Britain


Exam results see start of gap year planning in the UK

by Ray Clancy on August 14, 2014

Young people in Britain have finished their exams and are planning their gap year abroad with Australia, South East Asia, the US and South America being this years’ most popular destinations.

It is estimated that thousands will be embarking on being temporary expats for at least a year as they explore the world before knuckling under at university next year.

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Australia is the number one hot spot for gap year travellers

Australia is the number one hot spot for gap year travellers and there has been an increase in bookings, according to research from the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).

In second place is Thailand, followed by the US, New Zealand and Peru. The rest of the top 10 are Bolivia, Argentina, Vietnam, South Africa and Brazil, with ABTA members specialising in gap year travel seeing an increase in demand.

ABTA is urging young people to make sure they are safe during their temporary life as an expat and we aware of dangers in countries such as Zanzibar and Malaysia, where there have been high profile tragedies involving gap year travellers.

It advises young people to choose a reputable gap year travel company with a good track record that is a member of a trade association, such as ABTA, so they have a point of contact and support should anything go wrong.

They should check with their travel agent and with the Foreign Office for dos and don’ts and ‘no go’ areas for the country they’re visiting.  Travel agents and the Foreign Office will also be able to provide visa requirements and how to get relevant visas, which is especially important if you’re going to be working.

Gap year travellers are also urged to research local customs and culture, to get all the necessary jabs and inoculations and to get a good quality travel insurance policy that covers the activities they may want to take part in. The cheapest policies don’t necessarily provide the level of cover needed for a lengthy stay overseas, or for extreme sports.

Other things worth considering is learning the language of a country before arriving, telling  your bank where and when you’ll be travelling to reduce the risk of them stopping your card and keeping electronic copies of all important travel documents along with a list of emergency contact numbers in a safe and accessible place.

Although a gap year still represents an opportunity to relax, increasing numbers of youngsters are looking to gap year specialists to provide them with opportunities to gain work experience, as well as using this as an opportunity to fund and extend their trips.

The most popular type of gap year requested by school and college leavers for 2014/2015 are work experience placements abroad. These include activities such as Teaching English as a Foreign Language, bar work and internships. Following these are volunteering trips, with many students choosing to work with local communities in developing countries.

ABTA says that booking through a reputable company is particularly important for volunteering trips, as is doing your research thoroughly and committing to a project that properly suits both your strengths and your weaknesses.

Adventure gap years are also proving popular, with young people looking to take part in overland tours, trekking, cycling and scuba diving. The more traditional round the world backpacking gap year still remains popular.

‘Taking a gap year can be one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences in a young person’s life and young people up and down the country will be heading off in the next 12 months, often spending thousands of pounds of savings on their travel plans,’ said Victoria Bacon, head of communications at ABTA.

‘Doing plenty of research and talking to reputable gap year travel companies can help you decide what to do and where to go. It is very important that whatever your gap year involves, you plan it properly, to help ensure a safe and rewarding experience,’ she added.

 

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