How to spot someone who’s had a ‘gap yah’

“When I was in Thailand…”

We all know someone who has been on a gap year, and therefore conforms to the gap year stereotype. Even if it is just a little bit, these gap year fanatics love informing the world of their experiences, and boy doesn’t everyone know it. Here’s how to spot those who have found themselves:



Yes, I rode an elephant

The casual reminders… All the time.

The person returning from their gap year will incorporate stories from their travels into every conversation humanly possible. Instead of simple replies to everyday chat, every sentence will begin with: “When I was in…”  It could be a debate about what to have for tea, and straight away this could link to that time in Africa you tried springbok. The gap year lot have these stories on tap, and can link them to absolutely anything.

The photos, oh the photos.

They have photographs everywhere. Any plain surface transforms into a canvas, drenched in pictures from hiking, cuddling animals, and wild nights out.

A gap year student can be spotted straight away by their photos, as long as there is someone with their back to the camera (looking towards a breathtaking view,) or someone taking an elephant or tiger selfie, we know what to expect. As well as photos the travelers love an inspirational quote. ‘It is not the arrival, but the journey that matters.’ These influence gap year lovers to continue talking about adventures, and hopefully inspire them enough to hurry up and get out the country again.


It was at this point that I found myself

The better outlook on life

Once people have returned from travelling, they have experienced the better version of life. They have tried ‘real’ Chinese food, spotted kangaroos in their ‘real’ habitat, seen ‘real’ civilians suffering, and this makes them more superior than anybody else.

From this point, they will constantly compare everyday ideals to those they experienced while travelling. They will no longer worry and send chocolates to their friend when they are sick, because they have encountered ‘real’ chocolate from Belgium and in the tropics they just about recovered from Dengue Fever. Nothing can compare to what they have seen or done while away. And of course no one will ever sky dive as high as they have, scuba dive as deep as they have, or pet as many wild animals as they have.

The ‘look’

People who experience a gap year project this through appearance and style. It starts with the hair – dreadlocks, braids, or dyed – followed by bright colours, edgy designs, bracelets from wrist to elbow, and forever living in patterned trousers from Thailand.


They inherit the lingo used in their favorite countries, even though no one else knows ‘thong’ is another word for flip-flops. Rooms take on a completely new look once owners have returned, transforming from the teddy-infested room into a gap year shrine. All the quirky ornaments, dream catchers, maps, and the smell of fancy African incense drowning nostrils, will be their new home.


Travelling is love, travelling is life

They’re such good people

When volunteering, the gap year community feel self-achievement for helping the world become a better place. Through building hospitals, conserving wildlife, or teaching children, they have done their bit. Naturally they need to tell everybody at least once a day of their honorable actions, just so we don’t forget. No one else has been involved in the work like they have, so it is up to them to inform gap year virgins of what they did. No matter what goes wrong in the future, they know in their hearts they helped out that one time.


Helping out

Their ‘influenced lifestyle’

Nine times out of ten the gap year person in your friendship group will have a different lifestyle to everybody else, inspired by travelling. Most commonly they will choose to be vegan, or refuse to wear particular clothes, or not listen to chart music.


After driving through shanty towns in South Africa, you will always catch the gap year friend helping out at homeless shelters. Either way the gap year expert must be catered for.

It is not their fault their experiences influenced them this way. After all, the did find themselves.