01 Aug 30 Tips and Tricks to Make the Best of Your Gap Year
Trying to compile one article on everything you need to know about taking a gap year would be completely impossible!
Having said that, I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled to all seven continents over the last eight years, which has afforded me the opportunity to make a bunch of mistakes and also pick up some handy little travel hacks. Here are 30 of those tips for your next trip!
- Keep your passport and credit cards secure and know where they are at all times. With just these two items you can get out of any jam.
- Keep a spare card and a bit of money separate from your main stash. You can hide them inside a pack or box of toiletries so they are inconspicuous.
- Avoid your cards or account from being frozen by letting your bank know ahead of time where and when you are travelling.
- If you can be flexible, try traveling to a destination during “fringe” season, just after the peak season finishes. You can grab yourself a bargain.
- Consider getting a carry on backpack which will not only mean you pack less, but you’ll also avoid checked baggage fees.
- There are some cheap discount cards available like the YHA or International Youth Travel Card which are inexpensive but can lead to big savings during a Gap Year.
- If you’re travelling relatively unplanned, check your next destination doesn’t have a large event or festival on which will drive up prices.
- Before you buy anything (not just travel items), Google the item name and “discount code.” Pretty much everything has a promo code these days.
- Padlocks with keys for your backpack and lockers are so risky. You know you’ll end up losing the keys. Opt for a four-digit TSA lock instead.
- Get into collecting points and get yourself an Avios card which will come in handy for your next trip. Trust me, there will be many more after your Gap Year.
- You’ll always have access to your e-mail so keep scanned copies of your passport, insurance details, credit card numbers hidden in your drafts for easy access.
- Use Google Drive or Dropbox to backup your photos. You never know when you might lose a camera, flood a GoPro or corrupt a memory card.
- If you’re staying somewhere other than a hostel, head to one anyway to pick up a map, leaflets and other useful info.
- Homesickness is always inevitable so keep in touch regularly and don’t be afraid to seek the familiar. Nothing wrong with leaving the eco lodge and heading to the mall for pizza and a movie.
- Most hostels, guest houses and airbnb’s will have cooking facilities. Eating in is far cheaper and supermarkets in other countries are always an experience.
- Don’t get stuck in the backpacker bubble. Meet locals or expats using meetup.com.
- It can seem a pain having to pay for something you never want to use but travel insurance should be the first thing you buy after your flights.
- Always take the free walking tour when there’s one available. Not only are they informative but it’s a great way to get your bearings in a new place.
- Don’t take risks with your health and make sure your travel vaccinations are up to date.
- Travel will really make you realise how easy going you actually are. Learn how to laugh it off. Things going wrong is all part of the experience.
- Don’t try and plan too much. It’s a gap year but you don’t need to plan the whole thing. Prepare for the unexpected and roll with it.
- Baz Luhrmann had it right. Wear sunscreen.
- Get in the habit or waking up early. I know it’s hard to do on your gap year but forget catching the worm, you’ll have the major attractions to yourself.
- When checking in to a hostel or hotel, grab the business card off the desk. It’s easy to get caught up when exploring and it’s possible to get lost or forget where your even staying!
- Even if you’re travelling in hot countries buses tend to over compensate by cranking up the aircon. Pack a light jumper for these journeys, especially on overnight services.
- If you’re on a bus, train or just waiting at the airport, keep a wrist or ankle through the loop of your handbag or day pack to deter opportunist thieves from running off with it. This is super helpful if you have the habit of falling asleep.
- There’s a good chance you’ll be updating social media as you go but turn on location services so that your location is tracked as you go. You never know when someone may need to find you.
- Get clued up on any specific laws in countries you are visiting. Chewing gum in Singapore, wearing heels at archaeological sites in Greece or feeding the pigeons in Venice are just some ways you could break the law.
- When you see a sign saying pickpockets are operating in the area, resist the urge to pat your pockets to check if your valuables are still there. You’re just telling them where it is.
- The trick to avoiding bad tourist food is to stay clear of any restaurants that have menus in multiple languages.
Written by Amar Hussain Founder of Venice, 7 continent world traveller since ’09, author, digital nomad, pug lover and peanut M&M connoisseur.