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Forget any outdated tales you’ve heard about gap year hostels, as the modern versions are clean, friendly and often incredibly stylish.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

Stuck for what to do on your gap year? You want an experience that’s as unique as you are, which reflects your interests and passions. To help you decide, we’ve rounded up five gap year ideas to inspire you. From cooking courses to trekking, there are exciting options for all gap year students.

Remember, as the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic there are still entry restrictions for certain countries. However the situation is constantly evolving, and we hope these ideas will provide inspiration as you plan your future trip.

Learn Spanish and be an intern on your gap year in Ecuador

Hone your Spanish while doing an internship in Ecuador and living with a host family during a 15-week Gap Semester with Amigos de las Américas. Gap year students get to work on a project they’re passionate about, with plenty of time to explore the local area, visit key local attractions and take part in Spanish lessons.

Amigos organises gap year programs in Costa Rica and Ecuador for those who have left school or university. This 15-week course is aimed at travellers aged 17 to 22 and takes place between September and December 2022.

The program in the Andean city of Cuenca involves spending your first month in intensive Spanish lessons, before enjoying an internship. It could be with a non-profit organisation, a fair trade store or an urban agriculture program. Your gap year trip will also include meals, accommodation, Spanish classes, excursions and support.

Amigos de las Américas is just one of the top gap year specialists we’ve listed in our Conservation Projects section. They all focus on wildlife, environment and marine opportunities and will inspire you with some amazing gap year ideas.

Trek across mountains on your gap year

Looking for gap year ideas filled with adventure? Join an expedition with the British Exploring Society, which promises life-changing trips to some of the most remote and challenging parts of the world. All expeditions are aimed at young people aged 14 – 25.

The Kyrgyzstan expedition in July 2022 involves high-altitude trekking over isolated peaks, where you’ll camp and look out for rare wildlife. You could spot a golden eagle, an ibex and – if you’re lucky – a snow leopard. This trip is for travellers aged 16 – 25.

Closer to home there’s the first UK Explorers Spring itinerary in Scotland, for those aged 14 – 17. This takes place in April 2022.

For more exciting group expedition adventures see our list of top suppliers.

Start your gap year by joining a professional cooking course

If you want your gap year to be a true culinary journey, why not spend it learning how to master everything from pasta to pastry?

The Cookery School at Little Portland Street describes itself as London’s most sustainable cooking school. As it’s based in the capital it’s the perfect option if you aren’t able to travel abroad.
The school offers numerous short courses which are perfect for gap year students, including the fundamentals of baking, vegetarian cooking, and several options for beginners. These would be helpful if you plan to work as a chalet host or are heading off to university after your gap year.

If you dream of pursuing a career in the food industry, consider the school’s six-week full time Cook’s Certificate in Food and Wine. It will give you several professional qualifications, including a Level 3 Certificate from OCN London, a WSET wine qualification and a Food Safety award.

The course runs in March, May and September 2022 and includes more than 200 hours of practical learning and additional study. Classes are limited to 12 students.

Ready to don your chef’s hat? You can also discover more cooking schools in our Cookery Courses guide.

Join an Alaska Expedition on your gap year

Nature-lovers can travel through British Columbia, Alaska and the Yukon Territory on a 30-day adventure with Green Tortoise Adventure Travel. Staying in hostels and campsites, you’ll explore rainforests, trek through State Parks and spot wild animals and birds. Don’t forget to look out for North America’s highest peak, Denali.

All of your transport is provided on a Green Tortoise custom sleeper coach, alongside 70% of your meals, National Park entrance fees, a sleeping pad and camping fees.

This gap year trip departs in June 2022 from San Francisco and snakes up the coast to Anchorage in Alaska.

You can find more exciting gap year ideas in our Overland Tours section.

Learn about the arts on your gap year

If you want to indulge your love of the arts on your gap year, consider a nine week residential course with art specialists John Hall Venice.

Aimed at gap year students, it covers music, cinema, art history, architecture, literature, world issues and more. You can also add extra classes in areas including cookery, photography, Italian language and life drawing.

The course starts in January 2022 and takes place in London, Venice, Florence and Rome. You’ll study art in galleries and museums, with numerous private visits.

If you’re interested in art, music, dance or drama then check out our list of gap year providers offering educational gap year art and performing arts experiences.