Choosing your gap year provider

With so much choice, make sure you find the best fit
Having some knowledge of the organisation that is taking responsibility for you is important so visit their websites to find out more and remember to read any small print. Ask around to see if anyone has booked with them before or look at comments on-line.  However don’t simply take comments you read at face value and be sure to speak to the organisation by phone. Use our questions below to guide your conversation.

Our members will be pleased to take your call and help you with your decision-making. They should be able to answer all your questions and address any concerns you have.

Eligibility & benefits

Who is eligible?

  • Age range of participants?
  • Selection criteria – who are they looking for and what is the interview procedure?
  • Choice of different programmes?
  • Number of participants selected on each programme?

Who benefits?

  • What will I gain from doing this?
  • Will anyone else benefit from this placement apart from me ?
  • Why are UK young people needed on this and who asked for us to do it?
  • Will the programme continue after I have left?
Programme management

  • How has the programme been chosen and checked out?
  • Has a representative of the sending organisation had a good look?
  • Are the host organisations paid to take me? Do they pay me?
  • What exactly will I be doing?
  • Will I be alone, who will I be placed with?
  • What can I expect in terms of accommodation and food?
  • What is expected of me? What will be my responsibilities?
  • Do I have to sign anything? Is there a written agreement between me and the organisation?

The organisation & costs

Costs and where your money goes

  • What is the precise programme cost and what does it cover?
  • What is the recommended budget for extras?
  • If I have to pay a deposit, is it refundable?
  • When and how do I pay? What happens if I cancel?
  • If I have to raise funds, does the organisation give advice?

The organisation

  • Why does the organisation exist? How long has it been around?
  • Where is it registered?
  • Ask for examples of successful programmes and a chat to past participants
  • What if there is an emergency? Does the organisation have sufficient funds to cope with emergencies
  • What are the organisation’s policies on Equal Opportunities?
  • Are they “Package Travel Regulations 2018” compliant? (see note below)

Note: if a company offer any two or more different types of travel services which are combined for the purpose of the same trip. e.g activities, accommodation, flights then they are deemed to be the ‘organiser’  and they need to comply, which includes amongst other things: having insurance/bonding to cover the cost of getting you home or reimbursing some of your holiday costs if they go bust before or whilst you are on holiday; offering you alternatives if the package you booked changes in a substantive way. This applies to person selling you the package regardless of whether or not another party is delivering the service you use.


Before, during & after

Before you go

  • Who is responsible for travel arrangements? This includes travel visas and work permits!
  • Who provides insurance and what is included in the cover? Health, possessions, cancellation and repatriation?
  • What about inoculations and health precautions? Help and advice please!
  • How about training and pre-departure briefing – do I get any of that?

During your placement

  • Who is the person responsible for me at the programme location?
  • Where is the nearest representative of the organisation?
  • What if there is a major emergency – can somebody deal with this and get me home?
  • If I have a problem with my placement, can I chat to somebody?
  • What is included in the living arrangements? Who selects and checks out the accommodation?
  • If staying with host families, are they paid or are they volunteers?

After your return

  • Will the organisation have any contact with me when I return?
  • Is there an alumni programme?
  • Can my experience be of any use to future participants?
  • Will I get a reference or certificate, indeed anything to prove that I was actually there and completed the programme?
  • Will I be debriefed?

Not every question listed above is relevant to all activities. Responses will vary from organisation to organisation and their website should contain all the answers and be easy to find.

Year Out Group is a partner with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (FCDO) Travel Aware campaign. The FCDO has produced a travel essentials list that is worth reading before your trip.

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