Gap year: Travel advice
Live and work abroad
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Before you travel you will need an up-to-date passport, any necessary visas or work permits and health and travel insurance...
This section gives advice on obtaining all the necessary documents for your trip, what else to take and how to stay safe and healthy whilst travelling.
- Check your passport expiry date against what you need for your proposed journey. Some countries require that your passport is valid for six months from the date of your arrival. Find out the requirements of your chosen country from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
or the country's embassy or consulate.
- If you need to renew your passport, make sure you allow enough time to do so. For details, see GOV.UK - Passports
- Check visa requirements with your travel agent or contact the country's consulate or embassy. A list of foreign embassies in the UK is available from the FCO.
- If you intend to work outside the EU, obtain a valid work permit before you go. For details of what you need, see the country profiles in working abroad or visit the website of the country's embassy or consulate. Some organisations will arrange this for you, e.g. Camp America
Travel and medical insurance
- Some insurance companies arrange special gap year travel cover. Research what various policies cover for the destinations to which you are travelling, the activities you are planning and your length of stay. Be careful, as many general travel policies are only valid for one month and do not cover adventure travel.
- Make sure you have comprehensive cover for medical and repatriation costs as well as any dangerous sports or activities.
- Take the necessary insurance documents with you, including emergency phone numbers.
- The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
enables access to state-provided healthcare in all EEA countries and Switzerland. Read the advice for travellers from the Department of Health (DH)
- For countries outside the EEA, check that your travel insurance includes health cover.
- See your doctor at least six weeks before you travel and get any necessary vaccinations or anti-malarial tablets.
- If you are on medication, check that it is legal to take your medication into your destination country and get a covering doctor's letter if necessary.
- See your dentist for a check-up.
For useful travel health articles, see GapYear.com
- Check the travel guidelines available from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
for the countries you are visiting.
- Make a note of the contact details of the British Embassy in the countries you are visiting. The embassy will be able to help you if you get into difficulties abroad. Contact details for UK embassies worldwide are available from the FCO website.
- The Know Before You Go Campaign (KBYG)
is an ongoing campaign with around 300 travel industry partners to help people stay safe and healthy abroad. Check the website for details.
- For travel safety advice for women, see GapYear.com
Keeping in touch
- Internet - you can record your experiences, update friends and family or keep a travel blog on websites such as Get Jealous
. Social networking sites can be useful to let people know what you are doing. For details of internet cafés around the world, go to CyberCafes
- Mobile phone - most networks allow you to make and receive calls internationally, although this can be expensive. The cheapest way is to buy a local SIM card if you are staying in one country for a long period. It is also possible to buy international pre-paid calling cards.
What to take on a gap year
- Generally speaking, the advice is not to take too much as you will have to carry everything you pack.
- Useful gap year checklists can be found on Gapadvice
and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
- Consider getting student ID and discount cards, e.g. a Youth Hostel Association (YHA) card or an International Student Identity Card (ISIC). More details are available at GapYear.com
- To guard against the possibility of theft or loss, make copies of your tickets, passport, insurance policy, emergency phone numbers and next of kin contact details, as well as a written list of phone numbers in case you lose your mobile phone.
Written by Wendy Reed, AGCAS