Finding your gap year accommodation is one of the most exciting parts of planning your trip. Will you choose a hip hostel in the centre of town, a working rural farm, or a tucked away family-run hotel?

There is a huge range of gap year accommodation, and there’s an option to suit every budget. Here are our top tips to help you book your perfect stay:

Find cheap gap year hostels

Hostels are the most popular choice for gap year accommodation, and rightly so. They’re a great place to meet new people and discover all the tips and must-see places that will make your trip incredible.

Hostels are also one of the cheapest accommodation options. You’ll often find the best deals by opting for a dormitory, which is a shared room housing several beds or bunk beds. You can also choose a smaller shared room with just a couple of other travellers, or even treat yourself and book your own private room. Bathrooms are often shared but many hostels also offer ensuites.

Another way to save money when staying in a hostel is to work in one! If you find a hostel you love and you’re keen to stay for a while, ask if they have any available roles, as accommodation is often included.

Forget any outdated tales you’ve heard about gap year hostels, as the modern versions are clean, friendly and often incredibly stylish. The amenities vary across properties, but most hostels offer a common room, which is a great place to meet fellow travellers. The majority also offer laundry facilities and WiFi.

Hostels are also a good way to save money on food, especially if they have a communal kitchen. You’ll be able to store your food in the shared fridges, freezers and cupboards, and kitchen equipment is supplied. These are a great place to pick up top cooking tips and share recipes with other travellers. Many hostels also offer restaurants too, and look out for those offering free breakfasts.

To find gap year hostels head to Hostelworld, which offers 36,000 properties across 178 countries. Hostels are reviewed by travellers, so you can easily find one that travellers like you rave about.

Staying in gap year hotels

Don’t discount hotels as too expensive, as there are some bargains out there which are perfect for gap year travellers. While gap year hotels are likely to be expensive on a long-term basis, they can be a great choice for your first few nights in a new destination, or if you want to guarantee a good night’s sleep ahead of a long flight or tiring trip.

With a hotel you will have your own room and bathroom, so it’s a good option if you want more privacy.

To find a hotel for your gap year head to Booking.com, which offers low prices and great deals on a range of hotels across the globe.

Choose a budget-friendly Airbnb

On Airbnb you can filter accommodation to find those that best fit your budget. Booking an entire apartment, home or unit is likely to be the most expensive option, while choosing an individual room is normally cheaper.

It’s a great place to find quirky and inspiring gap year accommodation with friendly hosts. Choose from barns, farms, castles, treehouses, tiny homes, chalets, beachfront properties and more.

Couchsurfing on your gap year

Couchsurfing helps you find people in destinations across the globe who have a free sofa, bed or airbed available for travellers. It’s a sociable and cheap way to explore a new place, and they also organise events to help you meet like minded travellers.

As you’re staying in someone’s home make sure you check out the safety advice and hints and tips before signing up, as this includes lots of useful information.

Stay on a farm

Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms is a worldwide movement that links travellers with organic farmers, enabling you to receive free food and accommodation.

When you stay on a farm you’re invited to participate in daily life there, helping out, learning about sustainability, experiencing a new culture and meeting new people. You can choose from farms in 130 countries, which focus on a huge variety of farming practices.

Top tips for booking gap year accommodation

The Gap Year Hub’s expert team have been helping gappers plan their trips for more than 30 years. During that time we’ve picked up these top tips to help you arrange the best accommodation for your trip:

  • If you are doing an organised program or volunteering your accommodation may be arranged for you, so check when you first enquire.
  • Always book at least one night’s accommodation in advance when arriving in a new destination. This will ensure you have somewhere to stay, even if you are delayed. No one wants to be roaming the streets at night looking for a hostel with a spare bed.
  • Some hostels offer mixed-sex dorms, so check in advance if you want to avoid these.
  • Think carefully about location and how you will get there. Do you want somewhere in the heart of a city with great transport links, or are you keen to have some quiet time in a rural location?
  • You may be asked to pay a deposit or pay in full to secure your accommodation, and these terms should be clear when booking.
  • Don’t forget to check reviews from other travellers before booking. This could help you snag the hidden gem gappers rave about, and avoid the place that’s known for its bed bug infestations.
  • Remember to keep your family back home updated about where you are staying. Even a quick text or email to let them know where you are will put their minds at rest and enable them to get in contact in an emergency if you lose your phone.
  • There are so many fantastic gap year accommodation options out there. For more advice head to our Accommodation page, and start booking your next stay!

