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Why take a gap year?

If you’re planning a gap year, you are very likely to meet some people who won’t understand why you’re doing it or what the benefits are. There are many reasons as to why people take a gap year but before we get to them, it’s also worth considering why people might question you in the first place. We recently received this comment: 

“Who invented the ‘gap year’? I left school when the summer holidays started, got a job on a laundry delivery van. At the end of the holiday period I started my apprenticeship: 46 hours a week. When I married, my honeymoon was just Friday off work. It must be very hard for kids nowadays…”

This seems to demonstrate perfectly the sort of mindset of someone who can’t see the benefit of a gap year; they didn’t do one, so why should anyone else? If life was hard for them, why should it be better for anyone else? 

So, onto some of the reasons for taking a gap year: 

See some of the world

Opening your eyes to what life is like in the rest of the world can be a transforming experience. Even if your goal is purely to have fun, embracing a new culture will let you discover how other people live their lives, their priorities and values in life and what happiness means to them.  This can help inform your world view, to give you the opportunity to see things from a new perspective and often help inform your own life decisions for the better

Develop important life skills

Maybe you’ll learn a new language while living in another country, leadership skills working on a charity project, work experience on jobs or internships, or communication skills whilst navigating around new places and new people. You’ll also develop confidence and organisational skills, simply by tackling the everyday challenges that travel and living on your own throws at you.

Give something back

If you’re completing a volunteer placement, not only will you gain a huge sense of self-fulfilment but you will be doing something that others will genuinely benefit from.  Whether you’re working on a conservation project, teaching, building new facilities or any other amazing volunteer placements available, you will be part of something that hopefully others will benefit from for many years to come. 

Take a break!

You may feel like you’ve had enough of full time education and want to take a break before the next stage of education or committing to full time work. A gap year can help you re-energise and get your spark back before continuing with work or education.

Widen your horizons

It’s so easy to get stuck in our own bubble, surrounded by people who look like you, sound like you, think like you. You stop noticing what’s happening around you, even the most beautiful landscapes or buzzing cityscape become familiar after years of being there. Travelling to somewhere (or many places) where things aren’t familiar can reinvigorate you and help you to experience things with renewed enthusiasm and vigour: the food, the people, the scenery, the smells. This new perspective can help us to appreciate our normal lives and also help us to question our established views. Maybe it’s time to shake things up a little?

Meet new people

Sure, you can meet new people anywhere but do you? When we’re surrounded by people we know and love (or tolerate!) it’s easy to stick with these same people the whole time. Meeting new people can be a real source of joy – and can open your mind to different opinions and viewpoints. Especially when those people come from different places to begin with. A gap year gives an unrivalled opportunity to meet people you can have fun with, learn from and the bonding that comes from experiencing new things with someone is huge.

Just do it!

Whatever your reasons for taking a gap year, the decision to get out there and do it is the first of many brave decisions you will be making. So don’t be put off by the objectors, grab the opportunity with both hands and make memories that you will keep forever and stories you’ll most probably one day tell the grandkids.

If you are taking a gap year, your loved ones will be more likely to give their consent and support for your plans knowing you have an experienced team just a phone call away to either help prevent you from getting into a tight spot on your travels or to provide experienced advice on how to get yourself out of dangerous or tricky travel situations.  

That’s where TravelAid can help. Read more about how here.  




    gap year safety training course


    if bought at the same time as a TravelAid subscription