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How to plan your gap year

Taking a gap year is one of the most exciting times of your life, opening yourself up to new places and people as you travel extensively for the first time. Take this time to decide where you want to visit and what sort of activities you want to take part in a long the way. By having a clear picture of what you want to get out of your trip, you’ll be much more likely to succeed in achieving it.

Image courtesy of Mirlah Thornley, Central America Ethical Adventrue Trail

What to do?

Deciding what to get up to on your gap year is probably one of the most fun parts of planning your trip? Taking part in a volunteer project can help you have a unique experience, whether that’s diving and surveying world class reefs, exploring tropical jungles and getting a hands-on wildlife experience, or learning more about the places you visit from your pupils on a teaching project. Mark out specific sites that you want to visit or activities that you’d like to complete for each country, this will help you plan where you’ll be visiting and how much you’ll need to budget.

Where to go?

Deciding where you want to go can be a logistical challenge and it’s important to remember the world isn’t quite what it looks like on a map. Researching into the best travel routes using advice from experienced travellers online can be a good way of working out the best way to get around. Looking up the weather seasons and conditions for where you’re planning on visiting and be a good way of determining what direction to travel in and when to go.

Image courtesy of Emily De Groot, Madagascar Wildlife Conservation Adventure


A good place to start is by deciding how long you’d like to be away for and working out how much you’ll have to spend. This way you can plan within a budget. You’ll need to make a comprehensive list of what will be included in your budget, remembering to factor in pre-departure costs such as vaccinations and insurance or if you need to buy new luggage or travel equipment. Once you’ve decided what you want to be getting up to on your gap year as well, you’ll have a much better idea of the costs you’ll need to cover. If you’re taking part in a volunteer project you can get advice on fundraising which can a lot of fun itself! Remember to factor in emergency money for any unfortunate trips to the doctors you may need to make, as well as money to enjoy any unplanned activities that may occur. Special cards are available that will reduce your need to carry as much cash or use your bank card in places and can be researched online.

Travelling on your gap year with a volunteering organisation can be a fantastic way to meet new people and discover new places safely and with support. Expeditions such as ethical adventure trails can be great for first time travellers who would like to travel with a group and meet likeminded people; trails can be the best of both worlds as they combine backpacking with a volunteering experience with plenty of chance for adventure activities in between!

By Maria Sowter

Spend time giving back on your gap year to help make your travel more meaningful; take a look at the huge range of volunteer projects Frontier has to offer around the globe.

Join the Frontier Community online with FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

See more from volunteers on Flickr and YouTube.