Gap Year Travel Safety News



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BBC Excess Baggage: Listen to Charlie McGrath Speaking to John McCarthy



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Travel News

Philippines: increased cases of Dengue Fever
Venezuela: Further anti-government protests planned.
Sri Lanka: Outbreak of Dengue Fever
Brazil: Yellow Fever outbreak in Minas Gerais
South East Asia: Increase in cases of Dengue Fever across the region

US: Tropical Storm Karen forecast to approach Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands on 24 Sept


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Central and South America

The best bits of Latin America are the rural areas. The topography and environment are diverse. There are many cultural and historical differences and most gappers, travellers and backpackers have a superb time. Our rural highlights would be the Pantanal in Brazil, the Andes, Chile's Atacama Desert, Patagonia, the Chilean and Argentinian Lake District. Of the big cities Rio, BA, Medellin and Cartegna are great fun and rewarding, but it's important to be prepared for higher levels of crime than in Europe. It's critical to check the weather, too many travellers go to Peru and Bolivia in period January to March when it's the wet season.

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The Middle East

Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Iran & Libya

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Indian Sub Continent

Key Travel Safety Points when travelling and backpacking in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma) & Nepal.

The greatest risks are from road traffic accidents (RTA's) and getting sick, especially in India. Contracting Dengue Fever is certainly a risk in many parts. Use insect repellant with 50% DEET to reduce the risk. In the winter months, pollution is a serious problem in the big cites of India and seems to be only getting worse. The 2019 monsoon in India is causing extensive flooding acorss the country, notably in Kerela and Assam. Relations between India and Pakistan are currently very strained following the withdrawal in August 2019 of special status that India had given Kashmir since 1947.

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South East Asia

Most travellers have a fun and safe time in South East Asia. The area has huge opportunities. Parts, especially in Thailand and Vietnam, are overflowing with travellers so one has to make a bit more of and effort to get off the beaten track and explore the unspoilt areas.  As with previous years, throughout of much of SE Asia there has been an increase in the cases of Dengue fever during 2019 especially in the Philippines where ther have been over 146,000 cases in 2019.    

Covering up and using insect repellant with 50% DEET is a good precaution. Chikungunya Fever is also a risk, bite avoidance, is once again the key. The 2018 monsoon in India has caused wide spread flooding across the country, many northern areas such as Assam, will be affected for some time. Travellers are reminded that Indonesia & Japan are in an active earthquake zone, a series of earthquakes on Lombok, Indonesia in September 2018 and a Tsuanami on Sulawesi, Indonesia killed a number of people.

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Travelling Africa

Africa is a less popular travel destination but still offers huge opportunities. Many countries in North and Central Africa should not be visited due to security issues. Travellers to West, Central and East Africa should be aware that many countries require a Yellow Fever certificate for entry.

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Festivals Abroad Checklist

Festivals abroad are a great way to discover new cultures and let’s face it, what’s not to like about partying in a field in the sunshine!  However, it is so important to prepare for your Festival abroad and our Festival travel checklist below will ensure both your safety and enjoyment whilst travelling abroad.



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Water – Safe abroad? Good question!

Can I drink the tap water? Or rather too many young travellers assume they can and are in for a nasty shock when they realised they actually can’t. Living in the UK, we just take this for granted and have done so for decades. Where would I feel safe drinking the tap water? Central Europe, North America, Japan and Australasia for certain and perhaps Chile and Argentina.  A Chinese audience recently said to me ‘absolutely not’ and quite definitely I would not be drinking tap water in India, Laos, Vietnam, Bolivia and Peru to name a few. 

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Japan - First visit

My first impression of Japan was bizarre to say the least. I wondered whether I had landed in a SARS or Ebola zone. I was greeted by a mask wearing immigration official who was very polite but looked completely ridiculous amongst scores of non mask-wearing human beings! It's been a delight to be here on business. Tokyo is a modern city (the US Air Force flattened most of bit in the latter months of the war) and works well. It's clean, doesn’t feel very crowded (but suspect I have got lucky) and everyone is so polite.

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Thailand - Full Moon Party

Thailand – The Full Moon Party by Charlotte McGrath

In order to make sure you are staying in the best hostel (this matters as it's where you will ‘pre’ and often you go to the party with people you have met in the hostel) it's best to pick a date and book the hostel about 2 to 3 months in advance as the best ones go quickly. The Full Moon happens once a month with a half moon once a month too (I didn’t go to a Half Moon but have heard good things).

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Courses and Talks for Schools

Objective Gap Safety can provide tailored made Gap Year Safety or Urban Safety Courses for schools.

The gap course is typically delivered in a half-day course and is a shortened version of our highly successful one day Gap Safety Course. It's designed to prepare 6th formers for the challenges of overseas travel and is full of life skills.

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Myanmar Burma

Myanmar is the most wonderful country to visit and it's a good time to go at the moment due to lack of other tourists. I had been before, in 1983, when one could only get a visa for six days and it was all rather fraught but exciting. Today Myanmar, in a semi-democratic mode, is a joy to visit and it’s relatively easy but perhaps a little more expensive than its neighbours.  The unrest in the north of Rakhine and the publicity surrounding the exodus of thousands of Rahinga Muslims has had a negative effect on the tourism trade.  Some estimates suggest that tourism may be down by up to 40%.

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Travelling East Africa Feb 2018

I have just returned from a short trip to Kenya and Tanzania. The former was returning to Nairobi and visiting the highland area around Nanyuki whilst in Tanzania it was a familiarisation trip to Zanzibar.

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Dengue Fever, Zika & Chikungunya Fever

In South America, Central America and South East Asia, Dengue Fever is a persistent threat & now Chikungunya in spreading into Central & South America too. The Zika virus is now spreading across much of South America, especailly in Brazil.

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South Island New Zealand

First visit to South Island New Zealand and some thougths on Wanaka, Queenstown, Milford Sound and Kaikoura.

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Colombia Nov 2016

In the middle of November 2016 I returned to Colombia for the first time since 1990. The country has clearly had a torrid last two decades (well really five), just mentioning it’s name prompt comments about Pablo Escobar, rebel gangs and a generally thoroughly dangerous place. Happily things are improving, Escobar met a sticky end in a roof top shoot out in 1993 and from the turn of the century President Uribe took on the rebel groups, principally the FARC and ELN

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Travelling in Iran

I have just returned from 10 wonderful days travelling in Iran. Whilst it may be slightly off the beaten track for a gap year traveller, I joined my son and two friends who are driving from London to Beijing on their gap year. Iran is also a popular destination for many people doing the Mongol Rally.  Below are my thoughts on the country and some practical advice.

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