Don’t save money by purchasing the cheapest insurance or worse, have no insurance. It needs to cover you for full medical attention if anything happens to you. Even a simple visit to a Doctor can cost what seems to be a fortune at the time. Check out the small print especially if you plan to do any unusual sports as many travellers do. Scuba diving, Skydiving and Bungee jumps are popular gap year activities which many people do not realise until too late are not covered by their travel insurance.
It is not good idea to take photos of anything which could be taken as being military in most countries. This includes pictures at airports and checkpoints.
Try to learn a few simple phrases to speak of the language. If you find that hard or do not understand the dialects at least learn to recognise them when written down. Knowing what the sign is for a bus stop, cafe, phone, police, hostel are sensible ideas.
Book at least your first night’s stay in a new location especially if you plan to arrive after dark. Know where the place is and how far it is from your arrival point and how to get there. Standing around with a map and large rucksack is a give away that you are new in town.
Be aware of the differences in diet in the country/ies you plan to visit. While sun-dried grasshoppers may not be your normal diet be prepared to try new foods. Hygiene in foreign countries particularly third world countries may not be as it is at home so be careful not to offend when offered food even if you do think it looks raw or disgusting. If you do get a “gippy tummy” make sure you drink plenty of clean, ideally bottled water to ensure you don’t get dehydrated.
Check up months before you leave if you need vaccinations or medication such as malaria tablets for you trip. Leave yourself time to have vaccinations and recover from any side effects before you leave home.
Leave copies of all your documents and card details with someone back home. If you lose them or they are stolen it is easier to report if you have all the details to hand. If you can store them on the computer as images they can be sent to you by email, quicker than posting. Lock your passport and travel tickets in a safe if possible.
If you plan to work abroad and are not going with an organisation find out if you need a work visa and get it before you leave. Some countries will not let you work while on holiday and do not be tempted by the offer of cash in hand. If caught you could easily be deported or imprisoned.
If you take regular medication ensure you have enough for your trip. Also keep a note of what it is just in case you lose it. You may be able to obtain it but do not rely on this. Remember that items such as condoms are often inferior quality especially in places such as Africa and South America.
Nothing is worth more than your life. Money, cameras etc can be replaced especially if you have insurance. If challenged do not put up a fight, letting go could save your life.