You may know why a grown up gap year is a brilliant idea...but here’s a few tips on how to prepare for your travels and also a few pointers on how to make the most of it when you’re there.
Depending on where you travel, you may need to get a few immunisations. The easiest way to check is to go on the NHS Fit for Travel website and check all the destinations you’re planning to visit on your gap year. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have enough medication if you need it - and carry it in your hand luggage for easy access. Time zones can be very confusing when you’re taking medication - so make sure you set alarms on your phone to remind you to take your medication and make a note of when you last took your medication.
Don’t wait until you’re abroad to download all the apps you need - it can end up costing you a fortune. Download all the apps you need before you go. This includes apps for any airlines you might be using, as they can be useful for storing your tickets and other vital information. Other great apps include your internet banking app, Google Translate, Air BnB, Booking.com, Google Maps, XE Currency, Wi-Fi finder, Skype and DuoLingo.
Make sure you’re covered on a health insurance plan. If you’re only planning to travel in EU countries you can still get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) right here. It gives you the right to state-provided healthcare for temporary hospital stays. Usually the healthcare will be free but in some cases you may have to pay a reduced cost. The card also entitles you to healthcare for pre-existing or chronic medical conditions. In other words, this little cards can be a literal life saver!
If you haven’t yet paid off your mortgage then make sure you’re setting enough money aside for your mortgage payments and other bills. It’s also worth researching whether you are exempt from some bills. For example, you may be exempt from paying council tax or be entitled to a reduction if you leave your property empty and unfurnished. However, this probably won’t be the case as you’ll most likely head back home after your gap year. Perhaps you might consider renting your home out to tenants to save money on mortgage and bills - or perhaps you could list your home on Air BnB and designate a trusted relative as the ‘host’ to meet and greet guests.
Traveling involves a lot of hopping on and off planes - so you’ll need something to keep your mind occupied. Not everyone falls asleep easily on aeroplanes - especially if there are noisy people on the plane! We would say it’s essential to wear ear plugs, but there’s something even better you can do. Before you fly, download a bank of podcasts and audio books to keep your mind busy. You can visit the BBC iPlayer and search through their wonderful range of podcasts - covering everything from cooking and gardening to world affairs and debate shows. Before you know it, your 11 hour flight will seem more like a 4 hour flight!
You may be tempted to drink alcohol on your flight, especially if it’s free, but the very best thing you can drink is water. Alcohol affects us so much faster than if you were on the ground. You’ll thank us after your long-haul flight to Australia!
This is the number one rule of a grown up gap year - whether you’re just taking a long sabbatical from work and learning the piano or sailing around the world, live in the moment and enjoy yourself! After all, we only have one life!