A gap year is a great way for you to travel before you reach university or the job market. Gap years are typically taken by young people just after completing A-levels or Scottish SYS exams. A well planned gap year can allow you to see new cultures whilst developing skills that employers often see as valuable. There are many organizations which run various types of volunteer or sometimes low paid jobs abroad in countries all over the world. No matter what kind of gap year you choose to go on you will always experience local culture first hand. This kind of holiday can be a much more rewarding and fulfilling experience than a typical tourist or beach based holiday.
Benefits of a gap year
You get to see a country with very different culture from our own first hand. Most gap organizers subsidize your accommodation and other expenses making it a reasonably cheap way to spend a long time abroad.
Many employers value the team-based and interpersonal skills that are developed on gap year projects. Many of the projects involve volunteer work which can look very attractive on a CV.
You will quickly develop a strong sense of independence whilst on a gap year course and many people who have been on gap years have a more mature outlook on life than others their age.
Drawbacks of a gap year
While gap years are a relatively inexpensive way to travel it will still cost you money. Most students spend half of their gap year working to earn enough money to afford to go on a gap year project for the other six months.
Taking a gap year is one more year where you will not be earning money. This can mean that you will have more debt than others after finishing any university course you attend. Of course if you are taking a gap year before going into employment this is not so much of a problem.
Some university faculties don't recommend gap years unless they are related to the subject you are studying. In particular a lot of scientific faculties discourage going on a gap year as technical skills often deteriorate if they aren't used for a year. This may mean that you will find doing your course more difficult as you will be out of practice.
Depending on which organization you choose to do your gap year with costs can vary enormously. Typically however you will be looking at paying no less than £2000 including flights, up to £5000. Prices vary according to the length of placement and how far the country being visited is.
Some organizations will include things like food and accommodation in the fees charged while others will charge slightly lower fees and expect you to pay for your own food and or accommodation. When deciding which organization to go for ensure that you remember to add in hidden costs such as flights, cost of backpacks, shoes etc and remember that if you want to spend some time backpacking while you are abroad you will need extra money for traveling.
Activities on placements
The vast majority of gap projects will have you teaching English to children in other countries. For these placements you will often have to attend some kind of training course such as the internationally recognized TEFL course. However other activities include farm work, running children's holiday camps, building projects and more. Most of these placements are targeted at poor, impoverished and deprived areas so you will be making a real difference to people.
- EF International Language Schools - Take a Gap Year and learn a language by living it! We offer language immersion programmes in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Canada, Singapore and China.
- Xtreme Gap - Our adventure gap year programs aim to offer you qualifications or a personal development path for exceptional value.
- TheGapYearMap.com is a Gap Year Directory that aims to give away a monthly £1000 travel scholarship to a lucky user each month.
- First Gap Year - Gap year travel guide and directory covering decision making, travel planning, packing, solo travel, adventure travel, health, insurance, safe travel, hostels, finance, volunteer work, and working abroad.
- Career break? Everything you need is here.
- Gapwork.com - your number one resource for taking a gap year.
- i-to-i offers anything from 2 weeks to 24 weeks and includes placements which let you earn money as well as some exotic placements such as the Thai kickboxing placement.
- World Challenge offers anything from 8 day to 9 month expeditions around the world including such exotic locations as Mongolia and Morocco. Activities range from conservation work to building to teaching English.
- Bunac offers an extensive range of working and voluntary placements. The working placements can be a very cost effective way to travel.
- Lattitude Global Volunteering is the new name for Gap Activity Projects, a non-profit charity which organises voluntary work overseas in more than 20 countries. Lattitude also brings hundreds of volunteers from overseas to work in the UK.
- Frontier organizes research and conservation expeditions which can result in a BTEC qualification.
- Challenge UK offers educational exchanges to the US, France and Hungary.
- PeakLeaders.com specializes in snow sport and jungle expedition programs including 9 week snowboard placements in Canada.
- Pure Australia Travel Guide - an invaluable resource providing gap year travel advice for backpackers visiting Australia.
- Gap Guru - Gap Year Abroad; Work, Volunteer and Travel Programmes. Whatever gap challenge you undertake, whatever dreams and aspirations drive you, GapGuru creates the perfect gap year programme for you.
- Gap Year Chat - a new gap year chat forum where backpackers can leave tips and advice for fellow travellers. Help build up the posts by adding your own travel tips.
- Gap Year Traveller First Aid Course - gap year travellers course which is designed to teach potential travellers how to prepare for their trip, includes information on kit, security, health and emergecnies.
- Gap Year Travel Store - an online travel store aimed at gappers and backpackers who need good kit at a good price.
- VentureCo Worldwide offers volunteer projects, overseas language courses and travelling options for those considering a gap year or career break.