Backpacker and Gap Year Advice

Travel Health

Before you travel and assuming you have taken out travel insurance! You should try to ensure you are fit and healthy. Your body will need to be in good condition if you are planning on physically challenging yourself more than you normally would. It might be a good idea to embark on a fitness programme. This could include aerobic exercise to increase your overall fitness and a healthy eating programme to ensure you are as healthy as can be. Familiarise yourself with the diet you will adopt abroad and add vitamin supplements if you feel you will need them.


It goes without saying that you should visit your local health centre or visit your doctor to find out which, if any, vaccinations are appropriate. Malaria tablets and dehydration kits are a must for many countries.


Your insurance policy needs to be as comprehensive as possible and relevant to your needs. Most travellers leave expensive items such as lap tops or jewelery at home. Watches can be bought cheaply and replaced if lost. Cameras should be insured as they tend to be far more expensive if digital. Luggage should be insured to the maximum. Most activities such as Snorkeling, Sand Yachting, Trekking and Canoeing, Bungee Jumps, and Quad Biking will be included within our Standard Activities pack. Winter Sports will need to be added separately. If you plan on diving you should be aware of the Padi standards and insure accordingly. Please check out the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) website

Official Documents

Keep your papers safe. Your travellers cheques will have serial numbers - make sure you know what they are in case of loss. Your insurance policy will have the number to call in case of emergency. You should always call your provider before any treatment is carried out so if you are travelling with a companion, swap these details.

Passports If you are younger and have relied on your parents or another adult to sort out your travel arrangements, it may be a while since you looked at your passport or even needed to travel. Your passport will need to have at least six months left when you begin your journey. If you are planning on being away for a long time it is best to just apply for a new one. Check that the name on the tickets is the same as the passport - may sound like common sense but having to pay for the tickets to be altered is an added expense you can do without.

You can contact the Identity and Passport Service on 0870 521 0410 or visit their website But it is quicker to go the a larger Post Office and collect the application form from them. They also provide a speedy service to receive your passpost generally within two weeks. It is called their check and send service ensuring your application form is correctly completed and it then receives priority at the Passport Office.

Visas Your visas, if required, will need to be up to date and relevant. Check with the relevant issuing office and ensure that you know what you need.

You can also visit the Foreign Office website at:

Trouble with the law

Stick to the law and you will find that your trip goes smoothly. Once you have been arrested you may not receive the sort of assistance and fairness you associate with this country. Your insurance policy will outline what you are covered for and the exclusions. Many of the exclusions will be associated with drink and drug abuse. In the event of an arrest or a detention, it is important to:

  • try to keep calm and be co-operative
  • not be abusive or violent, as this will make things worse
  • insist that the British Consul is told of the detention - this is a right of a British national
  • tell relatives or friends to contact the local British Consul or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London by telephoning +44 (0) 207 008 1500

Travel Money

Travellers cheques are one of the safest ways to carry money around. They will have a serial number. You will have signed for each of them and they will be recorded. Carry small amounts of currency only and keep credit cards to a minimum.