Top 10 tips for planning your gap year

 

Each year, approximately 230,000 young people in the UK plan their gap year. If you haven’t travelled abroad for a substantial amount of  time it can be a daunting task.

Overseeing the wellbeing of its volunteers at its projects, Khaya Volunteer has come across both prepared and unprepared travellers and has some great tips when planning your life-altering year.

Scrutinise the organisation

Research and chose an ethically responsible company to volunteer with. Can they provide a brief job description? Do they work directly with local partner organisations? Do they financially contribute to local partners? Can they explain how your fees are used and where they go? Do they have policies for eco/ethical tourism? What support and training will you receive? Also ask to speak to previous travellers/volunteers. If they cannot provide you with the answers you need then go elsewhere.

Parental peace of mind

Make sure your parents/guardian speak with the sending organisation too. And, leave an itinerary for the folks and keep in contact. They worry!

Keeping contact ‘on the road’ isn’t difficult anymore and there are no excuses. Using Skype to speak to loved ones, and social networking sites to update in real-time is quick and easy to do.

But, what’s really popular are travel blogs. Using a service such as TravelPod, which are designed for backpackers let you upload unlimited photographs and videos, and even, lets you create a route map to show people where you're off to next.

Research the history

Especially for a country like South Africa, it will explain the cultural differences you will see and will add a whole new dimension to your experience. Also obtain local knowledge. Get a good guidebook and look into your destination before you go, including its laws, customs and language. This will help you avoid offending people or breaking local laws however unwittingly.

Get covered!

Accidents can happen to anyone. Make sure you get comprehensive travel and medical insurance. Shop around and make sure it’s right for you. Think about activities you may be doing, even spur of moment ones, and make sure you're covered for these. Your policy also needs to cover medical costs. If you do not take out proper insurance, you will foot the bill.

Check your travel plans

Always run your travel plans through one of your partners. Many can offer discounted rates on other travelling needs such as overland travel and car hire. For example volunteers with Khaya can benefit from discounted over-land tours as well as car hire.

Don’t rush

Plan your must-see countries and spend a longer time in each than cram in too much. It also allows you to ‘go with the flow’ when you get there. You will find you have more opportunities to do things with people you meet. 

Keep your initial itinerary flexible and stay open to suggestions

You may end up combining travel, adventure, back packing,and volunteering all in one and make your year really worth your while!Plus the friends you make along the way will help determine the route of your trip. The best times are those unexpected ones.

Pack half the luggage you think you need, and twice the money

Be sure to think about where you're going, when you're going and what you'll be doing there. This will help you to plan what you'll need to take with you. Word of advice, if going to Africa it’s not necessary to bring multi-function safari khakis. Pack light and buy local if you need additional items.

Donate the smart way

If you do want to donate, don’t bring bulky items with you. It’s best to bring cash and buy items locally. At orphanages they really need good mattresses so the children sleep well in order to study hard at school, and medical centers need medication with information in their local language.

Value the freedom of travel and the friendships you make

You will appreciate them more years later than a fully ticked checklist of ‘must-sees’. Time away from your day-to-day life, and the usual faces puts you in situations and thrown together with people you’d never be with – this is what makes the memories.

Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk