Published in UTimes Magazine.
Whether you’re about to graduate high school or mid-way through a university degree, ‘gap year’ is probably a term that you’ve heard quite frequently. Synonymous with fun, adventure and freedom, deciding to take a break from studying so you can travel and gain new experiences is exciting. However, with an abundance of programs and travel tours now catering for the gap year market, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed by choice and unsure of what’s right for you. But never fear, because with so many options, there is bound to be something that suits what you want to get out of your gap year.
Travel without the stress.
Trying to organise a trip around a country you’re entirely unfamiliar with can be quite a daunting task. Fortunately,there are a range of companies, such as Contiki and Go Ahead Tours, which aim to make travelling less stressful by offering tours where accommodation, transport, sightseeing and most meals are taken care of.
Tahneisha, who did a Contiki tour around Europe in2012, says that going through a company “is just so convenient, because everything is already planned. It made it easier to just sit back, relax and enjoy the holiday.”
Tour companies are often a suitable option for students on a gap year as they offer a wide range of trips from just a few days to months, as well as options to suit a specific budget. However, these tours don’t always allow forflexibility in terms of itinerary, so that scene from your favourite movie that you plan to reinact in Italy may need to fall by the wayside.
For those of you considering travelling alone, a tour may be the way to go as you’ll get to meet a lot of interesting and diverse people who are sure to make your trip even more exciting.
“One of the biggest advantages of something like Contiki is having a big group of friends to enjoy the tour with. I now have amazing friends from all around the world,” Tahneisha says.
So if you’re a social butterfly who loves meeting new people or if you’re merely interested in travelling without the stress of bus timetables and foreign maps, a tour maybe a good option for your gap year adventure.
Live and work like a local.
If you’re interested in understanding what it’s like to really live in a different culture, a working holiday may be for you. Rather than travelling for a few short weeks on a limited budget, many companies are now offering programs that give you the chance to really settle into a town or city and call it home for a while.
After Bronwyn, a Deakin University student, graduated high school, she chose to spend six months working in a pub in England. “I didn't want to pay thousands on airfares to see a country for just a few weeks and come home,” she says, “I wanted to experience another culture.”
However, amidst all the excitement, you would be excused for forgetting that a working holiday is just that- work. Bronwyn admits that her English pub job was quite different to any type of job she had experienced in Australia.
“I worked full time, which ranged from 35-45 hours a week. Twelve hour shifts were common, as was working until 5am.”
But it’s definitely not all work and no play. While Bronwyn admits that the prospect of working long hoursmight not sound like much fun, it certainly doesn’t tarnish the experience.
“A working holiday gives you a great opportunity to meet people from all around the world, see and learn a lot and really enjoy yourself while still making some money.”
The regular pay that a working holiday provides allows you to relax more comfortably into your gap year, allowing you to really experience a different way of life.