Recent research announced this week has discovered that well-known backpacker’s haven Asia, is the most popular destination on the gap travellers’ hot list closely followed by Australia as an ideal choice to combine work with adventure. But what is interesting is the complete diversity of these two destinations. Both provide the warmth and tropical climate that so many travellers hanker after, but comparing Sydney (the most common location in Oz for the gap year adventure to begin), with Bangkok (a hugely popular destination amongst Brit gap year travellers) is like comparing chalk and cheese.
Of course, travelling along the coastline of Australia as you stop-off at numerous locations brings with it a certain home-from-home comfort (aside from the legendary snakes and creepy crawlies) – after all, English is the spoken language so most travellers won’t lose any sleep over whether they’ll be able to communicate with the locals or not – you get lost, you ask someone, simple. Now consider Thailand and you have a different situation entirely. A buzzing city, a brand new culture, a whole set of new traditions, rules and regulations; and a completely new way of life which is unlike anything you’ve been used to back home, even when London’s at its busiest. Communicating with locals in these kinds of locations is a different ball game altogether. So being prepared is a must.
If you are considering heading off on an adventure towards the Asian shores, it’s worth doing your research beforehand. Check out those areas where English-speaking locals are more common, avoid areas which are deemed unsafe or where there is a greater chance of misunderstanding the local laws. Stick to well-lit areas and try to stay in a group and avoid going out at night alone. These are all logical rules to follow but you’d be amazed how easy it is to get into trouble in a city where you don’t understand the language and are unable to communicate should a difficult situation arise. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and minimise the risk of causing an offence or putting yourself in danger.
Gap year travel is becoming increasing popular year on year and for the most part it should be an exciting journey of discovery, but sometimes the boring bit (the planning in advance) is overlooked as people would rather spend time looking for a pair of new sunglasses for their impending trip than get bogged down in the detail of language barriers and safety tips – but spending even half an hour on this important aspect could really make all the difference to your experience.