5 Tips for Planning a Gap Year

So you’ve decided that you want to take a year off from school/ uni but you don’t really know how to approach the situation? Firstly, congratulations! You’ve just made a pretty big decision. And secondly, never fear! Here are some handy tips I’ve picked up while planning for mine.

1. Decide what you want to do
It may sounds obvious, but to start off, you need to decide what you want to do with your time. You don’t have to plan your whole year entirely and to the very last detail. However, it’s good to have a general idea of how your year is going to proceed before you start it. An unplanned gap year will most likely consists of lots of days doing nothing and sitting around. The best way to make most of your time is to know what you want to achieve in the end. 

2. Consider your limitations
Ideally, I would love to leave Melbourne and travel every bit of every continent this year. If I had my way, I probably would never come back for a very long time. But unfortunately, I have limitations for my gap year (and you probably do too!). For example, I was only able to take 5 months from my work without losing my job. As well, it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll be able to sustain myself for an incredibly long time abroad. When planning a gap year, take into account the things that may hold you back. That way, you’ll make the most of what you have when the time comes along!

3. Avoid following your friends’ wishes, follow your own!
Friends are pretty important in life, I’m not denying that. But your gap year should be primarily about YOU. Don’t get dragged into things you don’t want to do just to be with your friends. You don’t have to go to Asia for 8 months to work in an orphanage with your mate Shaun. Follow your dreams instead and backpack around New Zealand or work your entire year. You should choose what makes you the happiest. That way you’ll look back without any regrets. By all means, travel with your friends if that’s what everyone wants to do. If not, save it for the spontaneous road trips over the summer!

4. Get ready in advance
I wish someone told me this earlier. I’m leaving in 2.5 weeks and I’m struggling to tie all of the last minute loose ends together. Before flying internationally, don’t forget the travel insurance/ plane tickets/ visa/ first couple of night’s accommodation etc. If you know you want to travel, get a job early! In Australia, it’s legal to work from the age of 14 and 9 months (don’t ask me why, I have no clue). Take advantage of this and start saving your moola. You’ll be thankful when you realise how expensive plane tickets are, specially from Australia. Also make a list of everything that your gap year needs early on. That way you won’t have to go through the last minute rush and you’ll be able to take advantage of the early bird prices for plane tickets.

5. Leave a bit of wriggle room for spontaneous adventures
It’s best to accept the fact that your gap year will most likely not be exactly what you expected. Abroad, you may meet 2 incredible Swedish guys and decide to travel with them to their homeland instead of going back to Paris. If you’re working full time, save part of your paid holiday leave as you never know when an unexpected festival may pop up in your home town. Don’t jam pack your gap year just so you can fulfil everything you want to do. Think of it this way, if you miss out on seeing Uluru or going to Disneyland because of an unplanned thing that occurs, you already have an excuse to go back.

Gap years can be incredible things. I’m only 3 months into mine, and I believe deciding to take one after school was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Hopefully now you have a better idea of how to proceed with yours if you’re still in the planning stages. Already on a gap year? Tell me all about it! Any advice will come in handy.

– Nadia

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