Imagine a gap year encyclopaedia. One that can answer all those niggling questions, like what the latest Covid-related travel restrictions are, what’s the best time of year to visit a certain country, and exactly which tours you should do. You won’t find these fonts of knowledge in a library, as they are living, breathing gap year consultants, and they can help you research, plan and enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

We’re often asked why you should use a gap year consultant, so here are our top reasons:

Gap year consultants will save you time and stress

Planning a gap year can be fantastic fun, but there are also quite a few tedious elements. The planning stage involves a lot of research and takes a considerable amount of time. There are also A LOT of options out there, and trying to decide between two tempting programs or tours can be hard.

The global pandemic has made planning a gap year even more challenging, so gap year consultants are an excellent source of knowledge and information. They know how to work with Covid restrictions and can share advice on where you can visit and what insurance you need.

For example, Leap VIP offers gap year consultancy services and describes themselves as ‘Covid travel experts’, who can help you navigate the complexity of pandemic travel.
It’s a gap year consultant’s job to know the intricacies of planning an amazing trip, so they will breeze through tasks and help you plan your trip without the stress. Their services typically involve researching, finding options that suit you, planning the trip with you, assistance with booking different elements and providing help and support.

En Route Consulting provides gap year consultancy to families in the USA and beyond, and offers different packages depending on the level of support you need. The Standard Consultation includes 15 hours of meetings to help travellers structure and clarify their plans, plus unlimited support via email. You’ll receive program and activity recommendations, help with budgeting and itinerary planning, and support both before you depart and during your trip.

Most gap year consultants charge a fixed fee for a package of services, and many offer a free initial consultation to help you decide if they are the right choice for you. The Center for Interim Programs provides a complimentary 90 minute phone or Zoom consultation so you can get gap year advice and talk through the options available, such as making art in Italy, working with animals in Costa Rica or trekking in Peru.

Looking for a specific gap year program? Try a consultant

A gap year consultant will make sure the program and trip you go on fulfils all of your objectives. They can also provide mentoring and coaching if you’re not sure what you want to get out of your gap year, or what you want to do.

They’ll do their best to make sure you don’t have to compromise on anything that’s really important to you. And if your plans simply aren’t possible – whether that’s because of Covid restrictions, availability or something else – they will give expert gap year advice and help you find a fantastic alternative.

Consultants like J2Guides work with you to thrash out exactly what you want to do. Their Plan The Gap service includes one-on-one sessions with your gap year mentor to create your gap year plan. It will include quality, vetted program recommendations, which are tailored to your interests, needs and budget.

Gap year consultants can also ensure that you maximise your time away. As part of the services offered by the Taylor The Gap consultancy, you’ll receive support and advice on planning your trip, and you’ll discover how to turn your adventures into valuable entries for your CV.

Gap year consultants can help you source an internship

If you’d like to do a working internship during your gap year, then a gap year consultant can help you find the ideal position. Companies like Gap Year Solutions help people find in-person and virtual placements in a wide range of sectors. These are typically for six to ten weeks, working between eight and twelve hours a week.

These internships are often part of a longer gap year, and Gap Year Solutions also offers The Gap Year Plan, which helps travellers plan and enjoy their trip.

If you’re ready to find an expert to help you plan the trip of your life, check out our recommendations for top gap year consultants.

