Photo from Oyster Worldwide
General Gap Year Travel Advice
1. Carry paper copies of all travel documents (including passport), and copy onto your phone.
2. If possible, have a pre-booked address to go to on your first day in a new country.
3. Check in advance on visa, health and other requirements for countries you will be visiting.
4. Know the laws and customs of countries you will visit: alcohol, drugs, dress, behaviour, etc.
5. Keep possessions in a quality rucksack with a combination padlock. Carry a spare padlock.
6. Carry a basic First Aid kit, and take your anti-malarials.
7. Be aware of the need for cleanliness of food, water, and personal hygiene.
8. Never accept a drink unless opened in front of you; never leave your drink unattended.
9. Drink in moderation. Excessive alcohol is the main cause of all gap year misery.
We commend Objective Gap Safety, www.objectivegapsafety.com which runs highly regarded travel safety courses.
Travel Guidance For Young People With Disabilities
1. When contacting a gap year organisation or travel company, be open and honest about your disability. This allows your needs to be taken into account and adjustments made.
2. Be open with team mates, team leaders, guides etc. Disability provokes different reactions from people. Breaking the ice at the earliest opportunity will help all concerned.
3. If you are not confident on your own, travel with someone. Some organisations arrange team flights. Otherwise ask the organisation to book you on the same flight as a team mate.
4. If you decide to travel by yourself, it may be advisable to take direct flights even though indirect flights might cost less.
5. If you need assistance at the airport and on the plane, you can book this in advance with your flights. Don’t be too proud to ask..
6. For travel after your project, ensure accommodation is appropriate for your needs. If you need assistance from staff, a hotel may be better than a youth hostel.
7. Accommodation doesn’t have to be luxurious. An inexpensive hotel can cater for most needs.
8. Anything is possible. Prepare thoroughly and you will have a fantastic time.
For those who have concerns about travelling independently
There are opportunities for the disabled to travel and/or volunteer with organisations that provide a supported environment. This can be a stepping stone towards taking a gap year.
Seable (www.seable.co.uk) provides tailored holidays to Sicily for those with visual and physical impairments. Levels of activity and support are tailored to individuals’ needs.
A recent beneficiary testifies that the staff were “helpful without being patronising. I recommend their holidays for boosting the confidence of those who want eventually to travel independently..”
Crossing Countries (www.crossingcountries.wordpress.com), offers opportunities to volunteer in Durban, South Africa. Disabled volunteers are paired with able-bodied companions. The activities and level of support are tailored to the requirements of the individual.
A recent participant testifies “Going away to South Africa was scary, but being part of a team meant that we faced challenges together. No-one was left to struggle alone”.
Both organisations are not-for-profit social enterprises, charging fees to cover their costs.
Photograph provided by GAPFORCE