How to make the most of your gap year

Megan Williams divulges into how to make the most of your gap year

Meggie Williams
4th March 2019
Image: Damir Bosnjak

Footloose and fancy free? Ready to explore the world and fulfill lifelong dreams? Here are three little tips that you may not have thought of for making the most of your gap year.

Plan but let your plans deviate

Like most things, planning is crucial; a gap year is no exception to this. Although it can seem like an overwhelming task, start by creating a mind map of places you’d love to explore, skills you’d like to learn, work you are interested in and any other dreams you may have. Don’t let practicalities stop you writing them down. Once you have finished, spend some time thinking about how you could potentially draw certain ideas together and tick off as many things on the list as possible, by doing this you should be able to formulate a rough plan for the year that will be as fulfilling as possible for you. To really get the most out of your gap year, research the places you are visiting, know the history, the ‘must-do’s’, the things to avoid, the hidden gems, the safety tips, the list goes on. Obviously there are hundreds of places to do this but I found that other travellers’ blogs were a great way to find out honest opinions and things to do which differed from the usual tourist attractions, I also loved reading books set in the places I was visiting and relied heavily on my trusty Lonely Planets’. Now, ironically, after recommending detailed planning I would urge you to not be rigid in your plans, let them deviate and change. Some of the best experiences arise when you go with the flow and follow your instinct. Gap years are all about seizing opportunities so if there is something you really want to do, don’t let past plans you have made hold you back. Travelling is all about the unexpected so be prepared to embrace that.

Stay Put

A lot of people have the common perception that to make the most of a travelling experience you need to see as much of the country as possible, I would advise against this mentality, instead stay put. Instead of rushing from place to place, spend time getting to know certain places and the people who come with it. Not only will you find this more relaxing, it also gives you a chance to form deeper connections with the places you travel to and those you meet. A great way to do this is to work or volunteer; websites such as Hovos or Work Away offer thousands of different working opportunities around the world in return for food and accommodation which also helps to eek out your travelling fund so you can stay travelling for longer. Although a year may seem like a long time, it will fly by; finding a job abroad, instead of working at home then going travelling for a few months, is a good option to capitalise on your gap year.

Be open minded

As cliché as it sounds, a successful, fulfilling and purposeful gap year will alter you as a person. They are suppose to broaden minds and open your eyes but for this transformation to take place you have to be open minded. Try new things, learn about the cultures and religions of the places you are travelling to, say yes more, act without prejudice and throw yourself in the deep end. By doing all of these things, you will learn not only about the world but about yourself; a true sign of a gap year made the most of.


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