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Backpacker Travel Insurance & Gap Year Cover

Giving you the flexibility to travel for extended periods of time, to different destinations, on one trip.

Backpacking on a Budget

Prices from just £104.02 per trip

(Based on a 35-year-old travelling within Europe 1 on a Direct Travel Essential Backpacker for 180 days. Prices correct as of 9th November 2023.)

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Gap Year Travel Insurance

  1. phone

    Backpackers A backpacker policy is different to any other travel insurance policy, because it allows you to travel for extended periods of time, to different destinations, on one trip. You won’t need to arrange cover for each separate country you’re planning to visit, and you won’t need specific dates for travelling to and from different countries.

  2. home

    Return home Some backpacker policies have a “return home” option, so if you want to come back for a special birthday, or if you’re just craving a family roast dinner, you can choose to visit home for a week or two without invalidating your backpacker insurance.

  3. sports

    Enjoy sports & activities If you’re planning to have a go at a new sport whilst backpacking, most of our policies offer automatic cover for more than 100 different sports and activities from canoeing to trekking or paragliding. You should check individual policies if there’s something specific you’re planning to try out.

  4. nurses

    Medical advice at any hour of the day The emergency medical helplines are open 24 hours a day, and advisers are fluent in many different languages in order to speak to medical staff whatever country you’re in.

  5. medical

    Medical cover available We can provide cover for most disclosed pre-existing conditions, even on backpacker policies. It’s important that you declare any pre-existing medical conditions, as undeclared conditions can invalidate your cover.

  6. luggage

    Lost or stolen luggage Cover for lost or stolen baggage is included in our backpacker policies, as well as valuables cover.


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What our customers say:

  1. "Very easy to do travel insurance online and now that you can add medical conditions, rather than calling up and going through lots of questions it’s brilliant."
  2. "I have used Direct travel insurance for a good number of years and have been extremely happy with their service and prices. This years renewal was the first I have undertaken on-line and I found the process clear and easy to use."
  3. "Quick and easy, good rates for my health problems, would highly recommend."

How to Backpack the World on a Budget

The falling price of around the world plane tickets, the popularity of career breaks and gap years, and a growing sense of adventurism are rolling back the frontiers of independent backpacking faster than ever. Indeed, now more than ever, backpacking around the world can be a seductive combination of fun, discovery and adventure, all on a low budget. Whether you are in your early twenties, or perhaps older and on a career break, the experience is likely to be enriching at all levels. However, in order to avoid disaster or unnecessary expense, planning ahead is essential.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your round the world backpacking adventure.

Travel Companions

One of the first things you need to do is work out whether you are going to go alone, with a companion, or perhaps even in a group. Travelling in a group can be safer, and can provide moral support when things go wrong, but can also complicate arrangements as each person will have their own ideas of what the trip should be like. Travelling with a companion you know well can make things easier. If you are travelling in a group, you should try to prepare a wish list of the places you would like to visit between you, or activities you would most like to take part in. The key is to discuss things thoroughly before the trip.

Do Your Research

Backpacking doesn't mean turning into a grumpy old uncle (or auntie) in a community of teen travellers. Why not help others at the same time? Volunteer placements in Peru, Ecuador, New Zealand, or South East Asia can be the perfect start of your fun filled backpacking adventure!

The adventurous vanguard of independent travellers are also exploring beyond the established trails these days, so do your homework well. For example, both Cambodia and Laos are attracting backpackers looking for adventure beyond the rave beaches of Thailand.

Once you have a target list of places to see, then our country guides, the internet, guidebooks, and maps can be an invaluable source of information. A good place to start is one of the online travel calculators such as the one found at - they allow you to calculate and compare how much money per day you will need for a specific country based on your accommodation and food choices. Although not all countries are currently listed on the website, it is still worth taking a look, especially if you are planning to travel around South East Asia.

Your local library is a perfect place to do all of this research at little or no cost. Don't feel you have to get into the nitty gritty details right away, start by getting an overall feel for your journey based on the places you would like to visit. Once you have decided on potential locations, you need to investigate everything you can about your destinations. Research legal requirements, such as visas, local customs, what the environment is like, both in terms of geography and weather and also politically - you don't want to head into a war zone, typhoon, or so on. Be aware of languages and culture requirements for each location - if you are female and going to the Middle East or any Muslim country you will need to dress modestly and in some places you will also need to wear a proper head covering - check the guide books and talk to anyone who has been there before to understand how you need to behave.

