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5 Things to Do Before You Go on Your Gap Year

By Bidvest Bank
03-12-2014

You’re heading off into the big blue yonder to experience the world, learn about different cultures, meet new people and, most importantly, have some fun. Going on a Gap Year is all about experiencing a year or two of freedom before you settle down, decide to study, or officially join the working world.

Before you zip up your backpack though, here are a few things you need to think about that will help make your Gap Year trip safer, smoother and that much more enjoyable:

1. Consider various Gap Year ideas - then choose one.

Choosing a Gap Year programme that suits your specific abilities is essential if you want to get the most out of this life-changing experience. Perhaps you’re good with languages or have spent a lot of time on boats growing up? Think about the skills or interests you have that could be applicable to the different programmes available, and pick an experience that will specifically suit you.

How about teaching English in Japan or working a ski season in Canada? You could also be stationed at a game park in Kenya, work on yachts in the South of France or head down under to Australia to try your hand at fruit picking.

If you’re having trouble making your mind up, visit one of the many reputable Gap Year specialists, who will guide you in building a Gap Year programme suited to your individual needs.  Be warned though: do your research thoroughly and don’t let any company take your money without knowing exactly what you’re getting in return.


2. Money, money, money.

Although you may make some cash once you begin working, you’ll need a fund to dip into when you arrive. You’ll need to pay for somewhere to stay and to buy groceries and other supplies, so decide on a way of taking some spending money along with you that’s safe and convenient.

The Bidvest World Currency CardÔ is a global travel card that can be used in most countries, across many currencies, and is also a safer way of transporting your money than carrying cash. The bonus is that the card can be pre-loaded and topped up online by your parents or anyone else, giving you easy access to more funds - wherever in the world you are.


3. Think about health and safety.

Most GP surgeries run travel health clinics with advice and information about important travel topics such as what vaccinations you might need, or what malaria tablets you should take and whether there are any side effects.

You should also prepare a comprehensive first-aid kit to take with you, as you never know when you might need it – especially if you’re in a remote location. The Bidvest World Currency CardÔ includes international medical referral advice, so you’ll have a helping hand if you need it should you get sick or injured while you’re away.


4. Don’t forget your visa. 

If you’re travelling on a South African passport, you’ll generally need a visa to get into most European and North American countries, as well as some in Asia and South America. The local embassies of the country you are planning to visit will give you all the information about the visas you need and how to apply for them. Bear in mind that gathering the documents you need and getting your visa can take a bit of time, so factor this into your travel plans. 


5. Invest in travel insurance.

Travel insurance generally covers an array of unforeseen events that may happen during your trip, such as flight cancellations, lost bags and stolen passports. Policies vary in terms of how much you can claim, what you’re covered for and how much excess you’ll pay, so always read the small print. If you’re considering going skiing for example, it would make sense to get specific cover for if you happen to fall and injure yourself. Think about general and more specific risks and find a policy that suits you.

 

Now that you’ve got some Gap Year ideas and picked your programme, it’s time to pack. Stuff your worldly belongings into your backpack, store your World Currency CardÔ somewhere safe, put on your walking shoes and get out there into the big wide world. What are you waiting for? Good luck!