Decided a gap year between school and university is the right option for you? Great! Want to avoid fumbling your way through your travels? We’ve come up with a list of the top six ways to stop your gap year turning into a complete disaster.

Follow these tips and your gap year will run at least a little more smoothly.


1. Preparation is key

Believe us when we say if you don’t prepare, you’ll regret it. Read up on the places and the cultures you are visiting. If you fail to prepare, you’ll most likely survive when you arrive, but this will only allow you a limited view of the destination. Make the effort to learn even just a few words of the local language – it’ll get you much further than you think.


2. Cherish friends but beware enemies

At the end of the year, your strongest memories will most likely be of the people you met over the places you visited. If you decide to travel alone, you’ll be much more open to meeting others – if you’re in a group, make sure you remain up for fun with others. That being said, never let your guard down – the most overtly friendly people you meet while travelling may not always be the ones to trust.


3. Invest in memories – and keep a diary

Today’s gappers risk experiencing their most precious moments, not live, but through a screen. If you keep a diary throughout your time abroad, you’ll be much more likely to live in the moment, which will leave you with a bounty of untouched memories for decades.


4. Take your time

The great thing about travelling when you are young is that you have time. And that means you can be spontaneous. Change your plans as many times as you want. Carpe diem. You won’t regret it.


5. Embrace the unknown

Whether it’s trying new food (hello chicken feet!) or forgoing the Sunday roast one week in favour of something exotic you can’t pronounce, you’ll most likely live to tell the tale. Plus, experiencing the new and different is what travel is all about! Don’t head home without trying different things.


6. Decide whether a backpack or suitcase is better suited to your trip 

Too many friendships have been ruined by a gapper’s poor decision to bring a suitcase on a trip that – without question – required a backpack. If you’re planning on going mountain climbing on your gap year, leave the suitcase behind. If you’re going to be hitting up luxe five-star hotels, stick with the wheelie bag.