When leaving school (college or Sixth Form) you have three main options. Go straight to Uni, get a full time job, or take a gap year. This is a very important decision to make, it could have life changing effects so you shouldn’t jump in to anything without giving it careful thought. With this in mind, I’m going to tell you why I think taking a gap year is the best option.
For most people the period directly after finishing school will probably be the one chance you get in your life to travel extensively. Think about it, if you choose to go to university, not only will you be tied up for at least another three years, but once you are finished you will unfortunately be in very large debt, especially with tuition fees rising.
Obviously this is a problem as traveling does require funds, but it also means that as soon as you finish Uni its quite likely you will be looking for a job to start paying back your loans, and with the current job climate in the UK being so competitive, once you have found one you wouldn’t want to leave it. This leads onto my next point nicely.
If you choose to leave school and go straight into a full time job you’ll have other problems. Like I said above, jobs are very competitive in the UK at the moment, so finding them can be hard. If you’ve got one you’ll want to keep it.
Jobs present obvious problems to potential travelers. Although all jobs will give you holiday leave, this will usually be at most 2-4 weeks a year. Fine if you want a quick summer holiday, but not really enough if you want to do a good bit of backpacking. If you try your luck and ask for more holiday leave, you risk annoying your boss and having no job to come back to!
At the end of the day you are going to working for a very large proportion of your life, so is it really that bad to start work a year later?
As daunting as it may be leaving home for the unknown at such a young age, it can also be a massive advantage. Everyone gets older, and I’m sure you’ll agree, there’s plenty of things you would consider doing now that you wouldn’t even dream of at 50.
Sky diving, bungee jumping, white water rafting, rock climbing, even staying in hostels might not appeal to you as you get older. Not just because you might not want to do these things any more, I know there are plenty of 50+ that still would love to do, and still do these things on a regular basis, and I hope I still will be, but unfortunately not everyone will be as healthy or fit as they once were so its still something to consider.
What could be worse when forty years later you are stuck full swing in the daily grind of work remembering you once had the opportunity to travel the world, and realising you had made a mistake? It would be a horrible feeling, and I know that a gap year is not the best option for everyone, but for those of you who do consider it, make sure you give it the thinking time it deserves so you’re not left wandering what if?