Why go on a Gap Year?
A gap year is a perfect way to learn new transferable skills, such as a language or working as part of a team. Also known as a working holiday, you can earn money while seeing a big chunk of the world or you can volunteer and get involved with the local communities. You will gain independence and worldly knowledge, while building your confidence and reflecting on your future goals. For the more mature gap-year(er!), you can make the most of seeing new places and faces while relaxing on beaches or taking in the scenes during a hike – the world really is your oyster!
Whether you are going for 10 weeks, 6 months or a year, planning a large trip takes time and is something you want to get right. We have highlighted the main points below, but there are sure to be many other things to take into consideration before boarding your flight!
Passport – kind of an important one! You can’t leave the country without one so double check that it is still in date and has enough left to get you home! A top tip is to have a few photocopies of your passport and any other important documents in case they go missing.
Vaccinations – another important one. Do your research, find out what vaccinations you need ahead of time – most need to be given at least 8 weeks before you depart so check this with your local GP.
Visa – Check ahead of time what visas you may need for each country you plan to visit. Some countries allow entry without a visa for up to 90 days, but for others you need a specific visa.
Travel Insurance – When backpacking for long periods of time you need to make sure you are covered for all eventualities. Shop around to find the best deal for you, and for more comprehensive packages.
Money/Currency – If you are planning to visit a few different countries you need to plan ahead. Buy your currency before you leave, as this will be cheaper, or you can get a pre-paid currency card if you don’t want to carry lots of different currencies around with you. This is safer than carrying cash and you can get top-ups from home if you run out! If you do opt for cash, spread it out so that pickpockets have a harder time and you still have a back up stash.
Deciding where to go
The world is a big place, and wanting to see it all is a goal most of us have, but we have to start somewhere! Choosing where to go first is a tough one, but make a top 5 list and see what other countries or cities are nearby that you also have interest in. Europe is a great start as you can travel by train and tick off quite a few countries in a shorter amount of time. America and Australia are also firm favourites, or you can island hop in Asia! Check out our Destination Inspiration if you are stuck for ideas!
Speaking the lingo!
It is always helpful to have a phrase book handy or learn a few basic words of the language of the country you will be visiting. The effort will be appreciated and you’ll get to show off to all of your mates when you return home!
When venturing to hot countries you don’t want a bout of dehydration to slow you down so always ensure you drink plenty of clean water. The recommended daily intake is at least 2 litres, so ensure you keep your water bottle topped up. We also stock filters and water purifiers should you need them. Some tap water isn’t suitable for drinking so double check before you head out and always say no to ice when out and about!
Before you leave, check what is and is not acceptable in the country you are visiting. For example, more modest dress in Middle Eastern or Asian countries, especially in religious buildings. Research the customs and traditions as to not offend the locals, i.e. some British hand gestures mean something entirely different in other countries!
Keep in touch
The internet can be a wonderful thing when on a gap year, as it means you can keep in touch with loved ones back home, and more importantly they know where you are and where you plan on going next. If you are sticking to an itinerary make sure someone at home has a copy too, or if you are throwing caution to the wind drop them an email a day before you depart to your next location. To ensure you can keep in touch on the move, pack a handy power bank in your backpack!