Top tips for preparing for a gap year

This post was written for Masons Self Storage and was originally posted here.

So you got your A Level results and you’re thinking what next? Your friends are off to university or starting a job but for one reason or another, you’ve decided to take a gap year. You’re not alone, in the last ten years, the amount of students taking a gap year before university has increased to almost 35%, in real numbers that’s almost 230,000 people. It’s almost overwhelming the amount of options you have when facing a gap year, do you work for a year and save up some money whilst having a taste of the ‘real world’? Or perhaps you’ll join the majority of gap-year-goers and trek across South America, Thailand or join a voluntary project to build resources in remote destinations such as a village outside of Cape Town? 

If you’re going for the latter, it can seem daunting to have such an adventure ahead of you, but don’t worry, we’re here to help you to most of your gap year. At Masons Self Storage, we’ve been speaking to our student customers and we’ve created this practical step by step guide for planning your gap year.

Choose Your Experience 

What is it that you want to achieve from your gap year? Do you want to do something like Camp America where you get the best of both worlds, you can get some enriching work experience along with also getting to see some of America? Or do you want to go really minimalist and backpack across Thailand. Perhaps you want to get involved in a charity organisation, either close to home or further afield. If you want to work with a charity organisation, what kind of work do you want to do? Do you want to be involved in fundraising and organisation, or do you want to get stuck in in a local schools project for example? There’s so many options, you can do so much in a year. 

Money Money Money

A gap year is without a doubt an enrichment break from real life and the chance to really take part in an adventure where you will experience unforgettable things, but a gap year can be expensive and so planning your finances is vital. From costs such as attaining a visa for the country you want to visit, to flights, accommodation and insurance. Plus, who wants to travel halfway around the world with no money to spend? There are many charities that will fund your experience if you raise a certain amount of money for their causes. In addition, there’s lots of charities such as the Peter Kirk fund that give away scholarships every year in order for young people to gain more experience of the world. 

Safety First

Often here in the UK, we take free healthcare for granted and just assume that anywhere else we may travel will offer the same services as the NHS, however this is not the case and therefore it is vital that when planning a trip abroad, you take out the relevant and most comprehensive travel insurance possible. Why even risk yourself or your valuables? In addition, take the time to look up any inoculations or jabs you need to have before your trip begins and how far in advance you need to have them. Find out more about inoculations on Dr Wise Travel.

If you’re planning on travelling with an agency, charity or organisation, make sure you research them. Look up their reviews on TripAdvisor and gap year forums, are they exactly as they seem? Are they going to get you to Cambodia and then abandon you? 

Bonjour, ca va? 

When travelling to a new country, it doesn’t hurt to try and pick up some of the basics before you go. Even if you don’t manage to speak it fluently, the locals will appreciate your efforts. 

Remember to write home

In this digital age, there really is no excuse to keep in touch. From Facebook to WhatsApp, there are plenty of different mediums to keep in contact with home. If you’re not keen to check in with your mum everyday, why not start a travel blog and let everyone know what you’re up to? Travel Diaries and TravelPod are both ready to go to help you create a travel diary to document your experiences. 

Don’t get caught out

Whether you are volunteering in a harsh climate or backpacking rugged terrain, having the right gear will make all of the difference. Make sure you purchase the necessary essentials before you travel, the cost of acquiring your gear in another country or at the airport could rinse your savings before you even get started.

Research, Plan, Go. 

Creating a travel itinerary is almost compulsory, keeping track of different flights, transfers and accommodation all in your head can become a nightmare, especially if you’re travelling through more than one place. Include any accommodation names and addresses, any flights, trains, buses and transfers. Plus, if you have any emergency contact details, for home and abroad, this should be included. Leave a copy with your family and friends, so they know where you are, just in case anything should happen.

But where will you keep your stuff?

So you’re good to go, you’re going to eat as much Pad Thai in Thailand as you can get your hands on. But where will your stuff live whilst you’re off having an adventure? Finding a safe and secure home for your belongings is one of the most important things before you take off on your big journey. Masons Self Storage offers flexible contracts and great value on a wide range of storage units from 25sqft to 1000sqft. They also offer a great, unique Mobile Storage servicewhere they bring the Storage Vault to you, so that you don’t need to hire a van.  Rest assured that your belongings will be safe and sound with us, monitored by 24hour CCTV and available for you to access from 24/7, so if you pop home before going on another adventure, you’ll always be able to access your belongings. To find a storage unit that is perfect for you, contact Masons Self Storage today and let one of our knowledgeable representatives help get you ready for your gap year.

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