6 Top Tips for Planning a Gap Year

Travel and a Busy Career travelling while working remotely

Once college comes to an end, graduates are faced with several tough decisions on their next steps. Should they get a job, apply for an internship, or perhaps embark on an adventure of a lifetime and go traveling? For many who choose the latter option, an experience to work abroad for a 12-month period can be a daunting but also exciting prospect.

Before you travel, it would be a great idea to start planning early, so you have time to tackle any small issues or obstacles and ensure you are all set for the upcoming experience. If you are considering a gap year in the very near future, here are 6 important tips to bear in mind:

1.  Think about your budget

As you will be traveling independently, one of the most important aspects to consider within the planning stage is how much you are willing to budget. There are a number of creative ways to help save for your trip.

How much cash you will need all depends on which destination you are considering traveling to and the activities you wish to complete. It is extremely hard to budget for an extended trip rather than a typical vacation, as it is impossible to plan every minor expense over a whole year.

First and foremost, you will need to draw out a plan of the compulsory costs such as flights, accommodation and insurance and once you have those covered, move onto secondary costs such as food, activities and other personal expenses. Plan a budget for each week of the trip, so you know roughly how much you will need to get by comfortably.

On the other hand, you may wish to take out a personal loan. In most cases, you will receive the requested sum within 24 hours of application, so there is no need to save on a long-term basis as mentioned above. This useful page will give you all the information you need on taking out a personal loan.

2.  Don’t worry about the break on your resume

You may believe that taking a year out from work or further study could have detrimental impacts on your future career due to the large break on your resume, but rest assured, this is not the case. If anything, you will stand yourself in good stead as a potential candidate when applying for future positions. 65% of HR executives in 2011 claimed that candidates who completed a gap year abroad stood out to them as potential employees, especially if they had taken on an unpaid charity-funded placement. With the need to gain independence during your travels, you should also find you have a greater sense of confidence and an improvement on your communication skills – both of which you will need to showcase in a workplace environment.

3. Are you volunteering or sight-seeing?

When graduates choose to go backpacking, they are often unsure whether to pick a relaxed, extended vacation or take on a volunteer work placement with an organization. This choice all depends on the individual and what they are hoping to achieve.

There are many organizations in operation who accept young graduates onto their schemes, however, one of the main factors to consider is whether they are trustworthy in delivering expectations. In many cases, there can be hefty upfront costs, which often goes against the idea of charity-funded projects.

Research each company in detail before selecting and contact those you are interested in with specific questions as to how your unpaid work will contribute to their organization, the training involved and whether you will be given enough support.

While volunteering for a good cause may be a dream for some, others wish to grab the opportunity of exploring. One of the best ways of getting around while on your trip would be to join an organized tour which not only provides a safe and convenient method of transport but allows you to see various destinations in a short space of time.

4. Pack less than you think

As you will most likely be traveling to various locations, make sure to pack only a few essential bits and pieces to start you off. Remember, there is a high likelihood that you will be buying local items once you arrive, so keeping your luggage to a minimum would be advised, especially if you plan on traveling to a number of destinations.

5.  Don’t over-plan

Although it may be tempting to complete a strict schedule to see and do everything you possibly can, sometimes it is also a good idea to have an element of flexibility within your plan, should you ever wish to go exploring.

In most cases, backpackers initially wish to jump from destination to destination, but fall in love with the first resort and intend on staying for an extended period. On other occasions, you may just wish to put your feet up and watch the world go by, rather than cramming in too many activities in a such a short space of time.

6.  Passports and visas

Finally, perhaps the most crucial point of all is making sure that your passport is up to date and have the necessary visas to travel. To be on the safe side, ensure your passport is still valid six months after your arranged return date.

Visas are a legal document which permits your entry into a foreign country. They are often recognized as a single stamp within your passport. There are a variation in visas, and each one depends on factors such as your nationality and the country you intend to travel to.

Dependent on the type of trip you are planning on, you will either need a working visa or a working holiday visa. Some countries such as Cambodia will allow you to get a ‘visa on arrival,’ which is exactly what it signifies – fly to your destination and sort your visa once you land. On the other hand, countries such as Russia and India will need you to fill out visa forms months before.