Last month it was A-level central in the UK, and as with every August, gap years were a hot topic in the media. Case studies poured out from various newspapers and online discussions sprang up. Some even said the 12-month stint was over, claiming it to be an unaffordable self-indulgent pastime, those sky-rocketing tuition fees stifling our passion for adventure.
But, preparations for this type of travel aren’t considered on a whim. If that was the case then Matt Lacey’s “Gap Yah” character would have gone down like a lead balloon. To date, Lacey’s posh alter ego has amassed millions of You Tube hits – a telling statistic when it comes to the popularity of gapping – chundering being optional or course!
So before you throw in the towel and give up on the gap, here are a few pointers to get you closer to your year out…
Make the most of your cold hard cash
When any economy is in flux it’s a good idea to think more wisely about the destinations you are travelling to. And yes, you might have to put a line through some of your dream locations, but it isn’t a deal breaker. Consider where your currency will go further and you’ll get a whole lot more in return. For instance, this year South Africa topped the list, the pound (GBP) soaring against the rand by 18%. (Holiday Money Report, from Post Office Travel Money).
If you’re looking to volunteer en-route why not set up a blog and ask friends and family to donate to the project side of your tour?
There will almost always be add on fees for the non-profit scheme to host you, and while it might seem like another financial burden on the already costly gap year, the majority of ethical organisations are dependent on donations. Regular posts, a flair for social networking and a strong belief in what you are doing could be a mutual goldmine for the charity and the ethical gapper in you. For a guide to giving follow GoErinGo.com.
Head off on a shorter travel stint with a tour operator
An overland expedition will allow you to experience several countries in the one trip, and while you may not be able to travel the world, you’ll be experiencing your adventure with a group, all of whom are undoubtedly keen to get under the skin of the continent you are visiting. Group travel is a little bit like marmite with some people, but don’t dismiss it, as there as there are numerous independent reviews that will enable you make an informed decision. Visit Reclaiming My Future and find out what Toni White thought of over-landing in Africa.
Hook up online!
Facebook is a good starter for ten, and with countless apps doing the rounds there are plenty of social networking extras to help facilitate your trip. Acacia Africa recently launched “Meet Other Acacians” – a great research tool for fans looking to chat via Facebook before they book. You’ll also make firm friends pre-trip and depending on your choice of optional activities, it might even help you to save extra cash. For example, the total cost for a flight over the Okavango Delta is based on the number of people taking the trip.
If it is a financial nightmare organising your gap, make a plan and sign up for that savings account. Doing it later in life is not a big issue. Graduate, work for a while and simply take a sabbatical in the future. Nobody has to miss out, and even babies won’t deter you from travelling - in fact the opportunity to share your experience with your brood adds a whole new element to travel. Need advice? Try the The Almost Fearless blog, as these two are pure inspiration for nomads with kids in tow.
Is the gap year really dead?
No, I would say it’s just down to budget and hardcore planning. At the same time, how and when you do it has changed a great deal. Some bloggers have even raised the bar when it comes to travel and have decided to live life on an eternal shoestring. Check out Married With Luggage to find out more…
Don’t dream, tweet!
Gappers of years gone by never had the same access to full time travel bloggers, but set up a Twitter account and it’s all yours for the taking. Whether it’s what to pack, how to budget, or the best technology to take along with you, it will be right there at your fingertips.
The new phrase beaming itself around the travel world today is “location independent”. Being wholly unrelated to any parental concerns, both mum and dad can probably breathe a sigh of relief as they won’t have to cough up. Yes, this one is all down to you.
So should we give up on the gap? Judging by the above, probably not. You can see the world when you are ready, and there’s an endless stream of expert advice out there to help you plan your 12-month travel jaunt.
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Category: Guest Post