While fun, going on a gap year is not without its risks. When you travel, it is often to unfamiliar places, and you often rely on the help of locals. In some cases, you are completely alone.
Yet however frightening backpacking or gap year travel might seem for those about to take the plunge, there are ways to minimise the risks that come with the pursuit of freedom abroad. Using common sense and trusting your instincts goes a long way too.
Follow these safety tips when travelling and you’ll be more likely to return home safe and sound – with hundreds of enviable stories to share.
1. Splash out on the first night
On accommodation, that is. It’s always worth researching and booking a decent room for when you first arrive somewhere. This will allow time to get your bearings and spare the pressure of finding somewhere to sleep when you’re at your most vulnerable.
2. Carry a dummy wallet
Consider carrying a ‘false’ or ‘dummy’ wallet that you can hand over in the event of a robbery. This should contain an expired credit or debit card and a small amount of cash. Robbers rarely check the contents at the scene of the crime so this should be enough to fool them.
3. Beware your own tweets
Criminals use social media to track the movements of their victims. Reduce your chances of becoming a target by only posting updates once you have moved on from a particular place.
4. Forget your iPad
Leave all expensive gadgetry at home. Doing this will also make you more aware of what’s going on around you and allow you to identify potential dangers.
5. Buy a cheap phone and local SIM
Smartphones are also high-value items and thus extremely desirable for criminals. When you get to your destination, purchase a cheap phone and local SIM card so that you’re only paying local rates.
6. Pack, then leave half of it behind
There are two types of traveller. Those who pack light and those who wish they had.
7. Buy a door stop
One of the simplest yet most effective security devices is a door stop: simply wedge it under your door (from the inside) for added in-room security.