Backpacker, Student, and Gap Year Travel Insurance Explained

Most backpacker travel insurance policies contain a clause relating to failed examinations. This is a very important matter for students to consider. If exams are failed they may be required by the college or university to sit them again. If the student is already off travelling the world the cost to return quickly for a re-sit could be high. However, be warned that claims on the insurance may be denied if travel insurance is not taken out prior to the sitting of all exams which lead up to the final result.

Insurance terms like curtailment and repatriation do not even enter the equation for most young people when planning a gap year. It is surprising how many don’t know, or care, what the words mean – or might entail. These are just two of the words to be concerned about. Cancellation, of course, refers to insurance cover for an emergency situation arising before the departure date, causing cancellation of travel plans.

Imagine you are a student well into a gap-year backpacking adventure round the world. You’ve had a trouble-free trip so far and are in the last month of your travels in an African country. You fall sick with a fever and violent vomiting and diarrhoea. You and your travelling companion both have backpacker insurance. You have some over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies with you and try everything, but nothing seems to work. Your condition deteriorates and you have to seek help from the nearest medical clinic. The doctor finds that you are severely dehydrated and rushes you by air ambulance to the nearest major hospital.

Your companion gets in contact with the claims handler for your travel insurance and alerts them to the problem. A week later your condition has stabilized, but you are still very weak. The doctors advise you to return home (curtail your trip) to continue with your recovery. The claims handler approves the arrangements for the new return flights for you and your companion.

Now imagine all the above happened and you had decided to save money and not bother with purchasing travel insurance. Who would pay for the air ambulance, hospital care, the curtailment of your trip (change of flights), and repatriation?

It is surprising how many young people take the risk of travelling without travel insurance. The statistics are something like one in five, which means there are thousands of young and vulnerable adults wandering about the world with no help at hand and exposed to all manner of risks. Many think it’s not necessary because they are just backpacking and using hostels. However, their unsuspecting parents would probably end up footing the bill if the worst should happen.

Who would help if you were involved in a traffic accident, terrorist attack, had your backpack and travel documents stolen, or were the victim of a mugging? Most people have no clue how much it would cost for emergency repatriation from the other side of the world – from places like Australia, Africa, and South America.

Backpacker insurance policies vary but are normally heavy on the medical cover and liability and light on baggage cover. Many cover participation in adventure sports (on a limited basis) for activities like scuba diving, wind surfing and bungee jumping. Winter sports cover can be added to the policy for an extra premium. If the USA is on your travel itinerary, expect to pay a bit more for the insurance because of the high cost of medical care. Most backpacker policies do not cover risks relating to work (paid or volunteer) so you will need to shop around for the appropriate type of cover.

Remember the words ‘repatriation’ and ‘curtailment’ and don’t let them come back to haunt you. Repatriation means that in the event of some type of emergency situation your insurance will cover expenses to return you back to your country of origin.Curtailment means cover for expenses incurred as a result of your trip being cut short due to an emergency after you have already left home. Don’t wait until it’s too late to find out what they mean!

Travelling the world before starting university – or after university and before putting your foot on the career ladder – can be a valuable, worthwhile, and fantastic experience. It is false economy, and frankly plain dumb, to save a bit of money by skipping the travel insurance. Why risk spoiling all those wonderful memories – and getting your career off to such a bad start?

Jean Andrews is an employee of Travel Insurance Agencies Ltd (TIA Ltd). Jean regularly contributes informative articles about travel insurance and travel related matters.

A Gap Year Helps Students Spread Their Wings – Get Motivated and Stay Focused

Many high school graduates are discovering three months off in the summer is just not enough time to recuperate between finishing 12 years of school and starting four more. They’re itching to stretch their wings and explore a bit of the real world before returning to a routine of classes, studying, and taking exams. A gap year seems to fit the bill well.

Students in the UK have been utilizing a gap year as a break between educational stints since the 1990s, using that time to travel, work, volunteer, or take part in an internship. Most students take this time off between high school and college, but as its popularity continues to increase, gap years can come before, during, or even after college.

In past years, parents feared delaying college would mean their child would never go, but as the world has ‘shrunk’ thanks in large part to the internet, more parents today are open to the possibility of allowing their teenager or young adult to postpone starting college.

It’s interesting to note that Harvard and other major universities have conducted studies that indicate students who take a gap year are more motivated and stay more focused than the ones who start immediately after high school. Harvard was so convinced that it is beneficial they now offer that option in their acceptance letter to new freshmen.