Taking a gap year with a disability is not only possible, it can also be one of the most incredible experiences for those that take the opportunity. We asked Callum Russell, founder of CrystalEyes for his tips on taking a gap year with a disability and key things to consider before you travel…

For many, disability could be perceived as an immovable barrier for a young person wishing to take a gap year or mini-gap from formal education or employment. However, with the right support and a positive attitude, a gap year or mini-gap for a young person with a disability is a very realistic ambition. In this blog, we explore how to make this a reality and how CrystalEyes can support you.

Introduction

My name is Callum Russell and I am blind since birth. In 2011, as part of a mini-gap, I volunteered on a project run by Quest Overseas, where I taught percussion lessons to primary school children in a Lima shanty town called Villa Maria. I also undertook independent travel, which included visiting both Rio De Janeiro and Buenos Aires, as well as completing the Inca Trail. Last year, I founded CrystalEyes, which is a bespoke consultancy dedicated to enabling young people with a vision impairment and other disabilities to fulfil their ambitions in either education, employment or voluntary work. This includes working with organisations to ensure that they are as inclusive and accessible as possible for those with disabilities.

Finding a project

Finding a project or career experience opportunity is vital for ensuring a successful gap year or mini-gap if you have a disability or not. There are lots of gap year organisations out there but their quality and reliability vary significantly. A good place to start is The Gap Year Hub’s Gap Year Programs directory, as well as Independent Gap Advice, which has a database of organisations that are known to be reputable. Start by creating a shortlist of the things that interest you the most. It’s then a good idea to contact potential organisations to ask them all the searching questions you can think of, as well as to discuss whether your needs can be successfully accommodated. It’s important to be as upfront as possible to give organisations the best chance of meeting your needs. However, be aware that you may not always get a positive answer, and this is usually due to the nature of the work or a lack of necessary infrastructure. Consequently, it’s good to have some options.

Raising the funds

Once you find the right project or career experience opportunity for you, the next step is to raise the money you need. The amount you will need will depend on where you’re going and for how long, which is the same whether you are disabled or able-bodied. However, those travelling with disabilities may incur some additional costs, such as additional support when traveling independently, as well as the possible need to stay in more expensive accommodation to ensure a more appropriate level of support. An able-bodied young person might reasonably expect to raise something in the region of £5000. But if you have a disability, this figure could rise by at least 50%.

Regardless of the amount, raising the money always seems daunting. But there are lots of ways to do it. Typically, young people get part-time jobs, undertake other paid activity such as private tutoring or babysitting and/or put on some sponsored events. These are all viable options to raise money for your gap year if you have a disability. Another worthwhile option is to ask for contributions towards your fundraising target for birthday or other festive presents.

How long can I be away for?

You can be away for as much or as little time as you wish. An able-bodied young person might reasonably expect to be on a project for three months and travel for a further two in the case of a gap year or a month each in the case of a mini-gap. For those with disabilities, your individual needs might have a bearing on this.

Do I have to go abroad?

The short answer is no, and some disabilities may necessitate staying in the UK. There are a number of good UK gap year alternatives and in some cases, such as if you want a placement in industry, staying in the UK can be a better option whether you are disabled or not.

How can CrystalEyes help you if you have a disability?

  1. Advice and guidance on the various disability gap year options
  2. Bespoke support with finding the right organisation and discussing your needs with them
  3. Tailored awareness training for your chosen organisation for staff and fellow volunteers
  4. Advice and guidance on raising the funds you need for your gap year
  5. The implementation of other specialist support, for example, if travelling independently
  6. Provision of comprehensive mentoring support whilst on your gap year placement

For more information or to make an enquiry, go to https://crystaleyes.me or call Callum Russell on 07557916996.

Image by Romain Virtuel via Unsplash

When you’re travelling on your gap year there are so many useful apps to make your trip run more smoothly. Here we’ve rounded up 10 of the best travel apps, which we hope will help you on your journey.

These gap year apps are available for iOS and Android users and are all free.

