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Gap Year Advice For Worldwide Travel

Jul 28, 2008
If you are preparing to disappear around the world on a gap year adventure, finding cheap travel insurance, researching the laws of a country and drawing up an itinerary to give to friends and family are probably some of the furthest things from your mind, but they shouldn't be. Gap years are all about adventure, building experience and getting some great memories, but a holiday that lurches from one disaster to another will provide adventure of a very different kind and give you the kind of memories that you'd rather forget! As a provider of cheap worldwide travel insurance, I've dealt with all kinds of claims from people who have run into trouble while on holiday; here are my top tips to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable gap year.

Get insured!

Single trip or annual travel insurance? Worldwide or for a specific destination only? There are plenty of options to consider when trying to get some cheap travel insurance for your year out, but remaining uninsured is not one of those options! From loss of belongings to missed flights, personal injury to cancellation costs, there are just too many things that could go wrong for it to be worth the risk of being uninsured.

When selecting your travel insurance make sure that it will cover you for all the activities you want to take, especially if you want to do some adventure travel. And if you are looking to make lots of smaller trips during your gap year rather than just one large one, consider investing in some cheap annual travel insurance - the discounts can be significant.

Learn the laws and customs

Getting some comprehensive (but cheap!) travel insurance is an important first step to take when planning your gap year. Better still is making sure you won't have to use it, and reading up on the laws and social customs of a country is one of the best ways of staying out of trouble. Many countries have very different attitudes to what you believe is normal behaviour - get caught out and you can have a nightmare of a time trying to straighten things out. In many Arabic countries, for example, alcohol consumption can be a very serious crime, while in Thailand insulting the Thai royal family is a criminal offence. Make sure understand the cultural differences of any country you visit to avoid potentially dangerous gaffes.

Research where NOT to go

Understandably, most of your research before you go will be in trying to find the highlights of the countries you are visiting, but it is well worth swotting up on the holiday blackspots as well. Every city has rough parts that are worth avoiding, and in some countries there are entire regions that are no go areas for foreign travellers - parts of Colombia and Pakistan for example. Stray into one of these blackspots and even your "worldwide" travel insurance may be invalidated - the Foreign Office website has a comprehensive list of the countries and regions where you shouldn't go under any circumstances, so make sure your route doesn't pass through any of them!

Avoid cowboy companies

Dodgy tour operators can cause serious headaches for both gap year travellers and the travel insurance providers who have to help clean up the mess they leave behind! Try and read some online reviews and word of mouth recommendations for any companies that you decide to go with, especially if you intend to take part in any potentially dangerous activities with them. The cheapest company out there won't look like such a bargain when their shoddy equipment and under-trained staff land you in trouble!

Keep in contact

Keeping in touch with people back home may seem like a strange thing to give priority to while you are on a gap year, but it is worth it. Not only will it keep you on good terms with your worried parents and relatives, it will also allow you keep them updated with your itinerary so that they know where you are and what you are up to. This is especially important if you are going trekking or travelling away from civilization, so that if you go missing they'll know to raise the alarm.
About the Author
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of Journey's Travel. Their commercial travel insurance website, Insuremore, offers cheap travel insurance for families, singles, children and skiers with free cover against acts of terrorism and a quick and easy online claims feature.
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