Talking Points

Things to know when planning a gap year

Taking a gap year is a popular choice for students coming out of education.

A chance to take stock, earn some money, or even travel the globe, there’s no ‘right’ way to enjoy a gap year.

However, there are a few important things to know and remember that will help you use your time effectively.

What is a gap year?

A gap year is typically taken after a period of time in education, typically after finishing your A-Levels, college course, or university degree.

How you spend your gap year is completely up to you. Popular choices include travelling, developing your skills, or even a combination of the two.

Most importantly, a gap year involves taking a break from studying and partaking in experiential learning instead.

When should I take a gap year?

Though you can technically take a gap year at any point, most people tend to do so before or after university.

It’s a good chance to decide your next steps, hone important skills, or enjoy some freedom before embarking further into the world of education or work.

Taking a gap year before university

After an average of 13 years in education, it’s no surprise many school leavers are compelled to take a gap year before starting university.

Taking a year off before university gives you the opportunity to earn some money by working, perhaps for the first time, or the chance to take part in other meaningful activities that busy university schedules wouldn’t allow for.

Taking a gap year after university

You’ve got your degree – fantastic! Now what?

Many graduates choose to take a gap year after university to figure out their next steps, whether that be continuing with education or taking a job.

A gap year after your degree is a great way to take a well-deserved rest and explore alternative options. If you intend to work full-time after graduation, a gap year might be the freest time you’ll enjoy for many years to come.

Gap year ideas

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Make the most of your sabbatical with our top gap year ideas and ensure your time is well spent.

Gap year travel

Travelling is the most popular gap year option, with many holiday companies and tour operators offering exclusive gap year travel packages. The itineraries are often tailored to young people (most group tours only accept passengers under 35) and are a great way to meet new people while exploring the world.

Of course, you can also plan your own gap year travel itineraries. South East Asia is a popular destination due to the cheap cost of living and young ex-pat community, while Australia’s Working Holiday visa, exclusively for under-35 attracts thousands of UK applicants each year.

Some people also combine volunteer experiences with their gap year travels. Many charities run special programmes tailored to younger people, offering the chance to live abroad while giving back to local communities. From improving literacy rates to assisting with conservation efforts, a range of causes is covered.

Gap year jobs

Taking a year out to work is another popular gap year option, and comes with a range of benefits.

In an increasingly competitive workplace, developing your skills straight out of school before returning to education is a smart move, and can make your CV stand out to potential future employers.

It’s also a chance to try various roles and finesse your career direction, which is especially important if your choice of degree will influence your future job.

Entering university with more money under your belt isn’t a bad idea either. With the rising cost of living, having a healthy savings account can be a necessary safety net and help pay for your new, independent lifestyle.

How to plan a gap year

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Planning your gap year will be dependent on the type of sabbatical you intend to take.


  1. Research places to go – choose countries that have a lower cost of living to make your money stretch further or, if you plan on supplementing your travels, places that offer attractive visas for overseas workers.
  2. Consider when to go – work your itinerary around the seasons. South East Asia’s rainy seasons can be dangerous for those not used to it, while the grueling Australian summers aren’t for everyone.
  3. Raise the money – with a luxury gap year costing around £5,000, make sure you’re able to raise the funds for your travels. Part-time work or asking family for assistance are some options.
  4. Book your travel – consult gap year travel specialists to book your travel. These experts will be able to offer you the best deals and advice, including round-the-world flight tickets and budget-friendly hostels.
  5. Pack your travel essentials – packing for a gap year isn’t like packing for a holiday. Take only essentials and things that will keep you safe while away, leaving the luxury items at home.
  6. Plan for your return – it’s a smart idea to keep some money aside for your return home. While not set in stone, having loose plans can make the transition back to ‘reality’ easier.


  1. Research jobs and internships – before you leave school or graduate university, have a chat with your careers advisor about your plans for gap year working. They can assist with finding roles and how to apply for internships.
  2. Perfect your CV – get someone, ideally a parent or somebody already in work, to critique your CV. If it’s your first time creating one, research how to produce the perfect CV to impress employers.
  3. Set goals – make some goals for your gap year. Are you planning to develop a skill? Discover more about an industry? Or perhaps reach a savings goal? Having intentions for the year can improve your efficiency.
  4. Revisit intentions – it’s also important to revisit those intentions throughout the year, particularly if you find yourself not enjoying a role. This gap year is intended as a way to dip your toes into the world of work, and should be approached with flexibility.

When you’ve finished your gap year – whether before or after university – Pickard Properties has you covered housing-wise. With a range of student-friendly accommodation and homes for young professionals, ease yourself back into ‘reality’ with a peaceful place to rest your head.

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