1. TripIt

When you head off on your gap year you will quickly amass a lot of documentation for your travels. TripIt is a clever gap year app that organises all of your itinerary details in one place, making it easy to access them at any time.

Once you’ve created a free account you then forward all of your confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com and TripIt will instantly create a master itinerary for you. It also has a host of handy extras, and can send you reminders of when to leave for the airport, or help you find a decent place to eat near your hostel.

2. Citymapper

Citymapper’s tagline is “Making Cities Usable”, and that’s exactly what this nifty app does. It works in more than 100 cities around the world, including every major city in Europe, and shows you how to easily get to your desired destination. It’s the perfect gap year technology.

The app will give you options for walking as well as using public transport. It also shows all the local private transportation options, such as scooters, e-bikes and mopeds.

As well as showing you a map it can also provide audio directions, so you can listen on your headphones as you walk, cycle or use public transport. It can even tell you when the next bus is coming.

3. Google Translate

Fancy having your own personal translator? Google Translate will help you have a conversation wherever you are in the world, in any language.

It can translate 108 languages by typing, which is helpful if you want to ask a question. If you point your camera at text in images – such as a menu or sign – it will instantly translate it for you. It can even translate bilingual conversations as you talk, using 71 languages.

You can save translated words and phrases to use again in the future, and it also has an offline mode, allowing you to translate even if you don’t have an internet connection. Travel technology is amazing!

4. Duolingo

If you want to actually learn the local language, Duolingo is a travel app that will help you master it using bite-sized lessons. It’s designed to be fun and easy, using game-like features, fun challenges, and reminders from Duolingo’s mascot, Duo the owl.

Lessons are quick to complete, so you can easily slot them in and try out your new language skills as you travel.

5. XE Currency

There’s a good reason why this is one of the most popular travel apps, having been downloaded more than 70 millions times. It’s the perfect solution when you’re travelling and need to work out if that must-have item at the local market really is a bargain, or when you can’t remember what an Australian Dollar is worth. Just whip out your phone and the app will instantly do a currency conversion for you.

You can also create your own currency list and monitor up to 10 currencies of your choice. The app includes historical charts of currency conversions and you can transfer money in 65 currencies to more than 170 countries.

6. Hostelworld

The Hostelworld is a gem among gap year apps, allowing you to search 36,000 properties in more than 170 countries, so you can easily secure your next stay. It’s easy to browse hotels and simple to book, and you can check out maps, photos and reviews.

There’s also the option to look at last-minute availability, which will be helpful if your plans change. It’s always sensible to have your first few nights’ accommodation booked before arriving in a new destination, and this app will make securing a bed a breeze.

7. Skyscanner

Skyscanner makes its way onto most gap year travellers’ devices as it’s so incredibly helpful. The clever travel technology allows you to find the best value flights by comparing hundreds of options, and you can set up a price alert to find out when prices change.

You can also find deals on hotels, apartments and hostels around the world, including last-minute deals. If you need wheels, the app allows you to find the best car hire deal. It even helps you check you’re not paying too much for fuel. Reviews from other travellers are also available.

It’s a really useful tool, and there are no booking fees or hidden charges when booking any product.

8. Packpoint

If you’re always worried you’ll leave out something crucial when packing, then Packpoint has you covered. It shows you what you need to bring based on the length of your trip, where you are going, what you are doing and the weather. It makes packing for your gap year much less stressful as it tailors your list to your exact trip.

You can easily share your packing list if you are travelling with a friend. Plus, Packpoint can connect to TripIt (mentioned above), to automatically create your packing lists. Gap year technology at its finest!

9. TheFork

TheFork allows you to find and book restaurants in Europe, Latin America and Australia. You can search for a dining spot by area, cuisine or restaurant type, or even sort by average price. You can then check out ratings and reviews from fellow diners. Whether you want fine dining, a quick and cheap bite to eat or a hidden local gem, TheFork will help you find it.

