Gap Year Travel: Expectation vs Reality
Sometimes it's like Crossroads - the seminal 2002 film starring Britney Spears - and sometimes it really, really isn't...
Embarking on a year out from your life is one of life's greatest adventures, right up there with battling in the queue for Beyonce tickets or taking your clothes off when you're drunk.
But the while your hopes and dreams are all wonderfully wanderlust-y, the reality tends to be a little different.
Expectation: Embracing the fact that all of your belongings fit in just one rucksack. A dependence on material possessions is such a construct of modern society, y’all.
Reality: Wearing the same clothes so much you literally want to burn them all. Hand washing your knickers in a tiny hostel sink.
Expectation: A Crossroads style (if you didn’t immediately get that was a reference to the seminal 2002 film starring Britney Spears, we’re going to need you to leave) road trip, laughing in a convertible with your best pals as the tunes blast out the speakers and a hot hitchhiker sticks his beautiful thumb out invitingly.
Reality: Sitting in a cramped Toyota that doesn’t even have a sunroof, sweaty af because the AC broke, shouting at each other because you’re lost and the GPS isn’t working and you KNEW you should have taken that left turn 3 miles back. P.S: finding parking is an absolute bitch.
Expectation: Making loads of new worldly pals, who you trade life experiences and deep thoughts with, creating a solid foundation for lifelong friendship.
Reality: Fresher’s Week, The Gap Year edition.
Expectation: Sampling the delicious culinary delights of local cultures in beautiful little family-run restaurants.
Reality: Choking down congealed rice for the third night in a row because you’re running out of money. McDonalds. Being dared to eat a roasted cricket from a street cart.
tan of the Gods
Expectation: A deep, even, golden tan of dreams.
Reality: Perpetual panda eyes (thanks, sunglasses) and uneven red burnt bits punctuated with aggressively itchy mosquito bites.
at one with nature
Expectation: Snorkelling with a turtle in a peaceful, life affirming moment.
Reality: Worrying about safety of said turtle as 50 eager tourists armed with go-pros power after it in a frenzy of flapping flippers, snorting like hyped up bulls through their snorkels.
Expectation: Living life totally in the moment, being spontaneous and carefree.
Reality: Turning up to find all the good hostels fully booked, the bus tickets sold out, and a typhoon on its way. Planning a liiiittle bit in advance never hurt anyone.
Expectation: Loving every minute of every day.
Reality: Having low points is inevitable - globe-trotting life is still life. Homesickness, bickering with pals, and slightly crap days will all happen, and are totally normal.
Expectation: Falling in love with a beautiful exotic babe, spending your days wandering along sandy beaches and having the kind of conversations you only see in films.
Reality: Falling in love with an Australian.
getting off the beaten track
Expectation: Going totally off the beaten path and discovering hidden gems a la Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Beach’ (before all the weird shit started).
Reality: Staying in a hostel with a zillion other tourists, going to see the sites along with a zillion other tourists, checking out the real life beach from ‘The Beach’ with a zillion other tourists.
being all Bridget
Expectation: Keeping an amazing travel journal filled with witty and pithy observations that you’ll look back on for years to come.
Reality: Writing one entry and then completely forgetting about it - aside from the moments when you DO remember and it feels like homework.
getting your teach on
Expectation: Finding a sense of purpose and fulfillment through volunteer work.
Reality: Being shoved into a room full of students who don’t speak a word of English and told to ‘teach them’ without even the most basic of training.
expanding your tastebud horizons
Expectation: Sampling the local food based delicacies (see above ‘cricket from a cart’).
Reality: Telling your friends when you have a solid poo because it’s NEWS.
but all that really matters is...
Expectation: Having the best time of your life.
Reality: Having the best time of your life.
Written by Lizzie Cox