Planning a gap year can feel like a daunting task. It is often the first time in a young adult’s life where they are completely free and independent to plan their year, which is very exciting! There is a lot to consider when planning a gap year, so here is a quick overview:
A rough budget for a gap year is very important to decide early on. This is because you may be having to make decisions about the type of work you want to accept beforehand in order to save enough money. You may be lucky and already have some savings, in this case the main factors to consider in working out a budget is where you are going, for how long, and how you want to travel.
Once you figure out how much you can/want to spend in total, then you can start thinking about how long you want to travel for and where you want to go!
How long should you go for?
This does depend on budget, however there are other things to consider. Do not feel pressure to travel for longer than you feel comfortable. Travelling can be very intense and tiring, so don’t push yourself!
It’s nice to not have a specific date in mind for your return, I would suggest coming back home when it feels natural. This inevitably means not planning too far in advance, which is something I will cover later…
This is a completely personal decision which varies from person to person. What’s the longest you’ve been away from home before? Do you enjoy your home comforts? Are you ready to leave your hometown? How long can you afford? All of these questions are good to ask yourself when trying to decide how long you should travel for!
How much should you plan?
It can be tempting before a big trip to plan every aspect of it possible, there is nothing scarier than arriving in a country and not knowing where you will sleep! However, this is a natural and fun part of traveling.
I would suggest planning your first 2 weeks. This means you have a nice secure couple of weeks to find your footing and really get into the swing of traveling. It also means that once those two weeks are done you have complete freedom to travel where and how you want. Follow the advice of the couple you met in the hostel who raved about Cambodia, or hop on a bus with your new group of friends to their next destination!
There is nothing more frustrating than when you are tied to an expensive train or plane ticket when your new hostel friends are embarking on a different adventure together! I found it felt quite natural to plan about 3 days at a time.
Where should you go?
What an exciting question! This is when the planning gets fun, the world is your oyster…
Read our article on how to decide where to go here.
El Nido Lagoon, The Philippines
Travel alone or with a friend?
The idea of traveling alone is very daunting to a lot of people, and understandably so! However, it can be the best way to travel. Travelling can be stressful and there are a lot of personal decisions involved, sometimes traveling alone can reduce this stress and the need to compromise.
However, there is nothing quite like the bond you make after sharing the incredible experiences of traveling with a friend. Making those decisions together and working out various issues as a team can be very rewarding.
Really, it is down to personal preference. Do think about the person you would like to travel with, make sure you know each other well and understand what you both want out of the trip. If you decide to travel alone, do not fear! You will meet countless people in the exact same position and make some lovely friends along the way.
Gap years are great for a number of reasons. The experience gained, the friends made and the independence are all so valuable, and it can really boost your applications to universities! Find out what trips we have on offer here now and start planning your gap year!