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Backpacking and planning for the unexpected

Backpacking holidays

There are lots of ways to take a holiday, relaxing cruises, camping and caravanning, booking a hotel in the sun or a full package ski trip. You could also go on a backpacking trip. Backpacking vacations could involve a little bit of anything and everything. Stay in hotel for a night or two then camp out under the stars followed by a stay at a youth hostel perhaps. Travel by train, plane and boat or even hitch-hike if you get stuck somewhere while trying to preserve your cash.

No matter what you actually do on you back-packing trip however there is often more uncertainty. It can be a great and freeing journey and can be an incredible experience but with the reduced planning and fewer set timings of a backpacking trip you will often need more time overall than you expect and can come up against a wider range of issues.

Backpacker tourist

Travelling as a backpacker

When you are going on a backpacking trip there are a few things you will probably discover, particularly on your first time out on one, but to get you started or as a reminder if it's been a while here are a few tips to make your backpacking holiday a bit more enjoyable.

  • Good earplugs or headphones - When backpacking you may easily find yourself sharing a room, tent, or some other form of shared dorms and when the snoring starts or if a party continues a good sound blocking set of earplugs or some noise cancelling headphones can do wonders for your ability to get some much needed shut eye.
  • People can be surprisingly kind - Get yourself in to a spot of bother? need some directions? talk to the people around you. Be respectful and polite and you will be amazed by how much others may be willing to help you out. You may even meet some fellow backpackers out there that you join with for a little while and some great company.
  • Be wary of "too good" deals - Although people can be very kind, they can also be misleading and greedy, remember if a deal sounds too good to be true there's probably a catch. "Free" walking tours often end with the guide guilting you into paying for something, and really Cheap taxi, tuk-tuk or even bus rides can have you being dragged to jewelry stores and gem shops that you didn't want to visit.
  • Listen to recommendations - While on your journey you are bound to meet and talk with a lot of other people you may well exchange stories and they may give you a recommendation as to a place to go next or a restaurant to try. It's always worth listening to them, especially as not everywhere has an online presence yet, so you may well find a hidden gem of a place that you would otherwise have missed, or a restaurant that serves the best food you've ever tasted. When backpacking word of mouth can be your best source of local knowledge and can give you some of the best experiences of the trip.
  • You need less than you think - Backpacking doesn't actually require a lot of stuff, in fact the more you have the more you need to keep an eye on and the more you have to lose. You don't really need three pairs of shoes, two jackets and that awkward fanny pack. Take as little as possible and go with the idea that if you need something you can pick it up while travelling. You don't even need as many clothes as you think especially if you remember the next bit of advice.
  • Nearly everything can be washed in the sink - When you are traveling you will sometimes find it necessary to wash your things in awkward places. You can in fact clean your clothes in a sink, or even a bucket if there is nothing else to hand, and then let them dry naturally hung up where ever you can manage.
  • Prices are relative - When you first start you may think that the beach hut you can get for £10 a night is a fantastic deal but once you have experienced a bit more in the area you will soon be complaining that the next place you stay is £10.50 a night and doesn't seem nearly as nice. Completely forgetting that you would pay 5-10 times that for something back home.
  • Warn your banks - Banks don't like backpackers much, it makes the security a nightmare and when you are trying to book that last minute train journey or flight on the other side of the world they are likely going to block the transaction and may even invalidate your card. Make sure you have backup cash when you can and as well as the bank let someone know you are going backpacking so that when you have an issue you can call them for some help sorting it.
  • You will never see it all - It doesn't matter how long you go for, you will never get to experience everything an area has to offer, particularly on your first time out. Consider going again and remember as much as others around you may seem to have done so much more, this trip is about doing what you enjoy and makes you happy. No need to get into an un-winnable war of one-upmanship, just enjoy your backpacking holiday.
Backpacker by a river

How to get backpackers insurance

Even following these tips you will find yourself in predicaments and having issues that you just didn't expect. Backpacking is unpredictable and varied and you will probably want to have some form of travel insurance cover that can cope with this. Backpacker travel insurance is often a bit more expensive due to the length of time you may well be abroad for and the uncertainty of the risks. It is definitely worth looking around and trying to get the best cover before you go.

As for what to look for medical and baggage cover in particular can be very important and useful, and if you plan on taking an expensive phone it may be worth your while getting extra cover for that as well. You will definitely want to get a backpacker specific policy and make sure that each section of cover and any other related policies you take out will be able to cover you for at least the entire length of the trip. This is important as most standard travel insurance policies can only cover a shorter duration trip.

Of course we at medical travel insurance can help you find travel insurance for backpackers just select backpacker as your cover type and you will be shown policies that can cover you for backpacking travel insurance. Click here to go and get a quote.

In need of assistance?

Our medical travel insurance team are ready to provide you with assistance regarding your quote. If you would prefer to talk to an advisor to receive a quote or have a query please contact our UK based customer service team. Find out details on our contact us page.


Sand and clear blue water