Safety on a Gap Year

Seeing the world independently is most definitely a rite of passage for many young people but let’s face it backpacking is not without risks.

There are ways to minimise the dangers that come with the pursuit of freedom and discovering the world. Here are our top tips for peace of mind when you are taking the plunge and setting off alone. Some tips for mum and dad too.

Our top 10 tips are:

  1. Budgeting
    Yes we know budget is a major consideration for gap year students! But definitely splash out on a decent room and meal in a safe area when you first arrive in a new country. Even if you can only afford a night in a hotel it will let you get settled when you are at your most vulnerable after a long journey.
  2. Bring a fake wallet
    Carry a fake or ‘dummy’ wallet. Hand it over in the event of an assault or robbery. Stick in an expired bank card and a small amount of cash. This should be enough to fool a robber who won’t check the contents.
  3. Dress appropriately
    Never display signs of obvious wealth when travelling either alone or in a group. Cameras, expensive watches, air pods, identify you as a target. Keep money, wallets and phones out of sight under clothing as much as possible. Pickpocketing can be a living for some people.
  4. Be social media smart
    Beware social media (yes we know you want to show off your travels!) as criminals can use social media to track their victims. Only post an update once you have moved on from a place. Don’t post about where you are heading next or especially where you are staying. Depending on your security settings it may not only be your friends who can see your posts. It's entirely possible you won’t know who is reading your gap year travel experiences.
  5. Leave the gadgets at home
    Leave gadgets such as iPads and smart watches at home. Keep your smartphone tucked away and don’t bring the latest model. However, don’t forget a phone can be extremely useful in an emergency to alert people to your situation.
  6. Download a safety app.
    Download a personal safety app like Safety Beacon and put your emergency contacts in before you leave. The app can also be used as a personal alarm (siren) and will transmit your exact location using What3Words and the GPS tracker.
  7. Leave half behind
    Pack: then leave at least half behind. Keep clothes to a minimum by using the rule of three. One to wear, one for the laundry and one clean set. Over burdened travellers stand out and are more vulnerable to attack and robbery. You can always buy more clothing and toiletries while you are abroad.
  8. A simple door stop
    Buy a door stop. A simple form of security device! Wedge it under the door of your accommodation from the inside amazingly some even come fitted with an alarm. Even if you are asleep you will be alerted to an intruder!
  9. Backup the important stuff
    Prepare and have a support system: This should include making copies of all bank details, insurance policy, phone numbers and a scan of your passport. Everything should be compiled before the traveller leaves.
  10. Check in regularly
    Arrange a check in call time and date – so those at home know you are safe (and can of course learn more about your fabulous experiences).

Having a great time means also keeping yourself safe – download Safety Beacon and stay safe every step of the way!