After years of studying, or a long career, many people are choosing to take a year out for themselves. Whether that’s a career break for travel purposes, or a gap year before embarking on a career, the benefits of such a break completely outweigh the negatives. The negative is of course lack of money, but if you save enough beforehand, you can make your year, or few months, everything you dreamed of.

Many choose to enter into some kind of volunteering programme and there are many companies out there that help arrange this, such as Real Gap. It’s important to make sure you go with a reputable company, as if you’re heading off volunteering in Africa, China, South America, or anywhere with a different way of life to what you’re used to, it’s important to have all the necessary arrangements set down before you leave. These companies will also arrange any visas or work permits required for you to complete your programme, and for a small fee, they will ensure everything is as it should be. You will more often than not be with a small group, all on the same programme, so this is also a fantastic opportunity to meet new friends for life.

You don’t necessarily have to volunteer, you may want to take a working holiday in Australia, and again your company will arrange all the legal documentation. You might just want to backpack, which will require good quality insurance and lots of planning.

Whatever you choose to do, and whoever you choose to do it with, make sure all your pre-travel arrangements are in place well before you leave, giving you plenty of time to focus on the fun part.

Do a little searching for the cheapest flight you can find, which might mean departing from a different airport than your local. I’ve done this several times, and I’ve often found that London flights are cheaper than regional, even when you factor in travel. If you do manage to find a regional flight at a good price, and there are many out there, then I’d really recommend pre-booking airport parking to get you from home to the terminal. Obviously you’re going to be away for a period of time, but if a relative or friend can car share with you, maybe if they’re heading off around the same time, this will save money. I do this religiously now, wherever I’m flying from, and I find the convenience, not to mention low cost, fantastic. I recently booked Heathrow parking with, and found a great deal. I was highly impressed with the service, and would definitely use it again. If you’re flying from Scotland, you’re not forgotten either, with Glasgow Airport parking offered at equally fantastic rates.

You don’t have to be a leaving university student to take a year out, and most companies will have a policy regarding career breaks, so if you’re looking into the idea, check out your local policy. I am currently planning a career break, and I propose to spend a year in Turkey, indulging in my favourite pastime – writing. Sometimes all we need is a break from routine and a chance to be able to follow our dreams, no matter what our age or point in life.

Mind the Gap
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