Are you willing to take a gap year ?

Fast-forward a couple of hundred years. Cheap flights have meant that even more people are taking a year off and seeing a worldoutside of schoolbooks and dull history lessons.

Why go ?

But hang on, can''t you see all of that on TV or find out everything you need to know about the world on Wikipedia ? Only if you want to fake it. There is no subsitute for getting out there seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling what the world is. Some of the smells and tastes won't be good BTW, but at least you''ll have done it. You can shut the most boring book-smart expert up at parties just by saying "Have you actually been there?''

For many travellers, what starts out as a vacation ends up a vocation, a passion becomes profession.

The jobs you do, the people you meet and the experience you have can show you careers and life choices you would never have seen back home. Opportunities open up when you are travelling.

But it''s not all about work. Just like those Grand Tourist of hundreds of years ago, you''ll also gather friends and experiences that will be valuable for the rest of your life. Whenever someone mentions Thailand you''ll remember a full-moon party, or if you meet a New Zealander, Canadian or Scot you''ll be able to tell them stories of driking in their pubs and laughing with people from their country. These intangibles will stay with you your whole life.

Then ther''s the confidence building.

Just to know that you've worked out how to catch a bus in Prague or protect your self from malaria in Cambodia makes the problems you''ll face back home at university or work seen simpler. As Amanda Akass sees it, "once you have trekked through the Andes in the freezing cold, scared off muggers in Rio, or been lost in a jungle at night, you fel you can do anything !''

Fighting off muggers isn''t a must have skill for many gigs, but if you mentionit in a job interview, they had to be scared not to give you the job.

Why not go ?

I''m not going to trap you, no trip is always easy.

Travel brochures can trun out to be studio-shot les and there will be times when you''ll be broke, sick, or just lonely and homesick. But with a bit of preparation you can minimize the lows and maximize the highs.

Still going ?