Explore Travel Insurance

Backpacking can be an excellent way to see the world on a budget. But with the shared accommodation of hostels, along with the potential risks of travelling in foreign countries, it’s still recommended that you take out travel cover, no matter how streamlined your budget may be.

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker needing travel insurance for adventures or working holiday cover, if you plan to travel overseas, this guide will help you better understand the types of travel insurance backpackers should consider.

How a basic policy can differ to a standard comprehensive policy
Basic plans have many of the benefits removed and as a result, the premium is much lower.  By reducing the cover, backpackers can continue to have some protection across their travels, without having to break their bank accounts.

Some insurers offer specific backpackers travel insurance policies or plans which are built around providing basic cover, and many of these plans can be bought to cover longer periods of travel. While many seeking cover for periods up to two months will buy a comprehensive insurance policy, backpackers may be satisfied with a more basic policy for 12 months, and extending their cover further while they’re overseas. Some insurers may offer basic policies that exceed 12 months. This allows travellers to explore the world without the fear of being unprotected.

group of backpackers at the beach with travel insurance

Who should consider basic travel insurance?

At the very least, backpackers can consider purchasing basic travel insurance, but spending a little more to buy more comprehensive cover could prove advantageous.

Basic cover can work if you’re spending a significant amount of time travelling overseas. One affordable purchase can have you covered for your entire adventure, allowing you to then focus on where you’re going to stay and what attractions you’re going to visit.

What can backpackers consider when purchasing basic travel insurance?

There are various considerations backpackers should take into account when it comes to basic travel insurance.

First, it’s important to consider which country (or countries) you’re travelling to. In Australia, we can often take the Medicare system for granted – but in some countries, medical costs could potentially land you in a lot of debt. Some countries may also be more dangerous, whether it be through crime or political conditions. In these cases, having insurance coverage could give you peace of mind.

Be mindful that Australia only has reciprocal health care with 11 international countries.1 These countries include:

This means travel insurance could help cover any medical bills you encounter for countries including, but not limited to:

It’s also a good idea to consider what time of year you’re travelling. For example, if you’re travelling to a country during a wet season, backpackers could have an increased risk of injury and damage during these conditions. So, it might be a good idea to try and find a policy that covers these environments.

Finally, backpackers are often adventurous by nature, so it could be worth considering cover for potentially dangerous activities. Such activities can include:

It’s always recommended that you read the PDS of your chosen insurer to ensure you have the cover you require.

What can basic travel insurance cover?

Though often cheaper than other travel insurance policies, basic cover can still protect travellers in a variety of instances. Common scenarios include:

  • Medical expenses/evacuation: Instances where you need to be evacuating by medical professionals and need hospital care.
  • Permanent disablement cover: If an accident overseas has left you with a permanent disability, most basic insurance policies can cover these instances.
  • Cancellation: If you have to cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances, you may be covered up to a certain amount. As well as your potential cancellation, basic travel insurance can also cover cases of flights being cancelled.
  • Luggage: When luggage gets stolen or damaged, cover can help reimburse you for the value of your lost or damaged items.
  • Bad weather and natural disasters: If you have expenses incurred as a result of bad weather conditions or natural disasters, you may be covered by your policy.
  • Optional extras: Along with the areas that are generally covered, backpackers can take out other optional extras such as rental car cover, credit card theft, income loss, travel delay and hazardous activity cover.

Please note that policies generally have limits, sublimits, terms and conditions on how much they cover for each scenario. However, some basic policies may have no cover for some of these scenarios. Before taking out travel insurance, read the Product Disclosure Agreement (PDS) to learn about the extent of your cover.

What can basic travel insurance exclude?

Common exclusions for basic travel insurance may include:

  • Unattended items being stolen/lost: It’s important to make sure your luggage is secure and always accounted for.
  • Unapproved medical conditions: When it comes to any medical conditions you may have, honesty is the best policy. Make sure you identify any pre-existing medical condition you may have, otherwise you may not be covered in cases where you’re at risk.
  • Reckless behaviour: No matter which country you go to, it’s always best to abide by their laws and customs. If you have any expenses as a result of breaking laws, or any behaviour considered reckless by your provider, you may not be covered.
  • High-risk activities not covered: Before you undertake any potentially risky activity, such as skiing, mountain biking or rafting, it’s crucial to make sure it’s an activity approved by your policy. If it isn’t, any injuries you sustain as a result may not be covered.
  • Travel against government advice: It’s important to follow government advice about certain travel destinations, since it’s designed to protect you. If you’re affected by a situation due to ignoring specific advice, you may not be covered for any resulting damages.
  • Change of mind: If you have to cancel your flights and accommodation simply because you have changed your mind, you most likely won’t be covered.

Compare travel insurance

While you may value price above everything, it’s still important to get a travel insurance policy that covers your needs when travelling.

With our free travel insurance comparison service, you can compare a range of policies, features and more from various providers in minutes. Whether it’s a basic policy you’re after or something more comprehensive, we can assist. It pays to compare, so let us help you find your travel insurance policy.


  1. Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Smartraveller – ‘Reciprocal health care agreements’ – Accessed 19/06/2020

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