How to Get the best out of your gap year
Whether you choose to take it before going to college or university, or perhaps further down the line, a gap year can be one of the most exciting, liberating and educational experiences you ever have. However, these once-in-a-lifetime adventures can often end up being a little hit-or-miss...
As can be seen in the clip above from Gap Year, as well as having the potential to be one of the greatest things you ever do, taking a gap year abroad can also come with a fair few obstacles and challenges! Find out more about E4's comedy drama here.
Would you travel abroad on your gap year?
Gap Year Fear
Your gap year can seem like a daunting time, so how can you enjoy it to the max? We've got you covered....
Before you go
Decide on your destination
First things first - where are you going?! The world is your oyster, so the best way to look at it is to think about what you hope to get out of your time away. Australia and the US are good options if you'd like to avoid language barriers, whilst places such as South East Asia and Africa are good destinations for those feeling a little more adventurous. Consider that you may need to get a visa, and some are easier than others to get hold of. You can read about visa options here.
Research is key
Once you've worked out where you'd like to spend your gap year, it's a good idea to look into the average temperature of wherever you're travelling to, and to pack accordingly. Research any events taking place which may affect your plans, and also try and get your head around local laws and customs, as this can help you avoid getting into any trouble!
Check yourself, so you don't wreck yourself...
There are a few health and safety issues you should address, before heading off on your journey. Firstly, it's important to let your doctor know where you plan to go, as vaccinations may be necessary. If you happen to take any medication then it's a good idea to ensure you have enough supply to last you the length of your trip, as you don't know how difficult it might be to get hold of what you need out there - not to mention the foreign labelling might be hard to grasp. Getting travel insurance before you leave is also important... hopefully you won't need it, but you can't be too careful.
Sharing is caring
Make sure you're clear with family and friends about where you plan to travel to, and share any addresses and contact details wherever you can. Updating people back home on your whereabouts is vital.
Once you're there
Selflessness is a virtue
you may decide to volunteer on your time away. There are plenty of options to choose from, from helping build a school for children, to getting mucky in a zoo. Find out about student volunteer placements here.
Bring in the dough
Just because you're taking a gap year, doesn't mean you can't make some sweet cash in the process; however, you should keep in mind that there may be restrictions to this, including your age and where you are travelling to and from. For more details on this, click here.
Document your journey
You're unlikely to experience anything like your gap year ever again, so you might like to keep a record of it! Whether that's taking plenty of photos or videos, keeping a diary or writing a blog, it's nice to have something to look back on.
There are a number of things you can do to ensure your safety abroad, such as carrying a dummy wallet containing small notes and expired debit cards, which you can hand over in the event of a robbery. Also, it's best to leave all expensive belongings back home - rather than taking your smartphone along with you, it's a much safer (and cheaper!) option to buy a basic phone and a local sim.
Get to grips with your gap year
Need further support on planning your gap year? Check out the NUS website...