Skift Take

The answers to the poll make these gap year students look more like a child who fill his dinner plate with candy instead of vegetables rather than someone who's well-equipped to discover the world.

It used to be a trip into the great unknown with just a rucksack and a sleeping bag, but today’s plugged-in gap year travellers say the one item they will not leave home without is their smartphone, according to a survey.

Instead of spending months out of contact with the rest of civilisation as they seek to find themselves, young people are keen to stay connected, the poll suggests. The figures may come as some comfort to parents knowing they will still be able to keep in touch as their teenage children set off for the other side of the world.

But the poll hardly indicates a practical mindset as apparently useful items such as sleeping bags are deemed less important than hair straighteners, make-up, guitars, and teddy bears. Asked to name the one item they would take, 52% opted for their smartphone, well ahead of the laptop or iPad at 7%, the next most popular item.

Debit or credit cards and money came third at 7%, with the iPod at 6% and a digital camera at 3%. In fact, none of the 2,009 16-34-year-olds surveyed for Post Office travel insurance named sleeping bags as being their must-have item.

The research also showed that despite the hi-tech items filling their backpacks, 29% felt that travel insurance was not an essential when travelling abroad. Analysis of Post Office travel insurance data also showed the risk of illness or injury, with Thailand, China, Vietnam, South Africa and India the most likely countries where medical expenses could be incurred.

Paula Cottrell, head of travel insurance at Post Office Ltd, said: “Embarking on a Gap year break is an exciting time for travellers, but with expensive technology contained in the not so budget backpack, trying to keep down costs by cutting back on essentials such as travel insurance could be an expensive mistake.”


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