Gap year travel insurance a must for the trip of a lifetime

24 June 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
As exam season draws to a close and school-leavers consider what to do next, thousands will be opting to take a gap year, but they should organise their finances and ensure they take out adequate travel insurance.

Students who want to see a bit of the world and experience the trip of a lifetime before settling down at university or their first jobs could make their money go further with effective money management, according to moneysupermarket.com, and make their trip last as long as possible before the money runs out.

"A gap year is a wonderful opportunity to experience different ways of life and see other parts of the world. But such a big adventure requires careful financial planning, especially as graduates and students get so little education on money matters," said Steve Willey, head of travel money at moneysupermarket.com.

"Students generally have a very sparse credit profile so their best approach is to go to their current bank and ask what products might be made available to them. It might seem like a dull start to such an exciting event, but students need to make direct contact with their bank to have a chance of being offered the best deals. A gap year is great unless it becomes a gap half-year due to you running out of money halfway around the world."

It is essential to get gap year travel insurance which covers the individual for the entire trip, moneysupermarket.com urges, and they should not partake in potentially dangerous activities such as water-sports or extreme sports without first checking with their insurance provider that their policy allows for such things. Some travel insurance policies come with cover for bungee jumping, paragliding, scuba diving and white water rafting.

Gadgets, such as iPods and digital cameras, should also be covered by travel insurance, the comparison site said. However, keeping belongings secure is vital for claiming on insurance policies.

Those who are saving up to fund the trip should compare savings accounts to make sure they make the most of their money by receiving a competitive interest rate; the correct debit card should be packed which will not charge for withdrawals, transactions, or exchanging foreign currency, which could cost 'gap-ers' valuable travelling money.

Choosing the right credit card to take along is also important, one which doesn't implement hefty charges for using it abroad and offers protection for purchases and identity fraud.

For travellers intending to take a mobile phone abroad, moneysupermarket.com recommends buying a SIM card for extended stays in one country, buying a global SIM or signing up to their current provider's international tariff to save money when calling home.

As a final word of advice, Mr Willey added: "Before leaving, gap-year travellers should photocopy details of their financial products and give them to a trusted family member. It will make life a little easier in an emergency. Not getting the right products now could mean having to cut a trip short or being stranded with no money, which is no way to end a great adventure."

© Fair Investment Company Ltd