You can make a reservation through the travel app, and it often includes discounts of up to 50%, which are applied when you pay in the restaurant. Owned by TripAdvisor, the brand acquired Bookatable in 2021.

10. Flush Toilet Finder

When nature calls and you need to find a public toilet pronto, Flush will flag up the nearest loo. It lists 200,000 public toilets around the world, and you can easily see which WCs have disabled access, charge a fee or require a key.

The app will give you directions on how to find the toilet, ensuring you aren’t caught short when travelling, and you can rate it after use.

When you start planning your dream gap year, we’re guessing that getting sick, being scammed or having your wallet stolen aren’t what you had in mind? The chances are you’re planning a fantastic gap year brimming with amazing experiences. And with a few careful gap year safety considerations, you can make sure you have a fun-filled and safe trip.

Most gap years are hassle and trouble-free, especially if you are prepared. We’ve rounded up our top suggestions to help you stay safe on your gap year:

Gap year safety: what to do before you travel

Having the right information and equipment will go a long way to keeping you safe. Here are our suggestions for what to do before you travel:

● Prepare your itinerary in advance and leave a copy with your family.
● While no tourist board can guarantee you will have a safe trip, some destinations are generally considered safer than others. The Government’s Foreign Travel Advice shares information about travel warnings, entry requirements and safety and security.
● Always have at least your first night’s accommodation booked for each of your first few destinations. Make a note of the hotel or hostel’s contact details, in case you’re delayed and need to reschedule.
● If possible, aim to arrive in a new location during the day, so you can find your way around in daylight.
● Get the relevant gap year insurance before you travel. We’ve shared our top tips in our guide to gap year insurance.
● For a safe gap year, add key phone numbers to your phone. These should include the emergency services’ number for each of your destinations. You should also have your insurance providers’ contact details saved, alongside your policy number.
● As well as saving them in your phone, write down these important phone numbers and keep them hidden in your bag. If you can’t remember them, also write your family’s phone numbers. We’d also advise emailing all of this information to yourself.
● Photograph or scan your passport in colour and email it to yourself so you have a copy if needed.
● Buy an emergency travel first aid kit and make sure it stays in your bag.
● Research the local cultures and customs of the destinations you are visiting. Find out if there are any clothes that could cause offence, and make sure you have appropriate things to wear before you arrive. In some destinations you may not be allowed to photograph certain things or people.
● If you are a LGBTIQ+ traveller, research social attitudes and laws in destinations you plan to visit, as rights that may affect you will vary by country.
● Make sure you have your visas and vaccinations sorted. We’ve included these in our list of gap year essentials that people often forget about.
● Don’t pack anything valuable. You will need your phone and wallet, but leave expensive and sentimental jewellery, clothes and items at home.

How to stay safe on your gap year

When you’re abroad it can be tempting to slip into a holiday mindset and become lax with your personal safety. But it’s important to take the same precautions that you would at home.

Here are some of our top tips to keep yourself safe while you are travelling:

● Familiarise yourself with a destination when you arrive and be aware of where to get help. If you get lost, try to ask for help in a well-lit place, like a shop.
● Avoid walking on your own in the dark.
● If you are travelling on your own, then let someone know where you are going and when you will be back.
● Always book safe transportation and never hitch-hike.
● Don’t carry around huge sums of cash or valuables.
● Avoid getting drunk or taking drugs as your judgement will be impaired. Just as in the UK, your drink could be spiked while abroad, so keep it with you at all times.
● As you travel you’re likely to book transport, excursions and tours with local providers. Choose carefully, as you want a reputable and safe supplier, rather than the cheapest and pushiest.
● Check if the tap water is safe to drink.

How to keep your belongings safe on a gap year

While you may end up losing a few items along the way, you don’t want anything to be stolen. Safe gap years are possible if you take a few simple steps to keep your belongings protected.

