Going on a gap year?

The definition of a gap year:

a year between leaving school and starting university that is usually spent travelling or working

Although most people will take a gap year between school and university it isn’t the only time you can have a gap year break. Some people take a year out of studying to learn invaluable experiences in their field of study or you may decided to travel between leaving university and settling in to a full time job.

There are also many people, students in particular, who are not taking a full year out but rather a few months ‘break’. Not only does this mean less cost, but gives them the opportunity to travel and experience an adventure without spending too long away from family and friends.

Whenever you decide to take your gap ‘year’, you should take out gap year insurance as soon your trip is booked. You need to have your departure and return dates as we can only cover round trips.

Why do I need gap year travel insurance?

If you have an accident or fall ill abroad and you don’t have appropriate travel insurance, you could end up paying for expensive medical bills and extra travel expenses out of your own pocket. Not only that but holiday cover includes cancellation, personal belongings, personal liability and legal advice and expenses amongst others.

Also, make sure that the travel insurance policy you choose covers any activities you’re planning on taking part in while abroad. On a gap year holiday, you never know what activity or great adventure you might end up taking part in.

Photo by Frontierofficial on Flickr of volunteers taking a break

by Frontierofficial on Flickr

Working holidays and volunteering abroad

There are many companies now that offer you the opportunity to take some time out and work on projects such as teaching sports to children in South Africa or volunteering at an Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand. These can run from anything starting at a week onwards and tend to include your food, accommodation, transfers and in-country support for a fee. You sometimes have to pay for your own flights, visas and of course travel insurance.

Working holidays are great for those who want to travel and earn as well as gain experience and add to their CV. You may decide to secure a job before leaving the UK or find something when you have settled into an area. There are companies that can help you by offering advice and support both in the UK and abroad in terms of applying for a Work Permit, opening bank accounts, organising events between others that are doing the same as you and providing emergency support if needed.

We cover many different activities on our policies, those of which will cover animal sanctuary work, working in restaurants and bars, fruit or vegetable picking and many others. View all activities available here.

If your chosen activity is not shown on any of the 24/7 backpacker & longstay Activity Packs, please call us on 02392 419 044, Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm, closed Bank Holidays. We may still be able to find cover for you on one of our other policies.

Meeting new people and making new life-long friends has got to be the best thing about travelling abroad for a period of time.

The 24/7 Backpacker & Longstay travel insurance policy has been specially designed for those aged between 18 and 55 who are taking extended trips abroad, gap years, backpacking adventures and any other trip up to 18 months.

Photo by Frontierofficial on Flickr of a volunteer teaching students

by Frontierofficial on Flickr

Benefits of the 24/7 travel insurance Gap Year policy includes:

  • Cover for travellers taking an extended trip overseas up to 18 months
  • Two levels of cover available so you can pick the right policy to suit your needs
  • Over 100 activities are covered as standard, including climbing, jet skiing, windsurfing and diving
  • 24/7 medical emergency assistance helpline

Summary of the benefits of cover

For full terms and conditions, please read the Policy Wording.

Cover options

Activities

There are over 100 activities covered as standard on the gap year policy – including working in bars, volunteering, manual work and adventurous activities such as bungee jumping.

View Pack 1 below for activities automatically included with this policy.

Pack 2- 4 can be added to your policy on payment of an additional premium.

You will be covered for all activities listed in the packs up to and including the one selected.

If you find that you are already travelling and your current policy doesn’t cover you for an activity you want to take part in, call us on 02392 419 044 and we may be able to include it for you (additional premium may be payable).

Activity Pack 1 (Free)

Abseiling, Aerobics, Amateur Athletic Field Events/Track Events, Angling, Animal Sanctuary/Refuge Work, Archery, Athletics

Badminton, Ballooning – Hot Air, Bamboo Rafting, Banana Boating, Bar Work, Baseball, Basketball, Beach Games, Biathlon, Billiards, Bird Watching, Body Boarding, Bowling, Bowls, Boxing Training, Bridge, Bridge Swinging, Bungee Jumping

Camel Trekking, Camping, Canoeing (excluding white water), Caravanning, Catamaran Sailing (in-shore), Chess, Clay Pigeon Shooting, Climbing, Cricket, Croquet, Curling, Cycle Touring, Cycling

Dancing, Darts, Deep Sea Fishing, Diving, Driving Any Motorised Vehicle

Elephant Trekking (UK booked)

Fell Running, Fell Walking, Fencing, Fishing, Fives, Flag football, Flying as a passenger other than in a fully licensed passenger carrying aircraft (private/small airline) and for no other purpose, Flying ex crew/pilot, Football, Football – Beach Kick Around, Fresh Water/Sea Fishing, Frisbee, Fruit or Vegetable Picking

