There are few better ways to supercharge you confidence and get a great boost of perspective and reality to your life than to travel on your own to unfamiliar places.
Travel has long been understood to be one of the best learning experiences. St Augustine said over 1500 years ago:
“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
A gap year is a great way to get a little life experience and build you confidence either before heading to University or joining the work force.
The term gap year used to denote merely a year in which young people would postpone their studies, either to work or travel abroad. However gap years, have been increasingly perceived as nothing more than an excuse for the better off in society to swan around Africa patronising the locals with their naive and ill-conceived moral crusades – this chap perhaps has a lot to answer for:
There is, of course, no doubt some truth in this stereotype, but if you are as naive and ill-conceived as the amusing caricature above then there’s probably no better way to cure it than to go travelling.
There are so many options for what you could do for your gap year. You could book an ‘Around the World Flight’, you could go backpacking, you could go inter-railing around Europe, you could visit a single country like Australia, or you could go volunteering in Africa. The list of possibilities is endless.
What follows are a few ideas of the sorts of things you could be doing:
Inter Rail through Europe – This gap year idea is as old as trains. It is particularly popular as a short summer travel option for students looking to discover more of Europe than just the Kings Road(KR). You can purchase the slightly misleadingly named “global pass”, a ticket that allows you to visit 30 different countries in Europe and then just head off where ever you like – best to plan it out to some degree though.
Ski Season in the Alps – If you’re not a fan of humidity and heat and you have some skills on the slopes, or even if you don’t, why not consider a ski season in the Alps. You can get a job as a chalet cook or cleaner, work in the many bars and clubs or learn to become a ski or snowboard instructor – which will invariably make your friends think you’re very cool.
Backpack in South East Asia – If you’ve ever read The Beach then the idea of backpacking in South East Asia will either have you terrified or, as it was for me, made you desperate to get out there. It is certainly not recommended that you try and set up an illegal commune on the beach of an uninhabited island, but backpacking around SEA is one of the most popular gap year destinations and for good reason.
Around the World Ticket – If you want to see a lot of the world in a short period of time them getting an around the world ticket is good idea. Most airlines offer an around the world ticket. Usually the ticket is only valid for travel in one continuous direction either west or east. For example Emirates offer an around the world ticket that starts in Paris with flights to Dubai continuing east back to Paris, or flights to Los Angles continuing west to back to Paris. Do a quick Google search for around the world tickets and you’ll find loads of options.
Volunteering – Volunteering on your gap year is not only a great mind expanding experience it also looks great on your CV for either University or Job applications. Organisations like VSO offer many great opportunities around the world to get involved with humanitarian efforts.
If you want more help and info surrounding gap year planning I recommend checking out www.gapyear.com or look through our Planning Your Gap year Guide below:
Got any great advice about gap years? Share your ideas in the comments below.