Think about how you can keep your wallet, passport and phone close to your body and hidden – you don’t want any of them sticking out of your back pocket. Look for bags that you wear across your body, or a bum bag or money belt that you can hide under your clothes.

There are also lots of thief-proof bags, bag locks and anti-theft devices you can buy, which can provide gap year safety peace-of-mind. You can also wear a lightweight rucksack on your front. Try to avoid a single strap bag that you wear over one shoulder, as someone could snatch it.

It’s also sensible to avoid keeping everything in one place, in case you are pick-pocketed. For example, you could keep your bank card in a money belt and a small amount of cash in your bag. Some travellers opt to carry a fake wallet containing a few banknotes and coins. If they were mugged they would hand this over, rather than their real one.

Most thefts are opportunistic, so avoid looking like a target. Avoid showing large wads of cash when you get your money out, and don’t walk around with your phone in your hand.

Keeping in touch with your family

No matter how well-prepared you are for your gap year, your parents and family will still worry about you. It’s important to keep them informed of where you are, even if you’re on the other side of the globe.

Remember to stay in touch, whether that’s by email, text or calling, and let them know when you move to a new area.

Look at roaming charges for your phone before you travel. For some destinations it may be cheaper to buy a pay-as-you-go phone abroad, especially if you plan to stay there for a while.

There’s a lot to think about before you set off on your gap year, but with some careful planning you can have a fun and safe trip. We love helping people plan their dream gap year, so you have any questions please get in touch.

A gap year is a chance to travel to destinations you’ve never visited, meet new people and challenge yourself to learn new things. There are so many benefits of a gap year, and here we round up five great reasons to take a gap year:

To take a break from education

How long have you been in formal education? If you started aged four or five, the chances are you’ve been hard at work for 10 to 15 years. You definitely deserve a break!

Lots of people choose to take a gap year after finishing school, college or university. Some feel burned out from working so hard. Some need time away from learning to decide what to do next, and to consider their next step. For others, it is a natural break before they head to college or university or before they start work.

Wherever you are on your education journey, a gap year can give you time off to reflect and regroup.

To explore the world

Your gap year could see you volunteering in Kenya, having adventures in Australia or working in the USA. There’s an entire world out there, and a gap year is the perfect time to see more of it.

The beauty of a gap year is that you can tailor it to exactly what you want to do. Would you like to explore one country in detail, or do you want to travel across a continent? Perhaps you have several destinations you’d love to visit, or have your heart set on a round-the-world ticket.

On a gap year you can venture to villages, towns, cities and countries across the globe.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has definitely made it more challenging to plan a gap year, they are still possible. Countries’ travel restrictions and entry requirements are constantly changing, so if you are planning a gap year for the future the travel landscape could look considerably different to now.

We’ve rounded up details of travel restrictions for gap years in our blog.

To learn new skills

One of the most popular benefits of a gap year is the chance to learn new skills. You could return from your trip with a wealth of new skills, including:

  • Financial skills
  • Learning a language
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Cultural awareness
  • Communication skills
  • Increasing your confidence

To boost your CV

Alongside the skills you’ll learn, other reasons to take a gap year are to gain valuable experience and talking points to add to your CV.

A gap year can be the perfect opportunity to try some of these CV-boosting opportunities:

  • Volunteer on your gap year: You will be able to use this experience on your application form for college or university, or when applying for jobs.
  • Do an internship: You will gain valuable experience in a sector that interests you, which could help you decide if it’s the career for you. Even if it’s not the perfect fit, it will be useful experience for your CV.
  • Teach English as a foreign language: You will gain a valuable qualification and have an impressive addition on your CV. Plus, if you want to move into a teaching role it will demonstrate your ability to lead a class and plan lessons.
  • Work on your gap year: You will amass new skills and experience if you choose to work during your gap year.

To have a ridiculously good time!

You now know some gap year benefits: it’s a sensible choice, which will give you a break from education, make your CV stand out and help you learn new skills. But even better? It can be the most wonderfully amazing, brilliantly fun and gloriously exciting time of your life!

