If you didn’t know yet, I took a gap-year before starting uni. At the age of 18, I had just finished high school and didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be in life. It’s a hard decision to make at that age as your future lies ahead of you.
Whilst some people know what they want to study/do at the age of 18 years old, others don’t, and that’s okay! I decided to take a gap-year because I was one of those people. I wanted to start and finish something I enjoyed doing.
Taking a gap-year was one of the best decisions I have ever made in life – I was able to explore and help out in the world, resulting in me learning more about myself.
What is a GAP-year?
A gap-year is when you take a break in order to get new experiences and explore the world. You can take a gap-year in any stage of your life, if you’re a professional taking a break from work, you usually refer to it as a sabbatical year. Whilst a gap-year usually refers to students who take a break between high school and uni.
How do you fund a GAP-year?
There can be many costs involved in a gap-year, such as airfare, visas, accommodation, activities, vaccinations, etc. Many people get discouraged from taking a gap-year because of the costs that are involved.
However, it actually isn’t as much as people always think it will be. I funded my entire GAP-year myself, at the age of 18, without having saved anything before hand. I decided to take a gap year in the summer, after I graduated, with about €100 in my bank account. It is essential to semi-plan your year ahead of time. That way you will get a rough estimate on how much it will cost you! For me, this meant working 3 continuous months in the Pringles factory as a Salter (fancy word for shingling chips haha). Not the most glamorous job, but working in a factory pays well as a temporary job. I believe that if you really want something, nothing can stop you.
If you put the time and effort into planning your trips all by yourself, you will be surprised with how many deals you’ll be able to find! (stay tuned for a planning your gap-year post!)
Some ideas to help you fund a gap year include:
• Work before you go
• Work during the year (either coming home to work in between trips or while travelling)
• Open a dedicated bank account for savings and add to it regularly
• Instead of asking for birthday gifts, ask your family/friends to donate to your big adventure
Essentials to take in your suitcase:
- A nice/smart outfit
- A reusable water bottle
- Any adapters and chargers you will need + a power bank will come in handy too!
- A day backpack
- A combination padlock
- A first aid kit (post coming soon)
- A light, compact rain coat
- Packing cells (bags) – the best for organising your suitcase
- A compressed packing cell (perfect for laundry)
Keep in mind / tips:
Only pack half as much of what you think you’ll need and then take some more out!
Have a digital copy of your passport.
Be prepared for a culture shock. Things aren’t always the same as at home.
Don’t hold onto your money too tightly. If you want to do something, do it. You’re there to have new experiences and to do things you wouldn’t be able to do back home.
Get a local SIM card upon arrival !!!
Everyone gets scammed at least once; learn from it & hope you don’t get fooled again.
A smile goes a long way – all over the world.
Learning the basics of the local language will help a lot. Try to be able to say hello, thank you, please, etc. they will love it!!
Not every day will be an awesome day, but don’t let bad experiences ruin your trip. Tomorrow is always another day, with endless opportunities.
Interact with the local people, you never know what you’ll learn and which stories you’ll hear. The best travel tips usually come from the locals!
Go to places that aren’t mentioned in your typical guide book – explore and go off the beaten track sometimes.
Travel slowly for a more in-depth experience.
It is important to disconnect from technology once in a while, you don’t want to be attached to social media during your trip. Just use it to stay in contact with your friends and family at home. Take the time to fully enjoy each experience.
It’s always a good thing to have tissues or toilet paper on you.
Do not be naive, but also not paranoid. Trust your intuition.
Try not to keep all your cash in one place. Always have backup cash hidden away somewhere in case of emergencies.
Being homesick is normal, it will come and go.
Try the local street food. If it’s fried or boiled, it’s pretty safe.
Stay open-minded and try things you’ve never done before.
You’ll get a heatstroke or get food poisoning at least once. It’s not the end of the world, take your time to recover fully.
If you’ll be travelling somewhere on your own, it is very important to tell at least one person what your plans are.
If you’re thinking about taking a gap-year and have any questions or concerns, don’t be shy, send me a message! I will gladly help you out!