Another one of latest trends if not a fad in our country right now, is solo travelling and off beat travelling. So what is it? More and more people of the young generation, the well to do college goers and young professionals are backpacking and heading out to popular as well as off-beat destinations as solo travellers. Backpacking can be understood as the form of travel, mostly solo or in a small group, with a longer and more flexible itinerary on a tight budget, with the intent of exploring and understanding a particular place as intimately as possible and not just being a point to point popular destination tourist. Currently it is estimated that between 5-10% of outbound travellers are taking off on their own to explore the world.
The global airline travel industry along with the Indian Outbound Tourism industry is witnessing a new trend in rising number of independent passengers who are going “Solo” or “Backpacking” abroad. Interestingly there are a significant number of these female Indian travellers, which is significant. This revelation has come to fore in a British Airways (BA) study. The BA has released the Global Solo Travel Study into the who, what and why of the trend across the world, and to understand which locations most of them are travelling away to.
The BA Global Solo Travel Study (focussing on Women Solo Travellers) of 18-64-year olds across UK, US, France, India, Germany, Italy, Brazil and China found that over 50% of women have taken a holiday by themselves, with 75% of women planning a solo trip in the next few years. According to the BA study, almost 47% of Indian women said they have travelled alone, for at least 2 – 5 times and 30% of Indian travellers intend to travel in the next 2-3 months. Maximum number of solo travellers in India is between the age of 18 – 25. The survey said that Indian traveller’s hopped/skipped continents the most with 37% have travelled solo to Europe and 33% exploring the UAE and Middle East.
Similarly for a backpacker the travel experience which includes the travelling, the local people and the place itself matter the most rather than the tourist spots, which are often explored extensively or full of tourists from across the world. As a concept, backpacking popularly originated in the west where travellers would take out a month to travel and explore places on a tight budget. Naturally as discussed the motivator for a backpacker is the ethos and the culture of the place being visited, experiencing the place first hand, understand the people and culture, meet new people and interact with them. And moreover, because they have a longer and more flexible itinerary on a tighter budget, conventional staying options which do not fulfill any of their requirements gave way to the concept of backpacker hostels, which is a growing trend both in India and abroad.
According to the Amadeus study, one third (34%) of all outbound travellers are in the age group of 25-34 and they are the most likely to undertake solo or back packing trips.
Which is the cheapest travel insurance?
The traveller must be aware that as far as travel insurance is concerned “cheap insurance” most definitely means a limited coverage for the insured. Travel insurance premium depends on the age of the traveller, duration and destination of travel and the coverage opted for. When the traveller decides to opt for a limited coverage to have a lower premium, there could be ramifications in terms of coverage that could impact the traveller in the unfortunate incident of a large claim.
Assuming, one chooses to opt for a limited coverage of $50,000 while travelling to USA, in the event of an unfortunate hospitalisation due to an accident or sickness where in the insured needs a surgery and spend multiple days in hospital, this coverage will not be sufficient to take care of the medical expenses and the traveller will end up spending the remaining expenses from their pocket, which could be a sizeable amount. In an ideal scenario, the traveller should first consider their destination country and the cost of healthcare locally there. In almost all countries across the world, the cost of healthcare is significantly higher than India and hence this should determine the Sum Insured/Coverage opted for by the traveller and not the premium. In the earlier example, a traveller going to USA for a holiday or on business should have a coverage between $250,000 and $500,000 given the cost of treatment there.
Similarly if the traveller is going for a holiday to Asia, they should ensure their insurance plan has non-medical coverages like Trip Cancellation, Passport Loss, Flight Delay, Missed Connection, Personal Liability etc since these are risks associated with holiday travel. The incremental premium payable to purchase a comprehensive cover will not be significant when compared to the emergency situations that can occur and their potential financial impact.