Photo source: Flickr - Bruno Girin
Traveling the world is a life long dream for many. Each year, thousands of young adults plan their gap year to have the time of their life by exploring the world one place at a time. But, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or are traveling abroad for the first time, planning a gap year can be a daunting task.
To get started, here are 6 gap year travel tips that will help you understand better how to tackle the planning of this dream trip and how to get the most out of it.
You might know already why you want to go to certain destinations, but do you know how to get there? If so, how will you move around? How far are the sights you want to visit from the city? How long it takes to travel from point A to point B?
There are dozens of questions you should ask yourself in order to know the feasibility of visiting a place. Well, it is feasible to visit every place in the world, but it all comes down to how much money and time would you be willing to spend on it. Planning and researching helps you keep your spending on budget and your trip on schedule.
Take safety seriously and ensure that you are medically and mentally prepared for where you’re going. While “culture shock” is part of the experience, make sure you are open to experience that cultural difference and that you can handle it.
Have medical travel insurance to cover you from any unexpected medical issue. Be conscious of your environment and the people in it. With the RoamRight mobile app, travelers can evaluate the safety and security of a country before and during their stay. If it looks dodgy, try to avoid it. Don't flash your money and personal documents in public because it will only attract the attention of the wrong type of people.
While planning a gap year, you will want to accommodate everything you want to see. Try not to cram everything in because in the end you will not see things properly and everything will feel rushed. Instead, take more time in the destinations that are a “must” for you and try to explore them deeply. Often times this proves to be a better experience than running around “counting sights”.
Remember, it is a gap year and you should have time for yourself too. Relax and enjoy the moment.
Over-packing is so easy. While packing, take everything you think you will need and cut it in half by removing all non-essential and extra clothes. Trust me, after a few weeks you’ll notice that you never needed all those things in the first place. What if you need something you left behind while on the road? Don’t worry, in most places you’ll be able to find anything you need.
On the other hand, if you budgeted an amount of money for your trip, double it! You’ll see that on the road you’ll want to do certain activities you didn't plan for, encounter unexpected expenses, and change routes to hang around with other travelers. Don’t let money restrict your gap year.
Whether it is with your parents, partner, or friends, know how you’ll communicate with them on a constant basis. Email, Facebook, Skype, and other social media sites are the easy way to go. You also have the option of buying local SIM cards at each destination or buying an international SIM card for the entire trip. Have in mind that some social media sites are blocked in certain countries, so do your research to know if that communication option is available in your destination.
Planning the perfect trip might be fun, but be aware that once you step out of the door, your trip will be influenced by hundreds of situations you didn't plan for that will make you want to change part of the trip – whether it is to travel for a few weeks with people you met on the road, add some sights you recently discovered in a destination, add a different route that caught your attention in the middle of the trip, or simply that you want to go slower or faster at certain destinations. Once on the road, everything is possible.
Don’t be surprised if in the end you throw your plan out the window and decide to go with the flow to make the best of your time on the road. That’s part of what makes a gap year such an interesting way to travel.
Ready to start planning (and un-planning) your gap year?
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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