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Your gap year options

Gap year ideas and inspiration

There is choice and flexibility in organising a rewarding year out or break. It can be designed to suit individual requirements and aspirations.

The range of gap year ideas, options and activities offered by gap year organisations is considerable. Year Out Group’s member organisations cover the full spectrum so you are sure to find something of interest. In every case research and planning in as much detail as possible is the key to a successful gap year program.  Over the years many have selected from 50+ questions we suggest you ask organisations to help select the project that best meets your needs.

Expeditions & trekking

Expeditions are group activities either based in one country or travelling through a number of countries and last from 6 to 15 weeks. It may include school groups or groups made up of individuals who do not know each other. They often include a number of phases such as a community project, a conservation project and an adventure phase.  Expeditions are designed to help develop each individual, particularly their self-confidence and leadership skills.  This is achieved through adventure, community service and, in some cases, scientific exploration.
Some of these expeditions involve small groups (up to 16 people) while others are larger, often international groups, though the day to day work is done in small teams depending on the task.  All expeditions are led by carefully selected, qualified leaders.  The larger expeditions provide opportunities for those aged 25 and over to participate as volunteer managers.

Languages and Culture

Language courses also provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about the host country and its peoples.  There are also opportunities to learn about art history whilst travelling through a country. You will also gain cultural experiences from most voluntary work and expedition placements.
Note:  Many organisations in the expedition and volunteering sector include diving, language and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) training as an integral part of some of their gap year programs.

Volunteering

Year Out Group members offer a very wide variety of volunteering activities across the world.  There really is something for everyone including teaching, care work and community and conservation projects.  Projects may be designed for groups or individuals, though individuals are often paired or formed into small teams depending on the requirements of their host organisations.
Volunteers may be accommodated collectively or live with a family in the local community.  This broad range of activities and living arrangements make it particularly important for those considering a voluntary work placement to research it in as much detail as possible.  The aim should be to make sure that you are right for the project and vice versa. More information..

Training courses

These are designed to help develop a new skill or improve an existing one possibly to instructor level or to work professionally.  They are done mostly in groups and include: mountain biking, sub-aqua diving, sailing, skiing and snowboarding.
Some of these expeditions involve small groups (up to 16 people) while others are larger, often international groups, though the day to day work is done in small teams depending on the task.  All expeditions are led by carefully selected, qualified leaders.  The larger expeditions provide opportunities for those aged 25 and over to participate as volunteer managers.

Work placements

Paid work placements. A number of year Out Group members are able to offer paid work placements in a number of locations overseas.  These are usually low paid so you might be able to pay for your gap year if you are prepared to work hard (see farm work) but in fun locations (cities) or timed so that you can enjoy a particular hobby or sport, e.g. skiing or snowboarding.
Unpaid work placements. Many Year Out Group members have partnerships with a variety of organisations around the world that offer internships. Amongst others these include placements in health care, legal, teaching, journalism and human rights. They are great way to gain experience for your chosen career, with clear responsibilities and project outcomes which you can use to evidence learning.

Independent travel

Many people want to travel entirely independently or to combine a structured experience with independent travel. Our approved providers will usually be able to help you plan your gap year with some ‘free’ travel in mind. They can also help with finding paid work-such as farming, hospitality or teaching to help fund your on-going travel.
There is lots of advice for how to travel independently on your gap year.  You might find it better suits your budget and flexibility than booking onto a structured programme. Remember that structured programmes will come with all the necessary safety and back up systems in place including staff on the ground or by phone who can help you deal with any issues.  If you book anything whilst ‘on the road’ apply the same caution and rules as if your were booking from the UK. There are plenty of people who will take your money so you need to make good choices. Be sure to plan your gap year budget and its worth comparing the cost of independent travel against structured programmes or a combination of the two. Doing this on a daily or weekly cost will help you compare options.
Many of those taking a gap year will try to schedule more than one activity and build a portfolio of experiences that they will feel will build on existing skills, add new ones and stretch their expectations of themselves.
Others may choose to dive deep into an area of personal interest with the goals of gaining as much expertise and to make the biggest impact they can.

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