You've worked hard to save up, you've deferred any thoughts of a career, you've planned your route and you've lost yourself in a million Lonely Planets. Finally the time has come: you are ready to go on your gap year.
Lucky you! It's going to be fabulous. Seriously. But before you get too excited with dreams of moonlit beaches, life-altering conversations and the prospect of really, you know, 'finding yourself'... check yourself.
We're here to bring you back down to earth...
1 EXPECTATION: Going totally off the beaten path
REALITY: "One seat on the next backpacker bus to the next backpacker place please"
2 EXPECTATION: Keeping a fantastic diary to read back when you're old
REALITY: Dear Diary, Did... stuff. Saw...things. Lost...diary.
3 EXPECTATION: Having the alone time to really 'find yourself'
REALITY: Why won't all the people go away?
4 EXPECTATION: Embracing all cultures, foods and practices
REALITY: Not fucking eating that
5 EXPECTATION: Reading War and Peace and all other impressive books
REALITY: Ugh, 48-hour coach journeys make you vom
6 EXPECTATION: Making the most amazing travelling friends ever
REALITY: God backpackers are fucking irritating
7 EXPECTATION: Volunteering will be deeply rewarding
REALITY: Teaching English to kids is fucking hard
8 EXPECTATION: Embracing early-morning beach yoga
REALITY: Sooo hungover, maybe tomorrow
9 EXPECTATION: Ditching the modern world and embracing nature
REALITY: Just one more episode of Friends in Vang Vieng and then we'll go tubing, yah?
10 EXPECTATION: Ditching the modern world and embracing culture
REALITY: They go bowling here too?
11 EXPECTATION: Making friends with the locals
REALITY: The locals find you incredibly annoying
12 EXPECTATION: Dream weather for a whole year
REALITY: Rain follows you everywhere
13 EXPECTATION: Stomach of steel
REALITY: Celebrating every solid poo
14 EXPECTATION: A bungee jump that makes you feel reborn
REALITY: Chickening out of a bungee jump
15 Expectation: Falling in love with a beautiful fellow traveller on sunset beaches
Reality: Hostel sex
16 EXPECTATION: Returning a totally different, better person
REALITY: Nope, same old you
17 EXPECTATION: Remembering it as the best thing you ever did
REALITY: Remembering it as the best thing you ever did