So you’ve decided you’re going to take the opportunity to head off on a once in a lifetime experience to see the world. But before you gallop off into the sunset without a care, there’s some groundwork to be taken care of.
Here are our very best tips for planning your gap year.
Plan a flexible itinerary
Don’t pack too much in. The last thing you want is to return home from your trip feeling frazzled because you’ve spent the last 12 months running from one destination to the next. Allow the route of your trip some leeway to change direction based on the people you meet and the experiences you have.
Decide who to go with
Being with someone 24/7 is an intense experience and generally makes or breaks relationships. So think carefully about your choice of travel buddy. And don’t be afraid to go it alone. The freedom of only having yourself to please is liberating. And anyway, it’s downright impossible to not meet friends on the road.
Build your travel fund
Maybe you’ve been squirreling money away for years for this exact adventure. Or maybe it’s a recent idea, meaning your travel fund needs some serious work. Whichever it is, now is the time to focus and get your thinking cap on. What can you sell? What can you cut back on? Are you planning on picking up some work while travelling?
Research local customs
Culture shock will have you feeling like you are on a different planet some days. It’s one of the beauties of travel. But some places on your itinerary may have unusual religious beliefs you may not be aware of, others may be super conservative. So have yourself a mini study sesh and read up so you don’t land yourself in any hot water on your trip.
Take out insurance
You’re planning an adventure you won’t forget. But you want to remember it for all the right reasons. Not because you were airlifted to a hospital and your parents had to remortgage their house to pay the medical expenses. So sorry to be the humbug here if you were thinking to skip it, but if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
Get jabs and visas lined up
Some things need to doing weeks or even months in advance, get these marked on your calendar so you don’t run out of time. Some vaccinations require multiple jabs. And never assume you can just pick up visas anywhere in the world. Like trying to get visas for China in Colombia - never gonna happen, we can tell you from experience on that one.
We know all too well that if it’s your first time backpacking there’s the temptation to try and pack everything that you think you might ever conceivably need. It’s a waste of space and money. So put the portable washing line and the umbrella down, just pack the essentials and buy local if there’s anything else you need. Your back and your bank will thank you for it.
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