The term may be somewhat of misnomer, since it’s not always a year. It can last a few months, a semester, or a full year, depending on your situation and circumstances. A gap year is usually seen as a productive ‘time out’, in preparation for the rigors of college life. Sometimes the time out occurs after college graduation, before you jump into the ‘real world’ and a new career.

What Can You Do During A Gap Year?

A gap year can be spent just about any way you choose. You can travel to Guatemala to help build a school or you can spend a few weeks on the beach in Barbados. If you’d rather stay closer to home, a gap experience can be spent in an intern program, where you’ll get a better feel for the career you’re interested in pursuing.

Some students take a job, earning and saving enough money so they don’t have to live in the dorm when they start college. Some choose to use their earnings to pay for a new car to take to campus.

There are organizations worldwide with gap year opportunities, as a quick internet search will reveal. From working with animals in Africa to teaching in the Himalayas, a well-spent gap year will pay off enormous benefits to your confidence, your independence, and in learning how to handle challenging circumstances.

Sometimes you’ll be paid for your work during a gap year experience, other times you’ll volunteer and receive an educational grant at the end. Either way, you can be assured it will be an enriching experience with memories that will last a lifetime.

Traveling to unknown parts of the world is not required. You don’t have to travel far to find exciting new adventures to experience. Work with inner city schools, volunteer at an orphanage, a hospital, or a nursing home. Regardless of the location, the work you do will have a lasting impact, not only on the people you help, but it will have a profound impact on you as a person, giving you a completely new perspective on life.

Want to learn how to make the most of your college and career decisions? Win a free copy of our college and career planning guide or check out our Test Drive Your Future Gap Year Scholarships.

Beth and Jim Hood are the authors of Test Drive Your Future, High School Student and Grad Edition: Your Step by Step Guide to Choosing the Perfect Career and founders of the Test Drive Your FutureĀ™ Gap Year Scholarship. Beth writes as the GPS Gal on, hosting interviews with professional women and students and answering questions from teens about their future career choices. The authors live in Hawaii.

Teens, Tweens and Toddlers Under One Roof – Help! Pointers on How to Bridge the Age Gap

Tonight was a good night. The house was miraculously quiet due to the fact that my preteen and teenage boys decided that their on-going debate over who is the “lamest” (apparently lame is the cool word for this week) could be continued in the morning, and to my surprise my two year old energizer bunny did not keep going and going and going.

Sitting down for a cup of herbal tea is a rare treat in a house of seven, but you sneak it in where you can. Even as I sit blowing a steaming cup of tea, I reflect briefly on what insanity possessed me to come so close to Independence Day, only to rewind time and start all over again. The bottles, the diapers, the crying, the tantrums…oh the thought of it makes my head hurt! Then that little angel face creeps into my consciousness and the stress lines slowly disappear from my forehead and a smile forms. My two year old is just the cutest thing you will ever see and all the dirty diapers in the world could not taint the abundance of joy she fills my heart with daily! They are so open to the world at that age. Always discovering and unconditionally loving… Ah….what we all could learn from them.

However, don’t be fooled! When you have to run around all day like a taxi cab driver taking your older kids to sports engagements, barbershops, the mall, etc, all the while with a two year old in tow, its no picnic. I complained about the running around but then out of no where it went from bad to worst. Who said a 16 year old could drive? (I’m sure whoever it was that originally suggested it was childless). So add a jump of $100 in car insurance to add on a 16 year old driver coupled with the increasing price of pullups! So Lets see, now I have…Dora the Explorer shoes vs. the latest Air Nike, The unrelenting pleas for buying the Barbie Jeep vs. pleas for buying a starter car, helping my little one learn to count past 50 vs. finding some one to help with calculus! What a complete roller coaster!

Even with life being constantly hectic, I feel blessed to have such a wonderful family and cherish the challenge of giving them the best childhood and the tools they need to become responsible adults who know first hand and cherish the value of family.