Glass Bottom Boats, Gliding (learning non competition), Golf, Gorilla Trekking, Gymnastics, Highland games, Hiking up to 1,000 metres, Hill Walking up to 2,000m, Historical Research, Horse Riding, Hot Air Ballooning

Indoor Skating

Jet Boating, Jet Skiing, Jet Skiing (non incidental), Jogging, Kayaking (up to grade 2 rivers only)

Keepfit, Kiting, Korfball

Low Ropes

Manual Labour (work that involves the lifting or carrying of heavy items less than 25kg, work at below the level of 2 storeys high but excluding any form of work underground), Marathons, Model Flying, Motorcycling with appropriate UK licence, Mountain Biking (on road non-racing)

Netball

Orienteering

Petanque, Pigeon racing, Pony Trekking, Pool, Power lifting

Quoits

Rackets, Rafting, Rambling, Rambling under 1,000m, Rap Running/Jumping, Raquet Ball, Re-Enactment, Restaurant Work, Rifle Range, Ringos, River Walking, Rock Scrambling (under 4,000m), Rounders, Rowing, Running

Sprint/Long Distance, Safari (UK organised), Safari Trekking, Sail Boarding, Sailing, Sailing/Yachting Inshore & recreational (inland and coastal waters), Scuba Diving to 30m (if qualified or with qualified instructor – not solo), Sea Fishing, Shinty, Shooting, Shooting (target range-not hunting), Small Bore Target Shooting, Snooker, Snorkelling, Softball, Squash (amateur), Surfing (amateur), Swim Trekking, Swimming, Swimming with Dolphins, Sydney Harbour Bridge

Table Tennis, Team Games, Ten Pin Bowling, Tennis, Trekking 1,000m, Triathlon, Tubing, Tug of War

Volleyball

Water Skiing (amateur), Waterskiing/Windsurfing/Snorkelling, Weight Lifting, WhaleWatching, White Water Rafting + Canoeing (grade 1 to 3), Windsurfing, Working

Yachting inshore & recreational (inland and coastal waters), Yoga

Activity Pack 2

Adventure Racing (up to 6 hours), Adventure Racing (up to 12 hours), Airsoft, American Football

Big Foot Skiing, Blade Skating, Bobbing, Breathing Observation Bubble (BOB)

Canoeing (White Water), Canyoning, Cat Skiing, Cross Country Running, Cross Country Skiing

Dragon Boat Racing, Dry Slope Skiing

Elephant Riding/Trekking (non UK booked), Equestrian

Falconry, Flying crew/pilot, Flying Helicopter (Pilot), Football – Amateur

Gaelic Football, Glacier Walking, Gliding, Gliding (non competition), Go Karting, Gorge Walking (no ropes)

Handball, Harness Racing, High Diving, Hobie Catting (In-shore), Hockey, Hockey (Ice) With Full Body Protection, Horse Jumping (no Polo, Hunting), Horse Riding (Eventing), Husky Dog Sledding, Hydro Zorbing

Ice Hockey, Ice Skating, Indoor Climbing (on climbing wall), Iron Man

Judo, Jousting

Karate, Karting, Kayaking (grade 3 rivers only), Kayaking (In-land waters), Kendo, Kick Sledging, Kite Boarding

Lacrosse, Land Skiing, Land Yachting, Langlauf

Martial Arts (Training Only), Modern Pentathlon, Mono Skiing, Mountain Biking (off road non-racing) Mountain Boarding, Mountain Walking up to 1,000m, Mountaineering up to 1,000m

Off Road Motorcycling (up to 250cc), Off-piste skiing

Paint Balling, Parasailing (over water) incidental, Parascending (Over water), Parascending (over water, non incidental), Passenger Sledge, Polo cross, Power Boating, Professional Entertaining (acrobats, dancing and the like)

Quad Bikes

Rambling up to 2,000m, River Tubing, Rodeo, Roller Blading (Line Skating/Skate Boarding), Roller Hockey, Roller skating, Rugby (amateur game), Rugby League, Rugby (training), Rugby Union

Safari (non UK Organised), Sand Boarding, Sand Dune Surfing/Skiing, Sand Yachting, Shark Cage Diving, Skateboarding, Ski Boarding, Ski Dooing, Skiing, Skiing – Cat, Skiing – Mono, Skiing – Nordic, Sky Diving (max 2 jumps) Sledging, Sledging/Toboganning, Sleigh riding (reindeer, horses or dogs), Snow Biking, Snow Blading, Snow Bobbing, Snow Mobile/Ski Doos, Snow Mobiling, Snow Parascending, Snow Scooting, Snow Shoe Walking, Snow Tubing, Snowboarding, Snowcat Driving, Soccer, Speed Sailing, Speed Skating, Speed Trials/Time Trials, Sphereing, Street Hockey, Summer Tobogganing

