Plan a gap year

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Plan Your Trip

One of the most fun parts of starting to plan a gap year is actually researching and plotting your trip. We are the world’s biggest gap year resource and what we don’t know about trip planning just isn’t worth knowing. We understand that planning your gap year can actually be quite overwhelming though, especially for first time gappers, so make the most of our knowledge and passion within the site and use us.  

The first step of planning your trip is to get a rough idea of when you want to go. Then reassess it and plan when you actually think you’ll be able to afford to go, and for how long. No use spunking a grand on a flight to Japan and hoping to stay for a year if you only have £2k for the trip.

Your Itinerary

What to Do on a Gap Year, and Where

Once you have a target date to aim for keep that in your mind relentlessly. Everything you earn and spend from this point on comes down to that date. Write down your incoming money, your outgoings and divide them up into necessities and what can be cut, and then think about how you can earn or fundraise more too. You’re going to have to be tough with yourself from now on. Whenever you want a coffee, to go to the cinema or dinner out just remind yourself of ‘that’ date and say no. Remember, a pint of beer in England is two nights’ accommodation in Thailand. 

When you know what kind of budget you’re working with you can start to look at where you can afford. Bulging budgets can head to the likes of the South Pacific Islands, Central America and Scandinavia while skinny wallets will want to make a beeline for South East Asia for sure. 

There are plenty of ways to make your money go further and there are ways to actually make money on your gap year too. You can try getting a job abroad or volunteering and weave these into planning your trip to stay travelling for longer. You might have to go back and adjust your time frames and budget if you include these in your schedule, but at least you have something to work with.

Check out what our other gappers have been up to recently in our latest updates. How about volunteering with huskies, WOOFing, picking fruit in Australia, teaching English in China or building an orphanage in Cambodia for starters?

Plan a gap year in the mountains

Volunteer or work abroad on your gap year

Some volunteering projects and jobs will give you free bed and board – perfect for budget-minded backpackers. As for paid work au pairing and teaching English in Japan or South Korea are two of the most popular opportunities, but check out our jobs pages for more.

Think hard about what you want out of your gap year. It’s a great idea to come back to England with some sort of study or work that will make your CV stand out over your peers. The job market is tough at any time so if you’ve done some valuable work on your travels it will stand you in good stead. Combine relaxed fun with planning for your future and I can guarantee it will be the most rewarding and interesting part of your gap year.

Make sure to check out the gapyear.com guide to volunteering before you commit.

You also don’t have to plan your whole year out now, just an idea of your route would be good, so you’re ready for the next stage. 

Trip Essentials

Trip Essentials for a Year Abroad

Accommodation can be one of the biggest worries and expenses when it comes to planning your gap year. It’s also one of the areas where you can save a lot of money. In the likes of Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia you’ll find hostels ridiculously cheap, at around £2 a night. If you have the cash you can get a super swish private room for around £10 each.

If you’re planning a trip to somewhere like Europe, the USA, Canada or Australia you should look at other options like couchsurfing or globalfreeloaders.com to save money. You can stay for free in someone’s spare space, and if you’re lucky they’ll even take you on a private bespoke tour around their neighbourhood too. You could also look at the volunteering and working abroad options I mentioned before, as some will offer free accommodation in return for a few hours work a day. Workaway.info is a great website for this and has some incredible projects.

Hostels and gap years

Keep an open mind when it comes to accommodation – call up your long lost aunties, mum’s friends, old school mates and see if you can crash on their floors. You could even sleep in a tent, but always remember ‘safety first’. If you really don’t feel comfortable in a particular situation, do something about it.

Hostels are always a great bet. There will be lots of other people just like you milling about and lots of social things to join in on. Feeling up for it and cheap then you can stay in a 20-bed dorm, if you’re not, pay a little more and book yourself into a private room.    

Insurance

Don’t go on a gap year without insurance. If anything does happen – theft, broken limbs, lost baggage – it can end up saving you thousands, if not millions. It’s just not worth it.

When you choose an insurance company to go with make sure it covers any extreme sports you plan on doing, and all the countries you’re going to. Many won’t cover Cuba for example, and skydiving and winter sports can need an extra package on top. Take the time to read the small print. 

Leave a copy of your agreement at home with your folks, and make sure you email a copy to any friends you’re travelling with too.

Plan a gap year

Health and safety

Before you go you’ll need to talk to your doctor about travel vaccinations. Don’t skimp on these and make sure you get all the ones the doctor recommends. If you need to take malaria tablets do so religiously and always carry a copy of your immunisation booklet to show if needed. For example, you can’t even get in Kenya if you haven’t been vaccinated for Yellow Fever. They will check and if you don’t have it, they’ll charge you a fortune at the border to get it done there and then.

Don’t put yourself in any unnecessary danger – it’s just not worth it. Check the Foreign Office website (fco.gov.uk) before you visit a new destination to double check the safety and political events that may affect the safety of a country.

Finally 

Have fun when you’re planning your gap year. Look around the site for information on anything you can think of and if you have any questions you can jump on our message boards and our friendly community will get involved. 


Complete Adventures

We've created a range of "complete gap years" designed to make your life easier. They do exactly what they say on the tin, enabling you to easily book a the most popular gap year experiences, including your flights, tours, visas, volunteering, and much more.

Australian Working Holiday

Work and travel around Oz: designed to get you on your feet as soon as you arrive and assist you throughout your working holiday gap year.

Get Off The Beaten Track

Fly from London to South America, explore the Amazon with a group of young adventurers, trek to Machu Picchu and pit stop for a break in NYC.

New Zealand Working Holiday

Want to work and travel around NZ? This is the best way to get you set up with all you need, including transport, transfers, visas, kit and hostels.

Africa Overland & Volunteer

Arrive in Nairobi. Tour through Ngorongoro, Zanzibar and Chipata. Visit Victoria Falls, see the Big 5 in Kruger National Park, and much more.

Complete South East Asia

Hit bustling Bangkok before taking on the Indochina Loop. Discover Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and then back to the golden sands of Phuket.

Canadian Working Winter

Get paid to hit the slopes in Canada; a snow junkie's dream! Destress after the big move by spending time making friends and getting big air!

View All Complete Gap Years

Round the World Trip Planner Tool

A Round the World ticket is the ideal way to see a large number of destinations on your gap year and we've designed this trip planner to make it a breeze!

Use our handy trip planner tool to pick your dates and destinations and let us help make the trip you've been dreaming about a reality.

Round the World Trip Planner

Trip Planning Articles

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A to Z of Backpacking Essentials

by Will Jones

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How to Plan a Short Gap Year

by Lexi Quinton

So, you know want to know about short gaps and how you go about planning one. Well, this is the perfect article for you…

The Leap

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Experiences by The Leap Overseas

The Leap is a highly respected gap year company which specialises in creating unique, affordable and challenging overseas programmes, often featuring internships.

All packages contain an exciting mix of volunteer projects and activities, and can be experienced in exotic places all over the world, including Tanzania, Ecuador, South Africa and Costa Rica.

If this sounds like something you may be interested in, just click the link above to see all the awesome opportunities on offer.

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Australia Learn to Surf

Travel Mates

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Need a travel mate?

Whether you're planning your trip, hitting your first destination or already on the road, find a travel mate on gapyear.com...

Top Destinations

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Gap year destinations

Where do you want to go on your gap year? Struggling for ideas? That's why we’ve come up with 10 gap year destinations that you just have to see on your travels.