5 Tips on Deciding Where to Live on a Gap Year

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A gap year is a time which you will remember for the rest of your life, but you want to remember it for all the good things that happened, not because it was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish. The key to having a rich, rewarding and successful gap year is to make sure that you’ve researched thoroughly before you start planning and in order to focus that research you need to do some thinking about the kind of person you are and want you want to get out of your year of travel. Here are five important areas that you need to be thinking about.

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Asked to pick an image to represent ‘holiday’ you might well choose an image of golden sands, blue sea and hot sun; it’s what most of us would think of first as an ideal destination. It’s certainly got a lot to recommend it, but is beach life all that you are after on your gap year, or do you want to use this time to experience things that you’ve never done before? Unless you are used to it, extreme heat is as challenging as extreme cold; in very hot places it’s hard to do anything much in the middle of the day other than stay inside. So have a serious think about the kind of climates you’d like to experience. Perhaps you’d like to take on an arctic adventure or the wet heat of a jungle?


Unless money is no object, finance is going to be the major constraint on your travels. Obviously, the more you save before you set off, the longer you can stay away, but you can make your money go further by choosing locations where the cost of living is low. Spending your gap year in Japan, for example, would be a wonderful experience, but also a very expensive one, unless of course you intend to work. Getting work abroad is a great way to extend your finances and will also enable you to meet people and get to know the culture, but don’t just assume that you will pick something up. You will need to arrange work before you set off, ensure that you have the necessary work permits and hold qualifications that will be recognised. Asia is a popular gap year destination because the cost of living is cheap, if you want to travel in Europe, however, you will find things much more expensive, but not everywhere. One of the most exciting cities in Europe is Lisbon, it’s also one of the cheapest in which to rent accommodation. By contrast, Paris, which is probably high on your list of must visit cities, is a wonderful but expensive experience for the visitor and London is even more so.


As a young, inexperienced traveller, you are at risk. Do not go to countries or areas which you know to be dangerous. Do your research before you plan anything.


In certain parts of the world there are contagious diseases which, if contracted, will wreck your health for life. Make sure that you are appropriately vaccinated and that you have sufficient health insurance, especially if you are going to engage in what insurance companies regard as dangerous sports. 

Together or alone?

Travelling with a friend or group will mean that you will always have shared memories, it will also mean that however well you get on, there will be times when you won’t. Travelling alone gives you total freedom and total control and of course you will meet people along the way, but there will also be times when you’ll wish someone was with you. Only you can decide.

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