Thursday, 5 January 2012 10:42 AM
A gap year may be something you have wanted to do all your life and been eagerly planning for years. However, when it comes to making that final decision about where you will visit, it can suddenly seem very daunting. Read on for tips on making your choice easier.
Of course, the first thing to consider is where you would like to visit, but this can often be the hardest choice. Some people have had one destination in mind for years that they long to experience firsthand, while others prefer to take in as much as possible by travelling.
Timing might be the most important factor in where you go. If you have a full 12 months or longer, you could opt to book a round the world trip that will allow you to visit a host of countries and numerous cities on your journey.
Alternatively, if you have just a few weeks or months, you might prefer to stay somewhere closer to home, such as Europe, to waste as few days as possible travelling to your destination.
Next, ask yourself whether or not you want to do some volunteer work during your trip. There are plenty of programmes running all over the world that can allow you to put your skills to good use.
One of the best things about lending a hand in this way is that it really can help you get the most from your gap year experience. You will be able to get to know some of the local people in the place where you are based and learn what their day-to-day lives are like. In addition, you will have a unique opportunity to get under the skin of a destination by learning all about its culture and traditions.
Perhaps the best thing about volunteering is that it allows you to give something back to the country you have enjoyed visiting. You will discover there are so many different projects running all over the world you are bound to find something suitable.
You could help monitor wildlife numbers to protect the environment in a place of particular natural beauty. Alternatively, you may assist in constructing new community buildings or teaching English to the locals in order to open up new career opportunities to them.
However, you might prefer to book a package tour that allows you to see as much of a particular destination as possible while having once-in-a-lifetime experiences on the way.
Over the course of a few weeks you could see all the very best bits of Thailand, or journey through some of the most famous sites in Peru, like Machu Picchu. South Africa is another destination you can travel extensively on such a tour, from catching sight of the big five to stopping in vibrant Cape Town.
Indeed, it may be specific attractions like these that persuade you to choose a particular destination. For instance, if you are a keen diver you could opt to visit Australia, where you will have plenty of opportunities to indulge in your favourite pastime. Alternatively, hikers could base themselves in Nepal, where they will be able to trek through the Himalayas.
Language is also something to think about, especially if you are keen to select a more rural base, as you may not meet as many people who can speak English. In addition, you could think about your diet - the more adventurous you are with what you will and won't eat, the more places you may feel happy to stay for an extended period.
By taking all of this into account, you should find choosing your gap year destination is far easier.