy rather than a short term plan. In other words, a backpacker trip is usually designed for longer trips and longer stays than a planned trip to Disneyland.
Bye, Mickey Mouse
A visitor to Disneyland will buy a travel insurance plan that will be in force for a week or two – the short term plan.
A Disneyland vacation is basically a vacation of limitations and known activities. After a week or so at Disneyland, you’ve seen it all. There’s nothing left – Bye, Mickey Mouse. Vacation over. Go home. It’s a short-term planned trip.
Reject short term coverage. You also won’t need rental car insurance. Or family medical care coverage.
Backpacking is About Extending Pleasant Possibilities
A backpacker on a trip to Europe is inclined to buy a long-term travel plan. Why? Because of possibilities.
A backpacker may discover a sweet spot on the trip where a planned stay at a mountain village stretches from two days to two weeks. Perhaps the people and scenery at the village are enchanting and memorable.
The two days you planned to stay simply won’t allow you to explore all the possibilities. You don’t want to be forced to move on from an enjoyable place because the insurance you bought is only good for two weeks. To be safe and accommodate unexpected possibilities, you should purchase a long-term travel plan, perhaps up to six months.
Employment Possibilities (Making Money to Extend Your Trip)
While trekking, backpackers can come across temporary employment gigs. Suppose a Spanish orchard owner needs an extra person or two to help bring in an unexpected large orange crop. The pay is $1,000 for a week. That’s the kind of gig that can pump extra cash into a backpacker’s budget. A long-term travel plan allows you to hit the brakes on your trip, make a stop and earn extra money.
Only Once in Your Life
Because a backpacker’s itinerary is heavily flavored toward personal exploration, you need a long-term backpacker’s travel insurance plan because of possibilities. Remember, this backpacker trip may be the only time in your life that you have the freedom, time, energy and money to explore a world of possibilities. This time may never come again. The lesson here is to buy long-term backpacker’s insurance.
About That Adventure Insurance
It’s always exciting to be on your own and take side excursions while backpacking. If you plan to go kayaking for a day, be certain that this activity is covered on your insurance policy.
Read your policy for coverage. Your policy will list permitted and banned activities that fall under the sporting or adventure categories. Scuba diving may be okay, while rock climbing is not covered.
A more comprehensive explanation of sporting and adventure activities and exemptions is covered here under what is adventure insurance.
Emergency Medical Care Insurance
Don’t be cheap and skip on emergency medical treatment coverage. Fixing broken body parts is expensive regardless of where you break them. With a complex treatment needed to fix a body part, you could easily burn through your $25,000 coverage limit. Anything beyond that amount comes out of your bank account. Jacking that limit up to $100,000 for emergency medical care only costs a few dollars more.
Read about the vagaries of Emergency Medical Travel Insurance here.
Lost or Damaged Stuff
If an elephant sits on your laptop, it will make for an exciting travel story. (Take pictures for proof.) Regardless, your laptop is probably a dead duck. Don’t assume that your travel insurance will pay replacement costs under the lost and damaged goods clause. Single items may have a limited reimbursement in the policy. You can buy supplemental coverage that will cover wayward elephants and squashed laptops. Also check with your homeowner’s policy. Your laptop may be covered in this policy.
Lost and damaged stuff is covered extensively under the title “What Happens to Lost Luggage?”
Medical Evacuation Can Bankrupt You
Paying for a medical evacuation is equivalent to racking up a student debt for four years of college in a single day. It’s really, really expensive. How much?
The US State Department warns that the average cost for a medical evacuation is about $50,000. Sometimes the cost can run to more than $200,000.
Medical evacuation covers you if you need more specific treatment at a different medical complex. For example, a medical team at a facility is able to stabilize you. But that facility doesn’t have a specialist to perform necessary operations.
A MediVac team will remove you from that facility to another hospital where a specialist can patch you up.
Choose the Long Path
It’s impossible to predict exactly what you’ll need in the way of backpacker insurance, but follow these four steps and you’ll get real close.
First, extend your travel coverage to long term to meet unexpected delays or opportunities to explore locations or earn money.
Second, up your limits on medical emergency coverages to be certain you don’t get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. Ditto for medical evacuation.
Third, protect your stuff through buying supplemental coverage.
Fourth, be certain that activities you plan on aren’t limited or banned in your policy.
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