Travel: Your questions answered by our panel of experts

Fatherly advice for a daughter's first solo trip

As part of her gap year my daughter will travel to Guadalajara, Mexico, for three months. She has travelled without us before but only in the UK. Do you have advice or information on travelling in Mexico - costs, vaccinations, health and security risks etc - and also about working in Mexico?

Bill Owen

Cardiff

The Travel Editor replies: Mexico is not as cheap as it once was; the cost of living is generally more expensive than other places in Latin America. Should your daughter run into money troubles, it is best to call home collect or with a calling card as the telephone system is reasonably efficient but international call charges can be outrageous.

Most of the health risks in Mexico, like many other hot or poor destinations, stem from mosquito bites, untreated water and poor hygiene, though the lack of sanitation in Mexico is usually exaggerated. Sensible travellers are unlikely to contract anything more serious than minor intestinal troubles (known as Montezuma's revenge). There are no vaccinations required for Mexico but you should check that your daughter is up to date with polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A. Some sort of malaria preventative should be taken in low-lying inland areas. Mexico has a variety of snakes and scorpions and a sting from the latter can be dangerous.

Despite the high crime statistics, travellers in Mexico are unlikely to encounter any more threat than the average European city. Petty theft is the biggest problem and mugging less so.

The Mexico and Central America Handbook (Footprint, pounds 16.99) has good general information including a section on Guadalajara. The Rough Guide to Mexico (pounds 12.99) has extensive practical information including a small section which gives advice for female travellers. The Central Bureau of Education and Exchanges (tel: 0171-389 4004) publishes The Year Between (pounds 9.99), which gives general advice about gap-year travel, types of projects available and listings for more than 200 organisations. Vacation Work publishes a wealth of titles on working abroad, such as Summer Jobs Abroad (pounds 8.99), Taking A Gap Year (pounds 10.99), Traveller's Survival Kit: South America (pounds 15.95) and The International Directory of Voluntary Work (pounds 10.99).

Can hepatitis vaccines give you BSE?

Is there any truth to the suggestion that you can catch Mad Cow disease from hepatitis vaccinations? If so, is hepatitis such a worrying thing to catch anyway?

S Haggerty

Hampstead

Dr Larry Goodyer replies: There are two ways to be vaccinated against hepatitis A. Until a few years ago the only product available was gammaglobulin, which is extracted from blood. This should be given as close as possible to the time of travel, providing up to a few months' protection, depending on how much is injected. Gammaglobulin contains antibodies against hepatitis A and will protect as soon as it is given.

Much more reliable is the more modern hepatitis A vaccine, which is not derived from blood products and provides up to 10 years' protection after a full course. The main drawback is that it does take about a week after the first injection before it starts working.

No link between mad cow disease and gammaglobulin has yet been proven, but this is a contentious issue and it is difficult to give any guarantees that some association will not be found in the future.

In general, I would recommend most travellers at risk choose hepatitis A vaccine, though if you are paying privately this is much more expensive than gammaglobulin. A vaccine is also available against hepatitis B, which does require some advanced planning as a course of three injections is required and is not usually given to short-term travellers.

In answer to the second part of your question, hepatitis A is caught mainly through contaminated food and water. While it can make you quite ill, most healthy people will recover without any complications. Hepatitis B is caught in much the same way as Aids, through sex, unscreened blood transfusion, contaminated surgical equipment or shared syringes and can lead to serious complications such as liver failure.

Dr Larry Goodyer is a lecturer in clinical pharmacy at King's College, London. Contact the Nomad Travel Health Helpline (tel: 0891 633414; calls cost 60p per minute).

There's plenty in the Med for spiritual tourists

My partner would like to take part in a workshop, retreat, or other programme of activity informed by authentic Buddhist or any other well- founded spiritual tradition, in a sunny Mediterranean location, preferably Greece. She would like to travel at any time between now and October 1999.

Grant Nightingale

Oxford

The Travel Editor writes: The Buddhist Society (tel: 0171-834 5858) publishes a directory of Buddhist groups in Europe, some of which have retreats and centres in the Mediterranean.

Neal's Yard (tel: 07000 783 704) arranges a variety of holidays at retreats in the Mediterranean (Turkey, Spain, France and the Canary Islands). Most of the holidays offered are non-denominational, using a broad variety of spiritual traditions and therapeutic techniques. Holidays start from pounds 275 per person, per week, including full-board accommodation and courses but excluding flights.

Skyros Holistic Holidays (0171-284 3065) has two centres on the Aegean island. Its accommodation ranges from bamboo huts to whitewashed villas. There are 18 therapeutic courses, including writing, music, art, yoga with meditation and dance. Two weeks costs pounds 545 per person with full-board accommodation, excluding flights.

West Crete Holidays (tel: 01943 604 030) has a centre in a 17th-century olive mill run by an English couple who are both holistic practitioners. Courses include painting, yoga, belly dancing, massage and the Alexander Technique. Treatments include massage, aromatherapy and Reiki. The holidays run between April and October and, for pounds 300 per week, include full board and the course, excluding flights.

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all