Mind the gap
3 September 2009
With more than 430,000 school leavers and graduates preparing to jet off for a gap year adventure, the UK’s leading travel extras provider EssentialTravel.co.uk offers advice on how to avoid ‘doing a Jamie’.
The British backpacker set off into the Australian outback with very little food or water and no mobile phone - two cardinal sins of backpacking according to EssentialTravel.co.uk.
“Jamie’s a lucky guy,” says Philip Jordan, Director, EssentialTravel.co.uk. “With a little thought and preparation, it’s pretty straight forward keeping you and your belongings safe on a gap year.”
“With schools and universities closing for summer, we find ourselves advising a lot of students about how to stay protected during their gap year travels. Excitement can often get the better of them and they forget the basics.”
“Some insurance policies will become invalid by taking on voluntary or casual work abroad – how many students are aware of this?” adds Jordan.
EssentialTravel.co.uk’s ten tips for staying safe on your gap year:
1. Take out the right insurance – The right policy will provide guaranteed peace of mind for your whole trip. Always remember to check the small print, are you covered for all eventualities on your trip? Will you still be covered if you take on voluntary or casual work?
2. Stay in touch - The internet and mobile phones have made the world a smaller place - so use them. Agree with your parents or friends before you travel how often you'll be in touch and stick to it. Always keep a mobile phone with you
3. Scan your important documents – Keep copies of your passport, airline tickets, visas and insurance documents with you and send them to your family too. If you really get yourself in a mess, they can email or fax copies to the nearest embassy
4. Separate your cards – Credit cards, bank cards and cash should be separated in case you lose them or are unlucky enough to get robbed
5. Read up on local etiquette – It’s advisable to do this before you enter each country. Not only is it good manners but a little knowledge will go a long way
6. Decide on your budget – Budget for your trip carefully – and stick to it. Otherwise you could end up stranded without any means of getting home
7. Pack light - Carrying too many bags is literally a drag - your back will ache and you'll be a thief-magnet. However, do remember to pack plenty of food and water if you venture off exploring
8. Don’t forget your common sense - Remember, when bonding over a few beers:
• Stick to bars close to your hostel
• Don't try to negotiate unfamiliar streets when you've had a skin full
• Never hitchhike
• Always say no to drugs (you won't enjoy prison no matter how much the papers pay for your story)
9. Be cautious - If you get a bad feeling about certain hostels, particularly if you’re on your own, listen to that feeling and find an alternative
10. Keep a $50 bill stored under the insole in your shoe - This way you should always have cash available for emergencies (that doesn’t include another round at the bar)
For more travel tips log on to essentialtravel.co.uk.