Scotland named most popular budget backpacker destination

Digby Bodenham By Digby Bodenham

Backpacking conjures up images of trekking across the Himalayas, riding an elephant through the jungle, staying in hostels and enjoying affordable beer. However, a recent survey commissioned by Bought By Many suggests that many backpackers are now choosing to make the most of what the UK has to offer for long-term travel, with Scotland proving to be one of the most popular value destinations for British backpackers.

Backpacking was classed as any travel over 2 weeks and 22% of respondents said 5 to 8 weeks was their ideal trip length.

New Zealand is the destination of choice for people on an unlimited budget (21% of respondents), and it’s no surprise, being home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Other favourite destinations are the USA (16%), Australia (12%) and South America (13%).

Best budget destinations

But for value destinations, the more typical backpacker havens of Thailand (17%) and India (16%) were pipped to the post by Scotland. Nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) identified Scotland as their top choice if they were on a budget.

Backpacking is associated with low-cost travel; so having easy and affordable access to historic cities and the raw beauty of its rugged landscape and serene beaches makes Scotland a popular choice for those suffering from wanderlust.

Importance of insurance

One of Scotland’s many advantages is that Brits don’t need backpacker travel insurance to cover medical expenses there.

However, buying travel insurance for a trip that includes Scotland still has advantages. It would cover cancellation and curtailment costs, for example, if heavy snowfall delayed a hike on the West Highland Way and you missed the Caledonian Sleeper. And if you had to abandon the trip because of the sudden death of a loved one you could claim back the costs of any travel, accommodation or activities you’d booked.

Find out more about the best backpacker travel insurance policies and the importance of cancellation cover here.

It’s not just important to consider buying insurance but to choose the right kind of insurance. If someone bought annual travel insurance any claim may be invalidated if their trip to Scotland was longer than 5 weeks. That is because there are limits on trip lengths, which not only invalidate trips that exceed them but any other holidays covered by that policy.

Backpacker policies allow people to be covered for much longer trips. For those travelling more than once a year it’s worth considering an annual policy but if one of the trips is over 5 weeks, you'll probably need backpacker cover.

We've ranked the 10 best travel insurance and backpacker policies.

Popular locations in Scotland

For those who travelled to Scotland, the most popular destination was Edinburgh, with 45% visiting the historical capital. Glasgow is also a tourist hotspot with 20% of respondents having visited.

It’s not just Scotland’s cities that are a draw, the stunning scenery of Skye, Aviemore, Loch Lomand and the Isle of Arran all cropped up in the survey and 23% of respondents described the country as “very beautiful”.

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  • by David Woodfield