- Eat: Seriously, don’t stress the extra calories or the money. Enjoy the local food and cultural specialties because you will not regret a single bite when you’re home.
- Over-budget: This might sound strange, but this allows you to feel no remorse for booking that villa for a few nights or splurging here and there-plus, things will go wrong. You don’t want to come home early due to lack of funds because a disaster occurred. Visas, drinks, souvenirs, and transportation ADD UP. I can’t even tell you how many buses I took. I strongly recommend having an emergency fund put aside separate from the rest as well as a “rainy day fund” to allow yourself to splurge here and there.
- Sleeper/night buses: They’re an awesome way to travel and save money by not having to pay for a hostel for the night (two birds one stone). Don’t be afraid of them either. I would go to a coffee shop the day before and download a movie on my phone/computer, get on the bus (keeping my important stuff on me- your big pack usually goes under the bus), blow up my pillow and just hang out. It’s nice to chill out here and there when you’re always used to hustling between adventures.
- Wake up early: You’re going to go out lots and enjoy night life. But don’t forget to get up in the morning and watch the sunrise or see how the day starts in a foreign place. It will open your eyes to the quiet hours of a new culture.
- Journal/photograph/blog LOTS: you don’t want to forget any part of this. You also need time to reflect and learn about yourself (don’t get too caught up in the social and forget to spend some one on one time with yourself).
- Make friends with locals: My favorite memories are going out with the hostel owner to the hidden local hot spots or visiting the family that ran the school’s village. Don’t get too caught up with the backpacker crowd (though fun and a great way to make friends) it’s important to get off the beaten path and immerse yourself in local culture
- Overpack: You will likely be in civilization for a majority of your travels, and anything you forget/run out of/realize you need will be accessible. Don’t bring the water filter or a pocket knife or the over the top luxuries. Pack small and light.
- Book the cheapest hostel: Maybe the 2ndor 3rd cheapest, but trust me, you’ll get what you’re paying for.
- Take lots of money out with you at night: You will lose it or spend it and will regret it.
- Withdrawal too much money before you leave: You really don’t want to be walking around as a new traveler, lost and confused with pockets full of cash. Enough for 5-7 days is usually a good starting point.
- Over plan: It’s really important to leave wiggle room for yourself during your travels. You might want to plan out every minute and feel a need to maximize your time abroad, but try to resist these tendencies. Leaving time to go with the flow will allow you the flexibility for unforeseen adventures!
- Overpay for tourist stuff: You will end up doing this for a little while at the beginning, that’s normal. You’ll even get scammed randomly throughout your trip. But DO NOT hesitate to haggle.
- Spend too much time on social media/calling people back home: I know your adventure is incredible and you want to toot your own horn on Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat. But don’t get caught up searching for WIFI to post pictures instead of actually being in the moment. I was too busy having fun while traveling and never got around to posting one picture. And I don’t regret that one bit.
- Fight burn out: If it’s time to come home, embrace that! The gap year will come to an end eventually and you’ll get homesick and realize its time for it to end. If this is after 3 months and you wanted to stay for 5, that’s okay! Embrace the adventure while you’re there but understand that traveling can be exhausting and the reason you feel ready to come home if probably because you are.