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Guide to Choosing a Gap Year Programme

Written by Milly Whitehead on 31 / 07 / 2023

Gap Year Advice

Google gap years and hundreds of options will pop up offering you exciting, shiny travel opportunities. But how do you know if you're picking the right gap year programme for you? With so many options out there how do you narrow it down? To make life super simple, we have popped down out top tips for how to find the answers to your questions, and what sets The Leap apart from other gap year companies.

Starting with:

Look for the gap year companies reputation

Be careful to choose a company that has a good reputation, experience, track record, and accreditation (we are members of Year Out Group and USA Gap Year Association); members have to demonstrate the highest standards of safety and risk management, project sustainability, financial protection and more. We have successfully sent thousands of Leapers abroad since 2002.

If you have friends/family who've done gap years then ask them who they went with and whether they'd recommend them. Give companies a call to get a feel for what they're like, were you put on hold for hours? Did the person you spoke to seem knowledgeable and friendly? Would you trust them to help you if something happened to you overseas? These are all questions you need to ask yourself before you book any gap year programme.

Questions to ask the gap year company

We can all be drawn in by cheap prices, but cheaper isn't necessarily better, and booking over the internet, especially with a company based outside of the UK, can expose you to many risks. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Will I be sharing the project with other people my age?
  • Will other volunteers be coming and going or does everyone stay for the duration of the programme?
  • Is my money safe? If the company were to go bust, would my money be protected?
  • If I live with a local family how do I know I am safe (have the adults been safety checked)?
  • Do the local family speak any English?
  • What type of food can I expect when I'm away, and are specific dietary requirements catered for?
  • Is my money being well spent and how much is put towards the project work and funneled through to the community?
  • Will I actually be provided with the service (programme, food, accommodation) I have bought?
  • Will I be looked after by an experienced leader?
  • Where is the leader based – how far away and do they speak English?
  • Who will look after me if I have an accident, end up in hospital or worse, need to be medically repatriated? (bear in mind, you may have no one in the UK from the organisation to support you or your parents – acutely increasing the stress of the situation).
  • If I have a problem or complaint, what are my rights and who do I speak to?

Why we're different from other gap year companies

Our team programmes combine a unique mix of multiple locations and project opportunities within one trip, with a focus on climate change, plastic pollution, conservation, community immersion, and language skills.

We specialise in mixed team travel (typically 8-20 per team), for 4-6 weeks, so we deliver an instant social life and sense of team spirit. As our programmes are aimed at gappers the people on the team are nearly all between 18-20.

We provide high-quality care. Leapers live in Leap houses with leaders on site and good quality, home-cooked food. (FYI our competitors typically place volunteers on their own with a local family homestay, usually with a β€˜rep’ based elsewhere and not on-site to directly look after their volunteers. They typically focus on one project in one location.). Our UK team is available 24/7 on the emergency phone, so if there was ever any sort of issue we'd be on hand to help you sort it.

Whilst we may be more expensive than some programmes, we believe we represent excellent value given what we include and how we differ from others. The level of care and attention you receive before, during, and after your Leap programme is far more than you'd get from some of our competitors. Get in touch to chat to one of our friendly team and hear more about what, in our humble opinion, makes us special.

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FAQs about Gap Year Travel

I could independently travel for much cheaper, why should I do a team programme? Deciding whether to do solo or team travel boils down to how confident you are in planning your trip. For some people the thought of arriving in a foreign country and having to sort all their food, transport, accommodation, and activities is their worst nightmare. Yes, it's often cheaper, but that's because you have to do everything yourself with no help or structure. To read the pros and cons of solo and team travel click here - we find that most people end up doing a mix of both.

How should I decide where in the world to go? Luckily we've written a handy little blog all about where to go when. You can also speak to one of us and we can match you up with the programme we think would suit you best, or take our quiz to get the ball rolling.

Can I have more information about gap years in general and the best way to ensure I have a good one? Download our free 10 step guide to nailing your gap year here to get some of our top tips for gap year planning. We're here if you have any questions about anything, just contact us.

Not sure where to start with your gap year planning?

Let's us help you get organised. Join Leap VIP for tailor-made travel advice and gap year help.

Yes please, tell me more

Need inspiration and direction?

Get in contact with the gap year travel specialists.

Here at The Leap we can help both team traveller through our programmes and/or the backpacker.

Jot a message below or call us on +44 1672 519 9222

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