Investing In A Gap Year Trip
The gap year clich is one of middle class eighteen year-olds taking time out between
leaving school and starting university to back pack around the world and "find themselves" whilst they flourish into adulthood. In truth gap years are becoming more and more popular across the demographics and socio-economic groups in spite of the fact that there are more competing financial pressures on our young people than at any other time in recent memory.
Why Take a Gap Year Trip?
There is no doubt that extensive travelling provides not only a geographical perspective but also a mental and emotional one. From the experiences gained with different cultures, religions and economic classes, young people who do embark on a gap year trip often report that they come back as more rounded individuals with a greater empathy and understanding of the wider world. However, these trips also offer more practical life lessons in preparation for university and adulthood in general, such as the ability to manage finances and to get themselves from a to b. In both respects initiative is vital in getting work and consequently money to fund the adventure, as well as in fathoming the best ways to travel.
All youngsters that embark on a gap year trip should find that their soft skills improve drastically through exposure to strangers and strange situations, having to communicate effectively with those they encounter. However, gappers that go for a more structured trip that incorporates a work or volunteering placement will certainly develop their soft skills in more formalised contexts as a result of having to work with bosses (perhaps for the first time) and colleagues, speak in public, resolve conflicts and communicate with all manner of people they including children - particularly those who follow the popular path of teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). What"s more, work placements are a great way to hone those other skills that are fundamental to success in the professional world such as time management and organisation.
All in all, a gap year should improve a youngster"s future career prospects as well as their ability to succeed in the rest of their education. Most importantly, employers seem to agree and place real value on the experiences through a gap year, believing that the experiences and skills mentioned above will have been enhanced through such trips.
How Much Will it Cost?
So, for those that do place value on the experiences garnered through gap year travel, the next question is how much can you or your child expect to pay for such an adventure. The first obvious point to make is that the price of a gap year trip will vary substantially according to where you go, what you do and how long you go for.
As a very rough guideline, a typical trip for 6 months could cost between 4k to 5k depending on which countries and parts of the world are on the itinerary. Trips to places like the US will cost considerable more than trips across Eastern Europe for example and this budget may only last 3 months in the States. Again using very rough approximations, those hoping to really push the lower end of a budget could look towards surviving on a meagre 15 a day (visiting cheaper countries, cutting costs on travel and accommodation) but other trips that don"t make these savings can easily double that figure. In addition, a round-the-world ticket for gappers who are organising their travel in advance can cost anywhere from just below 1k to 1,5k with the inclusion of various airport fees that may be incurred.
There are many techniques that seasoned gap year travellers will recommend to keep these costs down or to cover them as you travel. Buying tickets when your abroad rather than before you go will reduce the travel costs (albeit at the expense of some forward planning) whilst picking up paid work during the trip can help. Casual work, such as bar work, is only likely to bring in a little social money, but a popular solution is to organise a placement teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) as that can bring in a little more to help with the costs whilst really strengthening those soft skills in the process.
Whichever way you or your child chooses to fund a gap year, there is no denying that it will cost a substantial amount of money at a time in their lives when they are also having to think about how they will afford university and/or adult life. However, there is also no denying that the experiences and skills they"ll gain can be immeasurable so it might be best to start putting some money aside as soon as possible.
by: Stuart Mitchell
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