TOP TEN TIPS ON PLANNING YOUR GAP YEAR OR CAREER BREAK
1. Research all your options well and talk to people who have done what you want to do. Word of mouth is the best source of information.
2. If you’ve arranged a voluntary placement with an organisation (preferably ours!), read the documentation very carefully to ensure that you don’t have unrealistic expectations of what is being provided, and also to ensure that you have completed all the necessary steps – it will dramatically improve your enjoyment of your placement.
3. Bring half the luggage and twice the money you think you need!
4. Take safety seriously. Ensure that you are medically and mentally prepared for where you’re going. Be aware and streetwise and you will be fine. Don’t flash your money, passport, etc. around in public – you’ll only draw the wrong type of attention.
5. Buy a great guidebook, it will be your bible! And don’t forget your camera and Ipod.
6. Take a few good books you haven’t read yet. You will exchange these many times along your journey.
7. Set mum and dad up on email to keep in touch – and then make sure you keep in touch … they worry about you!
8. Don’t rush around trying to fit things in … visit less countries but spend longer in each so that you can go with the flow when you get there and have more opportunities to do things with people you meet along the way. It is the freedom of travel and the friendships you make along the way that you will appreciate years later rather than a fully ticked checklist of ‘must-sees’. The friends you make along the way will help determine the route of your trip, keep your initial itinerary flexible and stay open to suggestions. It’s worth it. The best times are those unexpected ones.
9. If you're traveling alone, embrace it! You will meet good people along the way and you’ll get to know yourself a lot better, so enjoy not having to compromise.
10. Accept that there may be challenges along the way. This is all part of your journey, and remember, all experience is good!
AND A FEW MORE ...
AND FINALLY, FROM AOIFE...