For both students and people with jobs, the idea of taking a gap year to travel is becoming more and more popular. However, the decision to spend a gap year abroad can be difficult to take. For a student, taking a gap year to travel before or after graduation can have a huge positive effect. It can improve morale, increase maturity, and enhance social skills.
Furthermore, one can acquire work experience and learn about different cultures, help the environment, and become independent while taking advantage of the opportunities offered by a gap year to travel abroad.
For a student or a person who has no financial or family obligations, a gap year to travel abroad may seem like the best way to experience life before entering or returning to the work world. But, as with many things in life, there are big obstacles and personal fears to overcome.
1. Having enough money to spend during your gap year abroad
The first thing you need to do is find a way to fund your gap year to travel abroad. If you’re fortunate enough to have the funds already available or the option to work during your gap year, this first fear is easy to overcome. For many people who are looking to travel abroad during their gap year, this may mean taking a temporary job or asking the parents to help out financially. With student debts at an all-time high, getting the necessary funds can prove to be very difficult and delays can be expected.
2. Feeling safe when you travel abroad during your year off
The second problem to overcome is the excitement and anxiety of traveling to the far corners of the world and of living to tell the tale, particularly for first-time solo travelers. Family and friends will also be very worried about crime stories, natural disasters, unstable governments, and disease-ridden regions making news on a daily basis. However, in the vast majority of cases, most countries are as safe as your home country.
With the abundance of information available on the Internet, there is no reason not to plan your trip carefully in advance in order to make the most of it and avoid unnecessary dangers and hazards. Most countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America have backpacker routes that are used by thousands of people traveling in groups or on their own. The vast majority of these travelers have wonderful experiences and return home safely. You’re going to be hard-pressed to find someone who took a gap year to travel abroad and regretted the decision.
3. Being anxious about taking a gap year to travel solo
For some, traveling solo can pose a major problem if they’ve never done it before. They might be concerned about feeling lonely and unable to deal with problems on their own in a strange country far from home. Luckily, there are thousands of people in exactly the same situation, and traveling alone is the perfect way to meet people and build trust. People also meet in restaurants, pubs, planes, airports, and the list goes on. It’s much easier to meet strangers when traveling than it is in your home country, and in most situations, people will only be lonely if they choose to be.
The ability to cope with unknown situations will develop over a short period of time. And, after a while, you’ll book hotels on the Internet, travel long distances, and communicate with people in different languages without a second thought.
The reasons why people take a gap year to travel abroad are extensive and include leisure, volunteer work, contract work, seasonal work, outdoor travel, teaching English, and much more. A gap year to travel can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, as long as you prepare in advance and make use of your common sense, it can be a year that can transform your life for the better!
Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe, creator of unique free travel guides, local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.
Other travel blog articles you should read on The Travel Bunny
5 Amazing gap year travel ideas
How to prepare for your first backpacking trip to Europe
Advice for international students: 9 student travel tips