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What is a Gap Year?

A gap year is a bit of a loose term. Many people see a gap year as a time to do a bit of travelling, gain some valuable work experience, and just generally relax for a year, free from the stresses and strains of school, college, university or employment. For most people a gap year involves taking some time out after school or college, and before embarking on a course at university. Some people decide to take a year off during their university course, some take time out after completing their degree, and others make time in and around work commitments to take a voyage overseas and to discover a bit more about themselves and about another country or culture.

For some people a gap year can take up the whole year, however for others it can consist of a cluster of travel opportunities, some may be only a couple of weeks in duration. The length of your gap year travels is completely dependant on you, and what you feel comfortable doing. Some people may need to work for 6 months in order to fund their travels, however some people may choose to work overseas to help with their funding. Take your time to explore the opportunities available, and to take note of the durations available.

A gap year gives you the opportunity to travel, work, or volunteer in many destinations around the world, and is an excellent way to gain experience before taking on the challenge of working life or furthering your education. In the current economic climate, where jobs are getting harder and harder to find, it is becoming more important that you make good use of the time you take out, with a much greater emphasis on the meaningful and constructive travel options to help gain work experience and develop your personal and interpersonal skills.

Why take a Gap Year?

There can be many reasons why somebody would decide to take a gap year, and in many cases it is a culmination of a variety of decisions that have influenced this desire for seeing more of the world, gaining some life experience and broadening cultural horizons.

For some people taking a gap year is inevitable, and is something they have been aiming towards for many years, and for others it can be more of a last gasp option which has come about due to uncontrollable circumstances. Some people go to university and barely make it through the first month before realising that they are just not ready to further their education yet, some do not make the grades for their chosen university, and have to go through the university clearing process, whereas others may find a quick holiday overseas after finishing their latest course or level of education spurs hidden passions for travel that just cannot be controlled.

A gap year can provide you with a range of opportunities to develop your skills and build on your employability and experience for when you return home in search of work or your next conquest.

Not only will a gap year give you an enormous amount of life experience, it is something that you can put on your CV, as this is something that most future employers will find interesting and it will certainly help you stand out from the crowd. After university or in some cases during your course you will be applying for a range of jobs (that is provided that you have not caught the travel bug and just cannot wait to finish your course and escape again) and having that something extra will help you stand out from the other applicants.  

Nowadays employers see gap years as a great way for their candidates to improve on their transferable skills that are crucial for success in the work place. For more information on how a gap year can help with improving your work based skills take a look at our Personal Development page.

University Deferrals

You may finish school or college, and have a sudden realisation that you just do not want to start your chosen university course just yet, and would rather embark on a once in a lifetime journey overseas, before returning home to knuckle down to some hard work.

This is not a problem and most universities are happy to accommodate those looking to defer their entry until a year later, giving you over 12 months to do something different and amazing, so why not travel and see the world?

You will have the time to mature as an individual before going to university and meeting a whole new group of people. Taking part in an interesting and meaningful trip overseas during your gap year will give you that added spark on arrival, giving you some great material to kick off any conversation with.

Gap Year Top Tips

Do some research – with so many options out there for travelling overseas, experiencing something new and taking part in something constructive and rewarding during your gap year, it is a good idea to do your research into where you should go, what you should do, and why you should travel with a particular organisation (if you think you would benefit from the support of a dedicated and reputable gap year travel organisation). You can speak to your parents and get their opinion, you can speak to those who have taken a gap year before, such as a past participant in a gap year programme, and there is even the option to join online forums to get a broader perspective.

See it as a development process – a gap year should not just be viewed as an escape from the real world and a complete break from your educational or employment career. Your gap year could be seen as another step along the road of personal development. You should always keep in mind whilst travelling to some far flung destinations how your new life experiences will relate to your development as an individual and will benefit your CV and your future career prospects.

Meet new people – A gap year is an ideal opportunity to do some networking for the future. Many people underestimate the opportunities that can arise by meeting people and sharing ideas during your time out. People are generally a lot more forth coming when they are away from the stresses of work and education, so take advantage of this fact and see if you can make some strong links for the future to help support your career potential.

Use your existing skills – Travelling overseas is a fantastic way to not only learn new skills, but to also share your own skills with others in a fun and rewarding way. For example if you are a budding sports coach, you could volunteer coaching your favourite sport to kids from a disadvantaged community, or use your experience of a foreign language to help teach others a new skill in a teaching role. The world is full of exciting opportunities to share skills and develop your own interests, so take a look at ways that you can use your own skills and abilities to create an amazing gap year experience.

Preparation is key – some people are prone to making last minute decisions, and others like to meticulously plan their escapades. It can be great to get your plans laid out early in order to set yourself a target, giving yourself something to aim towards, for example if you are needing to raise the funds required for a trip overseas, it can take quite a few months to hit your funding target. It is also great to have something to look forward to after your school or college exams are complete, which should spur you on to some excellent results. We have a wide range of travel advice topics, starting with what you want to do all the way through to safety and security.

Flexi Travel

What is Flexi Travel?

Flexi Travel is the new way to create and experience a gap year, career break or summer holiday that is designed by the traveller for the traveller. Intrigued?

The way Flexi Travel works is that as the traveller you have the ultimate flexibility to build your trip from scratch, incorporating different projects and travel programmes in order to create your own personalised overseas experience. From volunteering one week, to jungle treks the next, we offer the flexibility to design something truly unique to you using our unique Flexi Credits system.

