Is 2020 the year you discover yourself abroad? Use these steps to ensure your trip is both satisfying and safe
Gap years are a time for experience, self-discovery and growth. It’s a time you’ll never forget, but how do you make sure your gap year goes off without a hitch? Here are 8 top tips.
Break up your plans
A big block of free time can be pretty daunting, so start your planning by breaking up your calendar into chunks. Finding ways to fill five three-month lengths of time feels far easier than tackling a single 15-month stretch. Decide how much time you want to spend travelling, how much working and how much simply resting.
“What am I going for?”
This is one of the most important questions to ask yourself when planning a gap year: what do you actually want to get out of your experience? Is it to see as many locations as possible? Or perhaps you’re looking to do charitable work? Maybe you want to bolster your CV with foreign work experience? Whatever your main intentions are, let them inform the process of planning your trip.
Do as much research as you can
Before you firm up your plans once and for all, make sure you’ve got all the knowledge you need. Research locations as much as possible, including customs and cultures, costs, travel, medical facilities and food. Don’t leave anything to chance — knowledge is power when it comes to a gap year, so arm yourself as much as possible.
Budget, budget, budget
So now that you know where you’re going and roughly what to expect from your location, it’s time to start thinking about money. A budget is absolutely key to a successful gap year. Without one, it’s all too easy to overspend in the early days of your travel, forcing you to cut corners for the rest of your time. Knowing how much you have to spend at any one time will remove the possibility of any nasty surprises.
Seek out support
Remember, even if you’re travelling alone during your gap year, you don’t need to plan your travels alone. Visit a travel agent who can help you arrange your trip safely and smoothly. Even speaking to friends and family who have enjoyed their own gap years can be helpful, as you’ll pick up some key hints and tips.
Try not to leave anything until the last minute when it comes to your gap year travels. Not only will booking early give you plenty of time to prepare for your trip, but it will also give you time to get used to the idea of being away from home for a significant length of time. Arranging the details of your gap year nice and early significantly reduces the possibility of you making mistakes or missing important factors.
Create a checklist
When it comes to gap years, lists are your best friend. Whether you’re creating an itinerary or making sure you don’t forget to pack anything, checklists are key.
Put your health first
Your health should be your first priority when travelling. Many of us use our gap years to visit far flung, developing locations. But while this can be an incredible experience, it also means you have look after your health in ways you’ve never had to think about on home soil. Be sure to research the necessary vaccinations and medications for your location. This is a vital part of any gap year, and will ensure that you stay safe and healthy on your travels.