12 Aug

Top tips for gap year travellers

ABTA’s Amy Edmonds who has recently graduated from Plymouth University gives some useful tips for gap year students, including some very particular advice on flip flops!

As thousands of students anxiously await A-Level Results Day, some will be thinking about University, while lots of others will be planning a gap year to explore the world. A gap year is the perfect opportunity to explore different cultures, learn about yourself and develop your CV.

I took some time out from studies to travel to South East Asia (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia) to discover a new culture and gain a valuable life experience. If you ever get the chance to visit, go! I had the best couple of months exploring historic sites, learning about different beliefs and meeting new people.

One way to ensure that you're going to have a positive experience is to book with an ABTA gap year specialist company.

Here are my top tips for a gap traveller:

1. Travel light

Pack as light as you can, there is nothing worse than lugging around a 20kg backpack. South East Asia is filled with markets, so why not pack less and treat yourself to a bargain outfit. Top tip for girls, remember to pack those flip flops/shoes as markets in Vietnam cater for women with small feet, and finding flip flops for my size 6 feet was a nightmare.

2. Stash your cash

The golden rule is to never keep all your cash and cards in one purse or bag. Hide cash in secret bags and pockets within your rucksack as well as carrying cash on you. My personal tip is to hide some cash in your washing bag as no one wants to steal that!

3. Make sure you’re covered

It’s essential to take out high quality travel insurance to provide you with medical cover and in case you lose or have your money or valuables stolen. I would also recommend that you make sure that you’re insured for every activity you undertake, especially if you plan to do adventure sports.

4. Learn the language basics

Locals really appreciate it when tourists try to speak the language. Learn phrases such as “thank you” and “hello” and you’ll get respect and a smile from the locals.

5. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer will be your saviour

Toilet paper and hand sanitizer were two of my most cherished possessions. Keep them in your day bag as you’ll never know where you’ll need to use the loo.

6. Mopeds

I heard some very scary stories about people having accidents on mopeds on my travels, but I also lost count of the times that I saw other backpackers scooting down the road wearing sandals, shorts and not much else without a care in the world. I’ve since found out that ABTA’s advice is to only rent a moped if you are an experienced rider.

7. Buy a sarong

A sarong makes a great shirt, skirt, dress, head scarf and blanket.  Keep a sarong in your day bag and you’ll be able to easily cover up when visiting a holy temple or stay warm on a freezing air-conditioned bus.

8. Volunteering

Lastly if you’re thinking of doing some volunteer work in your year out choose your trip very carefully, there are unfortunately some disreputable individuals around the world quite happy to take advantage of your good intentions. One way to ensure that you're going to have a positive experience is to book with an ABTA gap year specialist company.  We’ve also put together some more detailed tips which you can find on abta.com/gapyear.