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Written by Jenny McWhirter on 02 / 11 / 2018

Gap Year Advice

When you first start thinking about a gap year through to days before you leave there are lots of questions gap year students ask.

So I've compiled a list of our most frequently asked 'big' questions and given you our top expert advice... take a read, you can thank me later.

Why Should I take a Gap Year?

One of the most common questions I get asked, pretty much on a daily basis. Why should I take a gap year? What benefits does it really have?

Now I could definitely bang on about the truck load of benefits you’ll get from your gap year but I’ll spare you the lecture and sum it up in three points:

  • Give your brain a break
  • Gain work experience to boost your CV
  • Widen your horizons through understanding another culture

I have met plenty of people who say “I wish I had taken the opportunity when I had it” however I am yet to meet someone who regretted taking a gap year…but if you’re still in need of a little more convincing check this out.

What will you do with your gap year?

Find out where you could end up on a gap year and what opportunities would best suit you

Take the quiz

When do I need to decide on a gap year?

There are a couple of different points at which you can decide to take a gap year.

The first being when you start applying to universities. Decide to take a gap year here and you can apply to universities for a deferred entry. You’ll need to explain in your personal statement your plans and how it will be of benefit to you.

Already applied to university? Panic not you can still choose to defer your place. If you’ve put in your applications and then decide that a gap year is for you - you haven’t missed the boat…wait for your offers and then talk to admissions and ask for a deferred entry.

You can also choose to take a gap year after A-Level results. If things don’t quite go to plan then you can opt to take a year to resit or reapply and of course get some travelling in.

Now, option 1, the earlier the better, is definitely the preferred option. It gives you time to organise, plan and takes the pressure off. But if you miss that first call for a gap year, hope is not lost.

How do I make my gap year relevant?

Lots of options here and ultimately it really depends on what you're going on to study or where your interests lie… check this out for some specific inspiration.

You’ll want to think about what it is you want to study and/or your career ambitions and then find projects, programs, experiences that will allow you to gain experience, build skills and show individuality.

The good news, travel and volunteering builds all those lovely soft skills employers are looking for… have fun and build your CV the perfect combination.

What if none of my friends are taking a gap year?

Everyone’s fear, I want to travel, I want to take a year out but no one else wants to do what I want to.

I’m here to let you know that it is not a problem, push yourself out of your comfort zone and you won’t regret it!

Here at The Leap all of our teams are made up of volunteers that usually don’t know anyone else, they all have a keen interest to travel, volunteer and have a great time overseas. Everyone is in the same boat of friends not doing the same as them…

I guarantee you’ll make new friends from all over the world.

When do I need to book trips?

Here the saying, the earlier the better definitely rings true. Flights only get more expensive the closer to departure you get and popular programs get booked up.

I recommend as soon as you have decided on what you want to do, get booking.

With programs here at The Leap, we don’t ask for full payment upfront, instead you can pay £250 and secure your place on the program without having to pay anything else until much closer to departure when you’ve had time to earn.

This all said, there is never any harm in asking…if you see something you really want to do last minute, get in touch and ask if they have space. What's the worst that can happen? They say no.

Where should I travel?

There are so many incredible places choosing where to go is the hardest part – I currently have 6 destinations taking near top spot for my next trip…

So a few things to think about:

  • Less is more – try to spend at least 4-6 weeks somewhere to truly get under its skin
  • Think logically don’t try and go London to South Africa and then back over to Ecuador – this will be expensive!
  • What level of challenge are you looking for? A different language? A disparate culture? Something a little more familiar to home?

In terms of continents they all vary and offer different things to the traveller – check this out for a little comparison.

Where does my money go?

You’ve spent hours upon hours saving every last penny. You want to know how it’s going to be used.

Sign up for a Leap program and up to 65% of what you spend goes directly to the projects you are working on. The majority will go to help the causes on the ground. The 35% remaining goes to keeping you safe and ensuring you travel with awesome people.

Always ask and definitely look beyond headline prices, we don’t like hidden financial surprises, that’s why for us everything is included in your package price.

And finally what about all the little bits – flights, insurance, vaccinations, visas?

Have I lost you already? Yes sorry these admin tasks are vital but boring. Each country is different and each activity you want to do will affect your visa and insurance.

We’ve made it super simple with ‘Pre-Departure Information’ we’ll walk you through what you need and when all in your personal area of My Leap.

Wherever you’re headed check the embassy's information on visas, ask your doctor about vaccinations, check best flight routes and most importantly ensure insurance covers EVERYTHING you want to do.

Get Excited

So there we have it our top questions answered…now it's time to get excited for the adventure that's ahead.

Of course though, if there are any burning questions left unanswered just get in touch and let me know.

What will you do with your gap year?

Find out where you could end up on a gap year and what opportunities would best suit you

Take the quiz

Got a burning question?

Got a burning question you can't find the answer to? Filled with panic about organising your gap year? Or maybe you just fancy a friendly chat and some advice about your options? We're here to help.

Or give us a call on +441672 519 922

And chat with one of our (very friendly and knowledgable!) team

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Yes please, let's keep life simple!