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Armed robbers, kayak tragedy, poisonings As research shows a
Armed robbers, kayak tragedy, poisonings... As research shows a third of gap years end in disaster, will YOUR teenager survive? By Jenny Stocks and Alison Smith Squire When Vicky Beddow left school in Devizes, Wiltshire, at 18 and embarked on a gap-year trip to India in March 2005, she fell victim to serious food poisoning amid rumours of a plot among locals. 'It was never proved, but people believed some local chefs were poisoning the food so people were sent to hospital and the doctors made some money. 'I don't know if this was true, but the day after we got there I began feeling sick and passed out. Our Indian guide, who was looking after a group of about 12 of us, got a doctor to come and see me. He said I needed to go to the hospital and offered to take me, but the guide did not trust him. 'Suddenly, I found myself in a strange hospital where even the local tour guide didn't trust the - doctors. It was a shocking experience.' In the end, having been given electrolyte powder to rehydrate her, Vicky was half-carried from the hospital by the tour guide. Paul Martin, development manager at gap year company Gap Force, urges young travellers to prepare carefully before they travel, to choose a reputable company and to travel with others. 'Many of the crimes we hear about are just opportunistic,' he says. 'There is an element of risk, but it's all about managing that sensibly. Gap years are a learning curve, and most people come back from them as more rounded people”. 'It's so scary” said Vicky “when something goes wrong with your health and you are stranded thousands of miles away from home at the age of 18'. www.gapforce.org for Expedition Leader led gap years.
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