Best backpacker travel insurance

Best backpacker travel insurance (Getty)
Best backpacker travel insurance (Getty)

Looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that only a backpacking trip can offer? You’ll need a specialist backpacker insurance policy that’s specifically designed for getaways lasting up to 24 months across multiple destinations.

It will offer essential levels of cover for emergency medical expenses, trip cancellation and lost or stolen baggage. Some policies also cover the damage, loss or theft of your gadgets and allow you to return to the UK for home visits during the period of cover.

Here are the five backpacker insurance policies we found which balance good levels of cover with a competitive price. While information was correct at the time of writing, deals and premiums can vary.

For more information on how we scored the policies, refer to the Methodology section below.

Best backpacker insurance

Insure For Travel PREMIER BACKPACKER - 5/5  stars

 (Insure for Travel)
(Insure for Travel)

Premium: £313.50

Gadget cover : £1,000 – £3,000

Can return home temporarily: No

Why we picked it

Offers a competitive premium of £313, and cover for more than  50 sports and activities as standard, including bungee jumping, safari and trekking.

Covers working abroad provided it does not involve manual labour.

There’s £3,000 for trip cancellation, £200 for travel delay, £1,500 for lost or stolen baggage and belongings, £300 for lost or stolen money and £2 million in personal liability cover.

Personal accident cover ranges from £10,000 to £15,000 depending on your injuries.

Winter sports cover for activities such as skiing and snowboarding can be bolted onto your policy at an additional cost.

Gadget cover for lost or stolen devices also comes at an extra cost.


  • Competitively-priced

  • £1,500 baggage cover

  • £3,000 cancellation cover


  • No trips home allowed

  • £50 excess

Explorer Insurance Backpacker Plus - 5/5 stars

 (Explorer Travel Insurance)
(Explorer Travel Insurance)

Premium: £326.73

Gadget cover: £1,000 – £2,000

Can return home temporarily during policy term: No

Why we picked it

Covers 50 adventure activities including bungee jumping and canoeing, and you can bolt on extra cover for 50 more extreme activities, at an additional cost.

Offers £2,000 in trip cancellation and £1,500 for lost or stolen baggage and belongings, £300 for lost or stolen money and travel documents and £1,000 should your airline go bust.

There’s also £15,000 if you’re injured as the result of an accident, £500 in hospital benefit, for essentials such as food and drink during your hospital stay as well as up to £250 for hijacking and mugging.

Gadget cover comprises a £1,000 Standard extension or the £2,000 Superior extension to cover your devices. They are priced at £160.50 and £262.92 respectively.

A £100 excess is payable on claims, but you can waive this by paying an additional £65.35.


  • Competitively-priced

  • £1k – 2k in gadget cover

  • Excess waiver


  • No trips home allowed

  • £100 excess

Outbacker Platinum - 5/5 stars


Premium: £368.45

Gadget cover: £1,000 – £3,000

Can return home temporarily: Yes, one trip of 14 days

Why we picked it

Competitively-priced at £368.45.

Covers working a paid or unpaid job abroad, but it must not involve heights of more than two storeys or heavy manual labour.

Also offers cover for an array of sports as standard, as well as extreme  activities.

For cover for more sports and activities there are optional add-ons costing £368.45 and £552.67 respectively. A winter sports add-on is available at a cost of £736.90.

Also included is £2,500 for trip cancellation, £1,500 for lost or stolen baggage and belongings, £500 for a missed departure and £2 million if you injure someone or damage someone’s possessions.

You can purchase one of three levels of gadget cover ranging between £148.39 and £284.11 in cost.

This policy permits one trip back to the UK for up to 14 days.


  • Competitively-priced

  • Three levels of gadget cover

  • No excess


  • Only one trip home for 14 days

CoverForYou Gold - 4/5 stars


Premium: £416.84

Gadget cover: £1,000 – £3,000

Can return home temporarily: 2 trips for max of 31 days

Why we picked it

Gadget cover ranges from £1,000 – £3,000, at a cost of £114.25 to £218.56.

There’s also cover for golf, hot air ballooning, safari, trekking and more, as standard.

Cover for a broader range of activities is available from £85.25 to £340.75.

Provides £3,000 for trip cancellation, £1,500 for lost or stolen baggage and belongings, £2 million for personal liability, and £550 for inhabitable accommodation.

You can return home twice for up to 31 days.


  • Three levels of gadget cover

  • Two trips home up to 31 days

  • No excess


  • Relatively expensive

Post Office Money Economy Backpackers

Premium: £532.39

Gadget cover: £1,000

Can return home temporarily: 3 trips for max of 7 days

Why we picked it

Covers a comprehensive list of sports and activities, ranging from abseiling to zip-lining.

