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Gap Year Safety

Gap Year Safety

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Gap Year Safety

221 pages
1 hour
Nov 5, 2013


Gap Year Safety is the essential safety resource for anyone about to embark on their gap year or round the world adventures. It is here to answer all your practical safety and security questions, relieve you of your fears and worries of what may happen and provide you with the tools, knowledge and information you will need to make sure you stay safe on the road.

Gap Year Safety is here to reassure, support and encourage you to follow your dreams of travelling the world and stay safe in the process.
With comprehensive advice from ex military personnel, martial arts practitioners and teachers as well as qualified health care professionals, this book is an absolute must read for anyone about to set off on their gap year or round the world adventure.

Gap Year Safety includes:

Essential advice on how to prepare for your trip including insurance and money matters.
How to research your trip and not fall foul of cultural, religious or legal problems.
Comprehensive medical advice and information.
Advice on what to take and what kit you will need.
How to avoid danger and stay safe on the road, in transit and in your accommodation.
Vital information on how to stay safe from touts, hassles, scams and crime.
Guidance on what to do if something does go wrong.
Female backpacker concerns and issues.
And much more besides.

It really isn’t as terrifying as you think to realise your dreams of travel, all it takes is the will to make it happen and the preparation and knowledge to reduce any potential risks and pitfalls that you may face on the road.

Gap Year Safety is here to help you prepare for your backpacking trip and teach you how to handle the multitude of problems you may come across on your travels. By being informed of the potential dangers, scams and problems you may face, you can recognise and evaluate any potential hazard before it happens, avoid any risk or danger and react appropriately to keep yourself safe and secure on your round the world adventures.

Nov 5, 2013

Despre autor

Michael Huxley is a veteran backpacker and world traveller who is passionate about backpacking. He has a constant wanderlust and well over thirty countries under his belt with no intention of stopping any time soon. This passion has led to the creation of the Bemused Backpacker website and series of travel books, aimed at passing on the knowledge and experience gained in over a decade of backpacking around the world to make backpacking easy, affordable and achievable for everyone. Michael Huxley has a lifetime of training in various martial arts and is passionate about health and fitness. He is a qualified health professional in his working life with a specific interest in emergency and travel medicine. He has volunteered as an expedition medic on various trekking expeditions through jungle, mountain and desert terrains, as well as volunteering for various community health and animal conservation projects around the world. He is the author of the Bemused Backpacker travel series of guidebooks and two diet, health and fitness books as well as his debut novel The Sphinx Legacy. He currently continues to work as a staff nurse in the North West of England, and spends as much time as he can get away with writing, training and travelling.

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Gap Year Safety - Michael Huxley


Embarking on a gap year or travelling the world is an exciting, exhilarating adventure that will ultimately be one of the best experiences of your life, but for many it can also be quite daunting too. The fear of something terrible happening so far away from home can all too often put people off travelling altogether. The real secret to backpacking around the world or taking a gap year is that in general most fears and worries are unnecessarily exaggerated. The absolute majority of travellers will take their gap or snap year in various regions around the world, have a fantastic time and come back completely unscathed and better for the experience. So why are people so afraid to travel?

Part of this feeling of trepidation is that initial fear of the unknown, fear of change. People in general are creatures of habit, they like sticking to what they know. They get stuck in their own mundane routines and realities of life and anything that can and will pull them out of that routine - like travel - can be terrifying. The thought of taking a gap or a snap year is new and thrilling, it is far outside of the comfort zone that most people will instinctively retreat back into if they had the choice, and this in and of itself can bring a significant amount of trepidation.

The mass media unfortunately plays a large part in perpetuating this fear. News reports and 24 hour news feeds would have us believe that the world is an insane, dangerous place full of terrorists, extremists, criminals, pirates and mercenaries, all ready to do untold harm to those intrepid travellers brave enough to venture out of their comfort zone. Not a day goes by where there aren’t images of war, civil conflict or suffering, and stories of travellers being robbed, conned, scammed or worse are reported on relatively frequently and often.

Any unfortunate fate that befalls the relatively rare backpacker who does become the victim of a crime is swooped on by the news networks and heralded across the world with gusto as if they brought it on themselves by daring to travel in the first place. The Arab spring has been met with condemnation and fear instead of celebration thanks to endless images of civil unrest and violent demonstrations and whole countries have been declared no go zones for potential travellers because of isolated incidents being reported out of all proportion and being declared unsafe by the Foreign Commonwealth Office and various other state departments.