Your budget

Where you go has a huge impact on costs. Obviously some countries are considerably cheaper than others so plan carefully to maximize your budget - needless to say that the price difference between India and Australia is huge. In India you can live for as little as £4 a day but in Australia even staying at hostels will cost around £30 per day. This is obviously why so many backpackers choose South-East Asia over Japan!

Take a look at online forums and sites, but most importantly read, do your research, and ask loads of questions. Tell friends exactly what you want to do. It may sounds obvious, but nothing beats talking to friends and perhaps even family members who have been there and done that before you - people love an opportunity to share their travel stories, and they may know about some hidden gem you'd never find otherwise!

Accommodation Costs

Accommodation can be a big expense so think ahead. Do you have any contacts (friends or long lost relatives perhaps) in the countries you are visiting? If someone will put you up for free then it is worth considering. In these days of social networking the possibilities are a lot more realistic than it might at first seem. Obviously safety is a consideration. There are even sites set up to help arrange just this, such as - a local person can be a guide as well as source of accommodation!

Airline Expense

Hard to avoid, but you have two choices; plan well in advance or look for budget airlines, last minute deals or cancellations. Some airlines or travel agents will do a multi destination pass. Don't overlook internal flights; they can be cheaper than the train in some places. Short flights can cut out difficult or impossible countries to journey overland and save visa hassles too.

Local Travel

Once you get there, unless you are going to brave hitchhiking, you will probably need to take public transport. In some countries, such as Morocco or Egypt for example, taxis can be relatively cheap but you will need to negotiate the price with the driver beforehand. Most countries have rail passes, and in Europe the Interrail Pass allows you to travel right across the continent at a fixed cost. The great thing about trains is that you can combine transport with sleeping arrangements. Just secure your belongings before you nod off!


It's not just the trip itself that you need to pay for. Make sure you get travel insurance too. Insurance costs depend on where you are going, for how long, and what you will do when you get there. Some companies will not cover you for extreme sports such as bungee jumping. If you are planning on hiring a vehicle on your trip, make sure you have adequate cover too. Consider taking End Supplier Failure Insurance too if you are planning on flying a lot. Also make sure the medical cover is high enough for the countries you will be visiting.

Seek medical advice well in advance of your trip. You need to know what vaccines and immunisations you will need and when you should get them- it's not something you can arrange at the last minute and not having the appropriate medical protection can be a disaster for your plans. Visit the Centres for Disease Control website ( to get more information on your destinations and then make an appointment with your doctor's surgery.

Cash or card?


You may think that all current accounts are the same but if you are travelling abroad, picking the right one could save you hundreds of pounds in charges while earning you extra interest. You will need an account with a debit card for your everyday cash needs. These days, online banking means you can run your affairs from an internet cafe anywhere in the world. However, you should still give someone, such as a relative, control of your account just in case something goes wrong. Meanwhile, when withdrawing cash you should be aware that most debit cards charge to take out cash abroad. If you can, try to find a bank that does not levy these charges.

Take or withdraw just enough local currency, you do not want to be carrying great amounts for safety reasons, and exchange currencies at respectable-looking venues. Even better, if you can, use ATM machines of large chain banks. Check with your bank how much you are going to be charged for making cash withdrawals overseas.

And Finally

Finally, be safe, don't take any unnecessary risks and use your common sense - you want your trip to be memorable for the right reasons. Why not visit the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office page, which provides up-to-date information, and means you can be sure of any updates which might affect your travel.

It's important to know:

  1. If you have a medical condition, please make sure you disclose it when buying your policy. Direct Travel Insurance will not provide cover for undeclared medical conditions.
  2. We can't provide cover for countries where the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) have advised against all, or all but essential, travel. Please visit the FCDO Foreign Travel Advice page to check the latest warnings. Alternatively, you can call them on 0207 008 5000.
  3. This product is available for UK residents only.
  4. You must be 18 years old or over to purchase.
  5. Upper age limits may apply, depending on the product selected.
  6. The 15% online discount will not apply to any optional, additional cover.
  7. Please check our Policy Wording for full terms & conditions. If you have any questions please visit the FAQ page or contact us.
What if I am older than the maximum age?

You may be able to obtain an alternative travel insurance policy by contacting:

British Insurance Brokers Association
Tel: 0370 6950 1790 (lines open Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)
Website: Find Insurance - BIBA

The Money Advice Service
Tel: 0800 138 7777
Website: Travel Insurance Directory | MoneyHelper