It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since I embarked upon the rite of passage that is the infamous sixth-year holiday. Thinking about it now, I can’t believe that between us we actually managed to organise a week-long holiday for 11 fresh-faced 17-year-olds, but somehow, despite the palaver caused by half the group trying to check in at the wrong airport, 35 miles away, we finally found ourselves shepherded onto the plane, and on our way to Zante.
The week we spent there really was one of a kind, and all in all we managed to return relatively unscathed, despite the countless horror stories we’d heard prior to our departure. However, there are a few words of wisdom which will go some way to ensuring that, if you’re soon to leave for your leavers’ holiday, it too goes as smoothly as possible.
Establish some ground rules
It’s very difficult to organise plans for a dozen people, and it’s likely that people will want to break off and do their own thing. That’s absolutely fine, but just make sure you’ve agreed a meeting place in case someone gets separated from the group, or that everyone will be easily contactable. It sounds obvious, but it’s so important to check in with each other every now and then to make sure that everyone’s safe.
Stay out of trouble
Again, a very obvious sounding piece of advice, but please, please don’t try to argue with any bouncers or bartenders. As a tourist in a foreign country, you want to avoid getting into any sticky situations, as it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to sweet talk your way out of them.
Look out for your friends
This is obviously something that you would do at home, too, but it’s even more important to keep an eye on your friends when you’re in an unknown area. Whether they’ve had too much to drink or there’s a less-than-upstanding stranger creeping them out, keep them close by. They’ll thank you for it, and you won’t find yourself in a panic when one of them has suddenly disappeared from sight.
Another simple tip but it will make your life (and the lives of your parents) so much easier while you’re away. Make sure you stay in touch with them; a quick text to let them know you’re safe is more than enough, and they’ll appreciate it the world over. You never know when you may need them – if, like me, you have a local medic turning up at your door insisting that your health insurance doesn’t cover your treatment and that you owe him €100, your parents will quite literally be your lifeline. (Thankfully, it turned out to be a misunderstanding).
Finally, know your limits
In order to avoid insurance-gate completely, it’s best to prevent any mishaps from occurring before they do. Being stuck in bed with laryngitis wasn’t exactly how I envisaged spending two nights of my holiday, and whilst some ailments can’t be helped, your body will thank you if you keep an eye on how much you’re drinking, limiting your sun exposure, eating enough (and no, that doesn’t mean takeaway gyros for every meal) and drinking plenty of water. It’ll make your experience so much more enjoyable, and you’ll hopefully avoid having to spend the next week in bed at home trying to recover, too.
Most of all, enjoy it! I can’t honestly say I’d be in a rush to recreate my sixth year holiday, but I’m so glad I went when I did. It might be the last chance to get to spend time with all your school friends before you disperse to begin the next phase of your lives, so grab the experience with both hands – because you can guarantee you’ll never forget it.