Taking time out of education for a gap year? Follow our top tips for staying safe and having a great gap year:
Know where you are going
For the exciting part, ensure that you have done your research on where you are going, and what you can get up to in the surrounding area. For the more practical side, make sure you read up on any local customs or laws that you may need to abide by, as different countries have different laws and customs as to what we have here in the UK. The British FCDO provide up-to-date information on local customs, laws, weather conditions, current disease outbreaks etc.
Crime levels can vary from country to country, so in order to stay safe, take precautionary measures. Ensure you have digital copies as well as hard copies of all of your important documents (your passport, plane tickets, travel insurance details, accommodation details etc.). This means that you will have a backup copy, in case your original copy was to become lost or stolen. It is also important to keep these documents in a safe place. Keep all of your important documents in a folder. Keeping these together in a folder will mean they are less likely to become lost, and are well organised for when they are needed (it saves you from stressfully scrambling around to find them!)
Another way of staying safe on your travels is to ensure you are up-to-date with your routine jabs and boosters, and are aware of any courses of prevention medication, such as malaria tablets. It is always best to check with your GP to make sure you have had all of the vaccinations required for your chosen countries, and whether other vaccinations can be recommended.
Obviously, we are a bit biased when it comes to this point, but having travel insurance is such an important factor! It is crucial that you purchase your travel insurance through a reputable company, as it could cost you thousands of pounds if something were to go wrong, before finding out that your insurance doesn’t cover you for that accident or illness. Ensure that you check your chosen company’s policy wording, in order to be clear on what activities they do and do not cover.
Before you go there are some checks that need to be made regarding your money. Make sure you look at your credit cards expiration date, as if it were to expire while you were away, you would be unable to access the money in the account.
It is also worth sending your credit card company a note to say that you are going away, so they don’t block your card for fraudulent activity in a foreign country.
It is always best to carry a sufficient amount of cash on you, no matter what country you are in. Some countries do not accept all brands of credit cards, and some have a limited amount of cash machines, so it is important to do your research! Check out our Country Guides, where you can access everything you need to know about the countries you are travelling to. www.direct-travel.co.uk/country-guides/
Keep in contact with your friends and family
Friends and family will worry about you. So in order to make sure that they know you are safe, try to keep in contact with them as often as possible. With so many different social media platforms these days, it is easy to keep in contact with everyone at home. Even if it is just a quick update as a tweet, we are sure it would mean the world!
We understand that WiFi can be hard to access when away in some countries. In order to overcome this, purchasing a local sim card is a great way of not having to stress about the big bill you would usually be creating for yourself, if you were to use your British SIM card abroad. Some airports now even have vending machines for SIM cards, meaning you don’t need to hunt for one!
ABTA recently released the top ten gap year destinations of 2016:
Don’t forget, you can get your travel insurance from DirectTravel at either www.direct-travel.co.uk or ring our friendly team on 0330 880 3600.