Here's some travelling/gap year tips I've thought of so far:
- Think ahead;
What countries are you going to? Do you need injections for them? How many? How far apart do they need to be? (For example, I've only just booked my last jab as it needed to be 6 months apart from the 1st one! Doctors/Nurses are really helpful in this area, mine printed me off a fact sheet about each country I was thinking of travelling to, each page with some useful information on survival and preparation.) Even if you only need one-dose injections, give yourself enough time to have multiple injections spaced out rather than having as many as you're allowed in the same week - it doesn't feel great to have more than one at the same time... Also, some live injections require that you don't have any others within a 3 month radius.
Also, the earlier you know, the earlier you can book your flights and normally this equals the more money you'll save. Which of course is great in the long run as you get to spend it on something far more exciting than the flight out!
- Don't be a snob;
If you haven't got the money to do it 5*, take a breather, deal with it, accept it then get on with it. The earlier you realise some of your normal comforts aren't going to be met, the earlier you have a better time and the less stressed you'll get. If you go through this experience complaining, you wont make many friends, you'll have a really rubbish time and probably come home more stressed than you left. If you go at it with an open mind, a dirty toilet here and there really isn't going to bother you.
Realise as soon as possible that pooing in public restrooms/other uncomfortable places is unavoidable when travelling for long periods of time, so again, deal with it, accept it and get on with it. You're gonna have to do it soon enough, so just hold your breath/pretend no one can hear you and go. I learned from doing Duke of Edinburgh Gold that if you don't relieve yourself when you need to, your mood and health can deteriorate drastically, so not enjoying Rome's views just because you can't bring yourself to poo in that restaurants toilet really isn't worth it. Anyway, moving on from that awkward topic...
- Sun protection;
This one is really obvious but then again, because of its obviousness it is often over-looked. No one wants skin cancer, and no one wants to come home needing glasses because the sun has destroyed their eyes, so just be sensible. Best method is to buy 2 bottles of sun cream, one large factor (50 if you have the typical British skin) which you apply on before you leave and then one small bottle (maybe Factor 20 or 10, again depending on your skin type and where you are) which you can take with you and apply regularly all day long :)
With sunglasses, I recommend taking more than one pair, check they are all 100% UVA protective and are quiet durable. (I have sat on my fair share of sunglasses and headphones to really get annoyed by this plus you're travelling so even if YOU don't sit on them, something/someone else will and there is no guarantee that all countries have as good sunglasses as back home.)
- Clothing and footwear;
Again an obvious one, but pack comfortable stuff that you can move in, sit down in, climb up a wall in, drop hot sauce on and that will make it out along with you. Societies obsession for the latest trends cannot really be taken on a Gap Year with you, however, I have found that the new trend for Chino's is far more practical than any Jeans I've ever owned, therefore I have 3 pairs. They are all Primark and so were inexpensive. (Don't bother taking expensive stuff on an extensive trip as it will either get stolen or you'll ruin it somehow, maybe one or two items for evenings out is fine, but don't take anything you'll hate loosing/ripping)
As far as footwear goes, I am planning on taking three pairs. 1 pair of decent black trainers with a thick sole and strong laces. I have gone for black as this colour tends to go with most outfits and it is also most hide-able for when you're wearing something that doesn't really work with trainers, but you really have nothing else. The thick soles are also pretty important as you're likely to do most of your walking in these trainers and so they need to survive a lot of down-tread. I am also taking 1 pair of strong flip flops and 1 pair of place and gold ballerinas. Flip flops have been and will always be a great multi-purpose-quick-to-put-on shoe that is just ideal for a Gap Year. The ballerinas I have chosen as they are quiet small but perfect for events or job interviews or anything else where you're meant to be dressed a little less like a traveler and a little more like a civilized human being. ;-) Some people may also prefer taking some sandals, but I've decided I'm going to buy them somewhere when I need them, as they'll make a cute souvenir .
I'll probably make another post later on detailing exactly what I packed but that's it for now. Also, if you're wondering about anything more specific or whatever, here's a link to a website designated to this kind of information http://www.gapadvice.org/
Anyway, hope that helps xoxo