What is backpacker travel insurance?

It is cover designed for a long extended trip or holiday, for example if you go travelling during your gap year. It can cover you for up to two years.

Top tip

Take out your backpacker cover for slightly longer than your planned dates to cover any potential delays getting home.

You may need it if you are going away for several months because most single trip and annual policies set a maximum length of between 31 and 90 days.

If your trip is likely to be shorter than 31 days, you should look at standard travel insurance policies.

Check what is covered

A backpacker policy should include all the usual benefits of travel insurance, like cover for:

  • Medical expenses and personal accident

  • Cancellation or travel disruption

  • Baggage

  • Personal belongings, money, valuables and passports

  • Personal liability

However, check the cover limits carefully as they can be lower than standard single trip or annual policies.

For example: An annual policy could cover up to 750 of your valuables, but a backpacker policy might only cover up to 300.

This guide explains everything a travel insurance policy should cover, including what levels you should look for.

There are some specific benefits offered by backpacker policies that you should look out for too, including:

Cover for several countries

You will be covered to visit multiple countries in one trip, so you will not have to worry about getting separate policies for each one.

You will need to declare what area of the world you will be visiting. Most insurers will give you the option between:

  • Europe

  • Worldwide excluding USA, Canada and all Caribbean islands

  • Worldwide including USA, Canada and all Caribbean islands

Check the policy carefully to make sure the countries you plan on visiting are covered. You should also check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website to make sure they are safe.

Most policies will not cover you if the FCO advise against travel to that country.


Many policies will cover extra sports popular with travellers like bungee jumping, trekking or white water rafting.

If the activities you want to try are not covered as standard, you should be able to add them at an extra cost. Here is how to make sure all your activities are covered.

Work cover

If you plan on working while you travel, most policies will cover certain jobs, for example:

  • Bar work

  • Teaching

  • Fruit picking

Some will also cover you for any volunteering you plan on doing, like conservation work.

Look out for exclusions

Backpacker policies sometimes have restrictions that could affect your cover, so make sure you read the policy carefully before you apply. Things to look out for include:

A lower age limit

Backpacker insurance can have a much lower maximum age than standard travel insurance policies, sometimes as low as 35 years old.

However, some will cover you up to 99 years old, so shop around if you are an older traveller.

Returning home during your trip

If you plan to return to the UK during your trip check the terms and conditions carefully because this could invalidate some policies.

For example: if you decided to break up your trip with a two week stay at home, your policy could be invalid when you fly back out, so you will not be covered.

Some policies will allow one return visit for a short period, for example 14 days, without it affecting your cover.

Pre-existing medical conditions

You must declare any medical conditions you have when you apply for backpacker travel insurance.

If you do not your insurance will not pay out if you fall ill as a result of your condition.

Here is how to find travel insurance if you have pre-existing conditions.

Travelling without vaccinations

If you are travelling to tropical or exotic countries you must get vaccinated against certain diseases before you go.

Make sure you find out what vaccinations are recommended for your destination; the NHS fitfortravel website outlines what diseases to look out for.

If you have not taken the right precautions, your policy may not pay out for the cost of your treatment. For example if you contract malaria but did not take the recommended anti-malarial medication,

Drugs and alcohol

Be careful if you are planning on having a few drinks during your trip because if you are injured whilst under the influence of alcohol your insurance company may reject your claim.

Most policies will also not pay out for any claims where drug taking is involved, so bear this in mind too.

How to get the right backpacker policy

Compare as many backpacker insurance policies as you can to find the one that offers all the cover you need at the best price.

Use our table to find quotes for backpacker travel insurance, but make sure you check each policy carefully to make sure it covers everything you need it to.