As a new wave of backpackers head out into the world on gap years, spare a thought for poor mum and dad back at home, getting emails like these classics ...
Thanks to email, Facebook and Twitter, it's never been easier for parents to keep track of what their children are up to on their gap year adventures in far-flung corners of the globe. But when you get emails like these, collected for a book called Don't Tell Mum: Hair-Raising Messages Home From Gap-Year Travellers, do you really want to know what's going on?
Dear Mummy and Daddy,
How are you?
This may come as a shock, but I am thinking of eloping with one of my students to Assam, coz he is from the Naga tribe, and I want to be a Naga girl and go hunting monkeys with bows and arrows and fishing with spears like they do, and then come back and do tribal dancing all night, coz it's so much fun, and all the tribal people here are so great and brave and strong.
Obviously the political situation in Assam isn't ideal, but I'll be OK.
Love you lots. Only an idea at the moment.
I have no clean clothes. Literally everything is smelly and wet. I haven't smelled nice for a month, cos even after a shower I have to dry with a dish towel. Please, Mum, could you fly out here and do my washing?
Sorry it's been so long. Had an eventful rafting trip. We were all kitted out in our wetsuits, waterproofs, helmets and lifejackets, and had just started out on the river (in Peru) when our instructor started shouting instructions to us to turn the boat and back it up.
I turned around to see the body of a young woman not much older than us floating in the water face up. Our instructor asked us to grab the body and attach it to the raft.
The six of us were all in shock, as it was for all of us the first dead body we had ever seen. So, dumbstruck, the only thing we could do was to keep paddling. We got her to the side. We all stood in a circle and said a prayer for her.
We carried on rafting, and luckily all was not ruined, as champagne was bought to celebrate my birthday and we stayed in a lovely campsite with an excellent view of the mountains.
Guess what happened to me last night (in Sydney)?
We were walking back to the hostel and some guy jumped out of his car and whacked me across the head with a hammer — the bit you take nails out with. Then he punched George in the face and drove off.
You keep complaining about my spending but the longer you fail to get this problem sorted out, the more money will get spent.
Beijing is an expensive place to p*** about going to banks all day, plus it's 39 degrees outside, which makes me annoyed the minute I step out of the hotel.
Seriously, I don't know how much longer I can last ... I'm f*** ing fed up with this, stop sending me sarcastic e-mails and telling me 'it doesn't add up'. I DON'T GIVE A F***.
Just go down to HSBC and don't leave until you're convinced that something has taken place which will enable me to come home... I don't care if you have to use all your savings to pay off my overdraft, or if you have to sell your car, PLEASE JUST GET ME HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dear Mum and Dad,
The local culture in Auckland is all about 'kandi'. It's a drug that is very similar to ecstasy, with one major exception – it's completely legal. I figured that as it was legal it couldn't be that strong, so I ignored the warning not to exceed four pills per week and took 12 in one night...
Going to bed now,
You'll find even more amusing and alarming letters in Don't Tell Mum: Hair-Raising Messages Home From Gap-Year Travellers by Simon Hoggart and Emily Monk, published by Atlantic Books. You can order your copy on Amazon here.