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Thinking of Taking a Gap Year?

You’ve finally finished your last exam and now your hard-earned freedom awaits you, so what do you do next? Do you go straight back into the classroom and start hitting the books again? Do you get a job?

Or do you take some time off in the form of a gap year?

It’s always good to take a break and recharge your batteries before continuing on with your education. After all, a gap year is a fantastic chance to learn new skills, experience new things, and for some personal development. So, here’s our little guide on when and how to make the most of a gap year.

So when should you take a gap year?

Well, you can technically take a gap year anytime you want. But there’s more to this question than figuring out the time frame you want to take your gap year. This is one of those experiences that’s not easily defined as it generally means something different to each individual. Some people may want to take a gap year to help figure out their next step and develop as a person, others want to travel around the world, and then there are those who just want to use the time to catch up on sleep.

Generally speaking, there are three popular timeframes where students tend to take their gap year:

  • Before uni – You just finished high school so why rush into more studying when there’s a whole world to explore? Take some time off to unwind, travel, and grow before diving into uni.
  • During uni – There’s a risk of burnout when you go into uni straight from high school. Taking some time off partway through your degree is not only good for your mental health, it’s also a way to help you catch your breath while reassessing whether you’re heading in the right direction in your education (and life).
  • After uni – Having spent 4 years studying for that uni degree, now’s a good time to take a break before embarking on the next step of your journey.

Beyond figuring out when you want to take a gap year, there are several questions you need to ask yourself if this is something you want to do, such as:

  • How much support and structure do I need?
  • Am I more comfortable being on my own or being part of a program?
  • How well-travelled am I?
  • How will this affect my uni plans?
  • What exactly do I want to get out of my gap year?

Do your research and really think about how you want to tackle your gap year before making any big decisions.

What should I do for my gap year?

There are a bunch of different ways to go about your gap year. You can backpack through several countries, work overseas, or volunteer abroad. Or you could sleep for most of it, though that wouldn’t be a very productive gap year.

The point is that there are plenty of possibilities and the first step is to figure out exactly what sort of experience and goals you want to get out of your gap year. Do you want to travel independently or as part of a program?

Again, do some research into what options there are available.

Is it worth considering an internship or casual job on your gap year?

Definitely! One of the main reasons to go on a gap year is to gain all kinds of experience, and an internship or casual job is certainly one way to do it.

While doing an internship or a casual job may not be specifically related to the field you’re interested in, it can still help you develop skills that can be transferred over. Plus the real-world experience you gain is invaluable in proving to employers that you’re more than capable of doing things beyond a uni lecture hall.

Potential gap year programs in Australia

For all those keen to travel as part of a gap year program, you’re in luck because there are plenty of programs across several different countries and focus areas available.

Companies like GVI runs gap year programs in countries around the world, including volunteer and internship programs in countries like Cambodia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, Greece, India, Laos, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Seychelles, South Africa, and Thailand.

If you want more info about what kind of gap year programs are out there, definitely check out the Year 13 website.

Okay, I’ve figured out where to go and what to do on my gap year, what sort of planning to I need to do and when do I need to get insurance?

First off, well done on getting the hardest part of your gap year plans – i.e deciding where to go and what to do – all figured out!

Next up is all about the logistical side of things and we’ve prepared a simple little checklist that you need to do before embarking on your epic gap year.

  1. Make sure your documents are in order – This means checking if you meet the passport and visa requirements of the countries you’re travelling to. Some countries have certain document and passport (eg. some require your passport has at least six months of validity after your departure date) so definitely do your homework before you leave.
  2. Vaccinations are a must – Pretty self explanatory. Visit a travel doctor well before your trip to make sure you have all the necessary vaccinations as some jabs require more than one visit. Also use this time to make sure you have all the medicines and a first aid kit ready for your trip.
  3. Budget accordingly – Unless you have a money tree somewhere, you’ll need to save, budget, and manage your finances accordingly for your gap year, especially if you plan on volunteering abroad. One option is to get a casual job during your gap year to help ease any potential money worries.
  4. Have a way to contact people – It’s mega important to have a local phone number or be connected to the internet so that you’re able to contact people if you need help. Make sure your phone is “unlocked” so that it can use any local sim card.
  5. Definitely get travel insurance now – As it says on the (metaphorical) tin. In the event something happens to you (god forbid), you’ll have travel insurance to help cover you. There’s never such thing as getting insurance early so best get it ASAP. Make sure it covers you for the entire duration of your trip and understand what activities are covered under your plan. Here’s a good comparison guide on what travel insurance brands are out there for those wanting to go on a gap year.
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