If you are looking for affordable gap year, extended stay or backpacker holiday cover, the Alpha Longstay travel insurance policy is perfect for you.
We offer a choice of policies to suit your budget, but unlike our competitors we do not reduce our premiums by taking out essential elements of the cover. All Alpha Longstay policies provide the same levels of cover, with the option to decide how much you would like to contribute towards a claim; the higher your choice of excess, the lower your premium. We find that this is a much fairer way of offering travel insurance that tailors for all kinds of budget.
If you are intending to take part on a sports activity on your trip, take a look at the Longstay activity packs to check if you need to purchase extra cover.
Whatever the purpose of your trip, Alpha Travel Insurance provides the essential cover that will give you complete peace of mind whilst travelling. All of our Longstay policies provide:
* When using the return home extension all cover is suspended on clearance of customs in your home country and restarts after the baggage check in at your international departure point for your return flight, international train or ferry to your overseas destination. The extension will not cover the costs of your return home.
Travelling across the globe on a long stay, backpacking or gap year adventure is a great way to not only see a rich and diverse range of culture, but also learn new skills along the way and boost your CV! But for those moments when you just want to see your friends and family again, Alpha offers complete flexibility, with the ability to return home twice for 21 days each time* during the lifetime of your policy without having to purchase a brand new policy each time.
What would you do if your passport was lost or stolen on your trip? Would you know what to do next? Your passport is one of the most important documents required to travel, however without it, you’re pretty much stuck! All Alpha Longstay policies cover the cost of a replacement emergency travel document to help get you back on your way.
Whilst you are on your trip of a lifetime, it is very important to keep in contact with your friends and family back home. Not only so that you can tell them about how amazing your trip is, but also to ensure that they know you are happy, safe and well. Many adventurers decide to bring a mobile phone or tablet on holiday with them as well as other devices such as e-readers and cameras. However it is essential that you have adequate cover in place for your technology should things go wrong. Please visit our dedicated Gadget Insurance page for more information.
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If you wish to partake in any activities whilst on your trip abroad, you will need to purchase the corresponding activity pack to ensure you have the correct level of cover. You will not be covered unless the appropriate activity pack has been applied to your policy and you have paid the appropriate premium.
Why not choose cover for one of our popular activities including; abseiling, diving, fishing, mountain biking or paintballing?Activity Packs
From gadget cover to activities, to trip disruption and returning home, Alpha Travel Insurance have created a range of extensions that can be added on to your policy. Enjoy an added layer of protection with the cover you need at an affordable price.
All Alpha Travel Insurance policies are able to include cover for hundreds of medical conditions.
Some of the most common ones include:
Medical conditions can be declared and screened at the same time as obtaining your quotation.
Simply visit our online medical screening page for more information.
If you’re planning on taking a break to see the world on a backpacking holiday, a gap year, work placement or extended career break, the Alpha range of Longstay policies are perfect for you.
The Longstay policy is available to purchase up to 55 years old and with a range of activity and sports extensions available, why not ‘dare to discover’ and try something new on your next adventure!
It includes £10 emergency medical expenses, repatriation, air ambulance, personal possessions and we even include a free ‘Return Home Extension’. The extension allows you to return home twice for 21 days each time without breaking your insurance cover.
Please note that our policies must be purchased for trips starting and ending within the UK, and will not be valid if you have already begun your trip or are already abroad. Our insurance policies are also currently unable to cover for cruise holidays.
Do you have a question about us, our cover or our policies? You may be able to find the answer in our Frequently Asked Questions section.
When it comes to backpacking, America is always a top choice. Thanks to the many destinations you can visit and the fact you can even drive routes and hit up several locations at a time, America is a great place to go backpacking. In order to get the most from your trip we have written this guide on backpacking in the USA to let you know the best places to go as well as things you should know before travelling.
Places to visit
Route 66 starts in Chicago in Illinois and ends in Santa Monica in California. When travelling along here there are so many places to visit and pass through, such as Iowa, Nebraska, and Las Vegas. All in all, Route 66 takes around 30 hours to drive the length of and passes through around eight different states! The route is lined with old school motels, gas stations, diners and mom-and-pop shops. Why not stop off at some popular food spots on the way such as Big Texan in Amarillo which serves enormous 72oz steaks!
