Geology for Global Development

Professionalism and Social Responsibility (1) – Top Travel Tips

SAM_0789As outlined at the start of last week, each Monday over the summer we’ll blogging about different aspects of professionalism and social responsibility. This week we’re looking back over a popular series we did last summer – ‘Top Travel Tips & Resources’ – which gave students various things to think about before embarking on overseas mapping projects, research trips, placements or tourism.

Working, living and travelling in a different country and culture can be hugely exciting, but can also bring many challenges. Our ‘Top Travel Tips‘ blogs, from students, recent graduates and experienced professionals who had all worked overseas, gave a valuable insight into… things you may wish to take that you wouldn’t necessarily think of, things they wish somebody had told them, things to do beforehand to prepare well, and things that will help you get the most out of your trip.

You can find the full archive of posts by checking out the following two links – and

Here are a selection…

Katy Hebditch… Medical stuff – It goes without saying, get the right vaccinations, take malaria prophylaxis, and take medicines you may need, ideally your own first aid kit for the field. You’ll be surprised what things you may react to – missionary ants can cause severe allergic reactions, adjusting to a new diet and being exposed to different bugs can cause havoc. If you get the chance to do any first aid training, take it. My university funded me doing an intensive expedition first aid course – great peace of mind.

Joel Gill… Crisis Management – I always prepare at least three copies of a ‘crisis management’ pack, a small A5 wallet containing passport-size photographs, photocopies of my passport, visas, immunisation certificates, travel schedules, emergency contacts, medical details (UK doctor’s phone number, allergies), numbers in case I lose my bank card, emergency first aid details. I carry one of these with me at all times, leave one hidden in the house/hotel I’m staying at, and leave one in the UK with family. It is MUCH easier to get a new passport if you lose one if you have a photocopy and passport photographs.

Dr Susanne Sargeant (BGS)… Writing about Bangladesh…. Leave plenty of time to get to meetings, appointments, etc. The traffic is crazy and in Dhaka it is not unusual for it to take a couple of hours to go 2-3 kilometres.

Rosalie Tostevin… Writing about South Africa… Clothing – If you wear shorts, your legs will be covered in cuts from the spiny plants and you may develop a rash as some of the spines deliver poison. There are also ticks and biting spiders to worry about. It’s not worth it, even for tanned legs!

Alex Stubbings… Always carry more water than what you think you need – I did my BSc mapping project in the Spanish Pyrenees, in an area called Lumbier. Contrary to popular belief, this part of Spain gets up to 40 degrees Celsius relatively frequently. Obviously coming from a cold country like the UK, to one bathing in glorious sun, we don’t think too much about water consumption. Take as much as you can carry, and prioritise over food if on a budget as that’s what I did. If you are in a region with poor water quality (outside of Europe), boil your tap water and if you buy bottled water from a street vender make sure the seal isn’t broken and that it’s reputable!

Joel is the Founder/Director of Geology for Global Development (@Geo_Dev) an organisation working to support geologists to make a sustainable contribution to the fight against global poverty. He is an interdisciplinary researcher, with a PhD in geography (natural hazards), and research interests in multi-hazard frameworks, disaster risk reduction, rural water projects, and sustainable development. This work has taken him to Chile, China, Guatemala, India, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Joel is currently based at the British Geological Survey, and tweets at @JoelCGill.