Every year in the UK an estimated 2.5 million young people plan to take a gap year, with this guide you can be one of them. Taking a gap-year isn’t as daunting as it seems, with the right planning it can be the best time of your life. If you’re planning on going to university and are worried of losing a place from taking a gap year, most institutions will be impressed by your gap year; however, don’t feel that you have to take a gap-year because your friends are.
You’ve decided you want to take a year out for travelling, now onto planning.
- First of all, know your destination. The world is full of exciting places, each with unique experiences, so deciding where is best for you is essential. Places like Australia and Thailand are well catered to backpackers needs; however other destinations such as South Africa are perfect for the less common trips.For people from the UK; Europe can be a great trip full of culture for low travel costs, so don’t forget to look into that. Researching your destination is essential to having a good trip, travel expert Ingrid Sheard advices me “research your destinations thoroughly so you are aware of any cultural necessities. For example clothing, alcohol restrictions, religious regulations et cetera.”
- Next, you need to decide how you’re getting around. When flying, Skyscanner (www.skyscanner.net) and Kayak (www.kayak.co.uk) can help you compare prices across hundreds of companies. For the best prices, travelling in off-peak holiday seasons will give you a large advantage. For even better prices be sure to travel in unsociable times like early in the morning or very late at night. Websites such as 360 Gap (www.360gap.com) and STA Travel (www.statravel.co.uk) cater for students and can offer brilliant value trips around the world for students. However, make sure to read the small print on these trips as extra add-ons can make the trip worse value than booking yourself.
If you wish to travel around Europe, trains can also be a great way to do so, with month travel passes for under 25’s costing just £334. Travelling by train is not only good value but it’s also a great way to see the most of the countries you’re exploring.
- Accommodation can break your bank or it can cost next to nothing; you just have to look at the right places. Hostels offer a sufficient stay for low cost, for example in Barcelona a good hostel can cost just £12 a night. Hostel world (www.hostelworld.com) is a great place to look at your options with hostels in 170 countries. Airbnb (www.airbnb.co.uk) offers a good range of properties around the world for slightly more than hostels but if you want to have some privacy an airbnb is a perfect way to rent either a room or a whole property for yourself.Couch surfing (www.couchsurfing.com) is a way to stay with someone for free and make friends at the same time. However, it is best to stay with well known and recommended members of the site. With all of these sites, booking in advance with give you cheaper prices.
- Insurance is essential to your trip, without insurance you are at risk of serious money loss in case of injury. Countries like America and Australia charge very large amount of money for any kind of hospital worthy injury. Having insurance will cover you from landing yourself in serious money problems. Which? (www.which.co.uk) will give you a good view on which insurance you should buy.
- Most accommodation will supply you with free wifi so apps such as Whatsapp, Skype and Facebook messenger will help you when keeping in touch with home without leaving you with huge bills. On the other hand, you may need to buy a pay as you go sim-card when you arrive in the country and top up your usage whenever you need too, this will keep your bills down but be sure to check what the international call rates are with your network.