Top 25 Rules of Taking a Gap Year

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The Gap Year Community Weighs In

We asked members to come up with their rules of taking a gap year. We expected maybe a handful. We got nearly 100. Some were funny, some were practical, and some were downright offensive. We loved this list so much we’ve edited it down to our favourite 25 suggestions and made a feature out of it. What follows below is a ramshackle combination of travel tips, personal viewpoints and pseudo-philosophy. To promote and shame the relevant parties, we’ve included who suggested what, so you can get to know the helpful/twisted minds behind the rules…

1. “Go with an open mind and step outside your comfort zone as much as possible because these are the things that will create amazing experiences.” – Katisha

2. “Remember that living out of a suitcase sucks, but living out of a backpack rocks.” – Andy

3. “Always steal nice toilet roll if you see it loafing in a restaurant bog.” – James1985

4. “Don’t forget that people live in the countries you are travelling to! You do not need to bring food, a backpack overflowing with clothes or a year’s supply of shampoo because you just might be able to buy that stuff (cheaper) from shops or even supermarkets!” – Alexandra_q2

There's no need to overpack...

5. “Ignore any negative comments prior to leaving, mainly worried family members & jealous friends telling you you’ll be kidnapped and/or die.” – *nikki180188* 

6. “Don’t forget the newbies. Once you’ve been at a hostel a while you naturally form little cliques. Don’t forget to meet and greet any newcomers that arrive!” – Cormac

7. “Understand that there isn’t the same concept of time or service that we have in Europe everywhere in the world, so don’t expect your food to all arrive at the same time if you eat out in a group.” – Travelbum91

8. “Try not to wank in dorms.” – James1985

9. “Don’t feel you have to do EVERYTHING in every location. You will burn out physically and mentally, and you will soon get fatigued with sights and experiences – just do what you are interested in.” – kristiangodfrey

10. “When travelling with others in any kind of vehicle, toilet breaks are determined by the stongest bladder, not the weakest.” – Warrick

It's the strongest bladder that defines the when you stop

11. “Always strive to push your personal boundaries! A little personal growth never hurt anyone.” – Mikeyandthecity

12. “Don’t think about the pending unemployment when you return. At all. Ever.” – Amymc21

13. “Learn at least a few basic words of the local language in every country you visit. The effort will be much appreciated and make travel more fun. Even if you struggle to pronounce it properly! If you get it wrong, it will at least give people a bit of a laugh.” – Benjyk

14. “Discuss the table house rules before playing pool in any hostel, lest you nonchalantly pot the white and be forced to down three shots and circle the table naked.” – Rollingcrock

 Make sure you know the house rules, or you won't be smiling

15. “Don’t expect public toilets on a remote Asian roadside to have running water, let alone soap. Antibacterial handwash will become your best friend!” – hdsimmons

16. “Backpackers never steal from other backpackers!” – Macca

17. “Leave the plastic bags at home. No matter how quiet you try to be with them you will FAIL and wake everyone up with the annoying rustling!” – Daisyd

18. “Learn the rules to ‘Shithead’: A 10 burns, 2 goes back down to 2, 3 is invisible and 7 means next player plays lower than 7. Kapeesh?” – Lunny

Learn the rules to card games. You'll make friends

19. “You are going for the experience of seeing and trying new things that will change you for the better. So don’t be a hermit crab.” – Baneli 

20. “When taking a shower, tuck the shower curtain into the bath/shower. I thought this was common sense, but obviously not judging by the amount of water I’ve been wading through in comunal bathrooms recently.” – tcuk182

21. “Don’t drive too much of a hard bargain with locals in poor countries. Don’t always expect to pay the same prices as locals for things!” – Benjyk 

22. “Take condoms. Use condoms. Insist on condoms.” – Broke

Be prepared for when things get fruity

23. “If you are checking out of a hostel early to move on, pack your bag the night before and not at 5am when your roomies are trying to sleep! – Travelbum91

24. “Have fun while you can. Don’t worry about the way other people think you should live your life. Travelling can open so many doors leading you to brilliant opportunities. You’ll never regret it. And if you’re still working when you’re 70, well, at least you’ll have some amazing stories to tell!” – Jenpen17

25. “You’re never too old to take a gap year.” – Cheesea

Go further

View the full original ‘gap year rules’ thread and add your own suggestions.

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