Written by Milly Whitehead on 09 / 06 / 2017
Gap Year Advice
As we know the Great British Isles is a dynamic, beautiful place with changing vista’s, accents and dress codes as we travel North, South, East and West – an eclectic bunch of tribes gracing the land BUT take us to foreign shores and our tribal nuances blend into one large pointy finger of habit…oh yes we all know one when we see - the Brit abroad :)
Ever helpful and ever desperate for our stereotype to change we call upon our future gap travellers to do their bit for love of their country … have a read, have a chuckle BUT please don't copy....
Despite evidence to the contrary, there is no defective gene in the Brit abroad that renders us incapable of using foreign languages. Yes, a lot of people in the world speak English, but plenty don't and there's absolutely no reason why we shouldn't try to converse in their language, right? But we don’t seem capable!
Somehow, we imagine that talking English very, very slowly or loudly will magically make us understood or by adding an attempted accent and some ‘o’s or ‘er’s on the end will do the trick. Sound about right – you know you’ve done it!
Learn the local language before you go especially if you are going to head off the beaten track - at least learn some local greetings. If not sign up to a program where the language lessons are included. Win win situation – have a look at this trip in Cuba for example ->
We just love our tourist gear. Fanny packs on, sandals over socks, union jack shorts and a ridiculous hat perched on your head. I mean why don’t we just wear a big ‘I’m a foolish tourist, carrying all my valuables in this bright pink bum bag, please rob me now’ sign instead?
Sombreros, bonnets and pork pie headgear should be left in the shop. I’m not sure if we think they are stylish, or just hilarious?
We also love to just let it all hang out. All self-consciousness and awareness is thrown out the window as we strip off, parading the streets without our shirts on and donning tiny dresses out to supper.
Don't buy this stuff – just don’t do it. Just wear your normal clothes, like a normal person. An exception to the rule though is the ethic garb you’ll find, which worn one piece at a time can look very cool and usually does the perfect job in the climate you are in. .like the fisherman trousers in Thailand or those awesome jumpers in Ecuador. Definitely buy those.
About the weather. Sure, it's disappointing when it's overcast on your beach holiday or the snow's slushy on your ski trip but it’s not personal. For some reason most of us expect anywhere off the British Isles to be clear skied and 28 degrees 24 /7. Perhaps it’s our natural lack of Vitamin D that makes us so short tempered when the weather doesn’t play ball?
Research – before you head off note the seasons, for example January is fantastic in Africa apart from in Madagascar when it will rain – solidly – every day! April in Asia …expect 100 percent humidity.
Despite fabulous offerings street side something inside us panics, with thoughts of wasted hours nursing a bad stomach – our sensible head steering us away and instead Siri is asked to find us a full English or a McDonalds.
A few years back an international survey by hotels.com revealed the full English fry up to be the world's favourite breakfast! Unsurprisingly, it also found that a quarter of us take teabags, brown sauce and even bacon when travelling. Are we really creatures of such habit?
Try the street food – it is usually the most delicious food about especially in Asia, just watch your timings…perhaps avoid before an overnight bus journey! It happens to the best of us ;)
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Always at the bar – zero dance skills and zero self-respect! Especially on the last night, we like to go out with a bang. But in our defence we certainly know how to have a good time and for that “Go Brits”.
Be vigilant – having a good time is key but remember to always look out for your friend – go out in a ‘pack’ if possible. Watch your drinks – never leave them unattended – it is very common for a “nasty little” pill to be dropped in by some thieving opportunist.
We like to wake at the crack of dawn, mark our lounger territory with our towels, then nip back to bed. We can also take at least 3 hours to get in to the pool and then it’s so ‘freezing’ that we’re out 30 seconds later.
Michael Macintyre sums us our pool habits perfectly – got to smile.
Well, sadly you probably won’t be frequenting many pools or have the budget to hire a beach sun lounger so my only advice would be having a designated “beach towel” so you don't have to shower forever more with a rough and sandy version. We don't like scratchy.
Upon arrival we are absolutely fearless and disregard our bottles of SPF 30. Nothing says I'm a Brit abroad like sun burn. Every time we venture overseas, us Brits think that ‘this time I don’t need cream, I’ll tan not burn’. No logic at all, but it happens every time, and every time we’re wrong.
Us Brits are always the ones with hand-prints, chequered board patters and other embarrassing patches too… A Superdrug poll found that nine million Brits get sunburnt every single time they go abroad and one in ten admit to burning twice on the same holiday! Inflamed, beetroot skin is not only horribly uncomfortable but it makes you look like a complete rookie.
Don’t do it – can you imagine slinging your back pack onto blistered shoulders – or sleeping on a bus with a burnt back and legs… don't add to the discomfort already beckoning. On a more important note – sunstroke is very dangerous - dizziness and nausea being the symptoms so watch out.
Ahhh, how we love to queue. Even when there isn’t one, we will make one. And we will complain, very loudly, about queue jumpers too. There is no crime worse than queue jumping to a Brit abroad.
‘You snooze you loose’ springs to mind. DO NOT queue politely as you will miss what ever you were queuing for. Most cultures sharpen their elbows to get ahead, so get your game face on.
So there we have it – the Brit Abroad in all our glory. So head out on your travels with our advice in your mind's eye and be the finest British Export.
One thing you've got to love though is our spirit and we know how to have a good time!
Go Brits – even in your union jack swimmers.
Go Brits - even in your union jack swimmers.
on 09 / 06 / 2017