The flexibility does not stop there. We understand that plans change and you may want to change certain aspects of your trip after arriving in your chosen destination, so we give you the option to use our handy credits system to chop and change your trip on a week-by-week basis whilst you are in-country. So if you simply cannot leave the playful gibbons you are working with or you fancy swapping a week volunteering on a building project to a week relaxing at the beach, we can accommodate your change plans. 

See how much fun you can have designing your own adventure! Here is our simple Step-by-Step Guide to Flexi Travel…

Step 1: Pick Your Destination
Choose from one or more of the following destinations:
Thailand, India, Fiji, Bali (Indonesia), Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Philippines
Your first week in your chosen destination will include a cultural orientation week!

Step 2: Check Out The Trips
In each country we offer a wide range of experiences, from community volunteering to adventure tours. Each experience will have a certain number of credits assigned to it. Mix and match from these experiences to build your Flexi Travel trip.

Step 3: Pick Your Credit Package
Credits can be used for experiences across multiple locations, so you can travel and take part in some amazing activities as part of one package. You can add credits as you travel and mix and match a wide range of experiences.

Step 4: Go Flexi Travelling
You have the freedom to decide which experiences you want to do before or after you have started your trip. Build your personal itinerary or just book the number of credits you want and make those big decisions during your intro week! You can even book more credits after you have started. Easy as that…

Download the Flexi Travel Info Brochure - Click Here!




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Testimonials
  • "The experience of living with other volunteers and students was a great! An unbelievable sports experience! As a football fan I really couldn't imagine a better place to visit."
    Joseph Berry , Sports, Argentina
     
  • "Working in the orphanage with these adorable kids was a great way to do something really good with my time abroad on my gap year. I would recommend it to anyone who is keen to work with children. A magical experience! I cannot wait to go back to Argentina and see how they are all getting on."
    Jade Garcia , Care Work, Argentina
     
  • "I loved this volunteer project in the orphanage in Buenos Aires. So many great kids, who love to play and learn from you. I really enjoyed the cooking lessons in the bakery, and the kids really liked to do face painting and arts, which was really fun, it was great to be able to put smiles on their faces. I will treasure my memories of my trip to Argentina for a long time."
    Susan Tanner , Care Work, Argentina
     
  • "Football coaching in India was awesome - from the day I arrived to the day I left. The people, especially the children, the culture, the food, were all great!! It was an experience that I will never forget!! If you have the opportunity travel and coach sport... especially in India....then just go for it! .... Sanj"
    Sanjay Thanki , Sports, India
     
  • "The experience I had in Ecuador was without doubt the greatest experience of my life so far. I would recommend the programme to anyone who has even the slightest interest in playing or coaching football."
    Craig Lawlor , Sports, Ecuador
     
  • "My time in Quito was amazing. I had a wonderful experience working with the kids, and partying in the Mariscal. My homestay was also fabulous and I made amazing friends with my other housemates and the family. I look forward to returning sometime soon."
    Francesca Ioffreda , Sports, Ecuador
     
  • "Overall it is such an enjoyable placement and very good for helping my German and communication skills. It’s really fun and everyone is really friendly. The kids are lovely and there’s never a dull moment!"
    Stephanie Memory , Teaching, Germany
     
  • "The experience of becoming a ski instructor was out of this world. The group bonded and we all met friends for life! The local people were the friendliest and most welcoming people I have ever come across."
    Phil Nolan , Sports, Canada
     
  • "The experience of becoming a ski instructor was out of this world. The group bonded and we all met friends for life! The local people were the friendliest and most welcoming people I have ever come across."
    Samantha Platt , Sports, Canada
     
  • "I am extremely passionate about this project and being a professional photographer, meant I could teach a wide range of skills to the kids".
    Remy Whiting , Art & Craft, South Africa
     
  • "Having the in-country contacts to work on my own photography stories was perfect. Thanks to all involved".
    James Burton , Art & Craft, South Africa
     
  • "This law internship gave me a unique perspective on law in Africa and has certainly widened my options within the law field".
    Andy Smith , Business & Law, Ghana
     
  • "Thanks to all the Ghana team for making this law internship happen for me. Such an amazing experience and Ghanaians are sooo friendly."
    Jemma Mansfield , Business & Law, Ghana
     
  • "It was so interesting working into the law sector in Ghana and getting this experience. Such a great way to spend my summer doing something totally different."
    Mark Fulton , Business & Law, Ghana
     
  • "Costa Rica is such a wonderful country and being able to help out on the care work project with the children was such a privilege."
    Lara Gillard , Care Work, Costa Rica
     
  • "The whole team in Costa Rica were awesome and really helped me make the most our of my time there both on the care work project and showing me the adventures of the country."
    Tom Smith , Care Work, Costa Rica
     
  • "This placement gave me the mix of helping young children and also experiencing a totally different culture. My Spanish has really improved too."
    Kiki Jones , Care Work, Costa Rica
     
  • "I am studying in animal welfare and this placement was perfect in getting real life experience relevant to my career".
    Gordon Bennell , Wildlife & Conservation, Costa Rica
     
  • "The whole experience was fantastic from the staff at the rescue centre, to Andy and his family. Thank you for looking after me so well."
    Ruth Eales , Wildlife & Conservation, Costa Rica
     
  • Fab way to start my week, our guide was awesome and gave us so many tips. Met an amazing group of people and the team in the office really help you sort your time out after you've finished the first week. Would really recommend to solo travellers.
    Emma Lowton , Adventure, New Zealand
     

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