THE 7 STEREOTYPES OF THE GAP YEAR TRAVELLER
You might be ready for that gap year, but are you ready for the stereotypes that go with it? Whether that means being a soul-searching warrior of free love, a renegade against the nine-to-five, or just a broke pre-student who needs the occasional check from mum and dad to keep the pad Thais a-flowing, there's oodles to choose from. Dust yourself down would-be globetrotters of a year, because LBW have our terse retorts and pithy answers at the ready…
They're lazy and workshy
Yea…but then so are most travellers! And anyway, we're not talking about bunking down in hostel beds until the early afternoon, or reclining on beach chairs while the Koh Phi Phi hangover sizzles away in the Andaman sun. We're talking about the annoying assumption that gap year folk are somehow avoiding the 'real world', whatever that is. Let's be completely clear here: At LBW Travel we think it's a virtue, not a vice, to prioritize life before work. The clue is kinda' in the name – duh! And anyway, what is this real world you're talking about? If it's the one with nine-to-five office jobs and endless bills, strict lunch breaks and dreary Northern Hemisphere weather, then you can count us out. Take that, man. Woo!
They're doing it on the bank of mum and dad
This has to be one of the most common stereotypes flung at gap year travellers. And in fairness, with some estimations putting the total amount borrowed from those older family members at a whopping £995m each year in the UK alone (that's over $12 million USD!), it's not entirely without justification. That said, many people are surprised to see just how few gap yearers actually turn to parents to fund their trip of a lifetime. Some folk take part-time jobs and scrape up every penny they can to fund that jaunt through Thailand, while others will opt for work on the road – hey, how do you think the folk on LBW's team have managed to have countless gap years? Even Matt Lacey (aka Orlando Charmon) of YouTube Gap Yah fame toiled away in the kitchens of a Chinese restaurant back in Ireland before he managed to break out to Tanzania.
They will be volunteering somewhere
Nope, not correct. Sorry. Pass the buck. While it's true that many a gap year traveler will opt to join a volunteering program, and also true that the voluntourism market has boomed in recent decades (up more than 20% in just 10 years!), it doesn’t mean that every pre-college traveler is going grafting for free. Just take LBW's groups, which come with all types of folk, including gap yearers who simply want to explore and party, sunbathe and relax – and who wouldn't want to do that before delving into a world of exams and revision? And for those who do want to pursue a gap year of volunteering; great! Whether you're off to care for sloths in Costa Rica or teach English in remote Thai towns, you're surely in for one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life…
They never stop talking about their memories
We all know the one, because there always is one: That dreadlocked, hemp-wearing undergrad who simply can't stop talking about that time they encountered a long-lost Amazonian tribe in the depths of the Peruvian jungles; the irritating, self-proclaimed explorer who won't let you get another beer because they simply have to tell you about the moment they found Nirvana in the ashrams of Rishikesh. Well, stuff this stereotype, because at LBW we simply love a good travel tale or two. And if that means having to suffer the occasional pompous globetrotter then we'll take it! Otherwise we'd never have met those thousands of cool guys and gals, vicariously experienced all their highs and lows, or had quite the same human experience on the road as we have. Tell away gap yearers!
They are totally unprepared
True but also untrue. Yes, many a gap year traveler will be hitting the road for the first time. But hey, even Bear Grylls and Michael Palin had to start somewhere, right? What's more, just by heading someplace you've never been before, it doesn't necessarily mean you're not ready for it. In fact, our experience of places like the party-mad streets of Bangkok after dark, the rolling surf towns of Nica, the rowdy all-nighters of legendary Ko Phangan (and there are oodles more spots to add to that list) tells us basically the opposite: that travel is sometimes best done when you're young, adventurous, unassuming and full of energy. Of course, that's not to say that older folk and seasoned globetrotters can't join our shindigs; just that those who are there for the first time add something new and special to the mix too!
They simply don't know what to do with life
Alright, so maybe plenty of people have chosen to defer that hard-earned place at university or college because they aren't entirely sure they want to pursue majors in medieval Norman manuscripts, or unravel all the deep wonders of Kantian philosophy. So what? Surely it's a better idea to get on the road and explore, broaden those horizons and discover what other people and other cultures are doing. Short of becoming a Hindu baba, joining a monastery in the mountains of Nepal, or even becoming a part of the LBW family of tour guides (we know which's best out of those three!), you might just return home with a better conception of what it is you want to do in life. And if all else fails, German metaphysics and those Norman manuscripts aren't going anywhere!
They are trying to 'find themselves'
Bandy that one about and we'll have you! Why? Well, at LBW we totally embrace the old stereotype of 'finding yourself' while traveling. Granted the language is a tad naff, and there is something of an overload of folk trying to discover who they are and what they stand for in outlandish ways – cue mushrooms in Bali and high-altitude meditation with the shamans of the Hindu Kush. But that's not the stuff we're into. We're into summertime bonfires on the beach. We're into wild swimming in empty Adriatic coves. We're into forging lifetime friendships over cold Bintangs in Bali. We're into encountering swinging sloths in Monteverde, and riding unforgettable waves on the Nicaraguan Pacific. That's the sort of journey we're into, and if you 'find yourself' along the way, then great. Good for you. Can I have some?
If you can think of anymore age-old stereotypes about the gap year traveller and would like to add to this mix, then we'd love to give our answer to them in the comments below! And if you fancy joining LBW's merry band of travellers, then why not consider one of our intrepid tours around the globe? Find more info on all of LBW's tours here!