Most people go on a gap year when they haven’t got too many life commitments. Perhaps you’ve got a mobile phone contract to your name, but the chances are you haven’t committed to a marriage, mortgage or mini people. It’s the perfect time to focus on yourself, what you want to do and where you want to go.

A gap year is your chance to meet new people, explore new places and try new things. To sample dishes you’ve never heard of, lie on beaches you didn’t know existed and venture into cities you’ve only read about in books. There’s a reason people fondly look back on their gap years as the best time of their life.

We thoroughly believe that a gap year is one of the best things you can do for your CV and future career prospects. But it’s also one of the best ways to have fun! To help you get ready, check out our guide to how to plan a gap year in eight steps.

Your child has announced they’re planning a gap year. Yikes! For many parents this can result in a flurry of emotions, and it can feel daunting, worrying and exciting at the same time. You’re likely to have a huge list of questions. Is it a good idea? Will they be safe? How much will it cost?
You want your child to make the right decisions, and are probably keen to help them. Here in our parents’ guide to gap years we highlight the key things to consider to help your child research, plan, fund and enjoy their gap year.

What is a Gap Year?

Gap years are time spent out of formal education and permanent employment. They are traditionally spent after leaving school or university, but can be taken at any stage in life.

There are so many options for a gap year. It can be a time for your child to work out what they want to do next, try a sector they are interested in and visit new places.

Many people associate gap years with travelling, but there are so many other options. Your child could spend time volunteering, earning money or learning new skills. We think that a gap year should be seen as a “year out”, not a “year off”.

There is no fixed duration for a gap year. They often last for a year, but some young people choose to fit them into a shorter period of time, often combining them with time spent working.

Shorter gap years are often known as gap semesters, which tend to last for a few months.

What are the benefits of a Gap Year?

People choose to take a gap year for a wide range of reasons. Some people need time out between school and university, or after university and starting a career. Others are desperate to travel, and want to do it before they are in full-time employment. Some people just don’t know what they want to do next, and need time to think things through.

Whatever the reason for taking a gap year, your child will learn an incredible amount. For example, a gap year provides:

● The chance to explore the world and experience new cultures and destinations
● The opportunity to develop new skills which will enhance their CV and job prospects
● The ability to work on problem-solving and communication and gain confidence while being independent
● The time to think about their future path in education or their career
● The chance to hone their money-management skills

What can my child do on their Gap Year?

Planning a gap year can feel overwhelming for many young people. If your child needs some gap year advice, try our guide to how to plan a gap year in eight steps.

There are so many ways to spend a gap year. These include:

Travelling

When most people think of gap years they imagine travelling the world, exploring new countries and living out of a backpack. And for many people, that’s their gap year reality.

Before your child gets into a permanent career, gets a mortgage or takes on other responsibilities, they could spend their gap year abroad.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic there were many popular gap year routes around the globe. Look to Australia and New Zealand, North, Central and South America, swathes of Asia and Africa. It’s hard to find a destination that hasn’t welcomed gap year travellers!

Post Covid-19 gap years are still possible, but they now take even more planning and require the ability to be flexible with plans. You can discover more about the changes to travel restrictions on our blog. You can also check out the latest Government’s advice on which countries your child can visit.

Volunteering

Gap years are also often associated with volunteering. Popular choices include volunteering in schools, with conservation or environmental organisations and helping with community projects.
Volunteering will give your child the chance to learn an incredible amount about themselves and others. It looks fantastic on their CV, and can transform their outlook on life.

Check out our guide to volunteering on a gap year.

An Internship

Internships are offered by companies, organisations and charities of all sizes, and provide employment for a set amount of time. These are very popular with those leaving school or university.
Many internships are paid roles, but some are on a voluntary basis. They can be based in the UK or abroad.

