Gap Year Travel Safety News and Articles

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Chile: Fires kill over 100 people
Brazil: Spike in Dengue fever cases
Ecuador: State of emergency declared
Israel/Gaza: Fighting restarts
Red Sea: US/UK attack Houthi targets
Australia: Flooding in Queensland
Europe: Rise of Measles
India: Severe pollution in Delhi
Brazil: Heat wave
Vietnam: Increased risk of Dengue Fever in Hanoi
Australia: Fear of summer forest fires
 
Ecuador: State of emergency in place
Brazil: Amazon, low water levels 
Thailand: Move Forward party make massive gains
South Africa: Power cuts to continue thru 2023
Argentina: Inflation hits 120%
Sri Lanka: Economic situation improves
Kenya: Continued threat of terrorism

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Central and South America

Covid travel restrictions across Latin America have now been lifted but you may need to complete a Health Declaration Form. Do check with the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office as the picture changes the whole time. For Colombia you do need to complete a pre arrival ehalth entry form.

If you are planning a trip to South or Central America, do check the weather patterns. For example, it's wet in Bolivia, Peru and much of Brazil especielaly the south east from January to March. Argentina and Chile are in summer November to March. It's important to have proof of departure - many countries will need to see a plane ticket out of the country or continent. Argentina has a new radical president who is attempting to transform the economy and Ecuador is experience a significant rise in gang violence. A 60 day state of emergency was declared in early January 2024 and we recommend gap year travellers avoid Ecuador at this time.

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The Middle East

The FCDO is currently advising against all travel to Syria, Yemen, Iran and Israel.  Whilst many parts such as the UAE, Egypt and Jordan are generally stable and prosperous this is not the case other areas. On 7th Oct 23 Hamas launched a major attack on Israel with a major conflict ongoing.  The IDF has launched  a ground invasion of Gaza which will be bloody and certainly destabilise the area further. At least 18,000 people were killed in the February 2023 earthquake on the Turkish/Syrian border. Shipping navigating the Red Sea have been subjected to Houthi attacks with the US & UK responding with military strikes.

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Indian Sub Continent

The Indian sub-continent is now fully open up for travel. India has now reintroducerd the e-visa for British travellers.  Travellers will find the Indian sub-continent fascinating although an often tiring area to visit. We believe crime levels are significantly lower compared to Latin America although the risk from road traffic accidents is greater, driving in India has to be seen to be believed at times! Pollution levels in major cities has risen dramatically during the winter months of 2023/24 and the north of India is experiencing colder than normal temperatures. Pakistan is politically extr5emely unstable with Imran Khan jailed and a disputed february general election. 

 

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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. Covid restrictions have been listed in most countries although covid entry requirements still have to be met.  South Africa and Zimbabwe continues to suffer from power outages due to mismanagemant and rampant corruption. There continues to be a threat from terrorism in Kenya. This is certainly not a reason for not visiting but something to be mindful of especially in Nairobi. 

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South East Asia

Covid restrictions have been largely relaxed across SE Asia although some remain in China.  For Covid entry rules across SE Asia visit the FCDO website & your destination country's website.

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Tips for Gap Year Travel

Essential tips which can help gap year travellers when planning their travel overseas.

FCDO

Before travelling do check out the great advice given on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) website - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. It provides an excellent overview and also advice on entry requirements (do I need a visa? need to complete a pre-arrival health form?), crime and safety issues, local laws (J-Walking can get expensive in certain countries!) and awareness on culture and religious issues.    

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Water – Safe abroad? Good question

Can I drink the tap water? Or rather too many young gap year 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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Helping Gap Year Travellers Keep Safe

How we've helped many travellers to stay safe on their Gap Year. 

What they say!

We hope that our young travellers and back-packers all have safe trips, however, we are pleased to hear that those who have encountered danger whilst travelling abroad have been well equipped with the safety knowledge, thanks to our safety training courses.

 

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South America Briefing

International travellers planning to visit South America need to be aware of some relatively significant issues facing any visitor. On a positive note, with the exception of Chile, the continent is generally free of any significant covid entry restriction. However, other challenges remain.

The first quarter of the year has been turbulent with political unrest a constant feature in Peru and Brazil and in most countries, there has been a significant increase in crime rates and gang related violence.

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Travel in Times of Covid

There is no doubt about it, travelling abroad takes a bit more time and effort at the moment but with a bit of research and some simple planning it's not too difficult.

The best sources of information are:
•    UK FCDO site. Look at ‘Entry Requirements’ selection for selected country.
•    International Association of Travel Agents
•    Check with your destination country's own website.
•    Verify App.

Airlines get fined if passengers have incorrect documentation so expect them to be thorough with their pre-flight document checks.

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Virtual Gap Year Travel Safety Courses

Virtual Gap Year Travel and Safety Course

This means that you still get the same travel safety advice virtually (via Zoom) in preparation for your gap year travel plans.
The virtual course is just £125 per person - A four hour blended learning course broken down into two 2 hour sessions within a day. Numbers will be limited to a maximum of 8 people per course. Book online

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Covid -19 Gap Year Travel

Covid -19 - Where can I go on my Gap Year?  In the last few days across Europe the rate of Covid-19 infections have been on the rise. The long predicted second wave has arrived earlier than was hoped. Belgium Health Minister has talked of a tsunami of new cases, tighter restrictions have been imposed in France, Italy, Ireland, Wales, parts of Germany and Czech authorities are warning of complete national lockdown. Europe, perhaps prompted by the onset of Autumn, is seeing the most rise in infections rates compared to other areas across the globe.

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Travel in Vietnam

went to Vietnam for a very brief fact finding tour to gather information to help our gap year students plan their travels in this wonderful country. I have previously visited Laos, Thailand and Myanmar (Feb this year) so I was keen to see why Vietnam rated so highly. I travelled as a gap year student, staying in dormitories in hostels and getting about by 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 indeed a local person refer 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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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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