So, it’s another academic year and that means that thousands of students nationwide are considering their gap year. With a big wide world out there and hundreds of countries to consider, all offering different things, it can be a bit of a minefield. Take some time to read the ‘Young Academic guide to your Gap Year’ for 2010/11.

First of all, follow these 5 simple steps to work out exactly what kind of Gap Year is right for you. This is a whole year of your life and is probably the only chance you will have to embark on this exciting challenge before you enter the real world – so make sure you make the right choices!

  • CONSIDERATION: What exactly do you want to get from your gap year? If you love climbing then you probably don’t want to go to somewhere flat like Holland and if you hate water then Australia probably isn’t for you!
  • INVESTIGATION: Once you have decided on the nature of your gap year you need to do some serious investigating. This guide will point you in the right direction but you need to take the bull by the horns and check out the cheapest and best ways of getting around and seeing everything your chosen destination has to offer.
  • ORGANISATION: Don’t leave things until the last minute. Get everything booked well in advance. This will ensure you get where you need to go, when you need to go there – not to mention the money you will save. Get your route engrained into your brain so that you can get on with enjoying your experience.
  • DO THINGS PROPERLY: Keep in touch with your family as much as you can, you are there to have fun and see the world but your parents may worry if you go off the radar! Stay safe and respect the local customs of the country you are in – you don’t want to be stuck in a foreign jail for misbehaving as they will not be as forgiving as the authorities over here. This may also bring an abrupt end to your travels.
  • REFLECTION: You will inevitably learn a lot about life from your gap year. You will see new cultures that should help you to put your own life in perspective – use these to your advantage.

So, where to go? Many students choose the more glamorous destinations, which is fine but remember that these will be a lot more expensive. According to a recent survey, the most popular gap year destinations are:

1.                  Australia

2.                  New Zealand

3.                  Thailand

4.                  South America

5.                  USA

6.                  India

7.                  South Africa

8.                  Eastern Europe

9.                  Western Europe

10.              Malaysia

It’s not hard to notice that the more popular destinations are on the other side of the world from Britain, with most travellers wanting to get as far away from home as possible. Remember that Europe also has a great deal of cultures to offer and may not break the bank as much.

Depending on your personality, a third world country may be a better choice if you want to try and make a difference with your year out. This is very important decision however because once you are there, you are there for a long time. If you decide that this may be for you there are a number of charities you can contact and you may be able to get sponsorship to fund your trip.

Insurance

Insurance is an absolutely vital part of your gap year arrangements. If you lose your luggage, are robbed or fall ill whilst in a foreign country then your insurance policy is essential. Young Academic have kindly done some research for you, you will need to tailor your policy to your particular trip but you should be paying something in the region of;

£150-£170: This will get you up to £1000 if your luggage is lost and up to £5 million in medical fees. You will not however, be covered if your flights are changed or cancelled.

£170-£260: For an extra £100 you can get up to £2000 if your luggage is lost and £10 million in medical fees. For the bit of extra cash you will also receive up to £5000 if your flights are cancelled.

You will have to contact the insurance companies to get exact figures but these are the rough prices for an eighteen to twenty-five year old travelling worldwide for up to twelve months. Comparison web-sites can be very handy for this as you can state your exact requirements but it may be conducive to contact the companies direct for a lower quote. Get your insurance sorted as soon as you have decided where you are going and when, don’t leave anything to chance!

Books

As part of our commitment to making sure your gap year is one to remember, we have kindly compiled a list of handy books you may want to read before you set off on your adventure.

‘Taking a Gap Year’ by Susan Griffith
‘The most comprehensive guide to taking a year out. This book aims to canvass the possibilities comprehensively and covers a wealth of both mainstream and obscure options.’ ISBN 1-85458-294-1

Also by this author: ‘Work your way around the world’ ISBN 1-85458-329-8

‘The Gap Year Book’ published by Lonely Planet

‘Packed with essential advice on saving and raising money, what to pack, keeping in touch and staying safe, the inside track on when and where to go and numerous ideas about what to do..’ ISBN 1-74059-666-8

‘Gap Travel Guide’ published by Merricks Media)
‘The ultimate guide to time out.’ ISBN 190504927-7

‘Before You Go’ by Tom Griffiths
‘It has literally helped thousands of young first time travellers get started and off on their travels’. ISBN 1-90401-201-9

‘Taking a Year Off’ by Val Butcher
‘Whatever your motivation or stage of life, Taking a Year Off will help you weigh up the pros and cons, look at all your options and plan how to make the most of the chance of a lifetime.’ ISBN 0-85660-552-2

‘Worldwide Volunteering’ compiled by Roger Potter
‘WorldWide Volunteering’s database of 350000 volunteering opportunities in 215 countries (including the UK) enables people to search through placements offered by over 1100 organisations and produce a tailored list to suit their own requirements.’ ISBN 1-85703-910-6

‘Planning Your Gap Year’ by Nick Vandome
‘Hundreds of Opportunities for Employment, Study, Volunteer Work and Independent Travel’ ISBN 1-85703-879-7

Finally, there is only so much anyone can tell you about where to go on your gap year as it is totally personal, but below are the five most popular round the world trips. Good luck and enjoy!

Four of the most popular round the world trips (starting in the UK) according to the Mintel Gap Year Travel Report:
1. London-Nairobi (overland to Johannesburg) Sydney-Auckland (overland to Christchurch) Fiji-Los Angeles-Miami-London

2. London-Cape Town (overland to Johannesburg) Singapore-Vietnam-Perth (overland to Sydney-Christchurch (overland to Auckland) Fiji-Cook islands-Tahiti-Los Angeles (overland to New York) – London

3. London- Nairobi (overland to Dar Es Salaam) Bombay-Kuala Lumpur-Brisbane-Auckland-Fiji-Los Angeles-London

4. London-Cairo-Kathmandu (overland to Delhi) Hanoi (overland to Singapore) Australia-New Zealand-Tonga-Samoa-Los Angeles-Mexico-Fort Lauderdale-Kingston-London

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About Author

Charles Whitworth is the Editor of the Young Academic publications. Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 2008, Charles learnt his trade in newsrooms such as IPC Media and Sky. He has now developed as a top sports, music and current affairs journalist and has been printed in a range of publications including The Guardian. His interests include Cricket, Football, Rugby, Music and Current Affairs. Fresh from the editorship of Student Times he now takes the reins at Young Academic - the premier student news portal. Connect with me on Google+

1 Comment

  1. I have just finished my A-levels and have accepted an offer to start Uni in Leeds in September 2011. I am looking to take a gap year abroad but really don’t have any idead what i want to do. I have found this post very intersting and also very helpful, for this i am very grateful and have reccommended the site to many friends in the same situation as myself.

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