Taw Kwon Do, Telemarking, Toboganning/Sledging, Trampolining, Tree Top Canopy Walking, Trekking 2,000m

Under 17 Driving (not public roads)

War Games/Paint Balling, Water Polo (amateur), Water Ski Jumping, White Water Rafting (grade 4 to 6), Winter sports, Wrestling

Activity Pack 3

Boardsailing, Buggying

Caving/Pot Holing, Cyclo Cross

Devil Karting, Dinghy Sailing, Dirt Boarding

Extreme Sports

Glacier Skiing

Heliskiing, Hurling, Hydrospeeding

Ice Climbing, Ice Go Carting, Ice Windsurfing

Kite Buggying, Kite Surfing

Mountaineering up to 2,000m

Octopush, Outdoor Endurance Tests

Paragliding, Parascending (over land), Power Gliding, Power Kiting

River Bugging, Rock Climbing (under 2,000m)

Skeleton, Ski Biking, Ski Blading, Ski Randonee, Ski Touring, Ski Yawing, Skiing – Freestyle, Skiing – Glacier, Skiing – Snowcat, Snow Carting, Snow Go Karting, Snow Kiting

Trekking 3,000m

Via Ferratta

Wake Boarding, Wind Tunnel Flying, Winter Walking (poles & special shoes)

Activity Pack 4

Adventure Racing (up to 24 hours), Assault Courses including High Ropes

Black Water Rafting (Grades 1 to 3), Blowcarting, BMX Freestyle & Racing

Cave Diving, Cycle Racing

Freestyle Skateboarding

Gliding (competition)

Hang Gliding

Micro Lighting, MotoCross, Motor Racing/Rallies/Competitions (all types), Mountaineering up to 3,000m

Parapenting/Paraponting, Polo

Scuba Diving to 40m (if qualified and with qualified instructor – not solo)

Ski Flying, Ski Mountaineering, Ski Run Walking, Skiing – Off Piste Without a Guide, Slack-Lining

Wicker Basket Tobogganing

Zip Trekking, Zorbing

Excess waiver

An excess is the amount you have to pay towards a claim. On standard cover it is £150 and on Premier cover it is £100. If you pay the additional premium for ‘excess waiver’ the excess would be reduced to nil in the event of a claim.

If you can’t find your activity, please contact us on 02392 419 044. We are open Monday to Friday 8am-6pm, closed Bank Holidays.

Gap Year travel insurance FAQs

Do I need specialist insurance for a Gap Year?

Our Backpacker & Longstay policy is perfect for Gap Years – whether your trip is 4 weeks or 18 months we can cover you up to age 55. There is over 100 activities included as standard so you can take part in volunteering and working abroad (terms and conditions apply, check the policy wording).

Making sure you have the right gap year insurance is very important and should be one of the top items on your travelling checklist.

Do you cover extended (more than 12 months) trips?

Not all gap years are 12 months, some are less and some are more. We can cover you for up to 18 months so anyone  up to age 55 can enjoy longer trips.

Will you cover working holidays?

You may be taking a gap year for the purpose of working abroad, to gain new skills or qualifications but to also do something different. You may also be travelling and want to earn money as you go to help fund the rest of your trip.

Our backpacker policy includes work abroad activities such as bar work, manual labour including fruit picking in Australia, housekeeping in the Alps, summer camp staff and many more. You can see the full list of activities on this page but if you are unsure if your work abroad activity is covered, please contact us.

I want to volunteer on my travels, do you cover that?

You are automatically covered for many volunteering activities such as animal sanctuary and refuge work, manual work which includes helping to build homes in deprived communities and teaching disadvantaged children. For confirmation that your volunteer project is covered, contact us

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Do you cover every country?

24/7 travel insurance will cover you for all countries except those where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against travel. You can find more information on their website.

Can I come home then carry on with my trip?

Our specialist travel policy allows you return home twice to your home country (which means you can visit your home address or friends/relatives somewhere else in the country) for up to 21 days per trip.

Your travel insurance will cease upon your clearance at your home country customs and restarts after baggage check-in at your international departure point.

Perfect to pop home on special occasions.

Is this policy ideal for students?

