How to plan your gap year

You’ve decided you want to take a gap year, what an amazing choice! You are going to learn so much, see some fantastic things and if you plan to travel, you will also get to experience new cultures, people and ways to live. However, it can be difficult to know where to start with your planning. Don’t worry, we are here to help! Read on for advice on how to plan your gap year.

It is important to plan your gap year so that you can keep yourself safe, ensure your gap year meets your aims and expectations for your time out of education and importantly, stays within your budget! Your gap year should transform you, it should help you to develop new skills and should just be a year of passing time. 

The first thing to do is work out your budget, it is hard to plan a gap year without knowing how much you have to spend. It is equally as hard to save if you don’t know how much you need! In order to work out your budget, equate the money you have in savings with how much you plan to save before your gap year in addition to any money that family will put towards your gap year.

Remember that it is also possible to get a short term working visa in some countries which will allow you to boost your savings and increase your budget whilst travelling. Be sure to check the law carefully as even if you are volunteering, you may need a visa in some countries. 

Once you know your budget, you then need to set out your intentions for the year. What do you want to achieve? Some people go travelling in their gap year, others volunteer and some people gain work experience in the industry they want to pursue a career within. The main thing to remember is that this is your gap year... And it may be the only gap year you have!

The only way to truly make the most of it is to ensure you are clear in what you want to achieve so that you can plan based on your goals. Make sure your intentions are specific, for example, “to go travelling” isn’t a specific intention but “travel to East Asia for 3 months and volunteer in a sanctuary” is a far more descriptive goal. Having clear goals allows you to plan accordingly and so no to things that do not meet your intentions.

The next step of your planning is to make a to do list to meet each intention. Taking the above example of traveling to East Asia, your to-do list may include researching visas, looking at accomodation and flights to understand how much of your budget you will need to allow and reading blogs of previous people who have traveled a similar route.

If you are planning to travel, it is important to understand how to keep yourself safe in a specific country. There is lots of information available online about visas, what to be mindful of and how to ensure your safety when travelling to each destination. Plan this ahead of time and be sure to keep contact with someone at home so that someone is always aware of your location. Where possible, also look to book group trips and excursions, avoid going to new and potentially unsafe places alone.

Now we have a list of intentions, a clear budget and a to do list based on each intention. As you research to make your way through your to do list, you need to allocate a budget to each element. This will show you where you will need to allocate the most money and if the budget you have covers everything you need. If not, you may need to save more or compromise on some of your ideas. 

You then need to attach deadlines to each of your actions in your to do list to ensure your planning all takes place prior to the start of your gap year. You may wish to choose a specific date for your deadlines or just write the months that the action needs to happen. For example, if you are going travelling in July and are required to apply for your visa three months before travelling, the deadline would be April.

Lastly, it’s time to make it happen! Don’t hold yourself back, you’ve set clear goals and have your budget in place. Remember what you are saving for and say yes to all the opportunities that get you closer to meeting your gap year intentions. If travel is important to you but you don’t want to take a gap year, check out our blog about how you can travel whilst studying. Take care, have a great time and stay safe!

Why not get some top tips on how to start a side hustle and get some extra cash whilst taking your gap year, check out our blog on the top 4 tips!

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