If your child chooses an internship they can select a field that interests them, and gain valuable experience. Do they aspire to work in finance, tackle marketing, or spend their time in IT? An internship is a fantastic way to try a job out.

For those who find something they love, an internship will help them stand out when they go for job interviews. If they discover the sector isn’t for them, they will still have gained important new skills, and will have a much better idea of what career might be for them. It’s a win win!

You can find out more in our guide to internships.

Teaching

If your child hopes to go into teaching they can try out life in a classroom by teaching during their gap year. Even those who hope to go into a totally different career will gain new skills by spending time teaching. For example, they will quickly develop their interpersonal, communication and people management skills.

Those who want to teach English to non-English speakers often choose to gain a qualification first with a TEFL and CELTA course, before going on to a paid job.

Or perhaps your child would like to join a teaching program and become a teaching assistant overseas, either as a volunteer or in a paid job.

Working in Sports and Camps

If your child loves sports, why not suggest sports coaching? There are a wealth of opportunities including working in a summer camp or adventure organisation.

They could also learn to be a ski or snowboard instructor or work as a chalet host. And if they are happiest in water, what about teaching water sports, such as sailing, diving or surfing?

How to fund a Gap Year?

Gap year budgets vary hugely, from those who travel on a shoestring to those who splash the cash.
You can help your child start to calculate a budget by encouraging them to research early on. Remind them to work through obvious costs, such as flights and accommodation, and to include ancillary costs, such as insurance and a rucksack. Find out what kit they’ll need to take on their gap year here.

Financial advice you could share includes:
● Setting up a spreadsheet to log their predicted costs and create a realistic budget.
● Creating a dedicated savings account, which is only used for their gap year.
● Encouraging them to look at their spending habits to find areas they can cut back on.

Next, talk through how they can earn the money they need. You could suggest:
● Working before they travel.
● Working while they are travelling. Many people choose to pick fruit, work in a bar or restaurant or do temping. We’ve outlined some popular choices in our guide to gap year jobs.
Fundraising activities to help drum up extra cash.

Is a Gap Year safe?

The vast majority of gap years go smoothly, but it’s always good to be prepared. Ensuring your child has a well-planned itinerary is key, and stress the importance of always booking their first night’s accommodation in advance, before arriving in a new destination.
Remember, most gap years abroad involve travelling to well-trodden destinations which are used to catering to young tourists.

In the past parents would have to wait for letters or postcards as their children set off across the globe. Today, thanks to video calls and emails, it’s so much easier to stay connected. Before your child sets off, investigate the cost of taking their phone with them, looking at roaming charges. For some it works out cheaper to buy a pay as you go phone abroad.

Other things that might reassure you about their safety include:

● Before your child sets off, talk to them about keeping in touch. Explain how often you’d like to hear from them, and why it’s important to you. They may not be able to call as much as you’d like, but it never hurts to remind them to drop you a line!
● Many young people choose to travel with a friend, which can help alleviate some parental worries. Knowing your child will always have someone to share the planning and travelling with can be a big relief.
● Look into thief-proof bags, bag locks and rucksack anti-theft devices. A bag worn close to the body or a bumbag they can wear under their clothes could also prove helpful.
● Ensure they have the relevant insurance in place before travelling.
● Remind them to take the same precautions they would at home, such as avoiding walking alone at night and always letting someone know where they are going.
● Talk about alcohol. While they may not be sober for their entire trip, they don’t want to get too drunk.
● Pack them off with an emergency first aid kit.
● Highlight the importance of respecting local cultures and customs, and talk about how they can research these before arriving in a destination.
● Stress the importance of choosing reputable suppliers, especially for adventures and tours.
● There’s a lot to think about on a gap year, and we’ve rounded up a list of gap year essentials that people often forget about. It includes insurance, documentation, visas, money and vaccinations.

Planning a gap year is an exciting time. With your help and support your child will be able to create a gap year that’s perfect for them. We hope this gap years for parents’ guide has helped you, and if you have any questions please get in touch.