stay safe gap year

Stay safe on your gap year

If you’re currently planning your gap year, how to stay safe might not be something that first springs to mind. However, it’s always best to be prepared. If you are unfortunate enough to fall victim to crime abroad there are a few things you should know.

Most visits abroad are trouble free, but we want you to be prepared for everything. Tourists are an easy target for criminals; so the trick is to make yourself less obvious. Remembering a few simple things could help you stay safe on your gap year and prevent a crime before it even happens.

stay safe gap year
Pickpocketing from the bag of a young woman outdoors

Don’t be flash! 

Carrying a lot of money and wearing flash jewellery may make you look cool, but it also makes you a big, shiny target. Only carry around the money you need and keep jewellery to a minimum — it can’t get stolen if it isn’t there.

Hide & seek! 

If you’re carrying valuables around with you, it may be an idea to keep them in separate parts of your bag. That way, on the off chance a pickpocket tries their luck, they won’t find everything they want in one pocket.

stay safe gap year

Lock it up! 

Most hotels and hostels have a safety deposit box in their rooms. If you plan on staying in a certain area for a while, consider putting items like passports or cameras in there while out on daytrips. It may also be wise to invest in a ‘can-safe’. These look like normal tins of food or drink, but the bottom unscrews to let you hide small items out of sight.

Stay alert and trust your gut! 

If something doesn’t feel right, go with your instinct and leave wherever you are as quickly and carefully as you can.

stay safe gap year
Pickpocketing at the street cafe

What to do if you become a victim of crime

If you are a victim of crime on your travels you should report it to the local police as soon as you can. Once you’ve done that, get a written confirmation of your report and any statements you may have given — it all helps when trying to claim on your insurance.

The Government provides a range of services to help British Nationals who have found themselves in a bad situation outside of the country. While the consulates are there for you, there are limits to what they can do. It’s important to know how they can and can’t help you.

Your local British Embassy/commission/consulate can:

  • Help you to understand basic information about local police, legal procedures and whether or not you can get legal aid.
  • Find you an English-speaking lawyer or translator.
  • Find medical treatment or an English-speaking doctor.
  • Contact your relatives and friends (at your request) and let them know something has happened to you.
  • Provide information about transferring money over to you if it’s needed.
  • Offer support in other areas.

But they can’t:

  • Give you legal advice or act on your behalf.
  • Investigate any crimes, collect evidence or search for missing people.
  • Get you out of prison.
  • Influence the outcomes of any court hearings or get you better medical treatment than the local people.
  • Accept any lost or recovered stolen property. Lost passports and driver’s licenses are given back to the embassy where they are then cancelled.
  • Pay any bills for you or loan you money to cover costs. This includes replacing stolen items or paying for travel costs if you have to go to court.

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