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6 myths about going on a gap year program

Written by Jenny McWhirter on 13 / 07 / 2018

Gap Year Advice

Gap year programs…they’ve kinda got themselves a bad name... with the increase of Airbnb I’ve had many gappers question if it's for them; a program that basically acts as a group tour – really?

Well I’m here to debunk a few myths and explain to you just why a gap year program is still the best way to find memorable experiences, insight into local cultural, discoveries off the beaten path and is actually super hard to duplicate yourself during your gap year.

Ok, so bear with me, here goes…

Myth 1. Programs aren’t authentic

A common misconception: if you go on a program you won’t actually have an authentic experience, no Airbnb local home and no chance to explore the areas that interest you.

Well in fact you’ll end up with lots of local interaction, living with locals, all organised for you so you don’t have to worry with the hassle of sifting through endless Airbnb reviews. For those programs, like ours, that offer a group leader, you basically travel with a local guide round their country – what better way to understand a country?

If you choose to do a volunteering program, you’ll head off the beaten track to communities and offer your time, giving you one of the best ways to get an understanding of the local struggles these communities face.

Let us show you authentic

Myth 2. Programs are too expensive

Yes on the face of it the upfront cost of a program is high. However, what you get for your money is 100% worth it.

The upfront cost, on the whole covers most/if not all of your expenses whilst you’re away, you therefore know where you stand. No issues with spending more than you thought you were going to.

You’ll be taken to local restaurants, you’ll explore off the tourist trail all which will end up costing you more if you go it alone – heading to that restaurant in the middle of a busy square in Lima, because you need lunch will add up really quickly…

The cost also allows you to make the most of your time away, it covers the planning, the local expertise, ease of travel, both before and during your trip. Having to do this whilst you’re away and that’s precious time you could be exploring your new city.

As is often quoted, “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” super cheesy but so true. So if you’re going to spend your money, spend it wisely and make the most of your travel time – you certainly don’t want to be coming away with regrets…

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Myth 3. Programs are just an extension of school

If only school trips were like gap year programs…many a school kid would be in their element.

About the only similarity is you’re away from home. From there on in, there are no comparisons, the leaders are there to have fun with you, they won’t be checking in on you.

You have your time to head off and explore, do your own thing, you’ll be able to kick back and relax and I don’t know about you, but on what school trip did you get to do something you had a real passion for?

Meet our teams on the ground

Myth 4. It’s better just to ‘wing it’

Going with the flow is great and hey definitely spend some of your gap year able to go with what you fancy, however, time is precious, both before when you’re trying to finish exams and earn money and whilst you’re abroad. As I mentioned earlier, days spent planning, when you’ve bought a flight to explore amazing places is not really what you want to be doing.

A program is a way to get a feel for the country, do everything you want but not having to worry about the hassle of organising, leaving you to kick back with a beer and enjoy the experience.

Myth 5. Nothing beats travelling with mates

Well travelling with your mates should definitely be done and you will enjoy it. But when you’ve got a full year - challenge yourself. A program gives you the sense of camaraderie when you most need it but you’ll be with a group of people from all over the world and have a chance to make new friends.

And on that note, the biggest worry of all…

Read volunteer stories

Myth 6. Programs are full of annoying people

Like any situation there will probably be someone in the group that you find annoying or don’t quite click with. That said programs attract like-minded people with similar interests, a recipe for making great connections.

If you choose your program right you’ll also be with people at a similar stage. All the Leap programs send away students aged between 17 and 24 so no chance of accidentally ending up with your mum on the trip. And hey, best of all, we put all the participants in touch before you head off so you can get chatting and get to know one another… if you for any reason don’t get on with anyone (by the way we’ve not known this to happen) then you can switch and find a program where the group is better suited to your kind of people.

Get out there and travel...

So there we have it a few myths debunked for you, ultimately, a program can provide you with great experiences, amazing friends and free accommodation across the globe for any travel later on. Best way to be convinced…try it for yourself, check out our quiz to find your best fit.

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From exploring and teaching in Cambodia, to conservation in Costa Rica to salsa dancing in Cuba each program appeals to different people. Take our quiz, answer a few simple questions and we'll let you know what you're best suited to...

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