If you’re thinking of taking a gap year after finishing school, you’re in good company. Many young people decide to take a year out after school to enjoy different experiences, something which can prove very valuable for your future career.
Taking a gap year can be a fun, exciting and rewarding experience. But it’s important to make it worthwhile and not treat it as simply ‘time off’.” A future employer will want to see you did something worthwhile and didn’t simply waste a year.
If you want to make the most of your gap year, take a look at some of the following tips and ideas.
Start thinking about it today (don’t wait until Christmas!)
Planning a gap year isn’t something to be taken lightly. While you’ll want to enjoy the summer post-exams with your friends, it’s good to start putting a plan in place ready for the autumn when your friends start going to university.
Start thinking about you want to do and what you want to get out of your gap year. The longer you leave it, the less time you’ll have to make it happen.
Do your research
Most gap year plans need a lot of research, so start looking into what you want to do and how you’re going to do it.
There are a lot of fantastic gap year resources from UCAS to help you find the information you need to plan your gap year.
Speak to others who have done it
A good way to learn more about a gap year (and maybe to manage your expectations!), is to speak to others who have done it. Gap year forums are a great place to start, helping you learn more about other people’s experiences.
Talk to friends and family who may have done a gap year. They’ll be able to share their top tips as well as lessons learnt to help you make the most of your own gap year.
Take a look at gap year companies
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by gap year options, or need some help getting organised, take a look at gap year companies. Gap year companies can organise experiences on your behalf, taking care of placements, volunteer opportunities and travel – making them ideal if you’re not very organised, or you’d prefer to be in a group setting.
Make sure any gap year company you engage with is genuine. Do your research carefully and don’t hand over any money or personal information until you’re sure that you’re dealing with a legitimate company.
Make a plan
With a clear idea of what you’re going to do on your gap year, it’s time to make a plan. Your plan should include where you’re going to be and when, what you’re going to need to get there and details of any money or travel you’re going to need.
It might help to talk through your gap year plan with someone else to make sure you’ve included everything and haven’t left out any important details.
Plan your gap year budget
Preparing a budget is going to be vital during your gap year. Will you need to work first to fund your travels? What will you do with any money earned during your gap year?
Use a budget planner to help you work out how much money you’re going to need and how you’re going to juggle your outgoings with your living and travel costs.
Get organised with travel
If you’re going to travel during your gap year, then you’ll need to make sure you get organised. You’ll want to research the entry requirements for any country you intend to visit and make sure you work out how you’re going to get to each destination. Some things to think about include:
- Your passport – ensure it’s in date and has enough time left on it to satisfy entry requirements.
- Visas – many countries will require a visa application to be made in advance of travel.
- Vaccinations – make sure you have all the vaccinations you need before you set off.
- Insurance – travel insurance should cover you for long-term travel in case of medical emergencies.
Keep all of your important documents in the cloud so that you can access them anywhere. It’s also a good idea to share your details and your itinerary with family and friends so they can help you out in an emergency.
Some top ideas for how to spend your gap year
Looking for some ideas on how to spend your gap year? Why not consider some of the following?
Volunteering during your gap year can be a very rewarding experience. You’ll not only get to help people in need, but you’ll also get some great experience for your CV and can meet a lot of new people too.
Experience new cultures
Gap year travels shouldn’t just be about jetting from beach to beach. Take time to experience new cultures and broaden your horizons. You can learn a lot of valuable life skills by experiencing other cultures, while getting to explore everything the world has to offer.
Learn a new skill
Want to use your gap year to learn a new skill? Whether you want to learn an instrument, a language or take a short course in something, there are a lot of skills that could benefit your university course, and your future career.
Your gap year is also a great time to get some work experience. Interning in the industry you want to work after university could help give your CV a big boost, and help you make some important contacts.
Getting work experience during your gap year is also a good way to test the water and see if your chosen career path is right for you before your begin your studies.
- The Year Out Group – Useful gap year advice
- Which’s Guide To The Best Budgeting Apps
- The Foreign And Commonwealth Office (FCO) – A useful travel resource
- BUNAC – Working travel specialists
- DoIt.org – A great way to find volunteering opportunities
- Trailfinders – Student and gap year travel specialists
And finally, don’t forget to contact us contact us for gap year help and advice. We’re here to help.