5 Steps to Your Perfect Gap Year Travel

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Travelling is one of the most important things you can do, in terms of global understanding, personal growth, and to improve your career. You can explore new places, make friends, or practice new occupations. You’ll learn from the plethora of people you will meet, and learn about different cultures, worldviews, and languages. You’ll have an adventure! You’ll be surprised by what you see and learn, and start to incorporate your new experiences into your own life (Vietnamese coffee, I’m looking at you!). This is a period of individual growth, exploration, discovery, acquisition of new skills and experience, a chance to live away from family and friends. What am I talking about? Taking a Gap Year

You might be surprised by the diversity you discover in the world, and marvel at the meaningfulness of intercultural interactions. You will want to discover more and more, dive into the world deeper and deeper. When is the best time to do this? As a student!

5 Steps to Your Perfect Gap Year Travel

How to plan for a gap year of travel

5 Steps to Your Perfect Gap Year Travel

1. Don’t try to plan everything

People who usually travel no more than a few days or a week at a time try to plan every detail. They read reviews, buy a RTW ticket, and devour countless guidebooks. But here’s a tip: be flexible, and leave plenty of room for discovery and new paths. Ask people you meet what their favorite places, things to do, and foods are! Then you will be able to use the advice of locals and travelers alike. 
Need assistance? There are social networks like gapyear.com, specialized agencies, and companies that offer ready-made tours. There is an international community - the American Gap Association that can help you. Work and Travel can give you an opportunity to become a teacher in a French or an American family and get a small fee. Take your time, and follow your path as it unfolds.

Don't plan everything! From 5 Steps to Your Perfect Gap Year Travel

2. Choose a purpose or a theme of travel

Excessive scheduling may tie you down during a long journey, but aimlessly moving from place to place is not the best option, either. European students often add volunteer programs or language courses to their travel plans, combining practical experiences and travel. The study of any language, in practice, will be much more productive than if you spend all night on a couch with books. Everyday communication with native speakers, in different situations that require new knowledge in a language, will stimulate your language learning. 

Maybe you’ve already finished your bachelor's or master’s degree, and want to turn dreams into reality - to write a book, to train, to make a trip to take part in volunteer projects, or write a thesis paper to further explore your learning and scholarship. Need inspiration? Search for info, tips on various sites, or on a thesis paper writing service.

Choose a theme for your travel year – and explore it to the fullest. Take time for reflection and introspection, as well - they are critical for personal growth and development.

Take time for introspection. From 5 Steps to Your Perfect Gap Year Travel

3. Carefully watch your budget

In order to survive for some time without work, and to see the world, bottomless pockets are not necessary. You should calculate how much you have to spend, and how long you will be able to travel. Find ways to reduce your travel costs – couchsurfing, taking small jobs in hostels or by WWOOFing, or even privately teaching English. You’ll earn money or a place to stay, and connect with locals at the same time.

Find ways to earn your keep as you travel the world. From 5 Steps to Your Perfect Gap Year Travel

Work on a rice farm, as Unbrave Girl did...

4. Don’t take too many things 

You will be able to do your laundry anywhere, whether at local laundry facilities, washing your belongings at a small hotel, or even manually  on the river rocks on someone's farm. In such a way, with such a global, everyday concern, you will dip into real life - wherever you are. You should not carry a six-month supply of clothing! Pack lightly. You can purchase whatever you need, wherever you are.

Buy what you need while you travel. From 5 Steps to Your Perfect Gap Year Travel

5. Learn all you can

It might be friendly connections that turn into long-lasting friendships, or gathering experience that will be useful in a job. Know that whatever you learn during this year, and whoever you meet Will change your life. Talk with as many people as you can, and ask about their lives. Spend time learning about a culture, by being present and deliberate. Take part in festivals, cultural events, and activities with locals. Your worldview will expand exponentially, your language and communication skills enhanced, and your opportunities will become global. Your life will change – in ways you can never have foreseen.

Take part in cultural activities. From 5 Steps to Your Perfect Gap Year Travel


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5 Steps to Your Perfect Gap Year Travel