Whether you’re leaving school, part-way through a university course or preparing to start your career, there are plenty of compelling reasons to take a gap year.
Firstly, they give you extra time to work out what you enjoy doing and where you want to go in life. They also encourage you to be more independent, make decisions with confidence, and allow you to live a little before beginning the next stage of life and taking on more responsibilities.
Committing to a full year out is a big decision in itself, of course, and there are lots of things to think about if you want to make yours a success. Read tips on where to go, what to take with you and how to make your budget last below.
Ideas for your gap year
Gap years mean different things to different people. From getting work experience to travelling or volunteering, you’ve got plenty of options.
Many people combine elements of each to get a broader experience and make their gap year economically feasible. You might want to travel across South America or Asia, for example, while picking up paid work here and there along the way.
Alternatively, you could target an internship abroad and get valuable experience in an industry you plan to later work in. Though such schemes are often competitive, this way you could earn enough to live comfortably while you’re overseas.
How do you approach packing for a full year – especially when you have to fit all of it in one or two bags? You’ll need to take the bare minimum of clothes, ideally vacuum packed, and be prepared to ditch items if you pick up more.
Beyond obvious items like your passport and phone, make sure to prioritise essentials such as:
- Travel plug adaptors – check this handy Skyscanner guide
- Bag and door locks
- A travel towel
- Water purification tablets
- A sleeping bag liner
- A head torch
- Playing cards
- A mosquito net and insect repellent
Tips for making your money last
Understandably, money is the main concern for many people taking a gap year – especially if they lack savings and have poor or non-existent credit scores. But there are alternatives to bad credit loans, like lines of credit, as well as ways to make your money go further. Key tips include:
- Choosing budget-friendly destinations
- Booking travel and accommodation at the right time
- Researching exchange rates
- Not carrying too much cash
- Avoiding tour companies where possible
- Planning for visas and vaccinations
- Using a budgeting app to track your spending
Gap years offer incredible learning and living experiences. If you make a rough plan based on the factors above, you’ll be good to go!