Gap Year FAQs: Part One | Top Universities

Gap Year FAQs: Part One

By Piotr Łuczak

Updated April 4, 2018 Updated April 4, 2018

Considering a gap year before starting university? These FAQs should help you get a clearer idea of what kind of gap year experience you're looking for, and how to make it happen.

How do I choose where to go on my gap year?

There are so many countries, so many cities, so many amazing places in the world to see, where do you start? Everyone has their preferences. For some Asia is intriguing, for others Africa is the place they want to go.

Some people like the idea of going to the back of beyond where there's not another human being around. Others prefer to experience the hustle and bustle of the world's biggest cities.

Remember you don't have to see everything in your gap year. There will be plenty of opportunities to travel afterwards as well. But if you want to fit as much as possible into your first 12 months, buy a round-the-world ticket!

What kind of gap year should I go on?

The simple answer to this question is, whatever type of gap year you like! These days if you're contemplating embarking on a gap year you are spoilt for choice of countries to go to, organisations to work with, places to visit and experiences to be had.

But this can make the decision harder, because there's too much to choose from. Think carefully about the kind of experience you as an individual want because you'e about to invest a great deal of money into this.

There'll always be some experiences that you enjoy more than others, and some experiences that you never wish to repeat, but that's all part of the excitement of a gap year.

Should I travel on my own or go with a friend?

This is a personal preference. If you're brave enough to travel on your own then go for it, because you're always going to meet new and interesting people along the way. And they may suddenly become the people that you travel with.

If you'd prefer to travel with a friend make sure you're compatible. Being in close quarters with someone that bring a different dynamic to the friendship so make sure you're clear from the outset of what you both want to do.

If your idea of a gap year is the same then perhaps it is a good idea you travel together, both for safety and companionship.

How much money do I need for a gap year?

This depends on the type of gap year you envisage having. Your big expenses will be paid up front before you leave home  your ticket, insurance, gear such as your backpack, clothing, camera so theoretically you shouldn't have any more big costs that you'll need to fund.

Then it just depends on how you budget during your time travelling abroad. There are always cheap options so look out for the little restaurant off the main road that doesn't charge tourist prices, stay with a local family or find a hostel which offers free accommodation in exchange for some light work.

Finally, take photos rather than buy souvenirs - they're much lighter to carry anyway.

What should I take on my gap year?

You may need to have a few trial packing sessions before you head away, so make sure you leave enough time for this. You need to limit yourself to one pack that you can carry,  the last thing you want is to be loaded down with luggage and have too many bags and not enough hands.

Pack versatile clothing, trousers for example with zips that turn them into shorts. Make sure you take a day bag and also have a small bag or money pouch you keep close to you at all times with the valuable documents like your passport in.

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in April 2018

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