Once you have made the big decision to take a travel career break and your plans are in motion for a round the world trip, it’s important to consider getting career break travel insurance. Here we explain why it’s always best to get yourself covered, why we recommend SafetyWing Nomad Insurance for insuring long-term trips, and how you can get started.

This article contains links to travel insurance services we recommend, from which we may make commission at no extra cost to you.

Why get career break travel insurance?

First things first: we don’t want to deter you from taking a travel career break. As long as you are sensible and take basic precautions, you are very unlikely to get injured, fall ill or lose your valuables through crime or accident.

Of course there are some risks involved. But life isn’t fun unless you take a few risks, right? You probably wouldn’t have reached this point if you think otherwise.

Taking a risk doesn’t mean being reckless. The important thing is to mitigate the risks so that if you do happen to get unlucky, your back is covered. This means getting round the world travel insurance. And here’s why.

Can you afford not to get travel insurance?

It’s tempting to think about travel insurance in terms of whether or not you can afford to get it. You’ve worked hard to save all that money, and you’d much rather spend it all on fun activities… that’s understandable.

However. Before you go full steam ahead, try thinking about it the other way round. If something were to happen that caused major disruption to your travel career break, would you be able to afford to deal with the consequences?

Whether you’re hiking the Inca Trail in Peru at 4,200 metres altitude or exploring the backstreets of Bangkok, you never know when something might go wrong that turns your journey on its head.

If you travel uninsured and fall victim to an accident or illness, it will be your own responsibility to cover the costs. When it comes to medical bills, in particular, the impact of this can be devastating.

Imagine that you have a serious accident while trekking in the wilderness. You need to be airlifted to safety in order to be treated, and maybe even repatriated home. The cost of this can run easily into tens of thousands of dollars, and potentially more. Would you be able to withstand such a financial hit? The chances are that it could not only ruin your adventure of a lifetime, but also have a crippling effect for years to come.

If this scenario sounds extreme – and yes, it’s a very unlikely circumstance – consider how other disruptions may affect you as well.

For example, let’s say you and your partner have already paid $3,000 each for your round-the-world flight tickets. A few days before you are due to leave, you discover that a close family member is seriously ill and so you need to stay at home to care for them. But the Ts and Cs with your travel agency are clear – there can be no refunds at this stage. Can you really afford to lose that much money?

Alternatively, let’s take another scenario. You’ve just arrived in a big and hectic city when disaster strikes: your bags are stolen, containing all of your valuables and your passports. Can you afford to replace that expensive camera and laptop? What about the flight that you’re going to miss while you wait for your passport situation to be sorted?

Peace of mind

The situations described above are just some of the predicaments that could occur if you travel uninsured. Yes, they are unlikely – but wouldn’t you rather travel in the knowledge that you will be covered if anything does go wrong?

Having that peace of mind allows you to get on with enjoying your trip of a lifetime without any niggling worries about what you would do in unexpected circumstances.

Bad luck happens to the best of us

Travel horror stories are often sensationalised, and you’d be forgiven for thinking “that’s never going to happen to me”. But even the most sensible and careful travellers can get caught in a moment of bad luck. (Read up on travel scams to educate yourself about the commons stunts that are pulled).

It can take just one slip of attention for your world to be turned upside down. We know that only too well. Shortly after arriving in Buenos Aires on our travel career break, we were victims of a distraction theft. In a single instant, with our guard down, all of our valuables were gone.

Until that point we’d tried our best to be vigilant and kept ourselves informed about common scams. Even so, it only took one vulnerable moment and our journey was collapsing down around us.

You will probably meet people on your own travels who have met unfortunate incidents. When you do, it’s likely you’ll hear one of these two sentences; I’m glad I had travel insurance or I wish I had travel insurance. Don’t be the latter.

Putting the cost into perspective

Travel insurance can appear to be a large and inconvenient cost when viewed as a singular. Instead, consider the cost in the broader context of your whole trip.

Once you’ve got an insurance quote, consider the amount as a percentage of your overall trip. If you’re spending $20,000 on a round-the-world adventure, what’s a few hundred dollars of that, or 4–5%, to make sure you’re covered?

You can also break the cost down into a daily figure. Will you really miss a dollar or two each day? As soon as you look at this bigger picture, it’s much easier to justify the cost of career break travel insurance.

