Taking a gap year and travelling the world is usually something that most people want to do. The tricky thing is deciding whether or not you should take one and if it's the right thing for you at this point in your life. We take a look at the pros and cons of taking a gap year to help your decision.
One common belief is that when you take a gap year, universities and employers will look down on you for it. Actually, most universities report that students that take gap years before starting are more involved in university activities and tend to be more motivated. Many employers also share the same opinion with employees having travelled tending to be more independent and motivated; skills they learnt from their gap year.
Time to think
It is quite common for students to change their mind about what they want to do once they have already taken up their chosen study. This is usually due to them not being 100% sure on their career path when starting university. Once you have travelled you will be able to see and experience the real world and may stumble across another profession that takes your fancy. It will give you time to think about your future and make it easier for you to know where you want life to take you.
You'll have something to talk about!
Travelling and taking a gap year will give you something to talk about. You will become more experienced as a person and have all these great stories to tell! People will likely find you more interesting and in turn you may meet someone who has travelled the same places; allowing you to make friends easily! You can make some great memories that will last you a lifetime and these experiences could open up new doors for you!
When you go on a gap year, the chances that you'll meet new people and make new friends are almost guaranteed. Your friendships will be built on mutual passions and at the end of it you'll have friends in many different countries, meaning you could visit any time!
Learn a new language
On your gap year you will find yourself living in different countries for (sometimes) long periods of time. It can be very beneficial for you to learn at least a few basic sentences or even a large portion of your chosen country's native language. You will find day to day life easier and should be able to easily make more friends! It is always exciting to challenge yourself with a new skill especially when you will be slightly out of your comfort zone.
Learn how to budget
As we mentioned before, taking a gap year can be quite costly if you don't effectivity budget. Luckily, there are several things that you can do to keep down the cost of your trip.
When it comes to flights, it's rumoured that travelling on a Tuesday is the cheapest day to travel. This is because most people will fly over the weekend or on a Monday due to the time they have off. There are many tools that you can use, however, that will show you the cheapest way to make your journey as well as our booking cheap flights tips and advice.
If you don't mind taking more than one mode of transport, then you should take a look at Rome2Rio. It will show you how to get from point A to point B on the cheapest budget with multiple stopovers. Perfect for your gap year as you can explore your stopover city whilst you wait!
Travelling around whilst you're out there also doesn't have to be expensive. You can take advantage of the local transport such as trams, trains and buses. If you're looking to get to somewhere in particular, you can always try out BlaBlaCar. This is a website that allows people to share their planned car journeys where they have free seats in their vehicle. You can get journeys from as little as £3 depending on where you're going; plus you can make new friends!
You also don't need to spend a lot of money when it comes to accommodation either. You can use sites such as HostelWorld which will show you cheap hostels for you to stay in at your chosen location. Alternatively, you can use Airbnb to find homes and guesthouses that you can stay in for super cheap. If you're looking to meet more people on your travels, you can always try couchsurfing. This is where locals put up adverts for spare rooms or sofas that they have available for you to crash on. Don't worry, it's completely safe!
Don't forget that travel insurance is an absolute must. It only takes one clumsy moment to fall over and hurt yourself or lose some of your possessions. Insurance is something that you shouldn't scrimp on as you will probably need it at least once during your gap year. Take a look at what we offer for gap year insurance for great cover that won't break your bank.
Knowing how to keep on top of your money and how to save yourself on necessities will also help you when you return to the real world. You'll be able to budget on things such as food, bills and other monthly outgoing payments so you can make your money go further.
Paying the price
The main cons that people see when it comes to gap years are money and careers. Taking a gap year will cost you a fair bit of money depending on how long you're planning on going for and where you would like to go. It is important that you save up enough money to cover your trip as well as taking into account whether a gap year is a wise investment or if you're just looking for an expensive elongated holiday.
Considering your future
Taking into consideration your career is also a good idea. Depending on what industry you would like to go into, experience might be the key to succeeding. If this is the case then taking a year out may not be the best choice, again depending on where you would like to be in the future.
If you have already applied for university and secured yourself a place, you should speak to an advisor at the university to ensure that your place is safe if you defer it. Sometimes your place may not be guaranteed so it is wise to plan ahead to avoid disappointment.
Tailing onto the previous point, if you're looking at getting into a career once you have finished your gap year, you need to consider what your CV will look like. Granted you will have more life skills that you can apply to your job role (and also include on your CV), however there will be a year-long gap in your education and work history. This isn't always a large issue (see the pros section), although it is something you should give consideration to before planning.
In summary, taking a gap year is a big life choice that should involve much pondering over your future and if it is really the right thing for you. Travelling is rewarding but make sure you're organised first!
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