Gap years can be an incredible experience. They’re the chance to get away from everyone and everything you know and really immerse yourself in another culture. And, you’ll earn some awesome bragging rights – something your housemates will no doubt never tire of hearing!
So, whether you’re an eighteen-year-old thinking of taking a gap year before University, or a graduate looking to explore the wider world before settling into a career, you’ll want to know all about gap years.
Gap years can be amazing, but there’s a lot to consider too. So, here’s a list of the pros and cons of taking a gap year as well as some general advice for financing it and options for storing your belongings whilst you’re away.
What are the Advantages of Taking a Gap Year?
- Improve career opportunities
If you spend your time on your gap year effectively, you’ll have some really great stuff to put on that CV that could help you further down the line. Loads of gap year programmes give you the chance to explore careers that interest you. So, if you spend even just some of your gap year working or volunteering, you’ll gain valuable skills and experience that any employer will be impressed by.
- Meet new people
It’s impossible not to meet new people on a gap year. You’ll get to meet so many interesting people from all walks of life and from countries all around the world. You’ll make new friends and gain a deeper insight into the world around you. And as a bonus, if you stay in contact after you return home, you’ll always have somewhere to stay should you go back.
- So much flexibility
Gap years are incredibly flexible. If you’ve always felt restricted by the school setting and constant timetables, a gap year is your time to break out and do exactly what you want. On your gap year, you work to your own schedule and accommodate your own interests and goals. Wherever you want to go, whatever you want to do, you can do it on your gap year.
- Time for reflection
School can fly by so quickly from one year to the next. It may feel like you’ve never had time to stop and reflect on your goals and how to build a path towards where you want to be in life. A gap year is a great way to get some perspective on things and reflect on what you really want and how to get there.
- Learn to be independent
Travelling by yourself and having to be responsible for everything will certainly help build your independence. This can be a great stepping-stone to University or into the world of work if you’ve never been on your own before. After a year living abroad and experiencing new things, you’ll be much better equipped to deal with any challenge life throws at you.
What are the Disadvantages of Taking a Gap Year?
- It can be expensive
Depending on where you’re going and whether you’re planning on working, taking a gap year can be quite costly. Having a job of some kind will make sustaining yourself much easier, but if you’re going with a volunteering programme you may need to have quite a bit of money saved up before you go.
- You’ll be a year behind
Going on a gap year literally means you’ll have a year-long gap in your academic progress. This might not bother you, but for some people, it can be difficult to come home and realise that all their friends are now on another University year and left them behind.
- You risk losing academic momentum
For some people, a gap year might reinvigorate them and leave them feeling refreshed and ready to start a University degree programme. For others, a gap year might kill that academic momentum completely. You don’t want returning to your studies to be a difficult transition, so you should think about whether a year-long break from studying is something that will work for you.
- You’ll really need to plan
A gap year is only as successful as you make it. There is a lot of planning involved, and you need to balance this with other important aspects of your life, such as applying for your university place or a job. Make sure you identify what you want from your gap year – before it comes around. If you’re struggling, some volunteering programmes could help you structure your time. You don’t want your gap year to become known as your year of box sets!
How to Afford a Gap Year
Budgeting for a gap year might seem daunting, but if you really want to go for it, then you should be able to manage. First, you’ll need to set a target for how much to save. You’ll need to pay for travel, accommodation, food and activities, not to mention insurance, medication and any kit you might need.
Make sure you are realistic with the amount you’ll be spending. If you have family or friends abroad that you can stay with, that will certainly help cut down on some costs. People always seem to spend more than they expect whilst travelling, so make sure you have extra funds available for emergencies.
If you can afford it, the easiest way to raise the money is if you have a job and save your pay cheques. However, if you want to jet off sooner than you’ll be able to save the amount you need, you could try fundraisers, getting people to sponsor you or selling your unwanted items. And you can decide to work whilst on your travels too.
Is Taking a Gap Year Worth it?
Ultimately, this is down to you. For some people, a gap year is the best decision they ever mad. Whereas others may have wished they’d gone straight into University instead. If you really want to explore the world and think that you could gain some real perspective for where you want to be in life, then a gap year could be right up your street.
Remember that life is not a race to the finish line. A gap year is not a delay in your real life, it is part of your life. Gap years can give people newfound skills, motivation and self-knowledge that can help them succeed in ways they never thought possible.
Put Your Belongings in Storage
If you’re planning on taking a gap year but don’t know where you’re going to put all your belongings, you can store them with a self-storage unit from Smart Storage.
We offer fantastic, affordable prices for students to store all their possessions whilst they’re away. You can choose from a range of unit sizes, from a simple locker to a 2000 sq ft unit. Our stores are safe, secure and affordable – you won’t have to worry about a thing whilst you’re jetting off to exciting places around the world, as your belongings will be safe and sound here with us.
Smart Storage can offer you storage in Liverpool, storage in Preston, storage in Wirral, storage in Warrington, storage in Widnes and storage in Altrincham. Contact us today with any queries you might have.