How to plan a Gap Year

Planning a Gap Year

Decide on the type of experience

The first step to planning a Gap Year is researching your options. How long would you like to travel for? Do you need to accommodate deadlines, such as university submissions or job interviews? Will you be earning money beforehand or are you planning to work as you travel? Would you like to simply see the world, volunteer or learn a new skill? And of course, where would you like to go? There are so many options available that you might not know about before you start researching, so before you make any fast decisions, see what’s out there.

Find an area to explore

Once you’ve decided what you want to do on your travels, the destination could be decided for you, especially if you want to do something specific, like ski or hike. However, if you are more interested in seeing the world than developing a skill or working in a particular location, then dividing the travel opportunities into regions is a great start. The easiest way to divide them is: Australasia and North America, South East Asia and the Far East, India, Middle East and Africa, Europe, Central America and South America. Once you decide on a region, you can start mapping out the route.

Brilliant budget

The next thing you should do, is think about budgeting. This might not be as big a concern if you are going to be working as you travel. However, you should always plan for emergencies and have cash ready if necessary. The best way to work out your budget is to divide your trip into two sections: before and during. The before part is relatively straightforward, as it requires money for flights, accommodation and insurance. The second part is more complicated, but aim for at least £40 of spending a day – you will need far less in developing countries, but a lot more for Europe and North America.

Leave room for flexibility

As you get into the flow of planning, you might find it tempting to divide every location by a set number of days. However, try and avoid doing this when possible and leave room for flexibility. You might find that you enjoy certain locations more than others, ensuring that you want to prolonging your stay in one city and shorten it in the next. 

Visas, vaccines, bookings

Now that you have a plan in mind, think about the practical details of your trip. Look into the documents that you need for your trip – some countries will require visas, especially while working, and holiday visas might have different requirements. A helpful website that can give you an indication of the kind of visa, if any, you might need is Visa Central (www.visacentral.co.uk). Once you complete the visa application process, book a GP appointment in order to get any vaccinations you may need for your trip. 

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Life, UniversityWeb editor