A gap year is one of the most exciting times of your life. It’s a chance to explore vibrant destinations, meet new people and try unique experiences. But a fantastic gap year doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of lots of careful planning.
We know just how overwhelming it can feel when you start planning a gap year. So here we share everything you need to know about how to plan a gap year to remember.
1. What do you want to get out of your gap year?
When you start planning a gap year you will be faced with lots of choices. Before you make any decisions, start by thinking about your goals for your gap year. What do you want to get out of your time?
Now is the time to think big – what is your vision for your gap year?
It can help to write all your ideas down, and they may include:
- Career skills: Would you like to develop any skills that could help in your future career? On your gap year you could hone skills that will help you stand out to a future employer, such as learning a language, gaining experience in a relevant sector or volunteering in a relevant field.
- Personal skills: Do you want to work on your personal skills, such as budgeting, being independent, meeting new people and planning?
- Volunteering: Do you want to use your gap year to help others? There are a huge range of volunteering opportunities, which focus on people, the environment, animals and much more. Don’t forget, volunteering experience can be incredibly valuable on your CV when job-hunting.
- Exploring: Is adventure high on your list of priorities? Perhaps there is a country or an experience you have set your heart on?
2. What do you want to do?
As you focus on your goals you may start thinking about the experiences that would suit you.
There are so many options when you are gap year planning, and it can be hard to know where to start.
To help, we’ve rounded up a list of gap year activities. As you browse through, consider which type of activities will help you meet your goals.
3. Where do you want to go?
Have you always wanted to visit a particular destination? Are you keen to tour the world, or is there a continent you want to explore? This is your adventure, so plan a gap year that suits you.
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how and where we can travel. You can learn about the changes to travel restrictions following coronavirus on our blog.
Remember, if you are planning further in advance, the travel landscape could look considerably different to now. Start planning your gap year by including your bucket list of destinations. Dream big! Just be aware that depending on when you are set to travel they might not all be viable options. Being flexible is key.
Start by checking out the Government’s advice on which countries you can visit.
4. Who to travel with
Ask yourself whether you want to travel alone, or with a friend.
Travelling with a friend on your gap year
When travelling with someone you will have a friend to share the highs and lows, and it can help you feel less lonely when you are in a new and unfamiliar country. Plus, there’s the benefit of being able to share all the planning, and you can often split accommodation and travel expenses.
Just remember that you will have to take your friend’s gap year plans into consideration. Do they want to experience the same things as you, and visit the same places?
Travelling alone on your gap year
When you travel alone on your gap year, you are the boss. You can decide where to go, when you want.
You can still join organised groups for all or part of your time. Many travellers find this is a great way to find an instant network of friends with similar interests.
5. Do you want to plan a gap year yourself or get help?
There are numerous gap year specialists, operators and travel agents who can help with planning a gap year. They are all experts in their field, so will share advice on getting the best value for money, where to go and how to structure your trip. They will also be able to help you plan the logistics of your trip.
Here on The Gap Year Hub you can find a gap year consultant to help you plan your trip.
6. Funding your Gap Year
You will be in charge of your gap year, so you dictate the budget. Everyone has different plans, and when you are gap year planning it’s important to think about how you will finance your trip.
Jot down prices as you explore options, to help you work out a rough budget. Will you be backpacking and staying in budget accommodation, or do you want to experience luxury hotels along the way? Would you like to invest a chunk of your funds in a paid-for gap year program, or do you hope to earn cash by working as you travel?
It can be helpful to use a spreadsheet to log your predicted costs.
Next, think about how you can raise the money you need. Ideas include:
- Get a job to help save. Even a part-time role will be a great help.
- Set up a dedicated savings account for your trip. Try to only use it for items related to your gap year.
- Look carefully at your spending habits to save money where you can. Be ruthless, so you can stash cash into your savings fund.
- Consider fundraising activities, such as sponsored runs, hikes or cycles, cake sales, or even car washing. Be inventive!
- Many people choose to work while they are on their gap year. Working in hospitality, office temping or seasonal work such as fruit picking are all popular options.
- If you choose to do a gap year program there are paid and voluntary options available.
7. Plan your Gap Year kit
Don’t forget to factor in your gap year kit when planning a gap year budget. This often includes a bag, a sleeping bag and travel towel. You can keep your costs down by borrowing items or buying items second hand.
8. Gap Year Essentials
As well as planning where you want to go and what you want to do, it’s important to cover the essentials too. This includes insurance, having the right documents and visas and money. It’s also vital to think about any vaccinations you may need.
Check out our list of gap year essentials to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable trip.
By following these steps you will be well on your way to planning a gap year to remember.
Putting the effort into planning will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip, which is perfectly tailored to you.