Three things are key when raising children with a large age gap:

Respect the uniqueness in each child – Every child is different and moves at a different pace and to a different drummer. I learned that a long time ago (somewhere around child number two). I work hard to let each child know that I accept and love their unique characteristics, no matter how different or difficult to understand. This will also help prevent jealousy and some rivalry among siblings

Nurture the Bond- Children born with quiet a few years between can sometimes have trouble finding things in common that they can do together. Encourage older children to share hobbies and talents with younger children. Each of my boys are encouraged to spend an hour or so a day with their two year old sister. In this time I suggest my eldest child who likes to write stories share this talent for storytelling with his sister. This is something they can both enjoy. My middle son loves to draw and in his time with his sister he is teaching her to be quite the artist. My 11, and 13 year old are still very playful and love giving piggyback rides, taking her out to ride her bike and drive her car. They all have their own unique way the can bond with their sister despite the huge age gap.

Spending Time as a Family- This is critical. It is not only enjoyable , but creates lasting memories. Quality time spent together knits the fabric that strong families are made of.
It strengthens the love, the loyalty and intimacies that all families should share. There is no age gap in family time together, everyone belongs and it’s not complete when someone is missing.

So no one ever said it would be easy (and if they did, you been lied to!), but what it is… fulfilling, fun and exhausting, but most of all, it’s totally worth it!

Here are some of my favorite family quotes:

If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable – each segment distinct. ~Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Bringing up a family should be an adventure, not an anxious discipline in which everybody is constantly graded for performance.– Milton R. Saperstein

I think people that have a brother or sister don’t realize how lucky they are. Sure, they fight a lot, but to know that there is always somebody there, somebody that’s family.– Trey Parker

“When you look at your life, the greatest happiness’s are family happiness’s.”
Dr Joyce Brothers

Adult Dental Braces – 5 Facts to Know Before Choosing an Orthodontist

Why on earth would an adult want to wear braces? In the past, braces were worn by children and teenagers. But times have changed. Today, 1 in 5 patients of orthodontists in the U.S. is an adult.

Adult dental braces are more popular than ever. That Huck Finn buck-toothed grin may be cute on a freckle-faced kid, but on an adult? No way! Or maybe you inherited the family heirloom-your grandfather’s gap-toothed grin or your grandmother’s lisp. Or perhaps you’re experiencing the pain caused by a TMJ problem, or are having trouble chewing and swallowing properly.

There are many reasons for having your teeth straightened. And, since the process typically takes 1-2 years and can cost several thousand dollars, your choice of orthodontist should be an informed one. Many orthodontists offer free consultations. It’s a good idea to shop around and check out at least 2 or 3 orthodontists before making a commitment. To make the decision easier, here are 5 facts to know before choosing an orthodontist.

1. The orthodontist you choose should practice high professional standards. Does he belong to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO)? How long has he been practicing? Are his license and other credentials current? Does he continually update his training?

1. You should decide what a successful outcome looks like. Do you want to close a gap, straighten crooked teeth, improve your bite or correct a speech impairment, such as lisping? What is it you want the braces treatment to accomplish?

2. Besides the traditional stainless steel “metal-mouth” braces, there are many other styles and techniques such as ceramic or plastic ones and the so-called “invisible” braces or even porcelain veneers. Does the orthodontist offer a variety of options and the latest trends in other teeth straightening techniques?

3. Ask about appointment times. You have commitments to your family, your employer and others. Does the orthodontist offer appointments on only one day a week? Or is he available on more days? Are available appointment times convenient for you? Inconvenient appointment times can lead to missed appointments-and a longer treatment time.

4. What happens after the braces come off? Will you have to wear a retainer? If so, for how long? Some orthodontists are not very strict about having their patients wear retainers after their teeth straightening treatment. Not wearing your retainer can cause the teeth to move back out of their new alignment. This is good news for the not-so-ethical orthodontist, because it could mean a repeat of the treatment. A conscientious orthodontist, however, will explain the importance of maintaining your new straight smile and insist that you follow his instructions as to whether to wear a retainer and when.

5. Sometimes teeth straightening and braces are not enough to correct a lisp or a swallowing problem. What then? A good orthodontist will follow up the orthodontic treatment with a referral to another professional, such a speech therapist. An orthodontist you can trust is one who is concerned that you receive the appropriate and necessary after-braces care.

Adult dental braces, and the right orthodontist, can correct a host of oral health issues. And choosing a highly trained professional is an important decision.

Don’t settle for the first orthodontist you come across. Evaluating several potential orthodontists is the best way to make an informed decision. Keep in mind these 5 facts before choosing an orthodontist. The right professional for you will help you achieve a successful treatment outcome and maintain that gorgeous smile for a lifetime.