With so much negative reinforcement, it is no wonder that many people hold a view of the world as dangerous, scary and uninviting, and not surprising that even those who do have the dream and the courage to take a gap year or start their backpacking adventures more often than not hold a more than a few reservations about their own safety.

Whilst reasonable safety precautions are obviously sensible, there is no need to assume that the worst will always happen to you. Yes there have been some tragic stories in the mass media of terrible things happening to young backpackers out on their own, but for every one that has a bad experience, there are thousands who do not. We unfortunately live in a society where bad news sells, so all those backpackers who travel the world, have a great time and come back safe and sound will not make the news. The very small percentage that does unfortunately run into trouble will get reported on, and this leads to an overblown perception that backpacking as a whole is unsafe.

It isn’t.

Of course there are parts of the world where caution is obviously advised, war torn Afghanistan is currently not the right place for some cultural immersion and it is certainly not a good idea to take a quick sightseeing jaunt over the North Korean border at the moment. Some parts of the world do have higher crime rates than others and yes, sometimes backpackers do become unlucky victims. It would be unwise to think that there aren’t dangers out there, but these examples are far from the norm. The vast majority of places do not come close to posing the same level of risk to travellers as a war zone would for example.

The reality is that in the vast majority of countries that backpackers are free to travel through, there is a vast difference between the generally excessive fear of crime or potential danger and the relatively low chances of actually becoming a victim. For every traveller that does become the victim of crime or circumstance abroad, there are thousands who travel very safely and without incident.

Look beyond the stereotype and the hysteria and look into the reality of the situation at any given time in the countries you wish to visit, balance any safety warnings with your own common sense risk assessment and this will generally be enough to allow yourself a risk free trip, because the truth is the world is actually a very safe place. All you need to keep yourself safe and reduce the risk of becoming a victim are reasonable common sense precautions, an understanding of the culture and area you are travelling in and a little bit of knowledge.

This book is here to give you that knowledge.

Gap year safety is all about giving you the facts and the information to understand the troubles and problems that you may face on your backpacking trip, and the tools to evaluate the danger to yourself and reduce the risk to the point where it becomes sufficiently safe enough to travel anywhere.

Armed with that knowledge and a little bit of common sense there is no reason at all why you can’t follow your dreams, travel around the world independently and stay safe in the process.

Chapter 2. What is safety?

The term safety can mean very different things to very different people, so when talking about safety on your gap year or backpacking adventure, it is first of all important to understand exactly what is meant by that.

Safety is an umbrella term that can be broken up into three distinct categories when it is applied to backpacking and travel, and there is a distinct need to distinguish between personal physical safety, safety from being the victim of harassment, scams or other crimes, and safety - or more accurately, security - for your belongings. All are important of course, and each have valid reasons for people to worry about, but each aspect also has a slightly different emphasis when it comes to safety advice.

Security for belongings is perhaps one of many travellers biggest worries when backpacking, perhaps disproportionately so, and many spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing over it whether that fear is justified or not. Almost everyone at some point worries about their backpack that they left at the hostel, the expensive camera equipment they have just put in the hold of a long distance coach or their essential documents and all important money that they have on them at all times. These are absolutely valid concerns, and it is always wise to take reasonable common sense precautions to protect your belongings, but it is equally as important to remember that they are just that, belongings. Things. Items. Nothing more, nothing less. Of course you want to keep your pack and your belongings safe and secure, but it is important to not become overly paranoid or sacrifice your own personal safety in the maintenance of that security.

Safety from being the victim of a scam, con or harassment is another matter entirely, as a lot of the time it will not involve losing any belongings (other than some cash if you actually fall victim to a scam, get overcharged or otherwise ripped off) and generally doesn’t involve physical violence or harm. Nevertheless, the constant hassle and harassment can be a real problem on your travels if you are not prepared for it or do not know how to deal with it. Harassment is not really a danger in and of itself however, it is annoying, tiresome and even frustrating, but rarely does it cross the threshold into being an actual physical risk to you. This is important to keep in mind, as all too often people do become afraid of any potential harassment that may occur and curtail their plans as a result when it is not always necessary.

