14 December 2015

3 Things That Can Ruin Your Gap Year and How To Avoid Them

It usually takes time and effort to scrape together the funds for a gap year, and these adventures take plenty of planning too. So, the last thing you want when you finally set off on your globetrotting trip is for something to ruin your experiences. Here are three things that have the potential to spoil your fun, and some top tips to help ensure they don’t.

1) Sickness

When you’re away from home, it’s more important than ever to take care of your health. After all, if you get sick when you’re abroad, you might have to bring your adventures to an abrupt end. There are lots of potential health threats to watch out for too, from stomach bugs caused by poor hygiene to tropical diseases. Before you set off on your travels, it’s important to do some research to establish what risks you are likely to face. Depending on where you’re going, you might need to get vaccinations to protect you against diseases like hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, tuberculosis, rabies and Japanese encephalitis. You may also require protection from malaria. There is no vaccination to guard against this disease, but you can take anti-malarial medicines. For example, you may be advised to take a course of Doxycycline malaria tablets. This treatment offers protection from one to two days after you start the course, so you’ll need to begin taking the tablets before you enter at-risk areas.

More generally, pay careful attention to food and water hygiene and make sure you don’t overexpose yourself to the sun. If you’re ever in doubt about health-related issues, you should be able to find reliable information and guidance online. 

2) Running out of money

Another sure fire way to spoil your trip is to run out of money. Budgeting for gap years is notoriously tricky, and you’ll have to be savvy if you’re going to make your money last. Firstly, be realistic when you’re working out how much cash you’ll need to fund your travels. Being overly optimistic about how far your money will stretch is a recipe for disaster further down the line. Meanwhile, try to pay for most of your major travel costs upfront so that you can ensure you won’t end up stranded in some far flung location.

Create a spending plan too, and keep a record of your expenses as you go. This will show you how quickly you are working through your resources and help you to identify where savings need to be made. Make sure you keep your money secure as well. For example, don’t carry large sums of cash around. It’s much better to use travellers’ cheques and prepaid cards. In addition, it’s useful to have an emergency fund that’s separate to your regular spending money and that you can use in the event of unexpected problems.

3) Missing home

Right now, the thought of getting away from everyday life at home might be one of your major motivations for hitting the road. However, when you’re thousands of miles away from family and friends, you may surprise yourself by how homesick you feel. It’s normal to miss the comforts of life back home from time to time, especially if things aren’t going to plan. To stop this getting in the way of having a good time, make an effort to keep in touch with loved ones by scheduling regular video chats and using email and social media. 

Your gap year could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the world and expand your horizons, and by following advice like this, you can ensure you make the most of it.

*In collaboration with Lloyds Pharmacy

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