For both students and people in work, the option for taking a gap year is proving to be a very popular life choice. Making the decision to take a gap year and following it through can be difficult to achieve. For a student taking a gap year before or after taking a university degree, a gap year can have a huge positive effect in terms of boosting confidence, increasing maturity, developing social skills, gaining experience and knowledge of different cultures, helping the environment and feeling independent by taking the opportunity of working in a different country.
For a student or individual with no financial or family commitments, a gap year can seem like the perfect way to experience life before joining or returning to the world of work. However, like many things in life, there are major hurdles to overcome. Firstly there is the question of financing the gap year. If a person is lucky enough to have funds available or will be working during their gap year, this poses very few problems. For many people who are hoping to travel during their gap year, it may mean taking a temporary job or asking parents to help out financially. With student debts at an all time high, gaining the necessary funds can prove to be very difficult and delays may be inevitable.
The second hurdle to overcome is the fear and excitement of travelling to the far corners of the world and surviving to tell the tale especially for those travelling solo for the first time. Parents, friends and family will also be very worried with stories of crime, natural disasters, unstable governments and disease ridden areas making the news on a daily basis. In the vast majority of cases, most countries are just as safe as your home country. With the wealth of information available on the internet and through travel guides, there is no excuse not to plan a trip beforehand in order to make the most of it and to avoid unnecessary risks and dangers. Many countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America have well laid out backpacker routes which are used by thousands of men and women travelling in groups or on their own. The vast majority have amazing experiences and return home safely. You will be hard pressed to find an individual who has taken a gap year and regretted the decision.
For some, travelling solo may pose a major problem if they have never tried it before. They may be worried about feeling lonely and unable to cope with situations by themselves in a strange country far from home. Fortunately there are thousands of people in exactly the same situation and travelling solo is the ideal way to meet people and build confidence. People often meet in hostels, bars, trains, airports and the list goes on. It is much easier to meet people while travelling than it is in your home country and in most cases, people will only be alone if they choose to be. Also the ability to cope with new situations will improve over a short period of time as you gain confidence through each experience. After a while, you will be booking accommodation on the internet, travelling long distances and communicating with people in a different language without a second thought.
The options for people taking a gap year are huge and include travel, volunteer work, contract work, seasonal jobs, adventure travel, teaching English and much more. A gap year can be a once in a life time experience and as long as you plan well and use your common sense, it can be year that will change your life for the better.