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Last year, Christina, a 24-year-old backpacking enthusiast, saw her trip to the temple in the Uluwatu monkey forest turn into quite an adventure. “I took some fruits to feed the monkeys because I wanted look-at-me-I’m-feeding-a-monkey shots. But pulling the fruits out of my bag at the temple was a big mistake. The monkeys descended on me like a swarm and grabbed whatever they could – my shawl, fruits, camera. I used to think this kind of stuff happens only to other people! I lost my camera. Luckily, I had a backup of my photos and insurance covered the cost of the camera. I didn’t get any monkey-feeding pics but I did get a funny story I never tire of telling.”
Sounds familiar? Losing your stuff on the go is hardly uncommon. But it turns out to be a lot more stressful when all your belongings are packed in one bag resting on your back.
Any serial backpacker will tell you that backpacking is the most liberating form of travel. Fewer items to take care of means more mind space to explore your inner and outer worlds. But travel – be it backpacking, luxury or adventure – needs adequate planning.
‘Eat, pray, love, fret’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?
For many backpackers, cost is one of the most important aspects of travel. And why not? Getting more bang for your buck is also a life skill. But in your effort to keep costs low, don’t cut insurance out of your list of must-haves.
Taking insurance lightly could actually end up being a lot more expensive for you than you think. Backpacker insurance covers flight delays, lost baggage, theft, medical emergencies and a host of other unexpected adverse events that could mar your trip.
No, it doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket. “It could be as cheap as a meal out or a trip to the cinema with a friend, depending on the number of days you travel and your destination – it’s good value for peace of mind,” says Lee Taylor, Allianz Worldwide Partners’ Chief Sales Officer for North and Central and Eastern Europe.
Insurance for a 60-day trip could cost you as little as about 45 cents a day, depending, of course, on your destination and needs.
For example: in the Netherlands, Allianz offers the ‘Globetrotter Insurance’, a customizable product for travel spanning one to 24 months. Three variants - Budget, Comfort and Premium - allow you to choose what works best for your pocket. During your stay abroad, the Globetrotter Insurance also offers services related to money and personal travel assistance. And customers below the age of 27 years can get a discount on general and additional covers.
However, avoid focusing solely on cost when you buy backpacker insurance. Your individual needs and the nature of your travel take priority over costs when it comes to insurance. Doing some research on what's available in your country empowers you to make an informed choice.
“Travel insurance covers a lot of issues that can crop up when you’re on the move. It’s not just insurance, it’s assurance that you’re in safe hands,” says Bertrand Hartemann, Chief Marketing Officer for Greater China at Allianz Worldwide Partners.
Some other things you should consider spending on are a good travel guide and a basic language book. Through the guide, you can scope out the best accommodation, eateries and hangouts that suit your budget. Knowing basic phrases in the local language can lend a hand in sticky situations and allow you to bond with the locals – the best travel guides in any country.
Packing light is a backpacker’s greatest challenge. Pack like a pro with My Travel Checklist, a free widget provided by Allianz Global Assistance. Create and save customized packing lists for all of your upcoming trips — no matter where in the world you’re traveling. You can install My Travel Checklist on your computer or your mobile device or both! You’ll know exactly what to pack every time you travel.
(PRO TIP: In-flight attendants have sensible packing down to an art. Seek their advice)
The first thing to do when you land at your destination is buy a local SIM card. Roaming can inflate your phone bills and spring some nasty surprises. Major international airports usually have shops that sell SIM cards. Otherwise, a trip to the local market should do the trick.
If you want to spare yourself the task, consider buying travel SIM cards before leaving for your trip. These come with a validity period, are reasonably priced and the advantage is that you can share your temporary number with your family and friends even before you head out.
Download the TravelSmart app by Allianz Global Assistance. The app allows you to access your travel insurance policy information, contact the helpline and file and track claims. What’s more, you can track your flight status, locate hospitals in an area, access important local numbers such as police and ambulance and even find the right medication anywhere in the world with a medication dictionary, and translations of first-aid terms. This one is a true virtual travel assistant.
Don’t forget to sample local foods and go down the roads less travelled, keeping safety in mind. Some of the best hangouts are those that only locals know about.
You’ve returned with a heavy heart. Bidding adieu to your vacation is always the hardest part.
But blogging about your experience and even sharing tips, tricks and photos with friends and fellow travelers can spread the cheer and keep the memories alive for a long time to come.
Go forth and explore!
This article is the second in a series of travel-focused stories we will publish over the next few weeks to celebrate the vacation season
As with all content published on this site, these statements are subject to our Forward Looking Statement disclaimer:
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