Written by The Leap on 16 / 03 / 2017
Gap Year Advice
For all those feeling the post ski-slope blues and ready for more adventure…
That post ski-season period can be a hard time. Some of you may have arrived home a few weeks back and now find yourself springing to the window each morning, disappointed again by the lack of fresh, crisp snow.
Maybe you’re still out there, but wondering what on earth you’ll do with yourself once the endless pot washing, constant food prep and those savoured hours of freedom on the slopes have gone away.
Never fear, I’ve got a few options for you:
You’ve been working hard enough in my opinion. So why not travel just for you for a while: totally free, completely self-interested, fully independent and wholly unforgettable. Travelling solo broadens the mind like nothing else.
Backpacking is the only option really. No chunky suitcases, 5-star restaurants, private cars or high-end hotels allowed. This applies even if you are feeling smugly wealthy compared to your Uni friends right now.
Europe’s fleeting summer sun is on its way too-the BBQ meat is hitting the supermarkets. So why not grab your other depressed, lost-looking ski friends and start planning the infamous gap year summer of interrailing. It’s almost a rite of passage on your year out…
Those who’ve already ticked the interrail box are desperate for more and just love to tell their envy-inducing stories of hostel-hopping through Europe’s most incredible destinations. From the sights of the Colosseum and Eiffel Tower, to the pristine beaches of Croatia’s islands and leisurely gondola rides in Venice.
The great thing about an interrail pass is that the choice is all yours. The who is fixed (that’s you), but the when and the where is up to you entirely. You can zip through all 30 countries that the pass allows in 30 days if you really want, or you can pace yourself, relax, and explore every magical corner and hidden gem of a select few places.
Only advice: don’t completely wing it. A little planning and preparation is needed to make sure your journey is hiccup free. Oh, and pack light and remember your ID!
I highly recommend The Global Pass. You have free reign over 30 destinations and 4 durations to choose from.
More work I hear you say?! I know you’re probably just ready to kick back and relax, but don’t write this option off just yet.
For many, Uni is fast-approaching and while the world of work seems like light-years away, it’s never a bad idea to get experience under your belt now. It really is rubbish being turned away from your dream job with ‘not enough experience’ ringing in your ears.
Internships, in my opinion, are the best way to do this. All the fun of travelling with all the experience to match a boring old desk job. Sometimes they’re even more desirable to employers, showing greater independence, confidence and maturity.
The opportunities are endless. How about working in care or care or medical internships in Sri Lanka, while exploring Buddhist ruins and majestic temples in your free time.
Having enjoyed a few months of money flowing into the accounts, you may well have caught the work bug. There is something devilishly satisfying about hearing your studying friends’ tales of declined cards and overdrafts.
Of course you simply can’t finish your gap year having slaved away month after month-it’s supposed to be a 'gap' from the hard work after all! So I really do think work abroad is the answer to all your desires. America is always in search of summer camp volunteers, developing nations always need help in teaching and childcare, and every beautiful species needs protection.
If you've got a thirst for travel and a burning passion, this is the ultimate way to indulge it. Find a program all about said passion and you won’t even notice you're technically working too!
No matter how magical the snow can be, surely you’ve had enough of the cold by now? Is it not time to whip out the shorts and swimwear stuffed below mountains of ski jackets and salopettes? Can’t you hear the blue skies, sunnier climes and plus zero temperatures calling you?
Volunteering abroad is a great way to escape the English weather, see incredible things in incredible places and, most importantly, make a little difference in the world.
It’s ideal really. Most of us live in a materialistic world, and I now think that it only blinds us to the real magic out there… the people, the nature, the cultures, the landscapes…
When volunteering, you’re fully immersed in local life. Generally your weekdays are filled with conservation or community projects, with a little sight-seeing and thrill-seeking thrown in. Being in a team of like-minded, similarly-aged travellers however, means it really doesn’t feel like work at all! Your weekends are then free for sussing out the rest of your country’s wonders.
For me, it was Madagascar. Mornings of scuba diving amongst exotic marine life, carrying out reef surveys on biodiversity and reef health. Then afternoons of tracking and recording a myriad of spectacular, endemic wildlife on hikes through the dense forest, with the famed lemur and its quirky, photogenic nature unsurprisingly topping the pile.
Mid-way through, we hopped on board a 50ft catamaran and set sail for a luxury 2 weeks, exploring Madagascar’s idyllic and remote islands: white sand beaches, rainforest-clad islets and crystal-clear waters. Snorkelling with turtles, octopi, stingrays and whale sharks, and then basking on the sun-deck as dolphins and whales danced around the boat, became a normal day’s activities.
There’s a program out there to suit everyone, whatever your interests and desires. Check out The Leap’s options, spread across Asia, South America and Africa, right here.
Feeling like it's time for more travel? Check out all our programs here: volunteering, adventure travel, internships...
Take me there...
Your final option: get yourself Uni-ready. If you’re saving up and tired of carrying around your passport and insurance details wherever you go, here are 3 ways to get busy at home.
First things first, the time for student accommodation and loan applications is here. Even a post ski-season bank account can’t afford the painfully high price of degree courses these days.
My second suggestion is to be more active. Perhaps a part-time job and a new fitness regime! Let’s shed the pounds of the ski-season beers and cheese. All in preparation for re-gaining them once fresher’s comes around of course.
The third? Here’s the fun one: forget all that and go ‘Uni-hopping’.
All gappers have an abundance of friends who (foolishly) skipped a year out and are now dotted at various locations around the country. They have work to do, but you don’t. Get a feeling for life at university, catch up with friends and even let loose a little. This is your gap year after all.
Hopefully something here has grabbed your interest. Now that your snow days have passed, I just couldn’t stand to see the post-slope depression setting in.
Don’t waste your remaining months of freedom. Find a new calling!
on 16 / 03 / 2017