Be prepared: your summer holiday survival guide

Posted November 26, 2013, by Marni Williams

It’s the first day of Term 1 and you can’t believe it’s come around again. You swore you would get ahead but it’s been more Scrubs and Six Feet Under than Samuel Beckett and homeostasis.

You wanted to return fitter and refreshed, but the parties and Christmas leftovers were irresistible. Most of all, you thought you were going to spend that precious five weeks working out what you wanted to do with your life – and yet here you are at square one again. Well, you do have a new pencil case…

Ok, so that’s not you – but it was me back in January 2001 when I realised I’d arrived at Year 12 having wasted my holidays and done nothing in preparation. You still have your summer holidays ahead of you to relax and revise – so don’t follow my example. Make like a Scout and ‘be prepared’.


Community service

I don’t mean spend all summer playing backgammon at your nanna’s nursing home, but make sure you tick off a few important things while you have the time:

  • Socialise – servicing your own sense of community is just as important as helping others. You will need support throughout the year so work on putting some good times into the memory bank.
  • Do something for your parents – even if it’s just cleaning out the gutters, doing the washing or buying some groceries.
  • Visit your relatives – they can offer great advice and you can bank it for when you need to ditch family catch-ups for study later.


Personal development

This could be one of your last school holiday breaks at home, so take the opportunity to learn a few essential life skills from your folks.

  • Learn to cook – you’re going to have to feed yourself when you move out of home, so take the time to learn a few tips and staple dishes.
  • Driving – if you haven’t learnt already then now’s the time; how else will you be able to do that road trip when you finish Year 12?
  • Practise budgeting – you won’t be able to rely on a weekly allowance forever, so learn to budget now. Work out how much you’ve got for the holidays and make it last.



If you’re going to face your senior years then you need some clear direction. Make your way to a mountain top of your choice – whether that’s a corner of your bedroom or the local park – and do some soul-searching without interruptions. You might want to take the UAC Guide with you and set some SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable and time-based) once you’ve set your compass on a future career.



Now that you’re soon to be released from your desk, get out there and see some things in person. You will gain a new perspective on things if you make like Indiana Jones and discover things at the source.

You can combine spending time with your friends and family with learning by planning trips to museums, galleries, library exhibitions, theatre productions, music concerts or expert talks. Find some events related to your subjects and marvel at your ability to kill multiple birds with one stone.


Wilderness survival

This isn’t just about getting outdoors, it’s about not getting eaten up by the wilderness that is a directionless, party-infused five-week break – as I well know, it’s far too easy to get lost.

  • Disconnect – you don’t have to go camping, all it takes is to find some sun and leave the phone inside. You can get some real thinking done when there’s no deadline and no interruptions. Schedule your social time in advance so your FOMO doesn’t take over your precious downtime.
  • Get moving again – don’t just oil up your rusty joints, take yourself out of the gym and off the beaten track. It takes a good few hours in fresh air to really feel like you’re on summer holidays, so grab the sunblock, get some vitamin D, and look forward to sleeping like a baby when you get home.
  • Get to the doctor – line up all those appointments you’ve been putting off. You don’t want to start the new year with weak glasses or still suffering back pain. Treat it and beat it before 2014.
  • Books are transportable – have a picnic with Hamlet or go for a walk with Melina Marchetta – just make sure that you also take a notebook so you can return to your al fresco thoughts later. Whether you’re travelling by plane, train or car, reading is a good reason for some alone time away from the siblings.
  • Party in moderation – you don’t have to be a monk to make the most of your summer study time. Blow off some steam with your mates but be sure to stick to your rations and don’t stay out in the wilderness for too long.




The summer holidays are the best time for exploring. Check out your local university campus, private college or TAFE when the students are out of the way and you can be free to take selfies around campus as you please.

If you’re ready for a challenge and really want to explore the world of university or college then you might want to consider summer school.

Be prepared: to veg out

Ok, this one isn’t a traditional merit badge but there is an art to vegging out with a purpose. Change things up by tracking down some course-related docos, TED talks and podcasts. You can even record your own notes and listen back for those times when you just. can’t. read. another. word.

And if you do seriously want to veg out, make it quality. Choose a full season of your favourite show and reward yourself with episodes rather than just surfing channels and wasting viewing time. Whatever you do, organise your viewing and listening ahead of time and don’t get sucked into the Youtube/Facebook/Snapchat vortex.

Most importantly, you need to be getting ready now! Make sure you have all the course materials you need before final classes roll around. And if you’re not already armed with chapters and sample tests, then ask your teachers to point you in the right direction pronto.

Finally, if you can schedule at least one thing a day for work, one thing for fun, and something every other day for your body, then you are sure to wind up feeling smarter and stronger in 2014. Or at least a bit like Chief Scout Bear Grylls, and mentally ready to deal with the situation when you find yourself dropped into the jungle next year.

Marni Williams

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