If only we knew then what we know now then perhaps some of our previous horrendous mistakes could have been avoided. Of course, we only know what we know because of those mistakes and if you can look back at your former self and smile rather than grimace then you’ll surely have learned a few lessons along the way.
The above couldn’t resonate more clearly than in relation to taking a gap year or going travelling and if you’re hoping to avoid or learn from a few classic errors that have been made by young and foolish travellers gone by then read on and try not to laugh too hard because next time it could be you.
Run out of money
It simply can’t be easier to run out of cash than it is when you’re not working and going on a gap year is pretty much the best way to do it. You may have thought that you had enough funds to get you through a year abroad however, costly locations such as America, Australia and New Zealand will drain your resources quicker than a running tap. Best advice is to stick to a daily budget, avoid partying every night of the week and make sure you’ve got a bit left over to come home to if you’re not planning on getting a job whilst away.
Forget your passport
Arrghh, this is such an obvious thing to remember however, you’d be surprised at how many times important documents such as visas, passports and travel tickets are lost or forgotten. This could quite simply smash your best laid plans to pieces and woe betide the person who leaves things to the last minute when obtaining permits to travel or cross borders. Best advice is to photocopy all of your documents and leave copies with a trusted friend or family member back home. When travelling make sure you keep originals either in a safe deposit box or safely hidden about your person as this is something that you simply have to remember so get responsible as quickly as possible.
Banged up abroad
The trappings of money, drugs and a fantasy lifestyle are all to evident when we travel to some of the world’s most exotic places and from Bangkok to Sydney to LA, if you’re happy to contemplate a few years in prison for a few extra bucks then you wouldn’t be the first or the last to do so. Always, always, try to remember that people will use you even if they may appear to be the nicest person in the world and the quicker you get wary and street wise the better. Just don’t get in over your head with debt to strangers and make sure you only spend what you can afford because that one night of hedonism where you lost all of your cash may well come back to bite you so beware.
It may seem like slightly paranoid to avoid eating exotic food and trying new things when away from home however, even if you’ve got a cast iron stomach eating a few dodgy prawns or contaminated water will knock you for six whatever strength you consider your constitution. Avoid meat where possible, don’t drink tap water and try not to have ice in your drink or salad which has been washed by the tap. Of course, it goes without saying that keeping yourself clean and using hand sanitiser is par for the course when travelling anywhere and if you think you’re too cool to scrub your nails or wash your hair then you better prepare your body for the worst.
Lose yourself and your mates
Too much alcohol, blazing rows and falling in love are all bonafide reasons why you or your mates are going to go missing and if you’re travelling with a group of friends, keeping in touch is vital for maintaining sanity and the longevity of your trip. Of course, sometimes moving apart and wanting to discover new paths is a refreshing element of a tour however, if you can both go with good grace and perhaps arrange to meet at a different juncture then you’ll no doubt set your mind at rest so you can really enjoy your own unique experiences away from home.
Miss your mum
There is no knowing how you’ll feel when you’ve made the break from home and even if you’re not a young student travelling away abroad for the first time, feeling home sick should be a genuine concern and one that’s not to be taken lightly. Big events, elderly relatives and the comforts of your bedroom are all things that you need to prepare yourself for missing and making sure you stay in touch is definitely a good idea to fend off a few pangs of the familiar. Photos, handwritten notes and a weekly Skype call are all ideal for ensuring you still get to experience life on the road but don’t miss home to the point where returning seems like your only sensible option.
You’re never to old to take a gap year and if you’re looking for a few idea then check out the TrekAmerica website and find out what’s going on in the USA. Last thing to say is have an awesome time but don’t forget to pay heed to the epic failures above as there’s nothing worse than learning from experience when it’s too late to do anything about it.