This policy is perfect for students who want to travel for up to 18 months. In fact this policy is ideal for anyone up to age 55 who needs long term travel insurance.

How can I tell that this policy covers everything I need before I travel?

Full details of the policy can be found in the Insurance Policy which also has the terms, conditions and exclusions in.

If you would like to confirm anything with our customer services team, please contact us either by our contact form

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You can also call us on 02392 419 044. We are open Monday to Friday 8am-6pm, closed Bank Holidays.

I’ve decided to carry on travelling - can I extend my trip?

Please send us a message

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We will reply within one working day (we are open Monday to Friday 8am-6pm, closed Bank Holidays).

How long should I go for?

This is a question that a lot of people mull over. If you have a lot of places that you want to visit and things you want to do, it can be tempting to take a full year to go backpacking. However, don’t rule out the idea of going for six months and packing everything in. It depends if you plan to work while you’re away (check that any activity undertaken will be covered under your policy) and whether or not you can afford to stay away that long.

Take your time to figure out if you want to be away from home for a full year and make a list of everything you want to see and do. If you plan an itinerary in advance, you’ll find it easier to make a decision about how long to travel for. You may even decide to go for three months, come home for a few months and then go travelling again later in the year, particularly if you want to visit different parts of the world. However long you chose to go away for, make sure that your travel insurance covers the full length of any trip you take.

Should I plan ahead or go with the flow?

One of the best bits about taking a gap year is that you are free to do what you want with your time. Once you’ve booked your flight, the world is essentially, your oyster. You can go where you want and stay for as long as you like, right? Of course, you need to bear in mind that a lot of countries require you to have a visa and they are often only valid for a set period of time. Similarly, you are likely to need a different visa if you plan to work in the country.

Making a plan is going to save you time in the long run because you’ll have a schedule to stick to. You don’t have to get too bogged down with it and you might want to over-estimate your time a little bit to ensure you aren’t rushed at any point as well. Make a loose itinerary and it could save you money in the long run as well.

Don’t forget to check that however long you are away or whatever activity you will be doing, you will be still be covered under your Gap Year travel insurance.

What about the language barriers?

This is something that worries a lot of backpackers on their gap years but you shouldn’t let it get to you. Try to learn the local languages of the countries that you will be visiting, even if you only get to grips with the basics. Being able to say that you don’t speak much of the language and ask for assistance could be all you need to get by, particularly if you are going to tourist-heavy destinations. Why not see it as a project to start learning a foreign language before you go? It might put your mind at rest when you get there.

How much money do I need to take?

This is a tricky one to answer because everyone is different. Obviously, the more you take, the more activities you can do and the better the standard of your trip will be, but it’s largely down to personal preference. If you are happy to camp in a tent, you can save on hostel fees, whereas other people would prefer to stay in a hotel. Think about souvenirs you’ll want to buy in each place and consider working while you’re away to make some extra cash. All travel insurance policies have limits for cash so check your policy.

Can I keep in touch with home when I’m away?

Back in the good old days, family and friends would have to wait on a letter or postcard that may arrive weeks after you’ve left the destination you’ve sent it from. Now, there is wi-fi all over the world, making communication a lot easier. Many backpackers take a tablet computer with them so that they can email and Skype people back at home whenever there is an internet connection.

You can of course still write letters and postcards, but checking in via email is a lot quicker and will put the minds of your loved ones at rest, particularly if you are going off the grid for a while. A cheap tablet computer is also really useful to get directions and do research of the local area as well, without taking up too much space in your backpack.

What if something goes wrong?

Most travellers enjoy their gap year without any major issues, but it’s important to remember that accidents can happen so you need to prepare for the unexpected. Make sure your travel insurance covers all the activities you are planning to do, so that if something does happen, you don’t have to worry about being landed with a huge bill. Be aware of your surroundings, think smart and you’ll have an amazing trip with minimal mishaps.

Some handy top tips to help you have a safe gap year:

  • Check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) for any risks associated with your destination before you travel
  • Find a good guidebook and get to know your destination including its local laws and customs
  • Ensure you have a valid passport that’s in good condition and the necessary visas before travelling
  • Check what vaccinations you may need – ask your GP
  • Make sure you have your travel insurance details with you
  • Make copies of your passport, travel insurance policy, airline tickets and any other important paperwork. Leave these copies with your family and friends.
  • Ensure your family know where you are including hostels where you are staying
  • Take with you a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are travelling within Europe (even just for a few days). It can provide you with sometimes free or discounted medical treatment in state-run hospitals.

Don’t forget, taking out a gap year travel insurance policy is a lot cheaper than having to fork out on expensive medical bills!