Gap years are the talk of the town, and they’re set to sky rocket this year as young people leave school to face one of the bleakest job markets in recent times, and the reality of rising university fees begins to bite.
We’re estimating around 3 million young Brits will be jetting off to reap the benefits of a gap year this year; using this unique opportunity to broaden their horizons and build their profile for the years of careers ahead.
But what level of thought needs to go into a gap year? Surely you just pack a bag full of fading threads, and hit the circuits for a loop around the world’s most hedonistic islands, clutching a brightly coloured bucket?
Well. You could. Or, you could build those party times into one of the most exhilarating journeys of your life; splicing mystifying cultures with monumental achievements.
Gap years offer the perfect time for your brain to breathe! | Photo by freedomyears in the STA Travel Flickr Group
Gap years are amazing and, planned in the right way, can reap rewards for the decades ahead. It should go without saying, that we know a thing or two about gap years, so we’ve taken the time to get your brain in gear for planning your gap year, by producing this list of eleven points to consider as soon as your feet begin to itch with wanderlust.
Guzzle up our Gap Year Juice
Here come eleven top tips for planning your gap year, but you know what would be really great? If you have some tips or advice that you would like to add, whack it in the comments below and add to the conversation!
1. “What would you recommend?”
Ask around! There’s no better advice, than the voice of experience and the chances are you’re just a Facebook comment away from a flurry of tips and advice from those that have gone before you.
2. “The devil is in the detail”
Read the small print. While it’s all pretty straight forward — flights + tours + accommodation + insurance = sweet times — it’s surprising how many gappers miss out, or misunderstand some of the things that can make a difference on the road.
3. “What’s up, Doc?”
Consult your GP. Unless you’re off to Bogner Regis for the year, you need to make an appointment with your GP as early as possible to discuss the potential medical risks associated with travelling in certain areas, and fix a plan for getting your vaccinations.
4. “Feed the piggy!”
Consider your regular payments, and whether you need to start cancelling contracts. Look at things like your mobile phone bill, or any agreements with your bank. Why pay for something you can’t use?
5. “Plug yourself in”
Join the conversation! Are you Facebook or Twitter? Now’s the time to get to grips with social media. It has the ability to open up a world of ideas that could set your journey up for some unforgettable adventure and experiences!
6. “I did it myyyyy way!”
Keep control of your Gap Year. While we recommend getting people involved, it’s important that the essence of the trip, and the ideas and ambition that drives it, is yours and yours alone.
7. “You ain’t no fool, fool”
Ask all the silly questions! Do you need a visa for the USA? Is it possible to travel overland from Thailand to Cambodia? Can I wear a bikini in India? All of these, and so many more, can save you time and money down the line.
8. “Slice up the red tape”
Don’t take visa’s for granted. You need to check your individual eligibility for each and every destination you’re heading to. It’s possible to get some on the road, but be prepared and ask, ask, ask!
9. “Carpe Diem”
Make it work for you! After years of grinding pencils in the classroom or lecture theatre you’ll be keen to let of steam and party all the way. But stop. Wait. Listen up, this is the perfect opportunity get your gap year to work for you — consider building in a Working Holiday, or volunteering, and set your CV up for success.
10. “Liberate your inner list”
Don’t plan every last detail. We’re not contradicting ourselves here, we still say plan the vitals (visas, insurance etc.) but loosen your belt and lay off the spreadsheets and lists just a bit, and let the tides of adventure take you.
11. “Be £Smart”
Fill your budget. It’s easy to leak money left, right, and centre while you’re on the road. A simple flight date change can soak up your savings, so set yourself a budget planner and see where you can make some savings to maximise every penny.
There you go! Work a plan around these 11 pointers, and you’ll be well on your way to planning an amazing and fruitful gap year, filled with all the things you’re up for, at a price you can afford.
But wait, one more thing — what would you like to add?