You know that old cliché 'fail to prepare, prepare to fail' – well it's actually pretty accurate and it couldn't be more appropriate to taking a gap year. If you're thinking about taking a year out and you're serious about it, you'll probably be looking for some guidance on how to plan it. With that in mind, here are ten steps to take to plan your gap year to perfection.
The first thing you need to plan, if you haven't already, is what sort of gap year you intend to take. You might think that your only option is to travel to far off and exotic locations, and that is an option, but there are also voluntary, working and sports gap years where you can work with charities, get some great experience on your CV or train with fellow sportsmen and women abroad.
It all comes down to what you want to get out of it. If you want to boost your university application, then you might go down the volunteer route, if you want to get some work experience you can opt for the working gap year, and so on.
Next up, you need to think about the costs. How are you going to fund your gap year? Will you get jobs along your travels to keep you going or get your bed and board paid as part of your voluntary work? You need to do some research and decide, as a year out can be very expensive.
After you've decided what your year out will look like, you need to start applying for voluntary schemes, jobs and internships abroad or sports coaching programmes. There's a wealth of information online, including forums where you can talk to other gappers about their experiences and recommendations.
Travel arrangements are come next, along with things like travel insurance and visas. Do some research on what you'll need to sort out before you go and how much it will cost you. This will help you plan your year out thoroughly and prevent you from coming into difficulties while you're away.
Pack your bags
Closer to your departure (but not too close) you need to make a comprehensive list of things to take with you abroad. Again, online forums can help as veteran gappers are bound to have some top packing tips. This isn't two weeks on the Costa, so think about things like any prescription medicines and other health-related items you might need.
Closely associated with heath is safety, so think about things like how you'll be carrying money, how to stay safe in your new home, how to stay on the right side of the law there and travelling in numbers. With social media you're bound to be able to make some connections before you even set out, but stay vigilant online and never agree to meet someone you don't trust or go alone to meet them.
Next, it's time to say your goodbyes. Not to your loved ones, but to your financial and personal commitments. If you have any regular payments then you either need to make sure they'll continue to be paid in your absence or cancel the services they pay for. Also if people are depending on you for anything, make sure you tell them your plans so they have time to make alternative arrangements.
Finally you need to confirm all your travel, accommodation and course arrangements to make sure you're not left stranded anywhere. Contact the relevant people and get print off all your confirmation documents.
- Look for the latest Gap Year opportunity listings on NGTU.
- Find case studies of school leavers who have taken this route.
- Read one of our free Advice and Guides.
- Get help! Contact us via Twitter, Facebook, firstname.lastname@example.org