Gap Year Travel Safety News and Articles


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Travel News

China: Deaths from Covid-19 over 2200
E Africa: Heavy rains
Kenya: Contiinued threat of terrorism
South Africa: Power cuts until July 20
Australie: Bush fire ease due to rains




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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. Pollution is causing a serious health risk in most cities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  

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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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South East Asia

Most travellers have a fun and safe time in South East Asia and the area has huge opportunities. Some parts, especially in Thailand and Vietnam are overflowing with travellers so one has to make a bit more of an effort to get off the beaten track and explore the unspoilt areas. As with previous years, throughout of much of Sout East 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 this year.

In China cases of Coronavirus (Covid - 19) are growing, over 75,500 cases and over 2200 deaths by 21 Feb 2020 and movement restrictions are in place within China. Cases have occurred in Japan , Singapore, Thailand (about 20 cases each) and less in Vietnam & Cambodia. Currently we suggest those travelling in SE Asia continue but must avoid China and monitor the situation in Thailand consider. Should cases increase in Thailand then travellers should consider leaving the region. As at 28 January the UK Foreign office is advising against all but essential travel to China. If you are in SE Asia you shoudl be very careful who you socailise with, washing your hands on a regualr basis and thoroughly (especially before eating) is the best virus avoidance techniques. Face masks are view as not beeing that effective but one might be exected to wear one is others are.  There is so much unknown about this virus; its source, how it spreads, its actually lethality. We will monitor the situation closely but it seems likley that many more cases will occur in the region and travellers should consider not visiting Thailand, Vietnam & Cambodia should the virus significantly 'break out' of China.    

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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The Middle East

Countries across the Middle East (Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Iran & Libya) face political turmoil following the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and the ongoing one in Syria. Libya remains highly unstable due to inter-factional fighting & criminal activity, including kidnapping that are on the rise. The British Embassy closed in July 2014 due to security concerns and FCO is advising Against All Travel to Libya. The FCO also advises 'against all travel to Syria', unrest will continue and the country in now in a state of civil war. Lebanon remain relatively stable and Beirut is a wonderful city to visit but the general level of unrest in the regions is putting strains on the country. Resentment against Iran's involvement in the region is on the rise, in October and November 2019 violent protests have occurred across Iraq and Lebanon against Iran's axis of influence namely the Shia dominated Iraqi government and Hizbollah. This comes at a times when more mass protests have also broken out in Iran following a 50% hike in fuel prices. The killing by the USA of Iran's top General & IRGC leader Gen Soliemani in iraq on 3 Jan 20 will dramatically increase tension in the region and its very likely that the Iranian regime will have to react against the USA in some form. UK citizens should keep a low profile if in Iran. 

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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. in late 2019 Heavy rainfall has claused flooding and deaths in Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania.

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Visiting Vietnam

I recently travelled to Vietnam for a very brief fact-finding tour, gathering information to help our gap year students plan their travels in this wonderful country. I have previously visited Laos, Thailand and Myanmar (February this year), so I was really keen to see why Vietnam rated so highly. I travelled as a gap year student, staying in dormitories, hostels and getting about by both bus and train. Whilst in Saigon, I had a very useful meeting at the British High Commission. I say Saigon as I didn’t see a single bus or train timetable or a local person who referred to it as Ho Chi Minh.

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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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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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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 fabulous field in the sunshine! 

However, it is so important to prepare for your Festivals abroad and our Festival travel checklist below will ensure both your safety and enjoyment whilst travelling abroad.



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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

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).

Best time to go to Thailand is from about March onwards until July, as this is when most people of a similar age will be in Thailand and South East Asia. Some good hostels are Relax Corner, Slumber Party, Lazy House Shenanigans or Phagnan Arena. Most of these have a pool and they run events like beer pong in the evening that are fun and definitely worth taking part in for free drinks etc.

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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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