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Our guide to staying safe and healthy on your gap year.

It's a big wild world out there, but you can stay safe if you follow a few general rules.

  • Get decent travel insurance and make sure it covers everything you're planning to do (sometimes it costs extra for activities like snowboarding or diving). For more info on travel insurance click here.
  • Leave enough time for your vaccinations. Depending on where you're going, you might need 3 months to get all your jabs.
  • Don't drink the water if you're advised not to. Don't brush your teeth in it either. You can buy water purifier kits if you're going somewhere remote.
  • Be aware that even in Western countries, you can still get traveller's tummy. If you do, make sure you rehydrate yourself (you can buy rehydration powders).
  • Get a mosquito net and lots of mosquito repellent. Your malaria pills will protect you against malaria, but it's best to avoid getting bitten in the first place.
  • Keep your skin out of the sun – use a hat, sunblock etc. Apart from protecting you from burning, it will help stop you getting sunstroke.
  • Most importantly, adopt a positive attitude. Many people get a bit ill whilst travelling, but the vast majority recover quickly and suffer no long-term effects.
  • If you're taking medication for an existing condition (eg diabetes, epilepsy), get a doctor's note before you travel.
  • Don't lose control: If you get wasted then you're not going to be able to deal with any situations that might come up.
  • Always let someone at home know your travel plans: Keep them regularly updated via email or phone calls.
  • Look after your belongings: Take a padlock to secure your rucksack with and use a waist wallet for documents and money. Ideally, a waist wallet should be worn against the skin for total concealment. Try not to have to access a waist wallet when you are in a public place, especially in a bus or train station.
  • Research the country that you will be visiting: Get to know in advance the areas that you should beware of, the different cultural rules that apply to dress and public behaviour and try to familiarise yourself with the language to some degree.
  • Take at least the following: plasters and antiseptic wipes, painkillers, travel sickness treatments, sunscreen, diarrhoea, treatments (including rehydration), mosquito repellent, malaria medication (if needed).
 
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