So, 2020 was not really a particularly wonderful year for gap years, or travel as a whole, or anything else for that matter. However, while the first part of 2021 has been more than a little rocky, we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel and travel restrictions are slowly but surely starting to lift. Even if you can’t travel to the place that you want just yet, you can start to make tentative plans for the future. A gap year is an excellent way of discovering more about yourself, giving you the opportunity to reflect on who you are and what you want to achieve in life. Some people do this before starting university, while others do it after graduation. In either case, it is or should be a beneficial experience.
There are numerous options on how to spend a gap year. You do not have to travel, of course. You could spend time volunteering for a great cause or gaining professional experience in your hometown. However, we will concentrate on travelling during a gap year here and how to make the most of the opportunity.
What do you hope to achieve from your gap year?
Before you decide where you want to go and what you want to do with your gap year, you need to know what you want to get out of it. Are you hoping to use it to gain new skills to add to your curriculum vitae? Do you wish to learn more about the world? Do you wish to contribute to a good cause? Do you wish to broaden your horizons by learning about different cultures and languages? Perhaps you have used your time to learn French with Memrise and now want to put your new skills into practice. All of these are attainable objectives, and, of course, you can have more than one goal from your gap year, but knowing what goal you want to work towards is important.
How do you want to organize your gap year?
A gap year might be approached in one of two ways. You can either follow an organised path, in which you pay an organisation to plan your travel, lodging, activities, and projects for you, or do it yourself.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. With an organised gap year, everything is organised for you so the logistics do not have to be worried about, you have a group of people ready to travel and socialise with and professional support should you need it. However, these can be a lot more expensive and have more restrictions. Planning your own can be a lot more fun and a lot cheaper, but planning your own itinerary can be pretty daunting if you have never done anything like this before.
Are you prepared?
Many people take a gap year before starting college or university, and it may be the first time they have lived or been away from home for an extended amount of time, which can be more difficult than they realise. You should make sure you are mentally prepared for this as much as possible – can you cook a few basic meals and look after yourself?