Las Vegas is one of the most famous places in the world, known for its clubs, casinos and outrageous nightlife; perfect for enjoying your trip! With such a large variety of hotels you will find something to suit your budget no matter where you are. Take a stroll down the strip, visit infamous casinos, catch a show and dance the night away down Fremont Street! We recommend spending a few days here to ensure that you can fit everything in and make your trip as memorable as possible.
LA and California
Home to the stars, movie sets and Hollywood, LA and California are on most people’s bucket lists. Take a look around the infamous Rodeo Drive, visit the Farmer’s Market in LA and gorge on cuisines from around the world and walk down the Walk of Fame, spotting celebrity stars as you go. If you’re looking for something more relaxing you can always take a trip to Venice Beach and see the famous ‘Muscle Beach’, or visit Santa Monica Pier and enjoy the rides!
San Francisco is located in northern California and is well known for its hilly surroundings and year round fog. When visiting the booming city, you can expect to see Victorian houses, cable cars and of course the incredibly iconic Golden Gate Bridge. You can also see the infamous Alcatraz Island which was previously a federal prison. You can even book a visit in advance and have a tour!
New York is one of the most famous cities in the world. It is known for its tall city building, Broadway shows and incredible Times Square. Enjoy a spot of shopping at the Rockefeller Center or visit iconic areas such as Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. You might even come across some filming as New York is used thousands of times a year for movie shoots!
Mexico has a very strong and distinct culture which involves great music, food and festivals. Here you can go diving and explore the aquatic life or even swim with dolphins – something else to tick off your bucket list! Visit the Chichen Itza for some historical insights or take a trip to Cancun and enjoy the party lifestyle with reams of clubs.
Canada is the second largest country in the world with amazing untouched landscapes as far as the eye can see! Of course you can see Niagara Falls here, see an ice hockey game and try many different cuisines with a wide selection of eateries. As mentioned, Canada’s landscape is part of the incredible culture. You can find isolated bright blue lakes nestled between mountains and forests and can even go skiing down the Canadian Rockies.
Things to see
The canyon has been created by the Colorado River in the state of Arizona. The Grand Canyon is an impressive 227 miles long and 18 miles wide and is around a mile deep! Commonly, people will take a helicopter tour of the canyon which can be boarded from Las Vegas, Grand Canyon National Park Airport and other areas. From the South Rim there are viewing areas as well as activities such as rafting and hiking.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is an incredible sculpture which is carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore itself. The sculpture features George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, representing the first 130 years of history of the United States. The carving took 14 years and ended in 1941. You can visit the monument, based in South Dakota, via vehicle, with only parking charges applying.
Niagara Falls is the most famous group of waterfalls in the world. Three waterfalls span across the border between Canada and the United States and are around 51 metres in height. You can visit the falls from the American side in which you can walk along the walkways where an observation tower and boat dock for the Maid of the Mist tour are. From the Canadian side you can utilise the underground walkways that lead to observation rooms as well as Skylon Tower’s observation deck.
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a large suspension bridge which connects San Francisco and Marin County. Up until 1964 it was the largest and longest suspension bridge in the world! The bridge charges a toll at $7 which is worth it for the breath taking views and incredible photographs you are able to take!
The White House
The White House is the residence and office of the President of the United States based in Washington D.C. The White House is visible from both Lafayette Square and The Ellipse with public access only allowing you around the house and not inside the grounds.
Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Central Park
The Statue of Liberty was created by a French sculptor and was gifted to the United States from France in 1886. The statue sits on Liberty Island which is accessible by ferry. After the September 11 attacks the statue was closed to the public and following recent refurbishments, the public are allowed to ascend the statue with only a limited number permitted each day. The impressive statue stands at 93 metres tall (from torch to ground) making it stand out over the waters.
The Empire State building is an impressive skyscraper in New York which stands at 443 metres high (from antenna to the ground). For nearly 40 years it was the tallest building in the world until the World Trade Center North Tower was constructed. Sadly, following the September 11 attacks, the Empire State stood again as the tallest tower in New York. You can find observation decks allowing you an incredible panoramic view of the city.
