Skip navigation
Skip navigation
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser.

In anticipation of A Level results, many young people across the UK are planning gap years. This is a time for fun, freedom and a taste of independence, but also for careful planning and safety consideration. Most gappers have no trouble while travelling, but Lattitude Global Volunteering, a charity that sends 400 young people from the UK to placements abroad yearly, shares some tips to help potential gappers prepare.

1 - Do research

Before visiting a country, do some research to learn what to expect. Lattitude is a member of the “Know Before You Go” campaign, set up by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), to help Brits stay safe and healthy abroad. Visit the FCO website for advice and information, use guidebooks and other online resources to find out about the culture, history, religions, politics, wildlife and environment.

Remember the best advice often comes from people who have already been. Learn from firsthand experiences through online forums, case stories or videos and talk to previous gappers. Knowing some language basics is useful if lost or facing a challenging situation, and also demonstrates respect to the local people.

2 - Stay healthy

Several months before leaving, visit a doctor for vaccinations and advice. Also get health insurance, and check how health systems operate in different countries –they will not all be the same! Patients are often required to pay for treatment upfront, and reclaim the costs after treatment.

Keeping healthy while travelling is vital, so remember that tap water in developing countries is probably unsafe to drink. Always drink bottled water, don’t have ice in drinks and only eat fruit that can be peeled.

Beware of the sun and the heat in certain countries –drink plenty of fluids and keep skin protected. Some medical items can be tricky to get hold of, so take basic supplies and enough prescription medicine, (plus a letter explaining what it is) to last the duration of the trip.

3 - Maintain contact

If travelling for anything more than a few weeks, it is worth buying a local SIM card to put into an existing phone. SIM cards can be cheap to buy and make it easier to keep in touch with people.

Most people will email friends and family about what has already happened during the trip. But sending a ‘round-robin’ email to everybody with an itinerary for upcoming activity allows people at home to keep track of what should be happening. Agree to check in every week or two weeks, to reassure everybody, and to share plans. It will stop the family worrying so much and is an easy way to keep a diary.

4 - Be aware

A gap year is definitely a time to have fun and meet people but, in an unfamiliar environment, it is even more important to maintain control and awareness. If going out for a drink, be sure to know alcohol limits, stick with a group of trusted people, and make sure everyone gets back to where they are staying safely.

Consider that countries, which appear to be free and easy on the surface, can actually be extremely conservative when it comes to drinking especially, in some places, with regard to women. Be discreet and respectful, and check local laws before doing anything that may offend.

5 - In case of emergency...

Whether travelling independently or with an organisation, understand the level of support available. Use reputable organisations and make note of contact numbers, international dialling codes and who to contact in an emergency. Travelling alone is not for everyone and, perhaps due to the high level of support offered, volunteering abroad is a popular gap year option.

For example, Lattitude Global Volunteering is not-for-profit, so its primary concerns are the volunteering programs, currently running in 17 countries, and the wellbeing of its volunteers. Lattitude gappers have a more secure and structured gap year experience, without missing out on the adventure, the challenge or the fun. A 24 hour emergency telephone line and staff representatives in country, provide reassurance and support to volunteers for the duration of the trip. Pre-trip briefing and orientation days on arrival help to prepare volunteers for the experience. Volunteer work makes a gap year rewarding and helps to develop invaluable life skills.

Considering safety during a gap year doesn’t mean sacrificing fun times, but allows the opportunity to enjoy it more, and make the most of the opportunity. Find out more about Lattitude at , or call 0118 959 4914


Words: 744
Notes to editors:


For further information, pictures and interviews, please contact Jude Mitcham on 01903 207408 or We are able to offer spokespeople from the charity, as well as returned volunteers and parents. We also have a large selection of photographs and written case-studies submitted by young volunteers on placements around the world.


Lattitude Global Volunteering (Lattitude) is a charity specialising in volunteering for 17 – 25 year olds. We have a global vision and aim to provide unique experiences of voluntary work placements for young people from around the world.
Lattitude is an organisation with attitude. We are passionately concerned about the world; we are passionately concerned about the issues facing us all, our families and our communities; and we are passionately concerned to make a difference.


Lattitude has a global network of placements that spans 17 countries for British volunteers and includes projects in conservation, caring, community, camps and outdoor, medical, sports coaching, teaching, and language assisting. Current destinations include Canada, Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa, Australia, China, Fiji, Japan, New Zealand, Vietnam, Vanuatu and India.


Lattitude is a member of the Foreign Office “Know Before You Go” campaign and a founding member of the Year Out Group.

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Molokini Marketing in the following categories: Children & Teenagers, Leisure & Hobbies, Travel, Education & Human Resources, Public Sector, Third Sector & Legal, for more information visit