The exhilaration of the gap year experience is waiting on the horizon. The promise of sunny memories and unforgettable moments that come with a gap year will broaden your worldview. Travelling abroad brings the human spirit just a little closer- even if it’s only one person at a time.
However, in midst of all this excitement, we often forget about what it takes to make these experiences safe and well planned. Receiving the joys of the gap year travel experience quickly vanishes when real life steps in and you miss that 4:00 PM train to Southern France. Sure, you can grab a fresh baguette while you wait, but let’s face it, there’s an anxious ball condensed in your stomach. So before you get an aneurism or burst a blood vessel, read this brief guide for avoiding unnecessary stress and having the time of your life!
Safety Advice for the Traveling Gapper
Every year thousands of gappers jet off for the trip of a lifetime, gazing towards the promise of exploration. These gappers must remember to study and gain a comprehensive understanding of the new environment (social, political, and cultural). Well-planned trips can be inspirational for any young traveler, but badly planned trips could end up causing more than just a sore head. Before you head off, familiarize yourself with your destination and its local laws and customs. It’s always a good idea to learn key phrases and basic words of the local language. These small things can make a huge difference to your trip, especially the reception you’ll receive from the locals. It can also help in an emergency. Life is so unpredictable. Who knows what could happen? For example, did you know that in Japan it’s offensive to blow your nose in public? I can’t imagine what kind of trouble you would get yourself into for shooting off a snot rocket in Tokyo!
Many gappers volunteer in community projects throughout Africa and Southeast Asia. While these trips offer golden opportunities to see pristine beaches and unforgettable jaw-dropping landscapes, there are still serious threats to keep in mind. The risk of contracting HIV, malaria, and Dengue Fever is very high. Remember to take advice from your practice nurse, GP or travel clinic before travelling abroad. Vaccinations will be necessary. So take precaution, and don’t be a hero (listen to your mom when she tells you to be careful!)
Unfortunately, travelers often allow themselves to become too comfortable with their surroundings and forget all the advice they’ve been given – that’s when things can go wrong!
Unfortunately, many of the countries that need the most teachers and other volunteer support are often the countries with the highest rates of crime and terrorist activity. These fears can be blown out of proportion (no pun intended), but it’s always important to take precautions when travelling. Try not to wander alone at night and always keep a close eye on your personal possessions. Travelers as easy prey for scam artists. One way to avoid these tragedies is to open up and communicate with the locals. Ask for advice on how they stay safe in rougher areas.
Taking a Gap Year without Breaking the Bank
Gappers don’t need to spend an arm and a leg during their adventures. When planning, keep in mind that flying into small airports could be one way for travelers to cut down on the cost of their trip. Flying into less busy hubs will save you money, and it will also lessen the waiting and queuing after you get off the plane.
Another way to save throughout your trip is to carry snacks and drinks with you as often as possible. Hotels and surrounding tourist businesses often sell goods at much higher prices than in outer regions. If you opt for a cheaper accommodation, honestly, you won’t be missing out. Hopefully your gap year activities are so exciting that your accommodation is merely a place to sleep and recharge your batteries after an exciting day of volunteering, studying, or exploring a new country. During your gap year you should live by the old cliché, “Sleep is for the weak!”
This article is brought to you by Nick Wright. Nicholas, Chief Editor at Go Overseas, is an avid reader, obsessed with poetry and literature. He attended the University of San Francisco and next fall he’ll be attending Columbia University to earn his Master’s degree in writing. You can find Nick (stereotypically) hanging out at cafes throughout San Francisco and playing the electric bass with his band “Coma Kids”.