Hello! If you have graduated this summer or you got your school exam results, you may be very well thinking about what to do with your ...

Tips for Planning an Epic Gap Year

Hello!

If you have graduated this summer or you got your school exam results, you may be very well thinking about what to do with your life next. It could be to study further, whether that is starting University or starting post-grad studies. You may just want to get into the world of work and get into more of a routine after Uni life. But one thing that could be a consideration, before or after studying, could be taking a year out or a gap year to travel, volunteer, and help different programs or organisations all around the world.

It can sound like a big undertaking can’t it? Planning what you will do for a whole year or so. Which is why the decision to take a gap year shouldn’t be one that you take lightly. Though before studying or before getting into the world of work, it can be a great time to have a year out, as it is unlikely to happen at other points in your life until you’re retired.

For starters, you will need to think about how you are going to find your travels. Do you have money saved, would you be looking at loans, or would it be going to the bank of mum and dad? If the finances are going to be a little tricky for you, then you could always look up programs that do pay a wage (or go to countries where a working visa can be easily obtained). You could also work for six months to save and then travel for six months, before getting a long-term job; there are several options. But how you fund it will depend on what you do, where you go, and how long you spend there.


Where to go
As the old saying goes, the world is your oyster. And when planning a gap year, it really is just that; you could go anywhere. This is one of the most exciting parts where you choose where to go. Choosing once in a lifetime destinations can be a good idea, as it will only get more expensive when you have a family or get harder to get time off work when you have a proper career. So go with your gut and choose the places that have been on your bucket list.

Do your research
Before you make any solid plans, you need to think about the country (or countries) that you are going to and then research the heck out of them. Looking up the cost of living, accommodation costs, as well as the climate and the best time of year to go there can all be  good ideas. Plus, you have to think about what you would do there. Would you spend your days sightseeing, being at the beach, or hiking? How about volunteer programs? Then you can make a more informed choice about your destination, once you know the ins and outs of the places you want to go to.


Non-negotiables
When you are planning your travels, you need to think about your non-negotiables, as it can be vital for choosing a location, but also help you to decide what time of year to go to each place. If you’ve always wanted to a barbeque on the beach in Australia on Christmas Day, then going in their winter (UK summer) can feel like a waste of a trip. Wanted to see the blossom in Japan? Then spring is when you need to go.

Deciding what other things are a must for you is important too. In many cases, you may need to get a deposit down for tours or treks. Places like Peru for the Machu Picchu and Inca trails can get booked up fast, and you may end up going at the end of the season, which isn’t ideal, if you don’t get it all booked in when you want to.

Check the climate
We often think that anywhere is going to have better weather than we’re having in the UK. But that isn’t true. There are plenty of places that get just as much rain as we do and ones that get freezing cold winters or extra humid summers. For instance, if you have had your heart set on an Indian summer exploring Kerala, then funnily enough, the months of June to September can be one of the worst times to go as it is monsoon season. So think about what you want to experience and then it can help you decide when to go.

Keep things flexible
If you are planning to go to more than one destination, then no matter how well you plan things out, there are likely to be one or two places that you wish you’d had more time in, rather than others. So if you have the option, it can be a good idea to look for flexible bookings. Flights and hotels or hostels can sometimes have the option. So if you wanted an extra day somewhere, you’d be able to do so easily.

Visas and working
It is important to plan your travel around what is allowed in the countries when you’re only on a travel visa. For example, you can spend no more than three months (90 days) in the USA at any time. Thailand only lets you in for 30 days, without having to leave and come back again. So check the facts and requirements before you book a three month stay in Thailand, for example.

If you plan to volunteer or work, then one of the best things is arranging it with a formal program. Often things like accommodation can be arranged for you with other volunteers and other things like that. But you need to plan well in advance for working visas and the volunteer programs. So factor all of that into your timeline when you start planning your year out.

Have you thought about a gap year before? It would be great to hear what you think, and if there are any other tips to add?


*Collaborative post

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