When I finished sixth form I decided that I wanted to go on a gap year instead of going straight to university. It was an opportunity for me to explore part of the world I had never seen, and knew I wouldn’t be able to do this once I had restarted education. I realized that the situation would be the same once I finished university as I’d need to get a full time job to start paying back the fees and loans from my studies! So if you’re thinking about going on a gap year before you Start University in the autumn, here is how I prepared for my own travels…
Deferred my place at university
The first thing I needed to do was defer my place at university for another year. This would mean that my place was guaranteed and I wouldn’t have to worry about applying whilst I was abroad. I would urge you to do this if you want to reduce the amount of stress you experience on your trip! Once this was out of the way I could start focusing on more practical issues for my travels.
Made sure I had enough savings
In order to have the best trip possible, I needed to make sure I had enough savings. Luckily I had been putting aside some of my wages from my part time job I had in a retail store, but I wanted to top it up with a bit more. My parents offered me a loan but I figured that I’d probably end up borrowing too much from them at university; therefore I decided to sell some of my things online. I used auction sites and other websites that allowed me to sell CDs, DVDs, games and even my laptop.
Got the correct vaccinations
My mum nagged me to go to the doctors to find out which vaccinations I would need for my trip. Good thing she did as you might need to return for certain jabs. You can actually find out which you’ll need on the NHS Fit for Travel website. I needed to get hepatitis A and tetanus vaccinations for my own trip.
Bought a comfortable bag
Many backpackers will agree with me when I say how important it is to have the right backpack for your travels. If you’re going to be getting flights, boats, trains and cars, you’ll want something that it portable enough but is also big enough for all of your kit. You’ll be able to test bags in an outdoor living store, but you could also compare prices afterwards to find it online if you’re sticking to a certain budget.
Did research online
Finally, I can’t stress enough how important research is. Obviously you will want some experiences to be spontaneous, but it is in your best interest to read about the frequency of transport, where you’ll find medical services and safety guidance for certain countries. I jotted down notes on paper and left a digital copy on my mobile phone.