Tag Archive | backpacker

My life in colour coded categories

I’ve been adamant all week that this weekend would be a productive one, and if keeping my own promises wasn’t enough to spur me on the sudden realisation that I’m moving out of my flat in 11 weeks today has succeeded in whirling me into a cleaning, sorting frenzy (think Monica from friends but replace the extreme organisation with extreme panic).

My plans for the holiday season are as follows: Move out of flat on Sunday 19th December with help from parents who will be transporting my worldly goods to their house for storage; stay with friends from Sunday 19th until Thursday 23rd December, during which time I need to go to work; leave work for Christmas (and for good!) on the 23rd and get the train to parents house; stay at parents house until January 11th when I will arrive at London Heathrow suitably packed with everything I need (and nothing more) for my working holiday.

I’m going to make somewhat of a large generalisation and assume that the vast majority of 18-30 year olds in possession of a working holiday visa are either living with parents or in private rented accommodation (like me), which means that moving out in itself is relatively easy.  All I have to do is give my lettings agency one month’s notice in writing, which is a doddle compared to the stress of having to sell/rent out a house had I been in the position to own one (which I most definitely am not).

Modern, two bed flat for rent, fully furnished including one disorganised traveller...

The only niggle in my plan stems from the fact that successfully departing from my flat, sending my belongings home to my parent’s attic, and staying with friends for my last week at work all require me to have sorted my belongings into the following categories:

a)      Things I don’t want or need, that nobody else will want or need either, and are therefore destined for the rubbish bin (skip loads).

b)      Things I don’t want or need, but may have some small financial value and can attempt to sell via a bar boot sale/ebay/gumtree (a good few boxes).

c)       Things I definitely want and need, but am not intending to take to Canada with me so will pack up for storage at my parent’s house (boxes, bags and overflowing bin liners).

d)      Things I cannot live without and will be lugging with me on the plane (two suitcases).

e)      Things I may not be taking with me but will need when I stay at a friend’s house for a week, and also taking home on the train (small holdall).

A friend suggested I apply to go on Cash in the Attic, which sounded like a great idea except I don’t have an attic, everything in my modern, two bed flat is less than five years old, and I imagine they have a turnaround time of more than 11 weeks per episode.

Alas, there is nothing for it but to embrace my inner Monica, invest in some seriously strong bin liners and start the sorting process.  I am more than a bit of an organisation freak, so if it all gets too much I’ll concentrate instead on making pretty, colour-coded labels for each of my categorised boxes until the panic subsides and I can continue pulling long lost treasures from under my bed. I think I’ll start with the spare room. Deep breath now…!

The Wild World of Insurance

For me, the most daunting part of the working holiday application process was choosing and purchasing travel insurance.

Whilst I hope I could grin and bear the pain if I broke my leg whilst trying to be clever when snowboarding, I don’t think I could cope with my parents uttering a disappointed ‘I told you so’ if I didn’t have the right insurance to cover me.  I figured that if the worst is going to happen there might not be a lot I can do about it (other than stick to the piste), but I could make sure the aftermath is more bearable than my broken limbs by doing my research into insurance.

BUNAC offer an exclusive and comprehensive policy through Endsleigh that covers all eventualities with lots of added extras, but does also come with an exclusive and comprehensive price tag.  It’s all very well looking elsewhere for your cover, and a lot of travellers do, but it’s crucial that your cover ticks the right boxes with BUNAC otherwise it won’t get approved, and your letter of work authorisation will be delayed while you find yourself an alternative.

Sensible Skiers on Grouse Mountain

I am no insurance expert, but luckily the guys at BUNAC are, and they provide all Working in Canada applicants with guidance of minimum requirements for your cover, including period of cover, geographical area covered, medical cover and activities included.  From my experience, things to look out for include whether you’re covered if you come back to the UK at any point during your trip (some policies will cease the moment you’re back on British soil) and what the excess is on any claims you might unfortunately have to make.

If you decide to go with another provider, other BUNAC-ers have gone with the following:

STA Travel – http://www.statravel.co.uk

ACE Insurance – http://www.aceinsure.com/

Multitrip – http://www.multitrip.com/

This isn’t to say that you don’t need to check these out thoroughly before you commit!

I went with ACE Insurance and paid £203 for 12 months global backpacker insurance.  I was happy that the policy covered my needs for what I’ve got planned, and BUNAC were too.  The topic of insurance is always a popular one in various blogs and internet sites, and does tend to induce mass panic (and even mild hysteria), but for me it turned out not to be quite the minefield I imagined.  Different policies will work better for different people, and I am in no position to endorse any particular provider, but I do recommend you do the research as it really is worth it – insurance is not something to skimp on.