Taking a gap year should be about having a break

While the internet is wonderful at connecting people, I wonder if the youth of today have got short shrift when it comes to travelling?

Wednesday, 2nd March 2016, 6:01 am
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When I was a teenager, I caught a bus from London to Athens and then hopped on a ferry to the island of Paros to spend some time working before I embarked on the time-honoured tradition of island-hopping.

In those days there were multiple factors which determined whether I phoned home. These included finding a phone box, having the correct change in the right currency and being sober.

If you draw a venn diagram of the first three and then lap over a small circle for the fourth, you can imagine that calls home were rather infrequent (one a month) on my hopping experience – which was actually more of a long jump as I went from Paros to Crete.

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It was from Crete that I made my fateful phone call. I’d jumped to find friends who, it turned out, had left the week before (as no-one had phones I didn’t know).

Then I couldn’t remember where my hotel was (this was 20 years before The Inbetweeners went to exactly the same place – and it was a neon rabbit warren then too).

I’d gone to a bar to wash away my sorrows, then come out and been run over by a moped. And it was then that I chose to ring my parents to complain in slurry detail about the perils of life.

Of course, with the wondrous nature of youth, I bounced back and was bright as a button the next day. I found my hotel, got a job, made some new friends and carried on with my adventure. But I forgot to let my parents know that all was well with my world.

Luckily these days I could keep the olds in the loop with the tap of a few buttons.

But is it right that every peak and trough of every minute of every holiday is spread all over the internet? While social media is great for hunting down missing persons, getting blood donors to line up in foreign climes and generally tracing people’s whereabouts, isn’t the purpose of a gap year to have some time off?

To have a break from home and family and Facebook?