When you’re in high school, a gap year is usually your first shot at travelling the world and everything it entails – the magical sunsets over new landscapes, the headaches, the long bus rides, and the fleeting romances. Problem is, being in high school means you’re wrapped up in essays and exams and parties and crushes and a lot of the time you don’t even know where to begin when it comes to planning a trip.

It’s easy to just push it aside and let your future self deal with all of that. This is not a great idea. Apart from practical reasons, starting to form your travel plans early is smart because it gives you something to hold on to while you get through the rest of the school year.

Here’s the rest of the reasons why you should start thinking about your gap year now.

1. So you don’t get left behind

Your teachers tell you all the time not to procrastinate assignments, but this advice also holds true for travel plans. While there is definitely a thrill to travelling with minimal plans – and sometimes it’s actually the best thing to do – it can be difficult to be so blasé about it for your first trip. Plus, there are a bunch of things that could go wrong if you’re not at least thinking about your gap year early on. You could realise you don’t have enough money to go yet, or your friends could have organised a trip together while you were busy umm’ing and ahh’ing.

Basically, you don’t want to be left behind at home to figure things out while everyone else has already left.

2. To figure out the logistics

Start thinking about you gap year now, so you can overcome all the obstacles you’ll inevitably think of. It’s also a good idea to figure out what is what you want out of your gap year, and what you need to do now until then to achieve it. For example, if you know you want to leave as soon as school finishes, then you need to start budgeting now and keep working your part-time job throughout exams.

On the other hand, if you know you can’t work during the school year, you can start mentally mapping out your gap year with a prescribed working period at the start to save funds. Whatever your goal is, it’s best to have thought up a way to get there, and now’s the best time to start that.

3. It’s something to get excited about

As it turns out, the best part of travelling can be before you even leave, when you’re planning and anticipating all the dope shit you’re about to do. When you’re in the midst of your final year of high school and you’re juggling the stress and responsibility and expectations that comes with it, that joy you get from thinking about your gap year can be the thing that gets you through the mess. Compared to binging on Netflix, it’s also a productive way to procrastinate, and knowing you’ve got a hectic holiday planned can be great motivation to get the marks you need.

4. So you start thinking about your post-school options in general

Thinking about a gap year now is also a good idea because it opens the conversation about what you want to do after school on a wider level. If you’re absolutely craving a gap year as a break from school, you need to examine whether it’s just a temporary thing that needs this quick fix, or if it’s indicative of something bigger. Maybe you’re sick of school because the classroom isn’t for you – and that’s completely fine – but you need to start thinking about what you want to do beyond the gap year. Do you pursue uni, or do you take up vocational training instead? Maybe an apprenticeship or traineeship is what you need, or maybe you just need to start working right away.

These are some heavy questions to start asking yourself, but fortunately for now, thinking about your future starts with thinking about your gap year, so you can at least do that.