Travel insurance for backpackers

Few experiences rival the liberating feeling of gathering your belongings into a backpack and embarking on what could be the adventure of a lifetime. The thrilling world of backpacking opens doors to unforgettable experiences, immersing yourself in different cultures and creating lasting memories that you will carry forever.

The spontaneity that fuels the backpacking spirit may encounter a few bumps along the way. This is where travel insurance comes in. Selecting a travel insurance policy that suits the specifics of your trip is crucial, so we’re here to help you navigate how to choose the best travel insurance for backpackers that will align with your unique travel needs.

Why do backpackers need travel insurance?

As a backpacker, the unpredictability of each day is all part of the fun. However, this also comes with the risk of less desirable surprises, such as the potential for luggage theft, flight cancellations, trip interruptions and even medical emergencies. This is why the Australian Government through Smartraveller considers travel insurance essential and just as important as your passport.

Depending on the level of cover chosen travel insurance can provide cover for unexpected costs, such as lost or stolen items and other mishaps, so you can continue to enjoy your travels with confidence.

Another benefit is 24/7 emergency assistance. With a dedicated team of doctors, nurses, travel agents and case managers available to aid you around the clock, you'll have access to specialists and assistance. We can help organise medical care, contact providers to get new travel documents or credit cards and even change your travel plans if your travel agent is unavailable.

What does travel insurance cover?

Depending on whether you need a basic or comprehensive plan, Australia Post Travel Insurance can cover:

  • Overseas medical expenses1
  • Amendment or cancellation costs2
  • Luggage and personal effects3
  • Rental and car insurance excess cover
  • Adventure activities like abseiling, jet boating, paragliding, snorkelling, kayaking and bungy jumping, at no extra cost
  • Optional extras for winter adventure sports like skiing and snowboarding, as well as motorbike or moped cover at an additional cost

Basic or comprehensive cover: What's the difference?

Choosing the right travel insurance cover can be difficult as there are so many options available. Our Basic International cover is a great way to help you save. It still includes important benefits, including overseas medical expenses, which may help you from potentially expensive overseas medical costs or dental bills.

On the other hand, International Comprehensive Travel Insurance offers coverage for overseas medical expenses, cancellation costs and more.

What do backpackers need to consider when choosing travel insurance?

Before heading off, there are some key factors for backpackers to consider when choosing travel insurance.

Does insurance for backpackers cover multiple countries?

Whether your destinations are already mapped out, or the plan is to go where the wind takes you, it’s generally a smart move to to consider securing the right travel insurance for your needs. Different countries have varying healthcare costs, safety conditions and potential risks, so researching your destinations and covering your bases where feasible is recommended when deciding on your insurance policy. While still letting the spontaneity of backpacking guide the way, it’s a good idea to stay updated with different areas using tools like Smartraveller.

If you're gearing up for a global escapade, check these steps to ensure you’re still covered by travel insurance:

  • Tell us where you are going when you obtain a quote so that we can make your quote as accurate as possible
  • If you’re not sure exactly which countries you’ll be travelling to, you can select the region (eg. All of Europe) which will apply for travel to all countries within that region
  • If you’re travelling around the world, make sure you select the ‘worldwide’ option

Can I insure an item that’s not included in the standard luggage?

Taking a prized possession or tech gadget with a value that’s more than your policy limit? You can still cover the item for an additional cost. Before departure, simply contact us about the item you’d like to insure. The extra cover can then be added to your policy. We may ask you to provide a receipt or valuations that are less than 24 months old.

Does it matter when I’m planning to travel?

The timing of your backpacking journey may impact the type of insurance coverage you need, particularly when it comes to adventure activities. Whether you’re engaging in weather-dependent sports like winter skiing or warm-weather water sports, check that your specific activities are covered.

Do I need to have an exact travel itinerary?

Your travel itinerary serves as a guide for your adventure, and your insurance should be tailored to match your planned activities. Due to the spontaneous nature of backpacking, flexibility to accommodate changes in your itinerary is an important consideration. So is coverage that includes trip interruption benefits if unforeseen circumstances force you to cut your trip short.

How long will the travel insurance cover me for?

If you’re heading on a gap year or planning to stay longer, that’s not a problem. Our policies give you the freedom for up to a maximum of 12 months.

Long-term coverage:
For backpacking trips spanning several months or even years, consider long-term travel insurance. These policies are designed for extended periods and often provide continuous coverage.