Taking a career break can be a transformational experience that inspires you to take a new and exciting path in life, or helps you to make major lifestyle improvements. The small risks involved are infinitely worth it, and investing in travel insurance provides you with that extra safety net.

Trekking at high altitude is not covered in all career break travel insurance policies
Trekking at high altitude is not covered in all career break travel insurance policies

5 things to consider when looking for career break travel insurance

So, you’ve decided you want to invest in long-term travel insurance. What next? Before you get started looking for a policy, here are a few things to consider.

1.  Don’t just go for the cheapest option

You may be tempted to default to using comparison sites and plump for the cheapest option available for career break travel insurance. Be careful.

If a policy is cheap, you should ask why that is the case. Make sure you read the small print and pay attention to the details. The cheapest policies tend to carry much higher excess, give lower payouts and cut corners in ways that could leave you inadequately covered.

Will you be covered for lost luggage or missed flight connections? How much are you covered for if you need to cancel or curtail your trip? Are expensive valuables covered? Car rentals? Passports? These are all important questions to ask. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you go through the details with a fine-tooth comb and that you’re satisfied with the level of cover.

We made the mistake of not doing this ourselves, and learned the hard way. We chose the cheapest insurer we could find for a one-year travel career break. This resulted in lots of difficulties in making a claim after we were robbed in Buenos Aires. The customer service was terrible, we had to go through a time-consuming and arduous process, and we ended up paying a large amount of excess that ate into our reimbursement significantly.

We’ve learned our lesson: we don’t just book the cheapest any more. 

2.  Duration and destinations

When entering the parameters of your trip to get a long-term travel insurance quote, it is vital that you are accurate with the details.

Some insurers offer ‘annual multi-trip’ insurance, which covers all of your trips within a year. Sounds great, but it doesn’t work for long-term, career break travel. Annual multi-trip cover usually only covers single trips up to a maximum of 31 days. For anything longer, you need to look at specialist or backpacker insurance.

Similarly, it’s also important to be precise with the countries you plan to visit on your trip. Check for details on the policy for any countries that might not be included too. For example, countries in conflict zones may be restricted. Also, worldwide cover sometimes excludes the USA, Canada and the Caribbean.

Once again, it’s a matter of checking the small print. You don’t want to find later on that your insurance is invalidated because you didn’t get these details right.

3.  Adventure activities

Are you planning to undertake any potentially hazardous activities on your travel career break? Activities such as skiing, high-altitude trekking, scuba diving, sky diving and horse riding can add a premium to your round the world travel insurance policy.

Not all policies are the same when it comes to adventure activities; check the details to make sure you will be covered. For example, many policies do not automatically cover hiking over 3,000 metres altitude.

Check that adventure activities like scuba diving are covered on your travel insurance policy
Check that adventure activities like scuba diving are covered on your travel insurance policy

4.  Limits and excess

One of the most important details to check is the payout limits and excess required for certain items.

For a travel career break, pay close attention to the payout limit for baggage that is lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed. Is the limit on the policy enough to cover what you might lose, or at least to mitigate it sufficiently? If not, you could consider taking out specialist gadget insurance for individual items. For example, we have separate worldwide cover for our DLSR camera, which means it doesn’t need to be covered when we take out travel insurance. Alternatively, a flexible insurer may allow you to pay a little extra to increase the limits.

The ‘excess’ refers to the amount you will have to pay towards a claim. For example, it’s common for excess to be applied to aspects of the policy such as cancellation or lost items. If the excess on cancellation is $100 and the total payout $3,000, you would receive $2,900 if claiming the full amount.

It’s important to have a clear view of limits and excess so that you know what to expect when it comes to making claims, and whether it will meet your needs.

5.  Book early to cover cancellation

When it comes to a long-term trip, life events out of your control can get in the way.  What if you find out that a loved one at home has been diagnosed with a serious illness, for example? Or if you sustain an injury before the trip that makes it impossible to go ahead?

If you know you’re going to get career break travel insurance, don’t put it off. If something like this were to happen before you’ve bought a policy, you won’t be covered for cancellation, and that means losing out on a potentially big payout.

