A “gap year” – also known as a year out or a bridging year – can be a life-changing experience. Gap years can be taken at all stages of life – whether it’s before a career change, pre-marriage, or prior to starting a family. The most popular gap years are taken after leaving school or after graduating from college or university – before delving into a profession.
What people choose to do during their gap year also varies significantly. Some people choose to simply travel, while others might settle in one or more locations over the course of a year to work. Others might volunteer in various areas of the world, while many enrol in global education programs – combining anything from language study and cultural immersion to homestays and independent study. Ultimately, however, gap years of all kinds are known for offering life-altering experiences
Of course, while there’s much to look forward to in a gap year, there’s also much to prepare for. After all, you’ll be in new surroundings for a significant amount of time – so you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared. To begin, you’ll want to mentally prepare for a gap year. It’s very likely you’ll see things you’ve never seen before – so you’ll want to approach your experiences with an open mind. Embrace the different cultures you come across rather than judging them and remember that many communities you come across might be underdeveloped – so it’s important not to patronise.
In deciding to take a gap year, you’ll also want to think about the purpose of your gap year. Is your main objective to travel and learn about new places and cultures? Or are you hoping to help underdeveloped and underprivileged countries and communities? What you hope to achieve during a gap year will likely have a significant influence on where you ultimately travel to – so it’s important to really think about your objectives. You can, of course, combine various goals – such as travelling to various locations and helping communities – to mould a unique experience for yourself. You can also always speak with a gap year specialist at a travel company, who can fill you in on various types of gap years and provide you with valuable and essential information, such as gap year travel insurance.
There are, of course, countless other ways to prepare for a gap year. Once you’ve sorted through the details of your actual trip, you’re going to need to pack and prepare yourself. Don’t forget to prepare all the essential documents – such as your passport, insurance and vaccination certificates – well in advance of your departure. It’s also a good idea to pack a basic health kit, including items such as insect repellent, malaria tablets, sun protection creams, water purification tablets, general medications, and re-hydration powders. You can find a comprehensive list of items you should pack – as well as a checklist – through a gap year specialist, or through gap year websites.
So, while your gap year is sure to provide you with an unforgettable experience, keep in mind that preparing for your gap year takes a significant amount of thought, time, and effort. Make your preparations well in advance, and get ready to take on this life-altering experience.