- Save Ahead of Time
Unless money is not an issue, saving ahead of time for your gap year travel is key to making sure you are able to visit the places you want to visit, experience the adventures you want to do, and indulge in some luxuries you can only enjoy in a specific location.
Planning a gap year can begin a whole year before your estimated travel time. You can use this time to save, work at a part-time job, and basically build your travel fund.
The common misconception with gap year travel is that it’s expensive. While you need to have money set aside for traveling from one state to another or from one country to the next, you can still enjoy what the world has to offer even when on a budget. The key is to make sure you have more than enough when the date arrives, so you have some wiggle room for some emergency expenses or a few indulgences here and there.
- Stick to a Budget When on the Road
You can make the perfect itinerary and the perfect list for your expenses but you will never really know what traveling to a specific place will cost you until you’re actually there. You may plan to walk around in Thailand but after an hour of searching for a quaint little resto on the other side of the Chao Phraya River, it may just force you to holler a cab that charges you double to help you get there.
As much as possible, stick to your planned budget. You can do this by setting a budget for a specific place you plan to visit, and only exchanging currency in the exact amount. You might find a beautiful dress at a store but if the currency you’re carrying is only enough for your meal tonight, then you’ll be forced to skip on that dress and successfully keep to your budget.
Other tips include only carrying enough money for your planned activity for the day. If you go on a packaged tour to explore an ancient ruin, which includes meals, don’t bring extra cash or you’ll end up spending it on souvenirs you never planned on buying.
- Travel Insurance
Travel insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense but you should never travel on your gap year without it. A gap year travel means you’re traveling without a stable income, and should an emergency occur, travel insurance will help cover the costs.
No matter how careful you may be, accidents or emergencies are sometimes inevitable. This is why travel insurance is necessary before you start your journey. Among the things a gap year travel insurance will cover include:
- If you get injured in an accident.
- If you need to get hospitalized for an injury or disease.
- Emergency medical transport by ambulance.
- Emergency evacuation by medivac or helicopter.
- Getting stranded due to a natural disaster or political turmoil.
- Lost or stolen luggage.
If you plan on doing adventure activities such as surfing, bungee jumping, or skydiving, add an “Aventure Pack,” to your travel insurance should something go wrong as you’re trying out these activities.
Make sure you know exactly what’s covered in your travel insurance before you make the purchase.
- Keep Up With Loved Ones at Home
Traveling may be a form of escape from your regular life but it doesn’t mean you should disappear the whole time you’re away. Keep up with loved ones at home by sending pictures, videos, and calling them through video conferencing. This allows you to keep up with what’s happening back home, while also letting your family or friends know where you are, how you are, and who your new friends are.
In case something happens to you, your loved ones will know where your location is, and who to contact in case they fail to reach you. It will also help you stay connected with important people in your life, and let them know you’re okay and having the time of your life.
- Pack Light and Smart
It would be nice to wear different outfits to go to different locations. But the key to a convenient traveling experience is to pack light and smart. A rucksack that holds all of your clothes and belongings while also being light enough to carry with you is the most ideal type of luggage to bring.
The clothes and things you bring will depend on the location and itinerary that you have. The most ideal is to wear the bulkiest pair of shoes that you have, such as a pair or boots or sneakers, and pack a pair of sandals, and that’s it. For clothes, bring pieces that you can easily mix and match, and nothing that’s more specific like a printed maxi dress. The more basic and neutral the colors are, the better, since these are easily matched with other pieces of clothing.
If you’re planning on swimming on a beach, bring two pieces so you can alternate washing one and wearing the other. Keep accessories to a minimum, such as hats, purses, or jewelry.
- Be in the Moment
Many people have a fear of missing out or otherwise known as FOMO, when they’re traveling. They try to see and visit as many places as they can, and do as many activities as their day can accommodate. But having too much to do and too many places to visit can deprive you of authentic experiences.
The true purpose of a gap year travel is so you can find yourself, discover what you want, and see the bigger picture of the world. By travelling, experiencing different cultures, people, and places, you broaden your horizon and learn lessons that allow you to find who you really are. When you’re travelling just so you can say you’ve been there and you’ve done that, that defeats the purpose of your gap year.
Try to lessen your itinerary with experiences that are enriching, so you can truly savor the moment. Engage with the people around you, learn about the places you’re visiting, and truly live in the moment.
- Take a Lot of Pictures/Videos
Taking pictures and videos are better than taking souvenirs. Don’t just take pictures of places but take pictures of yourself in these places. Two or 20 years from now, you can look back and remember your adventure-filled gap year and relive the moments as if they only happened yesterday. It’s also a great way to inspire others to go on their very own gap year travel themselves when you share them with your family and friends.
- Make Friends in the Places You Visit
Aside from visiting places, experiencing cultures, and tasting different cuisines, one of the best ways to travel during your gap year is by making friends in the places you visit. There’s nothing better than making friends with locals to truly exprience the culture of a place, as well as learning about the people that live there. And on the plus side, you can also explore a location on a local’s budget, when they show you local eats and sights that only they know about.
Making friends on the road is one of the truly enriching and fulfilling experiences you will ever have. You will even be surprised to discover that the friends you make on the road will stay your friends for the rest of your life.