15 Things I Wish I Could Tell My 15-Year-Old Self About Gap Years
Lessons in life from an old travelling pro
Gapyear.com is 15 years old! I've been reminiscing about what life was like when I was in my mid teens, and how my innocent eyes and mind viewed the world. It's been 10 years and counting since I set off for the USA with my friend aged 18 for the summer. It had been years in the planning - from watching Sex and the City with the sound down late at night in my room to a minor obsession with all films NYC-related - I knew I wanted New York City to be the first stop on my travels.
Since then I've been to 30 more countries and gained a wealth of experience in travelling and gap years and if I'd've known the following 15 nuggets of advice before I'd 'come of age' who knows what I'd be doing right now...
1. Go somewhere epic
2. Do something ridiculously heroic
You need an exeprience you can show off about for years to come. Scuba diving, sand boarding in Peru , running a marathon up Everest, hanging out with orangutans, orca whale watching or cycling the length of Chile are all good shouts from past gappers.
3. Don't spend all your time in the bars
4. Volunteering will be the best thing you do
You can easily travel the world on a shoestring budget, you just have to be clever about it - save huge amounts of money by WWOOFing and volunteering and experience a different world at the same time.
5. Work abroad to travel for longer
6. Stay safe
Don't do anything you feel really uncomfortable with just because everyone else is. Keep it covered, both your back and your (his) penis.
7. Choose your travelling partner wisely
8. Leave a positive footprint
9. You don't need all that stuff
Follow these packing tips and save your money and energy for fun times and new experiences.
10. Record it all
Whether you prefer to write blog posts on gapyear.com, take epic photos or bring back souvenirs from everywhere you go, in the future you'll be so, so happy that you made the effort to preserve the memories.
11. Do your research
12. Gap years don't have to be for a year
13. Make lots of friends
The people you meet are one of the most important and memorable parts of travelling, so make sure you make as many friends as possible.
14. The world is not a bucket list to tick off
Take time to get to know your destination rather than rushing around trying to cram in as many countries as possible.
15. Don't let anyone or thing stop you
Going on a gap year will give you more strength and resilience than you ever knew you had. The first test is organising it...
Above everything - savour it all. The ups and downs of travelling life are what makes gap years so awesome. You are one lucky, lucky person in this world to have the means and drive to even think about taking an extended trip. Respect everyone you meet and enjoy this incredible chance to learn about yourself and this epic world you live in.