Central Park is an urban area set in New York City which is what makes it so unusual. The rest of the city is paved and filled with buildings, with Central Park almost looking like a mirage. You can find six areas of water including the large reservoir with bike rides, horse and carriage rides and other activities available to participate in.
Hollywood is very famous thanks to the radio, film and TV industry. It is home to the Walk of Fame which includes the names of famous celebrities on the pavement. You can also find many filming studios here such as Warner Bros Studios, Walt Disney Studios, Dreamworks, Paramount Studios and 20th Century Fox Studios. Take a trip around and learn about the history of media, you might even see some celebrities!
Visiting with a travel company vs travelling alone
When it comes to backpacking in the US, you will find many different companies that offer services and packages to make your dreams come true. Trek America provides many tours and destination visits across the United States where you will be put into a group with other travellers. This allows you to join other people who share your passion and make new friends along the way. You have a set itinerary which you will follow and only pay a set price for the trip (minus your spending money). Prices for these trips usually start at around £1,000 depending on where you would like to go and how long for. They also don’t charge single person supplements!
Alternatively, you can look at travelling yourself. This way you will be able to go everywhere that you would like to without being tied to an itinerary. Using sites such as HostelWorld or HostelBookers will allow you to book cheap accommodation as well as meet new people as you’ll be (usually) sharing with other people. You can also find cheap flights through gap year sites as well as getting last minute deal and using airline miles to reduce your trip price.
Things to know before you go
To enter the United States you will need a visa. If you have a British Passport, you will be allowed to stay in the US for 90 days once you have provided your details 72 hours before travelling. You should do this using the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). Once you have done this you will be valid to travel in the US on multiple trips for two years after you have been approved.
Tipping is part of the American culture. Giving your waiter/waitress/driver or anyone else who serves you some small change as a tip will get you far. You may find that people will become offended if you do not tip them, so even if you have a spare dollar, throw it their way!
Jaywalking is where you cross the road in an undesignated area. You will find signs up that indicate you cannot cross the road without doing so on a crossing. These are usually a picture of a person stepping off the curb with a red circle and line through it. If you are caught jaywalking you will be fined.
In the United States the legal age for drinking alcohol is 21. It is illegal for you to purchase or drink alcohol below the age of 21 as well as it being illegal to use a false ID or someone else’s. It is also illegal to take any form of hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin and a range of other substances.
The last thing you want when embarking on a holiday abroad is to have an unfortunate run in with a venomous animal; not only do you run the risk of cutting your holiday short, but in some cases you may even be at risk of losing your life! But don’t panic; there’s no need to cancel your long-awaited holiday plans; we’ve compiled the information below to keep you informed at put your mind at rest!
The commonly known venomous animals of…
USA and the Caribbean
What happens if I get stung/bitten/scratched whilst travelling?
Should you find yourself in the unlucky position of being envenomed by an animal while abroad, the course of action to take is as simple as it is logical. In most cases you will be well aware of such a sting/bite/scratch immediately after it’s administrated; if you even suspect that the creature that has attacked you is venomous, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.
In some rare cases, the sting, bite or scratch may not have been immediately apparent (you may have been asleep at the time, for example). If this is the case, as soon as symptoms alert you to the possibility of envenomation, also follow the steps set out below, as a precautionary measure.
Get away from the venomous creature; the fewer stings, bites or scratches that you receive, the better your odds of reducing long-term damage. Do not attempt to catch or kill the creature that injured you.
Where should I pay extra attention?
In the sea
Some areas of the ocean are particularly prone to incursions from venomous jellyfish and/or fish; and therefore require additional caution when being enjoyed during your holiday. Always check with locals, or tourist information centres, as to what perils may or may not be present in the oceans around your chosen destination. Venomous creatures could either be floating free in the area, or secreted on the sea bed, increasing the risk of accidental contact massively.
When scuba diving or snorkelling, always consult a dive guide as to what dangers you should expect and keep an eye out for.
In the wild
The advice here is essentially the same as with the sea; some areas of country may be more likely to contain venomous creatures than others; knowledge is power here, so consult those in the know as to what you should be looking out for on your travels.
As with diving and snorkelling, if you intend to go on longer trips and excursions into the wild, it may well be worth hiring or consulting a local guide, in order to minimise potential threats to your person.