Short-term coverage:
If your backpacking adventure is relatively short, opt for a policy that meets the specific needs of shorter durations. This may include coverage for trip cancellations, delays, and medical emergencies during the planned timeframe.

If your plans change on your trip and you need insurance for longer than you expected, contact us before your original travel insurance policy expires and check if you’re eligible to purchase a new policy. Remember to read the PDS (PDF 593kB) for any conditions and exclusions that may apply.

Something to keep in mind – if you have a medical condition that first presents itself before your new policy is issued, it may be considered an existing medical condition and might not be automatically covered. If you think this applies to you, contact us to see how we can help.

Does my plan include cover for COVID-19 events?

Navigating the uncertainties of travel, with COVID-19 still circulating in places around the world, requires careful consideration of insurance coverage. Our insurance policies offer limited coverage for COVID-19 events and we aim to provide travellers with protection and assurance in the face of pandemic-related disruptions.

Tips for backpackers

Whether you’re exploring the vibrant markets of Bangkok or trekking through the picturesque landscapes of the Swiss Alps, travelling as a backpacker can be a life-defining experience. But with so many destinations and activities to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. To help make planning your trip easier, here are some trending tips and guides for backpackers that will help create a stand-out adventure.

Prioritise health checks and vaccinations

Before travelling, it’s essential to check for any health risks specific to the destination you are visiting. This involves researching the country’s entry requirements and any recommended vaccinations. All pre-existing medical conditions should be disclosed when taking out travel insurance so that you have appropriate cover if something goes wrong.

Protect your important documents

Make sure to keep your important documents safe and secure when travelling. It’s a good idea to carry copies of your passport, visa, and any other relevant travel documents in a secure place and store all hard copy documents in a waterproof container or bag to prevent them from damage. Additionally, consider creating digital copies and storing them with online backups for added security.

Look after your belongings

Maintain vigilance during your travels and keep a watchful eye on your belongings. Store your items in a protected location, whether that’s a hotel safe, luggage storage, or behind a sturdy padlock in your hostel room. If you are out in public, be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on any bags or items that could potentially be stolen.

Backpackers should also take steps to protect their digital assets while abroad. By enabling two-factor authentication and using strong passwords, travellers can safeguard their information from hackers. Additionally, it’s best practice to have a backup plan for data stored online in case of technical issues or unplanned travel delays.

Tech-savvy backpacking

Embrace the convenience of technology by incorporating travel apps and gadgets into your backpacking experience. From navigation tools and language translation apps to compact solar chargers, there are plenty of tech solutions designed to enhance your journey.

Micro adventures

While iconic landmarks are always appealing, backpackers are increasingly seeking out micro adventures – lesser-known gems off the beaten path. Venture beyond tourist hotspots to discover hidden waterfalls and quaint villages. Find your way and forge a more intimate connection with the places you visit, away from the crowds.

Mindful travel

Cultural sensitivity is a significant consideration for backpackers, emphasising respect for local customs and traditions. Educate yourself on the cultures of the places you visit, be mindful of your impact, and strive for authentic interactions with locals.

Sustainable backpacking

Sustainable travel has become a top priority for backpackers, with encouragement to minimise your ecological footprint by embracing eco-friendly practices. Pack reusable items, choose accommodations with green initiatives, and adhere to the principles of "Leave No Trace". Responsible backpacking not only preserves the beauty of destinations but also contributes to the overall well-being of the planet.

Get ready for take-off

Finalise plans and pack bags – your adventure awaits! With your travel insurance sorted, feel at ease knowing you can fully embrace your world-seeing experience, confident in the assurance that we've got your journey covered. For a full list of cover provided please read our Product Disclosure Statement (PDF 696kB).

Planning your backpacking adventure?

Get a quote on travel insurance for backpackers now.

1 Cover will not exceed 12 months from onset of the illness or injury.

2 Cover chosen applies per policy.

3 Sub-limits apply.

Limits, sub-limits, conditions, exclusions and fees apply. Policies may not be available to all travellers. Australian Postal Corporation (ABN 28 864 970 579, AR No 338646) is the distributor of Australia Post Travel Insurance and is an Authorised Representative of Australia Post Services Pty Ltd (ABN 67 002 599 340 AFSL 457551). Travel insurance products are underwritten by Zurich Australian Insurance Limited (ABN 13 000 296 640, AFSL 232507). Consider your financial situation, needs and objectives and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination before deciding to buy this insurance. For more information on these products, please contact us on 1300 728 015 or email