Top tips for ensuring that gap year actually happens
If you’ve just finished your A-Levels and aren’t going to uni, chances are you’re taking a gap year. Many people, however, end up sitting at home all year rather than jetting off to somewhere exciting. Make the most of your time away with our top tips for ensuring that gap year actually happens.
Get a job
If you don’t start earning some money then you’re likely to have a gap week rather than a gap year. The first thing you need to do is get yourself a job. This can be anything from a paid internship to working in a bar. Wherever you decide to work, make sure they know and are happy with your plans of embarking on a gap year.
There’s no point finding a job if you’re going to spend all your hard-earned cash before you even get to the airport.
Work out how long you have before leaving, and how much you need to save a month to have enough money once you get there.
You should transfer this money into a savings account as soon as you get paid. That way, you’ll be less tempted to spend the money you’ve set aside.
Go it alone or choose someone committed
Other people can sometimes be a big reason why we don’t do something. If they pull out then we’re likely to cancel our plans too, so that we don’t have to go by ourselves.
Think carefully about who you choose to make gap year plans with. Are they as committed as you are? Do you think they’re dedicated to putting the plans into action, or are they more likely to pull out last minute?
Or you can decide to go alone. This isn’t as scary as it sounds and many travellers decide to embark on their gap years solo.
Once you’re there, there will be loads of opportunities to meet new people and many people in the same boat as you, too.
Work out where you want to go, when you want to go and how many places you want to visit.
You also need to consider how you’re going to travel between places, work out if you need any visas, and where you’re going to stay.
Once you have a detailed blueprint in place, it will be far easier for you to actually get going on your trip. And the more organised you are, the less nervous you’re likely to feel.
If you want to make your gap year dreams into a reality then you need to research properly.
Do you know if you need to apply for any visas? How long will you be able to stay in a country for?
Many countries require vaccinations before you should travel to them. Do some research around that or speak to your GP about which jabs you may need.
And what are you going to do once you get there? If you’re planning on getting a job then make sure you have the correct work visa.
Or if you’d rather do some volunteering, make sure you organise and book yourself into this well in advance.
Speak to someone who’s done it
If the research gets a bit overwhelming or you have some questions you can’t find the answers to, speak to someone who’s done it before.
Invite them for a coffee, ask them about your concerns and listen to any advice they may have.
Alternatively, if you don’t know anyone who has been on a gap year, use the internet.
There are many friendly forums around for travel and gap years. These should have the answers to most questions you may have.
Just book your flight
The best way to ensure you definitely go on your gap year rather than keep talking about it is to book it in.
As soon as you have the money and know your start date, book your flight.
Having this deadline will help you to stop putting your travel plans off and actively make it happen.
So what are you waiting for? Get planning and good luck on your gap year!
Rosie Fitzgerald is a freelance journalist, who studied English Literature and Creative Writing at UEA and has previously been published by The Tab, Babe and The Guardian. She is currently interning at Wanderlust.