Planning and Preparing for a Gap Year
Preparing for the Gap Year
Whether you are setting off on an independent adventure or working with an organization, it is important to know where you’re going - and why - and understand the risks of the location and work you will be doing. Students and their families should work together to research the itinerary in order to have a clear plan and strong support throughout the Gap Year.
Logistics and Itinerary:
One of the basic principles of risk-management is to have a well-thought out itinerary. Knowing the reasons for going someplace or engaging in an activity can help a traveler decide on the costs and benefits of each aspect of the itinerary. This process of risk/benefit analysis can not only shape the plan for a gap year, but also identify support services (such as suitable clinics and hospitals, or transportation, or banks), and formulate plans for accessing them.
Cultural and Personal Preparation:
In addition to these practical considerations it is just as important to prepare yourself for the experiences you have identified to help you reach your goals. Whether you intend to do meaningful service or commit to learning about a culture or language, it is critical to reflect on your motivation, identity, and opinions. Consider the impact you may have on the people and place and what you will leave behind. What do you gain from these experiences and how are you benefitting others, if at all?
In addition, identify what skills will help you have a successful experience, and what can be done to build those skills before leaving home; for many people the first part of a gap year can be taking classes, or reading and learning about destinations while working to earn money for travel.
During planning, think hard about the baggage - both physical and emotional - you take with you. Make sure you are packing the right items and are well-equipped for the anticipated experiences. Below is a short checklist to get you started on your preparations.