Due to the propensity for many venomous creatures to hide when in close proximity to humans, it pays to carefully check the nooks and crannies of your hotel room/apartment/house in the evenings, to ensure that the place that you intend to nap or sleep doesn’t also house a dangerous, animal. You’d be upset if someone sat on, or fell asleep on you; and a venomous creature may well express said misgivings through a scratch, bite or sting!
To paraphrase a popular term; prevention is better than cure. Spending a few minutes carefully checking your residence for hidden venomous creatures is always preferable to rushing to hospital!
What precautions can I take to minimise the risk?
Common sense is the main thing here, very few venomous animals will actively attack human beings; venom is used while hunting, or in self-defence, and humans are considered prey by an extremely small number of animals. This leaves self-defence as the general reason for venomous animals to attack holidaymakers; if you refrain from antagonising animals, you’ll be able to avoid their venom.
Of course, it is entirely possible to antagonise an animal without actually being aware of it; surprising a snake, or accidentally sitting on a spider, are likely to result in the agitated beasty lashing out. Unfortunately, many smaller venomous animals tend to hide in dark nooks and crannies around domiciles and tourist attractions; underneath toilet seats, in piles of cushions and tucked away in the corners of coral reefs. This not only increases the likelihood of accidental contact with humans, but the surprise of the animal in question; increasing the odds of a venomous attack.
With this in mind, knowledge and caution are the key ingredients to avoiding an unfortunate encounter with some of nature’s most dangerous creatures. Make sure you read up on the species you’re likely to encounter at your destination; and ensure that you approach the likely haunts of dangerous creatures with a sufficient level of caution. Should you actually encounter a venomous creature, the safest bet is to leave it alone, and contact local animal control should it be impeding you. Attempting to move the creature yourself could anger or scare it enough to attempt to strike; caution in these cases is always advised over courage. Of course, if you are able to simply leave the creature where it is, this would be the most preferable option.
How do I identify what animal it was?
Ideally speaking, you’d be able to provide emergency responders, or venom specialists, with an accurate physical description of the animal which envenomed or scratched you; but due to the traumatic circumstances, or the fact that you may not have seen your attacker, this may not always be possible.
It’s therefore imperative that you keep as accurate a record as possible of the physical symptoms that you suffer, as well as the circumstance that led to the injury. This information, when combined with knowledge of the area in which the injury occurred, should give those caring for you the best chance of treating you with the correct antivenom, saving your life and mitigating permanent injury.
What are the effects?
This can vary massively from venom to venom; some cause paralysis or other related nerve damage, while others impede a victim’s cardiac function; with high doses ultimately resulting in cardiac arrest. It’s important to note that being envenomed by an animal is by no means a guarantee of imminent fatality; the dosage and variety of venom are both important factors.
As you would no doubt guess, the greater the amount of venom, the greater the potential risk to your person; but many venoms carry no real threat of human fatality. This isn’t to say that exposure to non-lethal venom should be taken lightly; just that fatality isn’t always a risk. Non-treatment of an envenomed patient could still result in permanent injury, or even the loss of extremities; death is far from the only potential risk!
Can they all be treated?
The comprehensive treatment of any form of venom generally relies on the presence of antivenom; a substance created by injecting lab animals with a specific venom, and extracting the chemicals metabolised in response. The only potential hazard with antivenom is that repeated uses can lead to a patient developing immunity to their effect; meaning that they are no longer a useful response.
It’s unfortunately an urban legend that sucking venom from the wound is helpful, or necessarily achievable. Many medical professionals now think that such an action may make the situation worse; don’t always believe what you see in films! Other ‘traditional treatments’ like pouring alcohol on the wound, or attempting to cool the injured area with ice, can also result in further injury; stick to contacting your travel insurance's emergency medical helpline in these kinds of situations abroad.
As part of the desire and appeal to go traveling, there are is a hunger to discover pastures new. Whether it is the adrenalin rush of bungee jumping in New Zealand, driving route 66 in the states with the roof down or even snapping the World’s most beautifully preserved natural viewpoints. Read more
Staying in touch with people back at home like your friends and your family can be difficult when you’re travelling. If you’re in different time zones, calling people back home can be antisocial either ends of the phone, internet connection is available pretty much everywhere nowadays Read more
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