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Choosing a Gap Year

Thursday 19 June 2008 Trends

If you are planning a gap year the first thing to consider is the type of gap year you want to take. With everything from volunteering to adventure travel on offer in destinations all over the world, the list of possible gap years is practically endless.

Travelling

Though the range of possible gap year destinations is huge, gap year travel can be broken down broadly into two groups.

Round the world trip - "The first option for graduates interested in travelling is to do a round the world trip," says Tom Griffiths, Founder of Gapyear.com. "Round the world tickets are reasonably priced at between £1000 and £2000 and offer the opportunity to see a number of destinations in one trip."

A single destination - The second option for graduate travellers is to spend a period of time exploring a single destination in depth. "You might have always wanted to go to somewhere like Africa to see game and do adventure activities," says Tom. "Your decision then might be to do an overland trip, which you can pick up in the UK or when you arrive."

Volunteering

For graduates looking to give something back, volunteering, either in the UK or overseas, is a popular option. "The important thing with volunteering is working out what it is that really interests you," says Tom.

"There are lots of options available and lots of marketing around but you really have to dig deep to decide what is right for you."

Voluntary projects can cost anything from nothing up to a few thousand pounds and with that in mind it is essential to look into the project carefully before signing on the dotted line.

"Know what you are buying, because you are actually buying a product,’ says Tom. ‘There are lots of organisations out there; some have been around for forty years and some have been around for three minutes.

You need to ask questions about how long they have been around, what the project is about and if possible speak to someone who has done it before."

Work and travel

Another option for graduates taking a gap year is to spend some time working and travelling abroad. Combining work and travel offers a great way to fund your trip but you will need to have the relevant visa in place before you take the plunge.

"There is the two-year working holiday visa for Australia and there are also great visas for New Zealand and Canada," explains Tom. "It is slightly more difficult to get jobs in America where you will need to get a J1 or other relevant visa to work."

It is important to remember that working abroad without a visa is illegal. "If you are caught you will be arrested, you will be deported and the government will fly you back at your expense," warns Tom.

Studying

Though you may have planned to leave the books behind when you graduate, studying abroad is another popular gap year option.

With an huge range of companies offering everything from traditional academic courses to sports and cookery the most difficult thing about studing on a gap year will be choosing what to study.

Whether you want to learn to surf in Africa, snowboard in Canada or learn Spanish in South America there is a course out there for you. Plus, demonstrating to employers that you have used your time productively is guaranteed to give your CV that extra sparkle when you return. 

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