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Taking A Gap Year – Our Top Travel Tips

05 May 2023

Taking a gap year to do some travelling can have many benefits. It can provide an opportunity to gain new experiences and skills – such as learning a new language or volunteering in a field of interest. This in turn can lead to a better understanding of your own strengths, weaknesses and interests.

A Coastal View With Text of "Gap Year Travel Tips

A gap year is when students take a break from education or to engage in activities such as travel or volunteering. Gap years are usually taken after school, college or university and can be great for personal development and career prospects.

A gap year can also help students gain perspective and clarity on their career goals and aspirations. Taking time out to explore different career options, gain work experience and network with professionals can often lead to a more successful career path.

And, without doubt, you’ll meet some great people and find life-long friends along the way.

If you think that a gap year could be beneficial to you, then check out our checklist of travel tip bullet points to make sure that your ‘time out’ really works out.

Planning Your Gap Year Travel – Before You Go

Some factors to consider before choosing your destination:

  • Are you sure the climate and weather suit you?

  • What is the culture of the country like?

  • Will you need to speak a new language?

  • Is it a safe place?

  • Can you afford the cost of living?

  • Will you be able to find suitable accommodation?

  • How does the transport system work?

  • Are there any volunteer opportunities in the destination (eg. teaching English, working on a farm, helping in a wildlife sanctuary, etc)

How to fund a gap year:

Research visa requirements and other necessary documentation:

Choose the right time to travel:

  • Check out expected weather conditions for when you’ll be in the country

  • Will it be peak tourist season while you are away? Are you okay with that?

  • When are the local holidays, festivals and events?

Packing tips for a gap year trip:

  • Pack light! Take only the absolute essentials to avoid overpacking

  • Invest in a good quality backpack that fits your body well and is comfortable to wear

  • Think about the climate and activities of the places you’ll be visiting – then pack accordingly

  • Take versatile clothes which can be mixed and matched to be worn in different conditions

  • Take a small first aid kit with basic medications, bandages and other essentials

  • Pack a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce plastic waste

  • Take a universal power adapter and charging cables for your devices

  • Pack a small lock to secure your belongings in hostel lockers or while travelling

  • Take a lightweight, quick-drying travel towel

Travel Tips While You Are Away On Your Gap Year

Important documents to carry with you at all times:

  • Passport

  • Visas

  • Travel insurance

  • Vaccination records

  • A list of emergency contacts

Ways to meet new people and make friends:

  • Stay in hostels, which are often social environments where travellers can meet and connect with other like-minded people

  • Join group tours or activities (eg city walking tours, cooking classes or adventure excursions)

  • Use social media and travel forums to connect with other travellers who may be in the same area or have similar interests

  • Volunteer for a local organisation or charity. This can provide opportunities to meet locals and other volunteers from around the world

  • Join language exchanges or conversation groups, which can be a great way to meet locals and practice language skills

  • Attend events or festivals that celebrate local culture and traditions

  • Join a sports team or club, such as a running group or yoga class

  • Attend meetups or social events hosted by expat or travel groups in the area

Cutting down on travel expenses:

  • Travel during the off-peak season when prices are usually lower

  • Stay in hostels, couchsurf or use homestay services instead of hotels to save on accommodation costs

  • Cook your own meals instead of eating out all the time. Look for hostels or accommodations with communal kitchens

  • Use public transportation or walk instead of taking taxis or renting a car

  • Look out for free or low-cost activities such as hiking, exploring public parks or visiting free museums

  • Take advantage of student discounts for museums, transportation & other activities

  • Consider volunteering in exchange for accommodation and food

  • Use travel reward credit cards to earn points or miles for future trips

  • Be flexible with your travel plans and willing to adjust your itinerary to take advantage of cheaper options

Some tips for blending in while you are away:

Staying safe while travelling:

  • Research your destinations ahead of time and be aware of any safety concerns or warnings – including local customs & laws

  • Be respectful of local customs and cultural norms and avoid behaviour which may be deemed offensive or inappropriate

  • Keep your valuables such as your passport, cash & electronics in a secure place such as a locker or safety deposit box

  • Be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts – if a situation feels unsafe, remove yourself from it

  • Avoid walking alone at night – especially in unfamiliar or dimly lit areas.

  • Be cautious of strangers who may be overly friendly or offer unasked-for assistance

  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and instead use credit or debit cards when possible. You can also carry a dummy wallet or purse

  • Keep a copy of important documents such as your passport, travel insurance, and emergency contact information with you at all times.

  • Stay up-to-date with travel advice and warnings issued by your home country or the countries you plan to visit

  • Keep your family and friends informed of your travel plans and check in with them regularly

  • Use official taxis or transportation services and avoid unlicensed or unofficial operators

  • Be cautious of scams or frauds targeting travellers (eg. fake tickets, merchandise or tour packages)

  • Ultimately, use your own common sense and take steps to minimise risk while still enjoying your gap year travel experience

Overcoming Gap Year Travel Challenges:

Sometimes things don’t go to plan, but never panic. Try to think about these potential problems in advance so that they don’t sneak up on you…

Homesickness or loneliness:

  • Keep in touch with family and friends

  • Find expat communities

  • Take breaks from travelling and settle down for a bit

Coping with unforeseen events such as theft, illness or losing documents:

  • Have backup plans for these types of events

  • Keep copies of important documents

  • Have contact details for local authorities, embassies, consulates etc

  • Have some emergency funds, if possible

Gap Year Travel Tips – Summing Up

We really hope these travel tips have whetted your appetite and given you some good pointers for what to do if you want to take a year out.

Taking a gap year can be a life-changing experience that offers personal growth, career development and unforgettable memories.

So don’t be afraid to take the leap and embark on a gap year adventure – it could be one of the best decisions you ever make!

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