How do I plan my gap year?

So you’ve decided you want to take a gap year. Fantastic! Or maybe you are not yet sure, have a read of this to find out more.

To make sure you get enough out of your year, the key is to plan, plan, plan. Follow Career Camel’s ultimate guide to planning your gap year and you’ll be set for an adventure like no other.

1) Decide what you want to get out of it

What were your reasons for taking a gap year? Resitting exams? To gain some work experience? Just wanted a break from education? Of course your gap year can be whatever you want it to, but you need to actually decide this before you embark on your year’s break. Otherwise you may not achieve what you actually want to, and instead sit around for a year – and then have no idea what to do when your gap year is over!

2) Plan, plan, plan

Once you’ve worked out what you want from your gap year, what you need to do is plan it very carefully. If you know you want to travel but also want to apply to university and/or resit your exams, it might be a good idea to spend your time up until Christmas applying through UCAS and revising for January exams, and then plan your travels for the beginning of the following year so your application is in and your exams are finished. And if your exams are in the summer – plan it the other way round! The key too to travelling is simply to make sure you book your flights well in advance, and work the rest of your year around it. You’ll get them far cheaper if you book them long before you go and especially if you go outside of school holidays. Also so many people say they’re going to go travelling in their gap year and never end up doing so because they don’t plan it and it’s all too much to sort out last minute. Get ahead of the game and book those flights, then you’ll have to go!

3) Budget

This comes along with your planning. Do you have enough in your savings to go travelling right now? Excellent, go ahead. But remember you might need to replenish your supply of money to aid your plans after your gap year, for example, if you’re going to university or need some for travel or rent once you start a new job. You might not have enough money to go travelling at the start of your gap year, so why not work half of the year before you leave to go around the world? Work out what your budget is for travelling so you can determine what hours you’ll need to work in order to meet your target. It’s definitely doable – you just need to be organised.

4) Work out your travels

Even if you have got your flights booked, just randomly going to that country probably won’t be of much benefit. You need to plan properly how you’re going to spend your time travelling so you get as much out of it as possible. Do you want to travel alone, or with friends? If you’re going to travel alone, it’ll require a lot of planning so you know about each place before you go there and what you’re going to see/where you’re going to stay. You’ll also need to consider the safety risks of travelling alone in each country you want to visit. If you’re going with friends, you’ll need to discuss if you want to see the same things, and even consider splitting up at times when your interests differ.

You will need to consider what you actually want to do while travelling. Do you want to work, volunteer or teach? Do you just want to see the sights, or would you like a tour to show you around? If you’re considering working or volunteering you’ll definitely want to check out GapGuru, who will help you discover unique and amazing programmes across the world and support you before, during and after your trip. They’ll offer you a way of developing your skills, confidence and independence as well as making a positive impact on the world around you and at the same time adding depth to your CV. If you’re travelling alone or are considering booking into a group tour, you might want to look at what STA Travel offers to get the best deals and trips.

5) Do it!

Once your budget is sorted and your plans are made, all that is left is to actually go out and do it! Don’t be the person who sits around all gap year and gets nothing out of it. Remember, stick to your plan and stay safe, but most of all enjoy yourself. On your gap year, regardless of whether you decide to travel or just work, you’ll have experiences which will shape you as a person, and add some unique things to your CV. The year will fly by if you play it right!