As an avid traveller myself and having been to 23 countries across 5 continents, this post is something that I strongly resonated with and I hope to share with all parents and youth travellers because it is true that we are more likely to take risks during our travels and endanger ourselves. For example, during our trip to Hua Hin, Thailand and Batam, Indonesia; I went Paragliding and Parasailing (not fully understanding the risks sometimes), rode an electric scooter with my Mrs as pillion in Kenting, Taiwan (which was fun but scary and now come to think of it, probably foolish) and went on a Glacier Hike with my Mrs in New Zealand.
Youth travellers have a lower risk cognitive level and are more likely to adopt risk-taking attitudes in their travels, based on several studies such as from Akritidis et al., Cui et al., and Han et al. With the rise of international travel over the last year, International SOS has announced a podcast series to address health and safety concerns related to youth independent travel, to guide them on good habits and tips to travel safely.
Titled “Safeguarding Tomorrow’s Future”, experts from International SOS will share their insights on travel risks that youths may be more susceptible to, and how to prevent or mitigate these risks. The six episodes will be launched on a weekly basis, starting from 15 May 2023.
Lim Hui Ject, International SOS’ Managing Director (Singapore & Brunei), says: “We recognise the many risks associated with youth independent travel and we are glad to be able to step in and offer guidance through our subject matter experts. We have seen a rise in international travel with international trips in the last eight months surpassing the average monthly number of international trips in pre-COVID times. With the overall increase in international travel, we also expect this to include an increase in youth travel as well. With COVID-related restrictions preventing youth from travelling for so long, we worry that their excitement may cloud their decision making when it comes to their travel plans. As a pioneer and leader in international health and security risk management, we would like to act to help guide young travellers, as they begin exploring travelling independently.”
Youth travellers are less likely to think through the potential risks of their travel plans in depth and are easily influenced by social media. Studies by Condor Ferries, a ferry and cruise company in the UK, found that 90 per cent of them have their international travel decisions influenced by social media content. Furthermore, many youths will be travelling for the first time without their parents or teachers to look out for them. Their lack of exposure in travelling independently results in them having less experience in managing any potential risks by themselves.
Dr Low Kiang Wei, Medical Director (Singapore), International SOS adds: “As highlighted in International SOS’ Risk Outlook 2023, looking beyond COVID-19, emerging global issues, such as rising levels of social unrest and the growing impact of climate change, are an additional dimension of worry for youths exploring independent travel. As these issues are likely to stay for the long term, we must equip our youths with the necessary capabilities to deal with these issues.”
The podcast will also feature local university students who have recently gone on overseas trips and are willing to share more about their travel experiences. The series will cover six topics with relevant subject matter experts addressing the risks associated with these topics.
Bala Selvam, Regional Security Manager, International SOS, adds: “By getting the youths to highlight their own experiences and concerns over six different topics, it allows the subject matter experts to address real risks based on the youths’ authentic experiences. It also ensures that youths are provided with holistic advice through the different topics and episodes. This helps the youth to address their checklist of concerns as they plan for their first independent trip.”
To help youths explore travelling independently in a safe manner, the six episodes will cover the following topics:
- Staying Safe While Saving Money – Dissecting traditional and shared economy options for travel accommodation and transportation with the focus on how young people can balance staying safe while saving money.
- How Extreme Weather Puts Your Trip At Risk – What you need to know about health and safety risks of natural disasters and extreme weather
- Caught Up In Crowds – Keeping yourself safe in crowded environments, know the signs and how to protect yourself.
- Let’s Party Safely – The medical and security risks of substance ingestion, such as alcohol and drugs, while overseas.
- Mental Wellness While Abroad – Unpacking the emotional journey of going abroad to a new environment – how one can cope and seek support.
- When Sharing Becomes Dangerous – The potential dangers of sharing of personal details and itinerary while abroad, both online and offline.
Do tune in to the podcast series and I am very sure many will find the topics helpful and insightful for safe travels!