Cover for activities such as bungee jumping, scuba diving and golf is available to bolt on to your policy.

You can also opt for an optional gadget cover add-on of £1,000.

Offers £1,000 in cancellation cover, £1,500 for baggage and belongings and £2 million for personal liability included as standard.


  • Broad range of activities covered as standard

  • Allows three trips home


  • £1,000 cancellation cover

  • Trips home only for seven days


Firstly, we analysed the insurers in our travel insurance journey powered by  CYTI, to identify the top 10.

We ran quotes for an 18-year-old taking a worldwide trip for 12 months, on the sites of the insurers that offer backpacker insurance. Where an insurer doesn’t offer backpacker insurance we compared the backpacker policies of another brand under the same group, if possible.

We scored the policies on price, cover for damaged, lost or stolen gadgets, sports and activities cover and the number of times you are allowed to return to the UK during your travels.

All policies offer at least £2,000 in cancellation cover, £1,500 for lost or stolen belongings and £5 million for emergency medical costs and repatriation expenses to get you back to the UK following an accident, injury or illness.

We awarded each policy a score out of five.

What does backpacker insurance cover?

Typically, backpacker insurance includes the following cover as standard:

Medical and repatriation cover - to cover emergency expenses should you get injured or fall ill while away

Cancellation or curtailment of your trip - due to an emergency such as falling ill, or a family member dying, either prior to departure or during your trip

Personal liability - in the event you injure someone or damage another person’s property

Extreme sports and activities - typically 50 to 100 are covered automatically.

Should you need it, you can pay an additional premium to add optional extras such as cover for:

Additional sports and activities - covers a wider selection of sports and activities

Winter sports - usually covers skiing, including your equipment.

If you want to work while away, it’s worth checking the sports and activities sections of a policy to see if cover for work is offered, either as standard or at an extra cost. Some policies may only extend to certain types of job, and work that does not require manual labour or working over a certain height.

What isn’t covered by backpacker insurance?

As with standard travel insurance policies, there are typical limitations to cover. Insurers usually will dismiss claims that resulted from being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or disorderly behaviour.

Certain policies specify that you need to be vaccinated to claim medical costs for the illness concerned.

If you have a pre-existing condition, you may need to purchase specialist cover as a standard policy won’t necessarily cover you. This is because insurers view travellers with pre-existing conditions as more likely to make a claim.

Also, before booking your holiday and purchasing travel insurance, as well as before you leave for your trip, it’s best to check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s advice on your destination. Travelling to a destination where it advises against all, or all but essential travel, could invalidate your policy.

Difference between standard travel insurance and a backpacker policy

Whereas a standard travel insurance policy will cover trips of up to 30 days, backpacker policies typically can cover trips of up to 18 months, sometimes even 24 months.

They can also cover trips to multiple destinations, as well as various activities from bungee jumping to sky diving, as standard.

Find the best backpacker insurance

It’s a good practice to compare policies before purchasing, checking the following:

  • whether activities you have planned are covered automatically, or can be covered at an extra cost. Look out for requirements such as wearing safety equipment in order to be able to claim

  • whether all the countries you will be visiting are covered. A policy including countries outside of Europe tends to be more expensive than one that only covers Europe. Cover for destinations such as the US, Canada, the Caribbean and, depending on the insurer, Mexico, can also bump up premiums, due to higher medical costs in these countries

  • the amount of excess levied, as well as the policy price. The excess is the set sum you will be required to pay on any accepted claim that you make. The lower the policy price, the higher the excess tends to be. You may be able to waive the excess by paying an additional premium. This will be stated in the policy wording.

When should I take out backpacker insurance?

The best time to purchase any travel insurance policy is as soon as you’ve booked your trip. This will allow you to take advantage of cancellation cover should you need it.

Insurers usually accept cancellation claims for reasons such as falling ill or getting injured, or a close relative dying.

Is there an age limit on backpacker insurance?

Certain insurers may put an age limit as low as 36 on their backpacker policies, but there is insurance that caters to more mature travellers. Note that policies particularly tend to get more expensive for the over-65s.

Do I need backpacker insurance if I have a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)?

A GHIC, the post-Brexit successor to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), despite the name, is still only for use in Europe.

While it does allow you to access medical care as a local would, which can mean for free or at a reduced price - it does not cover all the costs a backpacker policy would.

For instance, it does not cover private medical care or repatriation costs. Neither will it pay out for non-medical related issues.