How to Stay Safe On Your Gap Year


Whether you’re a young person setting off on your first overseas adventure, a career breaker, or a silver traveller heading out to discover a new destination; we all need look after our personal safety and security. After all, we want our travel experience to be memorable for all the right reasons. No matter how experienced you are, Lloyd Figgins, travel risk expert and author of The Travel Survival Guide provides practical and cost effective advice on how to stay safe

   Plan and Prepare Thoroughly – Check out the country or region you are thinking of travelling to and look at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Advice first. However, don’t just stop at the UK Government advice, also check out Australia’s Smart Traveller and the US OSAC sites.

   Know the Facts – Although terror attacks make headline news, the reality is that your chances of getting caught in a terror attack are 1 in 20 million. You have a far better chance of winning the National Lottery jackpot, but it’s always worth learning Run, Hide, Tell/Fight and knowing what to do in the event of an attack.

   Road Traffic Danger – One of the biggest hazards facing travellers is that of road traffic. According to the World Health Organisation, over 1.3 million people are killed on the world’s roads every year. Therefore, make sure you always wear a seat belt and don’t be afraid to ask your driver to slow down or not to use a mobile phone while driving.

   Research BEFORE You Venture Out – Make sure you plan where you are going before you go out and about in a new place. Take time to research where you are going and how you’re going to get there. Don’t look lost, as this makes you stand out as a potential target. Walk with confidence and purpose.

   Places of Safety – Get into the habit of identifying places of safety and how you can get there if you feel threatened or in danger. Places such as police stations, embassies, hotels, banks or places of worship are good examples.

   Dummy Wallet – Take a dummy wallet or purse with you. This should contain small denomination notes of the local currency, an expired credit card and other things you would normally find in a wallet. If you are robbed, hand over the dummy wallet and then put as much time and distance between you and the robber. Criminals rarely check the contents of a wallet at the scene of the crime.

   Social Media – Avoid posting your whereabouts on social media. Criminals use social media as a way of tracking movement and learning the location of their intended targets. Don’t make it easy for them by posting your every move on social media.

   Time and routine – Learn to be unpredictable in your movements. Don’t leave your accommodation at the same time every day and don’t take the same route. Vary both, so that you’re not route and time predictable.

   Door Wedge – Take a simple door wedge with you to put under the door when you are in your hotel room. That way, even if someone with criminal intent has a master key, they won’t be able to enter your room.

Lloyd Figgins is a Travel Risk Expert and author of The Travel Survival Guide – Get Smart, Stay Safe published by Portico. He is a former police officer, soldier and expedition leader who has travelled to over 80 countries, including some of the more remote and hostile regions of the world. Lloyd is also the Chairman of the Travel Risk & Incident Prevention (TRIP) Group which specialises in keeping travellers safe. Lloyd often provides commentary in the media and makes regular appearances on the BBC, ITV, Sky News and LBC.

Lloyd Figgins will be at Stanfords, London talking about Gap Year Safety on the 17th April at 7pm. Tickets available here for £4 (fully redeemable off the price of The Travel Survival Guide by Lloyd Figgins AND you get a glass of wine/ soft drink). 

Watch a trailer here.

Twitter @LloydFiggins

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