9 Ways to Avoid Your Gap Year Being a Total Disaster

E4’s new show Gap Year follows the adventures of a mismatched group of backpackers fumbling their way through a gap year in Asia. The destinations they visit are guaranteed to stoke your wanderlust, but the antics, arguments, and accidents along the way might be less appealing.

If you want your own gap year adventure to run a little more smoothly, the experts at Gapyear.com and StudentUniverse have put together some pro tips.

  1. Choose your travel companions wisely

In Gap Year, Sean and Dylan travel together in an attempt to kick-start a faltering friendship. Inevitably, they fall out hours after landing.

Here’s the thing about travelling with your best friend or bae – seeing each other, smelling each other, sexing each other every day for MONTHS will strain any relationship. If you’re not sure yours will stand the test, don’t travel together.

  1. Backpack vs. suitcase

It’s not a holiday, you’re travelling, and no self-respecting traveller drags a wheelie suitcase around Southeast Asia like an all-inclusive drone on the Magaluf strip.

A backpack is a symbol that you’re a free spirit, a citizen of the world. It’s also easy to carry and doubles as a pillow during flight delays. Leave your mum’s suitcase at home.

  1. Learn a few words of the local language

Every backpacker returns home able to order a beer in ten different languages, but it’s worth learning a few other (admittedly less important) phrases before you go. It can get locals onside, and might open up opportunities not all travellers get.

Just don’t make the mistake May does in Gap Year and learn the wrong language for the country you’re visiting. Google Translate is your friend.


  1. Tear up your itinerary

Whether it’s FOMO or just plain fear, some travellers like to plan every single second of their gap year. If they’re not watching the sunrise over the Great Wall at 5.34am on the second Wednesday of September, their trip is completely ruined.

There’s nothing wrong with being prepared, but it’s important to stay flexible. If an amazing last-minute opportunity comes up you don’t want to miss out because of a tyrannical itinerary.

  1. Learn to ditch unwanted travel mates

In Gap Year, the girls are desperate to shake Greg, an older guy who has latched on and won’t take increasingly unsubtle hints to leave them alone. Unfortunately, travellers like this really exist.

If you don’t want to spend your gap year stuck with an annoying new ‘friend’, you either need the guts to give them the boot, or get really good at fleeing your hostel in the dead of night.

  1. Avoid squat toilets

Squat toilets are prolific in some parts of the world, and leave you with two options: you can successfully make the best of it, trusting your core strength to help you efficiently clear the pipes.

Or, more likely, you can over-balance, tipping butt first into the foetid depths, your only chance of rescue a plucky band of locals throwing a rope down to heave you loose. Your choice.

  1. Master secret hostel sex

The first episode of Gap Year is barely over before half the characters want to bone. It’s true that travel is an aphrodisiac, but actually finding somewhere private to make it happen isn’t always easy.

Sex in a hostel dormitory alongside 16 snoring backpackers? Challenge accepted. Arrive after lights out, don’t try anything too athletic, and for the love of all things holy clean up any spillages before morning.


  1. Embrace weird food

The British have a reputation for bad food, but it’s nothing compared to the deep-fried tarantulas, vacuum-packed squid, and boiled chicken heads you’ll encounter overseas.

What at first seems disgusting is actually an opportunity to immerse yourself in a foreign culture, and look brave in front of your mates. You never know, you might develop a taste for pickled intestine.

  1. If something goes wrong, there’s always a pub

No gap year goes off without a hitch. That’s part of the fun. You’ll miss a bus, get overcharged at a street market, contract a stomach bug that makes you want to die… that’s what memories are made of!

Whatever happens, wherever you are in the world, stay calm and find the nearest pub to wait for it all to blow over. Sorted.

To celebrate the launch of the brand new E4 comedy-drama Gap Year, about a seemingly straight-forward holiday to China that becomes the road trip of a lifetime through Asia, StudentUniverse – the world’s leading travel booking site for students and youth – is offering viewers an exclusive saving of £20 on any flight to a destination featured in the show by using the dedicated promo code E4GapYear when booking.

StudentUniverse offers discounted pricing and terms on flights, hotels and tours as well as handling complex itineraries, custom designed gap year experiences and group travel requests. For more information go to www.studentuniverse.co.uk.

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