Your Gap Year - Get Help or Go It Alone

Planning a Gap year? Here are a few suggestions that may help you decide...

Deciding to take a gap year can be one of the best decisions you make, but it can also be one of the most daunting. There is a lot to consider when planning what you’ll fill a whole year with and sometimes too much choice can be a bad thing. So do you go through a gap year company or do it all yourself?

Choose a Company

There are a number of benefits to opting for a company, mainly that they have already done the work for you and put together ‘experiences/programmes’. The research has been done and all of the information consolidated. Here are the other key benefits:

  • Less Hassle – You don’t need to spend hours researching and trying to find resources which will give you guidance on how to narrow down your options. Gap year providers generally offer packages for a range of popular destinations. So you can choose one that contains everything you need – accommodation, help with your visa, flights, and support whilst you’re abroad.
  • Visa Help – This is often the admin-heavy part of arranging your trip. For example, with visas for America, your prospective employer needs to fill out the 1-129 form on your behalf. Then it needs to be approved by USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Before all that happens you need to determine the type of visa you need and so on. Going with a gap year provider can mean you are given support and advice on applying for the visa, which makes the process a lot easier and takes the ‘Googling’ out it.
  • Experience/Job in One – If you want to ensure you’re coming out of your year off with something that will look good on your CV and help you in your next steps, a programme can do this. Programmes such as American summer camps involve gaining valuable experience and skills, such as working with children. You can also earn a wage!

Plan it Yourself

If you love planning everything or want to create a ‘custom’ experience, then this is the best way to go about your gap year. You can take your time over deciding as well because there are no application deadlines.

  • Backpacking – This can be the ultimate travelling experience. Backpacking around Europe or wherever you choose to go allows you complete freedom to do as you wish. Want to sight see? You can! Want to stay in a certain part of the country longer? You can do that too! You can travel at your own pace and have the flexibility to change your plans whenever you want.
  • Work or Travel – If you want to earn money whilst you work but not doing anything that’s too time-consuming, you can arrange short-term jobs. Bar work, cleaning and instructing in your area of specialism are just some of the common jobs available.
  • Self-reliance – Spending time in your own company can be a hugely empowering experience. Being in another country, travelling and working on your way can increase your self-confidence significantly, particularly about your own capabilities. Being able to only rely on yourself tests your limits, and can show you how capable you really are. That’s a valuable life skill that will help you in whatever you do after your year abroad.

Best of Both Worlds

Whilst some people will be clearly suited to either a programme or a ‘do-it-yourself’ gap year, it can be difficult to choose which option suits you best. There are benefits to both, so how do you choose? The short answer is: don’t! Many gap year providers offer experiences that don’t last the whole year, so you could spend 6 months on a planned programme gaining experience and enjoying the hassle-free time. Then you can go the rest of the year on your own – spend time figuring out where you want to go and what you want to do whilst on the programme or even before. CV experience, flexibility and an incredible year all in one!

You may also find my post 'Travel your way to your dream job' helpful too!

Disclaimer: Complimentary article written by Thoughtshift