It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand timesAsian proverb
I wanted to write this post for anyone considering taking a gap year who might be unsure about whether or not it’s for them or wondering where to start and what to do. There are so many people that want to take a gap year and then end up not doing it because they are worried of what people might think or that they won’t do anything useful. So here’s some advice on what made my gap year one of the best and most successful years of my life!
Follow Your Passion
If you are thinking of taking a gap year but you aren’t sure what to do, think first about your interests. For me, that was travel and I knew that was what I wanted to spend my gap year doing. However, you could use the year to spend time on something you haven’t been able to focus on before, maybe a hobby, attending some extra classes, getting work experience or learning a new skill. Whatever it is do something that your future self will thank you for and don’t just do what you feel like you should be doing on a year out, because a lot of people will have an opinion on this and it really just comes down to the fact that it’s your year out so do whatever the hell you want!
Know it’s Never too Late
A lot of people think that gap years are only for 18 year olds just coming out of school but this definitely isn’t the case. I met so many people on my gap year who were adults of all different ages, from all over the world that had taken a year out of work to pursue a passion in life. Whatever your age, just know that it is never to late to enrich your life with something different. We have all of our lives to work so it’s important to step outside of our comfort zones and do something new and completely different every once in a while.
Don’t Listen to those who tell you it’s a bad idea
Many people will be of the opinion that a gap year is a waste of time and have the idea that you will sit around not doing anything but it is so important not to let this put you off. A lot of the time, people are jealous that they have never pursued their passions in life and are envious that you are now doing so. Ignore anyone who isn’t supportive and go ahead and do what you were going to do anyway! Your mind will be broadened in a way that theirs never was so don’t let anyone limit you like this!
I think it can be a good idea to get a job on your gap year, especially if you have just come out of school so that you can save up for whatever it is that you want to do on your year out. This was particularly important for me as travelling is so expensive that I knew I needed to finance this somehow! Even if it’s just a part time job it will make financing your year so much easier! I personally worked in child care on my year out so this meant that I was getting the school holidays off work, enabling me to travel and get paid both on my gap year.
Make a Plan
If you are worried that you are the kind of person that will easily let your year slip away and end up not doing anything, it is a good idea to get things booked up early and have an idea of what you’re doing so you avoid falling into the trap of not doing anything! Once you get started you won’t have to worry so much, but at first it can be a little bit daunting particularly if you don’t know anyone else who has done a gap year. The internet is so helpful for this so explore as much as you can and book at least one thing that you will be doing during the year so that you know you have made a start.
I didn’t know anybody else who wanted to travel on a gap year and so this meant that I did all of my travelling by myself at first. This was hugely terrifying for me and I was worried I would spend my whole year alone but this was actually far from the case. I decided to sign up to other companies that organised gap year travelling trips so this meant I met all of the people when I arrived in the country I was visiting. I was petrified leading up to this and even questioned what I got myself into but so many people are in the same boat and have come on their own as well so it is a great opportunity to make new friends and meet like minded people, many of whom I am friends with to this day. Sometimes just pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the best thing to do and often gives great results.
Do Your Research
Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you research the company or organisation you will be spending your time with. This was especially important to me because I was travelling with people I had never met before and I needed to make sure that they were trusted companies before I set off with them! On my gap year, I used the companies Gap360 and CCS both of whom got me safely to my destinations and were so helpful with advice and support leading up to and on the trip. I would definitely recommend both of these if you are unsure of what companies to travel with on your gap year. Gap 360 is especially good because so many people are on a gap year on those trips whereas CCS is open to any types of volunteer, which can also be good for meeting a wide range of people. Both are great options, it just depends on what you want to get out of your trip. I have also travelled with African Adventures before who were also amazing and gave so much support so they are a fantastic option too.
Take Time to Reflect
Whilst you have this time on your hands it is a great opportunity to reflect on your life and have the chance to think about whether or not you are getting out of it what matters most to you. Keeping a journal of your thoughts and experiences can be a great way of making sense of what is going on in your head and will also be something to look back to at the end of your year. Take the time to think, relax and look after yourself and hit the reset button on life!
Learn Something New
Do that one thing you’ve always wanted to try, take a class you know nothing about, become an expert in an obscure topic, whatever it is use this year to broaden your mind and learn something completely new to you. This can be through travel, hobbies, education or anything else, just get out there and explore what the world has to offer!
I think that this is the most important thing to do on your gap year! What’s the point in doing it if you aren’t going to enjoy it right? Live in the moment and take the opportunities that come your way and be proud of yourself for doing something different and not following a conventional path. Enjoy whatever it is you do and know that it is valuable and important and you will thank yourself in the future. Simply, just enjoy it and have fun! Life is too short for regrets.
In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take
Thanks for reading my gap year tips! I absolutely loved my year out and I am so glad that I did it and took the leap! It definitely wasn’t easy at first but was certainly worth it! XOX