Your questions answered by our panel of travel experts, including a doctor and a lawyer
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The Independent Travel
How to earn on holiday

As first-year university students (male), we are looking for holiday jobs in the summer vacation. Any ideas?

T MacDonald and M Jones


Jill Crawshaw replies: There are several excellent guides and organisations that will help with this. But it's critical you start planning and applying now, as the best jobs go early.

The Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges has just published its 45th annual guide, Working Holidays 1997, offering 101,000 jobs in 70 countries (varying from a long weekend to a year). The most popular paid jobs are as au pairs (male and female), or couriers, in catering establishments, in community work and teaching. There are also lots of unpaid jobs in international work camps helping with conservation and community projects.

Among the more unusual jobs: crewing yachts in the Med or Caribbean, monitoring the rhino population in Zimbabwe, studying the tiny honey possum in Western Australia, strawberry picking in Denmark or interpreting sealife to visitors in Anglesey.

The book also gives invaluable information about the boring but necessary complications such as work permits, visas, cheap travel and insurance. It costs pounds 9.99 from bookshops, or by credit card or cheque from the Central Bureau, on 0171 389 4880. Other publications available from bookshops include Summer Jobs Abroad (pounds 7.99), Summer Jobs USA (pounds 10.99), Teaching English Abroad (pounds 9.99) and Summer Jobs in Britain (pounds 7.99), all published by Vacation Work Publications (01865 241978).

The non-profit organisation BUNAC (0171 251 3472) will arrange employment for students in the USA, mainly in children's summer camps as camp counsellors, or work in the kitchen there. They also have a limited number of opportunities in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ghana.

Those wanting to go to Australia will need 12-month Working Holiday Visas, available from Australia House (0171 887 5537), The Strand, London, WC2, for pounds 80 in a couple of hours; it takes about three weeks by post. Applicants must be between 18-25 years old, (or up to 30, if they can show student or immediate ex-student status), and proof of having pounds 2,000 in the bank or a guarantee.

You can only work for a total of six months in the year, no more than three months with any one employer.

New Zealand has a similar scheme. Apply to the New Zealand High Commission (0171 973 0366), 80, Haymarket, London SWlY 4TQ.

Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer and broadcaster

Fighting on the beaches?

My family are planning to take a trip to Cyprus this summer but now I am worried about the possibility of war breaking out on the island. Things seem to getting a little tense out there. Do you think it would be unwise to book the holiday now? If I do book it, and am then forced to cancel, will travel insurance cover this?

Rupert Sutherland


The Travel Editor replies: Answering the question as to whether or not there is likely to be war in Cyprus this summer is beyond my remit, though I can say that the situation in Cyprus has been "tense" for more than 30 years - and this has not stopped it from being one of the UK's most popular holiday destinations. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Advice Unit is not currently advising against travel to Cyprus though it might be worthwhile calling them before you leave (0171 238 4503).

On the question of insurance, you will of course have to study your own policy - nearly all policies have a global war exclusion in the small print, to avert the horrible possibility of mass claims in the event of general war. In other words, insurance companies will not, technically, be liable for any difficulties you suffer as a result of war.

For your information, however, Julie Philpott of Columbus Travel Insurance tells me that in individual cases - if a localised war unexpectedly broke out in Cyprus, for example - insurance companies would tend to take a sympathetic view if you were consequently forced to cancel your holiday, or even if you were injured or killed in a war that broke out while you were actually on holiday (assuming that the area had, until that moment, been considered a safe one, as Cyprus is).

In the unlikely event that war had broken out after you had purchased your policy - and you still wanted to travel - your policy would still be valid for all non-war-related claims. When travelling to a known war zone, however, you cannot buy holiay insurance (though it is always possible to get individually tailored policies).

On the Pill and off to Asia

I am planning to travel through South-East Asia for a year and am on the Pill. Is it possible to get a prescription out there? I am back- packing and want to keep my luggage as minimal as possible.

Jane Gregory


The Travel Editor replies: I shouldn't think that even a year's supply of contraceptive pills would be particularly heavy, but for your information condoms at least are available in pharmacies almost everywhere. Don't bet on the quality though: job-lots of dud Hong Kong condoms sometimes get dumped on the market. In Singapore you can be sure of obtaining familiar brands. Contraceptive pills can also be bought over the counter in some places, though this will vary from country to country.

For any woman travelling who is taking the contraceptive pill, do remember that its effectiveness will be reduced dramatically if you vomit or have diarrhoea. Don't rely on it alone - remember to pack alternative forms of contraception.

Legal queries

Our legal expert can reply to queries regarding any holiday rip- off you may have suffered on condition that you have already complained to the airline or tour operator and received an unsatisfactory response. All correspondence and relevant documentation should be supplied. Unfortunately we can only reply to letters we print.

After rabies: what you should do if you're bitten by a dog in Europe today

I know that rabies is declining in Europe and that there are few human fatalities these days. Is it still necessary to seek medical advice if I'm bitten by a dog? And what if I'm scratched or bitten by a stray cat? Is there also a risk?

Roy Sheen


Dr Gill Lea replies: It is always necessary to seek immediate medical advice if you are bitten or scratched by any warm-blooded animal in a country which has rabies.

It is true that the risk of rabies infection from a dog bite in India or Thailand is far higher than in Europe. However, rabies is usually preventable directly after the incident but rarely, if ever, treatable once symptoms have developed; so no chances should be taken.

In Europe, rabies is mainly transmitted by foxes. It is indeed declining after a campaign where vaccine-baited food has been dropped by helicopter in rural areas and taken up by foxes, but the disease has not been eradicated completely. A dog or cat, especially a stray, may have been in contact with a fox. Although many European pets are vaccinated against rabies, local medical advice should be sought about each individual situation.

The recent case of a bat in Britain found to have rabies serves as a reminder that other mammals beside dogs can be affected.

Dr Gill Lea is chief medical adviser at Trailfinders' immunisation clinic, 194 Kensington High Street, London W8 7RG (0171 938 3999)