If you’re planning a backpacking trip through Europe, there are plenty of things you need to consider: your route; where to stay; what to see; and of course, what do do if things don’t go to plan and you end up needing medical assistance.
It’s all too easy to end up hurt or sick while you’re away from home, whether you stand on something sharp on the beach, twist your ankle climbing up to see the view or chow down on something you should have given a miss and end up with food poisoning.
If you’re a UK citizen, an EHIC or European Health Insurance Card will entitle you to free or discounted medical treatment in every single country in the European Economic Area. That includes popular holiday destinations like Spain, France and Italy as well as less well travelled parts of Europe, including Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania.
Your EHIC card won’t necessarily entitle you to free healthcare in every country, but you’ll pay the same rate as the locals if you find yourself needing urgent medical care. It doesn’t replace or negate the need for travel insurance, as the costs of repatriation are not covered by an EHIC card, but it’s a great way to add an extra level of protection to your holiday.
This is especially important for backpackers, who are perhaps more likely than most to be travelling on a budget – you don’t want to have scrimped and saved for the backpacking adventure of a lifetime, only to have it stymied by spiralling medical costs.
There are a few things that the card doesn’t cover, so it’s important you’re aware of its limitations before you travel; for instance, it won’t cover people who have travelled abroad with the sole intention of having treatment. It does include maternity care if you give birth whilst abroad, but again will not cover you if you travel abroad specifically to give birth.
If you’re taking off to backpack the sights of Europe sometime soon, check when your EHIC renewal is due to make sure you aren’t caught out. www.ukehic.com have lots of information about EHIC’s and you are also able to apply for a premium service on the application too.