A Pocket-Sized Gap Year Survival Guide

Getting through your gap year in one piece is challenging. While it is supposed to be a time when you find yourself, many people wind up losing themselves instead, often in mountains of debt. Even today, gap years are possible but they require taking a special approach. Costs are higher and projected incomes are lower, so you’ll want to plan carefully to go about it the smart way. You’ll always want to make sure you educate yourself before you leave and make all the proper arrangements so that life can continue as normal when you get back home.

Create A Budget
The first step is to create a budget and work out how you’ll allocate your finances. You’ll want to ensure you put aside enough money to cover eall your expenses during your excursion. If you're spending a year in a developing country, costs can be extremely low. Renting a small unit in Vietnam, for instance, is often only a few dollars a month. Even somewhere like Argentina can be inexpensive because of the country’s financial problems. You should also be sure to set money aside for food, health insurance, and transport. Ideally, you should consider finding a way to earn a little money while you are away perhaps through volunteer organizations and charities.

Become More Culturally Aware
Next, you’ll want to become more culturally aware. Gaining an understanding of where you are going, the local culture and what people expect can help you tremendously as you move around the country and interact with people. Learning local customs and laws will help to prevent you from getting into trouble and ensure that you know what to expect during your stay.

Make Arragements For Your Stuff Back Home
You will also need to make arrangements for your stuff back home. Just leaving it at your parent’s house might not always be an option (especially if you’re moving an entire apartment’s worth of stuff out). Many people opt to use sheds or storage units for their belongings. Be sure to choose something with decent security so that things aren’t missing when you return.

Take Safety Precautions
Most Western countries are safe (and similar to home). But if you're going anywhere else, you may want to take various safety precautions. One approach is to keep various copies of the documents you need. That way, you always have a backup if  your initial set goes missing on the road. It’s also a good idea to travel with a group of people who have been before and are familiar with the area. That way, if you do get into trouble, you will know what to do. Also make an effort to constantly stay in touch with people back home. Let them know where you are staying, your address, and if you move somewhere else.

Balance Work And Fun
Finally, make sure you balance your gap year, adding equal parts work and play. While growing as a person involves some effort, you likely won’t have another gap year until you retire, so you’ll also want to make the most of it. Try to have fun and do your best to enjoy everything that you’re doing. Avoid the temptation to see it as just another thing to add to your CV.

This is a contributed post.

1 comment

Pilar said...

These are great tips for keeping things into perspective! I hope your new year is off to a wonderful start!