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Top 10 Things To Do Before You're 20

Written by Alice McLeod on 19 / 06 / 2023

Gap Year Advice

I think we can all agree that your teenage years can be a bit of a rollercoaster. You're trying to work out who you are and what you want to do with your life, all with the stress of A-levels in the mix. We can reassure you that the person you are now will change, evolve, and grow over the next few years (did you know your prefrontal cortex doesn't finish developing until your mid-twenties?), but this is also the time to make the most of being young and carefree. So here are some ideas of ten things to do before you turn 20.

1. Travel with friends

Whether it's a few weeks island-hopping in Greece (read our guide here) or it's a months-long round-world adventure, you have to go travelling with friends at least once in your life. You can always ease yourself in with something like interrailing in Europe or a team programme over the summer and then if you catch the travel bug you can consider taking a longer chunk of time to see the world. Don't have anyone to travel with? Don't panic, nearly everyone that joins our team programmes comes as a solo traveller ready to make new friends.

2. Tick something off your bucket list

You might be like us, and have a bucket list as long as your arm (so much to see and do!), but you should definitely aim to tick at least one thing off that list by the time you turn 20. It might be seeing Machu Picchu or it may be snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, but now is your chance to go off and do it.

3. Get a job

The key to getting all of these adventures ticked off the list is earning the funds to do so. There are all sorts of weird and wacky jobs that you can find nowadays, but take a look here to get the ideas flowing. Not only will it help you fund your adventures, but it looks good on your CV too.

4. Got to a festival

There's a festival for everything nowadays, from bog snorkelling to nettle eating... or you could stick to good old Glastonbury. But a festival of some description is pretty much a rite of passage for teenagers, including a half-collapsed tent, the worst night's sleep you've ever had, and the grimmest portaloos you've ever encountered. Festivals are also lots of fun, whether it's the main stage at Glasto or something a little more sedate, whichever one you pick you're guaranteed to make memories you'll never forget.

5. Climb a mountain

At home or away you embrace the challenge of mountain climbing. If you fancy one in the UK then get exploring Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Standing proud at 886 meters above sea level it is a tough but glorious climb with many photo opportunities as you go along. Fancy something further afield? We can get you climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya, or the volcanoes in Guatemala. Join Leap VIP and take your pick.

6. Learn to cook

A skill that will set you up for life, knowing at least five decent recipes will stand you in good stead for your future. You don't have to be the next top chef, but having a few meals up your sleeve means you won't spend your uni career living off takeaways and pesto pasta. Ask your mum/dad/granny/weird uncle Fred to show you the secrets behind their go-to recipe and you'll quickly build your culinary repertoire (just don't forget to eat a vegetable every now and then).

7. Learn to drive

The freedom that driving can afford you is unparalleled, and learning whilst you're in your teens means you'll have the chance to zip around and socialise without relying on parents to pick you up or drop you off.

8. Make an effort to save the planet

If we all changed just one thing about our behavioural habits we could really help save the planet one by one. From as little as being more sustainable with your clothes, for example buying and selling on Depop rather than buying fast fashion, to taking your reusable water bottle out with you. If we each changed one thing amazing things will happen.

9. Push yourself out of your comfort zone

Easier said than done, but life is all about pushing yourself further than you thought you could go; who knows, you might end up surprised. It might be travelling to a new country that's a step out of your comfort zone, or it might be leaping out of a plane on a skydive. Or maybe you'll combine the two! But we promise you that you'll be a more interesting person because of it.

10. Volunteer

Whether you volunteer your time, manpower, or a bit of both, make sure you do something worthwhile with your time, whether it's in this country or overseas. There are so many ways you can contribute, whether it's beach clean-ups in Costa Rica, or building stoves for the community in Kenya.

FAQs

I think I'd like to take a gap year but I'm not sure where to start. Get in contact with us and we can help you with all of your gap year planning.

Do people often travel in their twenties? Of course, you can travel at any age! But taking a gap year when you're 18/19 is probably the one time you won't have any of the commitments that come with being an adult. It can be tempting to push back travel until after uni, but at that point you'll probably find that you're wanting to get your foot on the corporate ladder (and your parents will be nagging you to get a job). It is of course possible, but we'd recommend making the most of taking a gap year instead.

Can I put experiences from my gap year on my CV? Absolutely you can. Whether you get a job, volunteer, join a team programme, or travel solo, all of those will have aspects that you can put on your CV and mention in interviews. Interviews like to see interesting people, so whether it's a quirky hobby or a sporting achievement, get some things under your belt before you turn 20!

Want to tick travel off your list?

We have award-winning volunteering and adventure programmes across Africa, Asia, South and Central America.

All experiences include a mix of projects and adventures, travelling with a team of like-minded individuals in the exact same stage of life as you.

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