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gap year

The year after graduating can be a rewarding opportunity to grow as a person.

Getting your college degree can be an exciting yet daunting time in your life. As you enter into the great unknown, you might be trying to decide if you should apply for graduate school, look to start a career or perhaps pack your bags and jet off around the world.

It’s understandable that after years spent studying, you want to break free and experience what the world has to offer. However, taking a year off to travel can become trickier once you start your career, which is why many recent grads opt to take a gap year before settling into their first post-college job. Not only will you experience new ways of life and have an absolute ball, your resume may also look more appealing to potential employers, many of whom appreciate well-travelled candidates.

If you do decide that graduate school isn’t for you just yet, and you want to travel the world and soak up different cultures, then it might be time to pack that suitcase. If you’ve never travelled solo before it’s likely that you’ll be feeling nervous and apprehensive. This is totally normal. It’s always nerve-wracking when you embark on a new journey but follow these top tips for being independent (and safe) on your gap year.

1. Keep your finances in check

Unless you want to be making a phone call to your parents with your tail between your legs, budgeting is absolutely vital. Don’t bury your head in the sand, make sure you do plenty of research and put those Excel skills to good use. Break down your daily expenses into accommodation, travel, food and activities. You should also keep an emergency buffer on top of this just in case you get caught short or need extra cash in case of any unforeseen circumstances.  There are numerous financial tracking apps you can download which will help you to understand your money situation and ensure that you aren’t overspending.

2. Take out insurance policies

When traveling the world, insurance is extremely important. If you get hurt, health care bills can skyrocket, and if you don’t have the right level of coverage, then you could find yourself either plunging into debt or having to beg and borrow from your family; neither of these scenarios are ideal if you want to prove your independence. You should look to take out an annual policy that covers all of the locations you’ll be visiting. You may also want to look into protecting your valuable items such as your camera, smartphone and other technical equipment.

3. Don’t be afraid to test yourself 

The real adventure starts outside of your comfort zone, and traveling is the ideal opportunity to truly test yourself and develop your ability to cope with a host of unusual situations. Don’t be afraid to do something that scares you, whether it’s bungee jumping or even just putting yourself out there and making new friends. It’s all part of the journey and great for building your confidence and your independence. 

Be safe, be smart and just enjoy your time! There will come a day when you’re sitting at a computer screen longing for the time where you could drift from location to location carefree. Embrace every opportunity and never underestimate your abilities.

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