Always Dreamed of Taking a Gap Year? Don’t Let Anyone or Anything Hold You back
Planning your trip to far off, exotic locations will be one of the most exciting and enjoyable experiences of your life. The endless possibilities and myriad destinations give you a sense of both control and complete lack thereof over your own destiny. For sure you will hit stumbling blocks when planning, for example: working out the seven hundred different types of public transport you need to take to arrive in a particular destination. When this situation arises always remember to keep the windows closed and the laptop on your lap!
Once everything is booked, however, you are left in a state of limbo: stuck in the routine of your day-to-day life you so wish to escape, yet knowing you will escape it soon. It breeds a lack of enthusiasm for anything that is not your trip.
1. Don't Listen to Scaremongering
The most irritating thing to hear is "be careful". When offered generically or on its own, no problem. When offered with "because I heard someone got murdered there the other day", I take exception for two reasons:
- I am a fully grown adult with his head screwed on and you are talking to me like I'm going to get off my nut and throw pebbles at the local gangster.
- I can think of five recent murders in my local area and not once did anyone tell me to "be careful".
The list of annoyances is endless (don't get me started on the "why would you want to leave your own country?" question) and if you have made it this far through the article you can be forgiven for thinking I am an anti-travel, grumpy old man. The truth is far from it.
2. Be Prepared to Talk about Your Trip... A LOT!
The writer of this article works in a health and leisure club, seeing hundreds of regulars per day. It is a wonderful feeling that so many people care about your next adventure, but it doesn't half lead to some repetitive conversation. Human nature dictates that an overabundance of some "thing" will turn people off it. We all know the stereotype of the traveller that does not shut up about their experiences. It is boring. It turns out that being forced to talk about your trip can turn you off it, too!
This writer has been subjected to the "how long until you leave?" question 100 times a day for the last 10 months! That's 26,000 times! I cannot tell you the amount of times I've been told to "go to X" or "avoid Y". It is helpful to be told about places you may go, but "we just didn't like it" does not qualify as a travel tip! Besides, travelling is about experiencing these things for yourself and making your own mind up.
3. Understand, Inform and Educate
The moment you realise that all these people are trying to do is help you because, fundamentally, they care about you, is the moment your journey is no longer just your journey. It can inform and inspire a whole host of others both at home and on the road. Those left behind not understanding why and telling you to be careful only do so because, as a race, we fear the unknown. Educate them. Show them that there is a world out there. The grass may not be greener but it is no less important.
Experiencing the world and alternate cultures is a fantastic education and will no doubt make you a more rounded, more interesting and perhaps better individual. No matter how hard it is to organise, how many people try to dissuade you with horror stories or how nervous about going away you are, once you get on that flight you will know it is worth it. It will be the making of you.
By Ben Satchwell
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