Gap Year

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Guide to Gap Year

Are you interested interested in learning and growing beyond your usual routine, beyond your comfort zone, and beyond your school schedule?

If your hunger to travel the world, meet new people, and experience new adventures can no longer be ignored, a gap year overseas awaits. Whether a sweet tour across country borders on multiple continents, or an immersive long-term stay in a foreign city, how you spend your gap year is completely up to you!

Gap years are becoming increasingly common for students and young professionals. In fact, many find that when applying for jobs down the line, their gap year experience helped their resume stand out among a sea of equally qualified candidates.

Because of its popularity (and slight ambiguity) prospective gappers have tons of questions on:

  • If taking a gap year is possible even possible
  • How much it might cost
  • How to make the most of it

Here on Go Overseas we have detailed information, gap year program listings, and expert advice that’ll help you have an epic year abroad. To prepare, be sure to review our library of expert gap year advice before your trip.

What It Is

Ringing true to its name, a gap year denotes a period of time when a student, recent graduate, or professional takes time off (a “gap”) from their studies or work to travel the world.

Most common among 18-22 year olds seeking a break from academia before or during college, “gap years” are no longer exclusive to a full year abroad. This international break can cover a shorter period of time too -- like summers, a semester, or holiday breaks.

Travelers often spend their gap year backpacking, visiting multiple countries, volunteering, learning a new language, or working abroad. Budget travel is common during a gap year, as it helps travelers extend their adventures.

You may be surprised to learn that many gap years are actually spent facilitated by third-party providers who help travelers make the most of their time overseas. These programs are fee-based and often selected by gappers for:

  • Adventurous itineraries
  • Reliable support staff
  • Reputable reviews
  • Inclusive packaging

Since most young travelers are new to solo travel, gap year programs help ease fears and discomforts about traversing a foreign place.

Benefits

Not only is a gap year essential for college students looking to step away from their studies temporarily, it is also beneficial to people who just need a break from their mundane daily routine.

Truthfully, the benefits of taking a gap year are endless. A few include:

  • Gappers get to take control of their year without consideration of pre-arranged daily responsibilities (like homework and studying) while exploring beyond their comfort zone
  • Most people who take a gap year report a better sense of self, increased interest in other people and cultures, and new life skills

Read on to learn why students should take a gap year.

When & Where

When: The short answer is: anytime, really. As humans, we continuously reach milestones in our lives where change or a break is necessary. It is our way of growing and learning as we mature.

You can take a gap year as a high school graduate to get a taste of life beyond living at home (and maybe even discover some new passions that’ll give you direction in college). You can also take a gap year during college, where you can supplement your textbook education with first-hand experiences.

But that’s not all: after graduation, during your professional career, and after retirement is a great time to take a gap year too! Read more about the best time to take a gap year based on one fellow gapper’s experience.

Where: Popular regions include Europe, Asia, and Australia thanks to the array of nearby cities and countries one can visit on a budget, or command of the English language.

Recently we researched top gap year countries based on reviews, popularity, and search trends, and found:

  • Japan
  • Spain
  • China
  • Germany
  • South Africa
  • India
  • England
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • USA

To begin your search for the perfect gap year destination, browse gap year programs by country from our dropdown menu above.

Costs & Scholarships

Cost: The cost of gap years can vary greatly, depending on the program inclusions, length of time abroad, and destination. What may cost just a few hundred dollars for one program may end up being a few thousand dollars for another.

When researching the cost of your gap year, consider a few things:

  • What countries do I want to visit?
  • What is the general cost of living in those countries?
  • How much does it cost to travel between those countries?
  • How long do I want to stay in each country? (How long am I allowed to stay?)
  • What type of activities do I want to experience in each country?
  • What type of accommodations do I want to stay in (hotel/hostel/homestay)?
  • Do I need to hire a program provider to help facilitate my gap year?
  • How much does a visa cost to visit each country?

This will help you choose the best route for your gap year and create a realistic traveling budget.

Scholarships: Scholarships and grants for gap years may not be as popular as getting financial aid to study abroad, but there are still plenty of options.

Some program providers like CIEE and Global Citizen Year host their own gap year program scholarships. Online travel resources, like Go Overseas, feature current gap year scholarships year-round.

You may even luck out with a scholarship or financial aid transfer from your school if you choose a gap year that offers some form of academic credit. If that isn’t a viable option, try searching the web for independent scholarships and grants.

How Go Overseas Works

Go Overseas is the Yelp/Trip Advisor of abroad programs: here you can browse and discover high school abroad programs to your heart's delight. Just like a trusted travel buddy, we want to help you find the right information and feel excited and confident about your first or next culturally immersive trip overseas. We know sometimes having an abundance of options can be overwhelming, so we have a few tips on how to use Go Overseas to find the perfect transformative travel program for you.

  1. Browse 16,000+ programs: Narrow your search results by using filters, such as program type, location, and length.

  2. Read 35,000+ Reviews: Real people have gone on these programs, and have experiences to share. Read alumni reviews on any program that interests you to get an idea of what it's really like to be on the ground, overseas.

  3. Read 5,700+ Interviews: For any program that really sparks your interest, read personal stories and in-depth accounts from travelers like you. If you'd like to reach out and hear more from the traveler who left an interview, let us know and we'll help connect you.

  4. Browse community photos: Pictures of food, accommodations, adventures, and people (oh, the friends you'll make!) in program community galleries will help you visualize yourself abroad.

  5. Wish List 💙: Not ready to commit to a program? Click the Wish List heart icon to bookmark programs and save them for later. Then, compare programs side by side.

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