Personal physical safety on the other hand is always paramount and should always take priority over your belongings or any other security issue. Personal physical safety of course refers primarily to the freedom from actual physical harm or danger to life or limb, but also refers to the psychological aspect of safety, the freedom from worry about danger or physical harm, victimisation, hostility or aggression. Everyone should have the right to expect this, and defend it if necessary.

When backpacking, these are the three basic aspects of safety that you will be primarily concerned about. For many people, one may be more prevalent than the others depending on the individual, but all three aspects of travel safety will be a concern for most backpackers at some point.

There is simple, fundamental safety advice that is designed to keep you safe in any situation and encompass all three aspects on a basic level, but there are also specific tools and strategies that are there to protect you from very specific circumstances, and are designed to help you deal with each individual safety risk as it presents itself. The following chapters will take you through the basic principles and courses of action for each type of danger you may potentially find yourself in and give you the tools and knowledge you will need to keep yourself safe in any situation. It really is not necessary to know the book inside out, or have an in depth knowledge of safety advice or esoteric martial arts to keep yourself safe, you just need to understand the basic principles of safety, be aware of your surroundings and the situations you find yourself in and utilise your own common sense.

Remember, having a healthy level of concern for your safety is a good thing, but the circumstances that could have a negative effect on either of these aspects of safety are still relatively rare, and that the chances of becoming a victim are statistically very low. Safety and crime are very difficult things to advise on as there is a very fine line between giving inexperienced backpackers the knowledge and information they need to stay safe without adding to the unnecessary paranoia and exaggerated fear of crime that many may already have. The safety tips, advice and knowledge that will be given to you through the course of this book will simply arm you with the knowledge and tools you need to ensure that you are consistently in that low risk category, and give you the knowledge to keep yourself safe if the worst does happen.

Chapter 3. The fear zone.

One thing that a significant number of people who want to travel the world, and a large number of people who never will have in common is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what may happen, fear of becoming the victim of some imagined horror.

Fear is an extremely strong, visceral emotion that works on an instinctive level left over from our prehistoric ancestors. It works by forcing us to withdraw or retreat from something that we perceive to be a threat in an attempt to keep ourselves safe. It is simply a natural response. This instinct is great when we are facing a vicious sabre toothed tiger, but not so much so when we are faced with the amazing prospect of travelling the world.

The problem is a great many people who want to travel the world but don’t are stuck in the fear zone. This is where they have been conditioned so much into thinking that travelling the world is unsafe, that they can’t get out of that state of mind. They have listened to the naysayers and the media. They have listened to the constant barrage of news reports of terrorist attacks, civil war and of travellers being raped and killed. They have listened to all the friends and family members who look at them as if they have been sectioned when they say they want to travel and listened when those same friends and family announce with glee that wherever they want to travel to is dangerous, scary or hazardous in the extreme, regaling them with various tales of horror about their chosen destination.

They have listened to all of this, took it all on board and have drifted into the fear zone. They have allowed the fear to control them.

This is wrong.

A small level of fear is good. It keeps us safe, it keeps us from taking unnecessary risk, but anything other than a small dose can be detrimental in the extreme. Don’t be so afraid of the world that it stops you from experiencing it. When you travel the world you will not be kidnapped by pirates, shot by murderous thieves or sold into a prostitution ring where your only hope is if your dad is an ex CIA agent. You will not be raped, tortured, murdered or have anything else unsavoury happen to you. You are not going to be an instant target for every thief, con artist and criminal within a 50 mile radius. It is even highly unlikely you will have any problems beyond dealing with pushy touts and taxi drivers. The problem is, people become so obsessed with what might happen, regardless the actual low chance of something bad occurring, that they pull back and miss out on what could be one of the best experiences of their lives.

Having a reasonable, common sense approach to keeping yourself safe is one thing, taking sensible steps to be aware of any danger and to protect yourself from it is absolutely wise. What you shouldn’t do is get so stuck in the fear zone that the fear controls you. Recognise that the fear zone exists and stay out of it. You shouldn’t allow your fear to dictate the terms on which you live your life and you certainly should not allow it to stop you experiencing all the wonders and life changing events that world travel can offer you.

The advice in this book is not meant to add to your sense of fear, it is here to show you that although bad things can happen and there are dangers out there, they are relatively rare, and by having the right frame of mind, the right tools and the right knowledge, you can reduce the risk to yourself so much that it almost negates any danger at all. This book is here to drag you out of the fear zone - kicking and screaming if necessary - and give you

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