Again, it’s about peace of mind. Booking insurance is something many people procrastinate over, but every day you don’t have it is a risk. Once it’a done, you don’t need to worry.

SafetyWing: budget long-term insurance for nomads

The growth of remote working and the community of ‘digital nomads’ around the world has given rise to some new and interesting options for long-term travel insurance. One of the most successful and innovative among these is SafetyWing, an insurance option that has been tailored for the needs of remote workers and long-term travellers.

Specialising in long-term travel means these guys have been able to create policies that are really good value for money. We think they’re a very solid option for career break travel insurance. As we explain below, it doesn’t cover theft or loss of valuables, but you can get separate policies for this and find better value for money overall.

You can read in detail about their offer and how it works in our guide to SafetyWing travel insurance. But here I’ll give you the broad strokes of what it is and how it works.

Backed by a reliable underwriter

The first important thing to know about SafetyWing is that you can be confidence in its reliability. While it is relatively new on the market, having been launched in 2017, it is backed by Tokio Marine, a Japanese insurance giant that  operates worldwide and is underwritten by Lloyds Bank.

A consistent monthly subscription payment

Rather than buying your insurance in one up-front lump sum, SafetyWing is paid by a regular monthly subscription. This makes it simple, transparent and consistent.

The only factors that affect the price of your monthly subscription are your age, and whether or not your cover needs to include the USA. Wherever else you travel, the price is always the same regardless.

These are the monthly prices for SafetyWing Nomad Insurance:

Age groupPrice per 28 days of cover (not including travel in the USA)Price per 28 days of cover (including travel in the USA)
15 days – 9 yearsFree with an adult policyFree with an adult policy
10–39 years$45.08$83.44
40–49 years$73.92$137.48
50–59 years$115.92$226.24
60–69 years$157.36$308.84

There is also an option to buy a policy for specific dates, but the monthly subscription works out better for career break travel insurance if you’re taking more than a month out.

Focus on health insurance

SafetyWing’s coverage is geared towards health insurance, which is where you most need piece of mind for long-term round the world travel. Out of all the mishaps you can face when travelling, health incidents are the most costly. Medical fees can run into tens of thousands of pounds if you are not properly covered.

With this in mind, SafetyWing covers you for medical incidents anywhere in the world. You will have medical expenses provided up to $250,000 for things like hospital fees, intensive care, ambulances and urgent charges, among other aspects. It also covers up to $50 per day for physiotherapy, emergency dental care up to $1,000, emergency evacuation up to $100,000, and repatriation up to $20,000.

SafetyWing is able to provide all of this at a really competitive price by cutting back on a few travel-related aspects of insurance. Basic elements of travel cover are included, such as lost checked luggage, travel delays and trip interruption – many of which are common concerns on career breaks.

However, certain aspects that you will find in other policies are not included. Most notably, it does not cover theft or loss of electronics. If this is not a concern to you, it makes SafetyWing an attractive option – and you could always buy separate gadget cover, which we’ve found still works out very cost-effective overall.

Trip cancellation is also not included, but this is often less of a concern for long-term round the world travel and digital nomads, as you are on an ongoing trip rather than a single journey with fixed dates.

Remote work insurance mountains
SafetyWing is a great long-term travel insurance option for remote workers and digital nomads

A transparent deductible 

We mentioned above how budget insurers often come at the price at having a higher excess payment for claims. SafetyWing has something similar called a deductible, which is set at a standard $250 on all of its policies. 

The great thing about SafetyWing’s deductible is that it only applies once each year, and only when making a claim. For example, if you have to pay $5,000 in medical fees after an accident, you pay the first $250 of the treatment and the rest is covered for you. If you make any more claims in that same year, the deductible does not apply. If you never have to claim, you do not pay the deductible.

This is another feature that makes SafetyWing simple and transparent, which is we we love it. You know exactly what you are getting, and it is manageable.

To get started with SafetyWing Nomad Insurance, take a look at its insurance pricing tool to see how much you can expect to pay on your trip.

Thinking of using your remote working freedom to travel more regularly or long term? See our guide to workations to find out how you can dip your toes in the water.

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Are you planning to travel long-term on a career break? This guide to career break travel insurance explains why it's important to get yourself covered, as well as some handy tips before you get started. #travelinsurance #traveltips #worldnomads