Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation is a charity that offers advice on safe travel. It was set up in memory of Caroline Ann Stuttle, who was killed aged just 19 while backpacking in Australia in April, 2002. The charity is close to my heart not only because I love to travel and I find its advice invaluable, but also because Caroline was a friend of mine.
As soon as we finished school, many of my friends headed off on gap year adventures to exciting destinations across the globe. Not for a second did I imagine that one of them would never return.
I was in total shock when I first heard on the radio that a backpacker from York had been thrown from a bridge in Bundaberg. I knew a few friends who were travelling over there and a chill ran down my spine. When I heard her name, I began to cry. Although we hadn’t been particularly close, we’d shared bottles of wine before in our local bar and, clichéd though it may sound, it really couldn’t have happened to a more lovely person.
In the months that followed this tragic event, her family set up Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation to offer travel advice to young people planning their own world adventures and, just over 10 years later, it’s still going from strength to strength.
The charity’s website offers country-specific safety tips, useful links and information on worldwide travel risks. Its gap year DVD, Time of Your Life, is shown in schools to encourage young people to discuss the different aspects of travelling and the charity is currently working on a free App with specific information on destinations, safety tips, maps and useful phone numbers that travellers might need. I especially like the Parents Guide – we all have to contend with concerned mums and dads, and this offers handy tips to help put their minds at rest.
It’s refreshing that, having gone through such a traumatic experience, Caroline’s family have thrown themselves so wholeheartedly into encouraging others to see the world.
Although, thankfully, these things don’t happen often, we have to remain aware of the risks. You can never completely protect yourself from harm – whether in your home town or abroad – but you can be prepared. Among other things, learn about the local culture, read up on any areas of the country that pose greater risks and make sure that you have comprehensive travel insurance.
If you’d like to help out, Caronline’s Rainbow Foundation welcomes articles from travellers with experiences to share and is currently expanding its global safety guide. Or you can make a donation via the Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation donation page.