Sally is a key member of the MoneyMaxim editorial team. She is a frequent hire-car user and often goes on holiday with her family. With an interest in getting great value for money, Sally shares her hints and tips for travelling and insurance.
Travelling during your gap year can be a once in a lifetime experience. But with any adventure there is always the risk of something going wrong. Making sure you have the right insurance can ensure the memories you make on your travels stay as good ones.
Standard travel insurance normally has a trip length limit that wouldn't cover a backpacking trip across Australia. And it almost certainly wouldn't cover you if you wanted to go white-water rafting down the Zambezi river or bungee jumping in New Zealand.
Companies such as Flexicover, Top Dog and Columbus Direct offer policies that are tailored for the sort of trip you may want to make. Gap year travels are often more flexible than the usual family holidays. Flights are not always pre-booked and last minute changes are part of the excitement. The insurance you take out needs to be just as flexible.
While you are away there is a strong chance that you will want to take part in activities that carry a higher degree of risk. From diving to paragliding to camel trekking these are all amazing opportunities that you won't want to miss. When you take out any insurance, make sure you include any activities you may want to try. If you are unsure what is included and what is not, give the company a call.
If you are planning to travel with friends, taking out Backpacking Group Insurance may not only save you money but also have the benefit of all members of your party having the same level of cover.
Bear in mind also that as you may be away for a length of time, medical issues may arise. Check the policy to see what level of cover is included. If you have had issues in the past that could recur, let the insurance company know as, if you don't, you may not be covered. The same goes if you have a relative who is undergoing treatment. If they deteriorate and you want to cut short your holiday, knowing you are insured can make the decision easier.
One of the growing areas for claims during gap year travels is for expensive equipment such as phones and tablets. General advice is to avoid taking items if they are really not necessary but, if you choose to take them with you, Gadget Insurance will mean that your precious items are not only covered on your trip but elsewhere too.
Check with your insurance provider where they say money should be stored while you are away. Some will insist it is in a locked safe at your hostel or on your person. What is the cash limit on the policy? Only carry up to that amount at any one time. While a moneybelt may seem like the safest option for carrying valuables, it can actually draw attention to the fact that you have them and where they are! An internal zipped pocket is recommended and try not to carry everything at once or in the same place. That way if you are the victim of pickpocketing they won't get everything. Using travellers cheques or a currency card are also a good idea as if you lose them, you can reclaim your money.
After the flights your insurance can be the single biggest cost before you go so it is important to get it right. Taking it out at the same time as booking your trip means that if you need to cancel in the early stages you will be covered. Once you have all your paperwork, take photocopies of your insurance policies, passport, itinerary and emergency contacts. Take one set with you (stored separately from the originals) and leave one set at home. It is also a good idea to email them to yourself and to a friend or family member. It makes it much easier if things should go wrong.
If you are the victim of a crime, report it immediately to the police. It is worth keeping receipts of purchases or money transactions for proof.
Above all, use your common sense. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Don't leave them with strangers (even if you feel you have become friends with a fellow traveller). Take as little as possible with you. Onebag can help you lighten your load making it easier to get around. With so many points to consider when you are planning your gap year, it can seem overwhelming. However there is a wealth of advice on gap years available.