Gap years are great opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of your future goals and values and experience some never-before-seen travel destinations.
However, they can also be a time of massive mistakes and missed opportunities. The following are some of the most common gap year mistakes that students make and how to avoid them.
Not Planning the Whole Year
The first thing you need to do is to plan the year. Not just for the month or two you plan to be away but for the entire year. That way, if something comes up and you need to change your plans, they won’t be as hard to rearrange. Make sure to plan for activities that can help you grow as a person. This may include:
- Try a creative project like gardening, drawing, painting, or writing poetry.
- Volunteer work – teaching children, childcare, wildlife & animal care, medical & healthcare.
- Learn a new language while you are on your travels.
- Creating new habits that can help you in your life.
Indulging as a Tourist
When you’re in a gap year, it can be easy to fall into the trap of indulging as a tourist. You might take photos at every destination and spend all your time exploring tourist hotspots rather than immersing yourself in local culture.
However, if you want to get the most out of your time abroad, try to learn more about the people who live there and why they do things differently. Use it as an opportunity to learn about other cultures rather than simply observing them.
Neglecting Your Connections
When you’re travelling, it can be easy to lose touch with your friends and family back home. Try setting aside specific times throughout each day to check in with loved ones back home. This will help you feel more connected to them and keep you from feeling alone. And if you want to stay connected while travelling, consider using a mobile phone that provides international coverage or purchasing an international SIM card for your current phone.
Not Budgeting Enough
Budgeting is one of the most important things you can do when planning your gap year. You need to make sure you have enough money to cover all of your expenses, especially your travel costs.
Always set aside an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, and try to be as frugal as possible while in your gap year. Always check the exchange rate before using a credit card or withdrawing money from an ATM, and ensure you have enough cash on you at all times.
Failing to Adapt to Cultural Differences
As you travel, you may come across different cultures that are very different from yours. You may be surprised by how some people act or what they wear, but you must remember that it is not their fault if they do not conform to your expectations. Try not to judge others based on their behaviour and attitudes; instead, try to respect them for who they are and what makes them unique.
Bridging your way through your gap year is an important step that you need to take for your next course in life. However, it is not an easy task to do. There are many mistakes that you can make during this period of time. But with the right knowledge and guidance, you can avoid them and make the most of your gap year.
Not sure where to start? Consider a service-oriented gap year. Try short-term volunteer abroad programs that can help you gain valuable experience and make a difference in the lives of others. Contact Volunteering Solutions today to learn more about our gap year service opportunities.