Mind the gap

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Round the world travel is not just for people taking a year out from studying. A rise in career breaks and longer holidays is making adventure travel more popular than ever. Whether you are travelling for the first time or travelling alone, once you have bought your ticket the thought of travelling can suddenly feel very daunting. Gap Adventures specialises in small group experiences, safaris and expeditions on all seven continents. With 20 years’ experience and more than 100,000 travellers annually, Gap Adventures’ experts have some great advice, which will fully prepare you so you can be confident you’ll have the trip of a lifetime.

Swot up
Read as much as you can about your destinations, this way you will know more about what to expect and how to prepare yourself. It will also mean that you are less likely to miss seeing what you want. Use trusted websites for accurate information. For instance, Gap Adventures has a travel guide section with information for all the popular travelling destinations, including cultural and historical information, places to see, and festivals and events. It also has practical information worth reviewing on topics such as health issues, weather information and pre departure practicalities.

Supplement information from trusted websites with advice from other travellers, where you can directly ask about others’ experiences. Forums can be great for getting a feel for places, but it is best to double check factual information with additional sources.

Pre plan a budget and commit to stick with it, to avoid running low on money during your trip. You may find you need to work while you are away – but you often need to arrange a visa in advance. For Australia the initial working visa is easy to obtain, but a second working visa is more difficult. Because of this, if you will be there only a short time you may decide not to work and save your first visa for a longer trip.

Make it easy to keep in contact

Get yourself and your family Skype accounts. Skype is a cheap way to make calls abroad, and with a webcam you can also see each other (perfect for showing off the great tan you’ll have).
Bring hard copies of pictures of your family. These are more accessible and will feel more real than looking at digital versions online if you happen to feel homesick.
If you enjoy writing, you may want to set yourself up with a blogging platform. WordPress accounts are easy to set up, or there are travel specific ones such as Trip Journal, Travellers Point or TravelPod which allows you to map your journey. While you are at home with easy access to the internet, play with the design until you are happy and let people know the address, so as soon as you leave you can begin recording your experiences.
Choose a photo upload site, like Flickr, so you can upload pictures as you go – it will not only show everyone what you are up to, but it acts as a good backup should anything happen to your camera. You can also upload photos to Facebook, however, the quality is fairly low so Flickr may be a better option if you want to print them in the future.

If you have a planned itinerary, leave a copy at home so friends and relatives can feel safe knowing where you are. Mark times when you think contacting them may be difficult so they don’t worry if you don’t get in touch for a while. It is also a good idea to leave photocopies of your passport and plane tickets with an emergency contact. It is also a good idea to provide your country’s embassy with a copy of your planned itinerary and contact information.

Get street wise

It may sound geeky, but buy a money pouch. They really come in handy when you don’t have a safe place to keep your money. If you can get one that is fairly big but you are still able to sleep with, it will be useful in keeping your valuables safe overnight if the hostel has no locker.
Make sure you have different ways of accessing money. With most banks you can withdraw funds no matter where you are in the world, but it is a good idea to have a back up way of withdrawing money (for instance travellers cheques). Keep them in separate places, this way, if you lose one, you always have the other.
If you do get stranded without money, you can always have relatives transfer you some through Western Union, as long as you have ID with you, so remember to keep your emergency contact’s details handy just in case if you get stuck.

Get company
If you are still worried about travelling, surround yourself with like minded people. Group travel and tours are a fantastic way to travel where the organisation of getting from A to B, arranging accommodation and visiting highlights is all sorted for you. Many people feel much safer travelling in groups and long-lasting friendships can often be made with like minded travellers.

For more health and safety travel advice, visit www.gapadventures.com and www.planeterra.org

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