5 Top Tips For Planning Your Gap Year

Two Back-packers & lake view


It’s October and that means lots of you will have just started your GAP Year—no more studying, earning money and dreaming of where your travels will take you very soon! So, at Shower in a Can we thought we’d put together a list of top tips for planning your GAP Year so you can make the most of your travels...

1. Budget vs. time

So you’re working in a bar or a shop or temping to pay for your travels which means you’re going to have a budget for your Gap Year. It’s important to do your research about how much it will cost to live in your chosen destination and how far your money will go. For example, £1000 will allow you to backpack in Australia for about 2 weeks, whereas £1000 will allow you to stay in India for at least 3 months!

It’s important to decide what your priorities are: do you want to be away for as long as possible, or do you want to live more comfortably and be away for a shorter amount of time? There is no right or wrong answer, but it’s an important question to ask yourself as the last situation you want to be in is not having enough money to do the activities that you want or missing out on potentially once-in-a-lifetime experiences because you’ve run out of cash.

2. Organised travel vs. independent travel

For many of you your Gap Year will be the first taste of travel freedom that you’ve had away from your family. For some people, this is exactly what they want and there are plenty of resources online to make planning your trip independently relatively straight forward. For example, websites like Rome2Rio can help you workout your transport options and Facebook travel groups such as Lonely Planet Travellers are a great place to ask questions, get inspired and even meet a travel buddy!

For others, travelling is exciting, but daunting and they’d prefer the comfort and security of an organised tour. Organised tours are obviously more expensive than travelling independently, however you get the benefits of a knowledgeable tour guide, you don’t have to worry about buying tickets and you get an instant group of people to travel with. If you’ve never travelled before, starting off on an organised tour and travelling independently afterwards can ease you into your GAP Year and give you the confidence to travel by yourself. Companies like STA Travel, G Adventures, Intrepid and Dragoman are all good places to look at if you’re interested in a more supported GAP Year travel experience.

3. What climates will you experience?

Be aware of the seasons that you will be travelling in and the climates that you will experience. Particularly in the Southern Hemisphere seasons don’t just mean spring, summer, autumn and winter, they also refer to the wet and dry seasons. Do your research and try to avoid the wet seasons as much as possible as extreme amounts of rain often cause flooding and landslides which creates travel chaos.

Also, use this information to help you refine your packing list. If you’re going to go from tropical environments to mountains, make sure that you pack clothes that you can layer. Furthermore, bear in mind that warm locations often air condition their buses and trains, so you will need to take warmer clothing if you’re doing longer journeys otherwise you will find yourself turning into a popsicle!

4. Travel essentials

Do your research on what products will be easily available in your destination. Normal toiletries such as toothpaste, shower gel and shampoo are almost always available so you won’t need to pack 6 months’ worth of it when you leave the UK. However, other products—particularly medicines (including over-the-counter ones)—might not be so easily found or deciphered in a foreign language, so it’s a good idea to take a good supply of them with you. If you can’t live without some Lemsip when you’ve got a cold, take it with you!

Also, packing small items that will make your life a little more comfortable will contribute to the success of your GAP Year. Think earplugs for loud snorers in a shared dorm and Shower in a Can to stay clean and fresh with no need for water when camping or when the hostel showers are less than inviting!

5 . Get a good travel bag

There are thousands of travel bags on the market ranging from luxurious flashpacker-style bags with wheels which open like a suitcase to more traditional lid backpacks with multiple pockets and compartments which are ideal for hiking. Think about how much walking you will be doing with your bag—will you be catching local buses, walking to get to your accommodation or trekking? Then you might want to consider a backpack that is easy to pick up and comfy to carry on your back. If you’re mostly going to be dropped directly at your accommodation and you’re not going to have to walk with your bag that much, then a wheelie suitcase would perhaps be more suitable.

The most important thing to do though, is try the backpacks on! You can get some great deals on the internet, but make sure that you visit a shop and get them to put weights in the backpack to find out how it really feels and sits on your body before you make your purchase.

We hope that you have an amazing GAP Year wherever you go—share your adventures with us using the hashtag #ShowerCanLife!

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