Thursday, 15 June 2017 GMT
Author: Staveley Head
So you’ve just finished your A-Levels or University degree and want to see the world, or maybe you’re just looking for a career break or have recently retired. No matter your reasons, going on a gap-year is a brilliant way of experiencing new cultures, meeting new people and travelling to interesting places.
As providers of travel insurance we know that each year thousands of people take time out to travel and explore. That’s why we have created this guide, to help you get the most out of your time away.
Touching down in a new country is exciting, but there are a few things you should do to keep yourself safe.
Make sure you at least have your accommodation sorted for the first night of your trip. The first day in a new country is when you are most vulnerable; you’ll be tired from travelling and still getting used to your surroundings.
Having valuable items on show can make you a target of crime. Don’t walk around with any expensive gadgets like a camera slung over your shoulder or wear an expensive watch. This will identify you as a potential target. Keep money, wallets, purses and money belts under clothing and not in pockets, as this makes them easier to steal.
Set regular check-in calls with family or friends. Let them know how you’re getting on with your adventure, but also let them know you’re safe. This can be done through Skype or FaceTime, although a simple phone call or text will work too.
Working & Volunteering
Finding work whilst on your travels can help ease the pressure of saving thousands of pounds before you leave. There are so many jobs out there for gap year travellers looking to make a living and carry on funding their travels. From being a ski instructor in Canada to an English teacher in Thailand, you’re sure to find work that suits you. Working on your gap year will not only look good on your CV when you decide to return home, it also opens the door for new opportunities and experiences, whilst also meeting like minded people.
If you’re not looking to earn whilst away, volunteering for a charity or cause could offer up the chance to create some amazing experiences, you can get involved in anything from sports coaching in India to conservation projects in Peru.
Manage Your Money
Managing your money whilst travelling can be a challenge, but there are ways to make life a bit easier and help you reduce any risks should something go wrong. The first thing to be aware of is to never be out and about with all (or a large amount) of your cash. If it gets stolen or misplaced, you could lose everything. Carry enough cash to get you through your day and leave the rest, along with any important documents somewhere secure like your hotel room safe.
It’s always useful to have a backup bank card in case any of your cash does go missing. Debit cards are great for giving you easy access to your money. If your card is linked to a major credit card company, you’ll have no problem withdrawing money from ATMs in hundreds of countries. Credit cards are excellent in case of an emergency, but don’t use it for regular purchases as interest can soon build up.
There is another type of card that makes sense for gap-year travellers – prepaid cards. This is a more secure alternative to carrying cash. They work in the same way as a credit or debit card but, money cannot be borrowed – you are only able to spend money you have topped the account up with. This makes them great for sticking to your travel budget.
Be sure to inform your bank that you will be travelling before you leave as you don’t want them to block your card.
Leave expensive gadgets at home
You’re probably best not taking any expensive tech with you on your gap-year. The last thing you want to do is drop your brand new iPad off the side of a canoe in Thailand, as that is a sure-fire way of spoiling your trip. All you really need to take with you is an old, beaten up mobile-phone that you can stick a local SIM card in. By minimising the amount of gadgets you take, you also won’t be distracted from any of the amazing sights and experiences you’re bound to come across by your smartphone or tablet.
Having the right insurance cover in place before you set off is one of the most important things to consider before setting off on your adventure.
Backpacker insurance is designed for trips to multiple locations over a long period of time in one trip, making it ideal for gap year travellers. Although cover is offered for a wide range of locations it’s important to double check with your insurers that they offer cover for where you’re going. This type of insurance can cover your medical expenses and offers replacement passport and travel document cover. Most policies will also allow you to add on extra cover if you’re planning on doing adventurous activities, like bungee jumping or scuba diving, which are popular with people going on gap-years.