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How to Plan a Gap Year in 5 Easy Steps

With record numbers of students taking GAP years before going to University, and an increasing number opting to take early career breaks, Angela Cox from leading youth development and volunteering organization Gap Activity Projects looks at where to start, what to consider and how to organize your gap year.

1. Research 
There are many different options available to those wishing to take a gap year and it is worth looking into these to find the one that is best for you. It is worth considering before you start, whether you want to work or volunteer, in Australia, or overseas? Do you want to travel independently or would you rather go with an organization? Use the web to get you thinking and provide general information, news stories and case studies.

2. Budget
Find out about the costs of the trip and work out how you will raise this money. Can it be funded by a job, do you have savings, and do you need to split your year between earning and then volunteering or travelling later on? If you choose to go with an organization it is worth enquiring if there is a fundraising team on hand to provide advice on to how to raise the money for your trip. At GAP our dedicated fundraising team, can provide help and assistance and we run a scheme for those with financial difficulties to help fund their volunteering placement.

3. Safety 
Safety is a big concern for those taking a year out and it is worth considering what support you would like to have during your year out. By going with a reputable organization you will have the backup, support and expertise of a team back in Australia and many organizations have on the ground representatives overseas who will visit you whilst you are on your placement. Find out what safety measures are available in case any thing should happen while you are away. Look out for organizations that provide a 24 hour telephone number in case of an emergency.

4. Career Prospects 
Will your choice of year out enhance your CV for today’s competitive job market? Many organizations offer placements and projects that can provide insight into your prospective career field. If you are interested in working in medicine why not spend your year out doing a medical or caring placement with street children, the elderly or adults with learning difficulties, or if you are interested in teaching why not teach in an overseas community?

Structured GAP year placements with the right organization are recognized by employers as worthwhile and a constructive way to spend a gap year. Employers tend to look favorably on the skills a year out can offer, such as team skills, independence and good communication skills.

5. Enjoy 
Once you have researched, budgeted, and fundraised to get yourself there, make sure you enjoy it! A GAP year will provide you with new skills, new memories and new friends and is an amazing opportunity.

Case Study
Daunted by the prospect of university Amelia Barony decided to join the growing number of students choosing to take a break from study and embark on a GAP year. Though some decide to pick up the backpack Amelia decided to pack her bags and head to Argentina as a volunteer with Gap Activity Projects where she taught English in the Argentinean town of Salta. Amelia said “I always wanted to travel, but I also felt it would be worth while doing something for other people.”  Gap Activity Projects is the original year out organization that gives all 17-25 year olds the chance to take up the challenge, volunteer in some of the world’s most interesting locations and achieve something unique on their GAP year.