Travelling is an incredible concept. The idea that you can up sticks, move yourself to an unknown culture and immerse yourself in two days, two weeks or even two months of unadulterated learning is fantastic. It’s something we often take for granted. The fact that we have the ability to physically and financially travel, to gain knowledge, experience customs so far removed from our own, and attempt to acquire an understanding of other people, really is a gift that we as native Brits are blessed with and yet, so often, these trips go painfully wrong.
We’ve all read the horror stories. “Girl gets stuck in far off prison after accidentally smuggling £1,000,000 worth of contraband substances.” Ok, so maybe I made that one up but they do exist – you’ve read them and, my gosh, they can be bad. The thing that I could never quite understand is: why we, as educated, worldly, privileged citizens of these beautiful isles get ourselves into these situations.
And then I was offered the job as the FCO Brand Ambassador and all the above became clear. Let me tell you one thing, my friends: this world is a minefield.
As a Brand Ambassador and, therefore, self-proclaimed safe-travel connoisseur, I have heard some incredible stories that had never even crossed my mind before. People going skiing without insurance and paying over £10,000 to get home with a broken arm and a solemn face? Check. People ending up negotiating their impending deportation from Japan for trying to enter the country with Vicks Vapour Rub (it’s illegal)? Check. The problem is that the information to stop us getting ourselves into these sticky messes is out there, we just often don’t know how to find it or how to interpret it.
And that’s where I come in. As you’re designated on-campus go-to, I am here to guide, sign-post and whatever else you to all the relevant information that you may need to ensure you’re safe and Travel Aware. The campaign I am helping to support isn’t trying to stop you having the best time of your life – heck, I have just come back from a Year Abroad myself so I know all about the benefits of travel. Travel Aware is merely trying to equip you with the information you need to stay out of trouble wherever you’ve pin-pointed as your next wanderlust destination. The FCO have an incredible bank of resources that can be accessed here: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice and I will be running events throughout the year to help hone your travel aware skills.
So, what do I ask of you guys? Open your eyes. Experience everything and soak it in. Ride that moped (insurance allowing), trek that jungle and feel free to follow me on social media, grab me on campus for a coffee and tell me all your wonderful travel plans. As final year deadlines approach, I can’t think of a better way to travel to far off places than through the Instagrams and blog posts that you guys will provide.