Planning Your Gap Year

It is becoming more and more common for people to take a gap year between their A-levels and university. Places like Thailand are incredibly affordable to those who were able to save up while studying. Many do little planning in advance and just take their trip as it comes. As fun as that may be, they’re wasting a fantastic chance to gain valuable experience and knowledge that will help them at university and with getting a job once they’ve graduated. What you need to do though, is to plan properly and thoroughly.
First of all, you need to decide what you want to get out of your gap year and plan accordingly. If you know what degree you’re going to do then this will help with working this out.

A gap year based around charity work can be extremely useful and fulfilling. There are plenty of places to go, so spend some time researching to decide which one will fit. If you’re doing a degree in conservation it might be worth checking out some of the islands in the Caribbean where you spend time looking after the environment and even get to witness the birth of turtles on the beach. If your degree is more linked to the human side of things then you may want to go to Africa and work for one of the many charities there. You’ll be able to experience an entirely different culture and try to help them too. You’ll gain valuable information for many types of degrees such as international politics or economics.
Once you have decided where you want to go, there is still a lot more to do. You need to research fully the place you’re going to. Every country in the world, no matter how advanced, has dangerous and no-go areas. You need to know exactly where all of these are because you don’t want to end up travelling half way across the world just to be robbed of all the money you’ve saved.
Next you have to make sure you have everything you need for where you’re going. Check that you bring things you want that may not be available in the place you’re going. Also consider the activities you’ll be taking part in and ensure you have clothes and foot-ware to suit. It’s all very well you’ve got your best shirt, but it won’t do any good on a 10 mile hike.
There are a few last things to make sure you do. Check you have gotten all the necessary vaccinations you may need. Do this as early on as possible because you don’t want to be struggling to get a doctor’s appointment two weeks before you leave. Attempt to learn some of the language of the place you’re going. You don’t need to be fluent, but a few key phrases will go a long way. Finally, try and learn the area you’ll be staying in. Google Maps makes this incredibly simple and it’ll help you keep your bearings and stop you getting completely lost five minutes after leaving the airport.
This post was written on behalf of OCVC.