Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

The best books for your gap year

Many students decide to take a gap year between their final year of school and their first year of university education. However, this is also quite a popular way to spend the year between graduating and starting your career. Many use a gap year to travel while others may stay at home, working to save up for university or having a well-earned rest before starting a full-time job, often dreaming of fulfilling their travel desires.

However, in both scenarios, books can be helpful. For a start, not filling your days with school and homework may leave some extra time to get your head into a book, whether you use this to plan your gap year or to escape to faraway places while you work from 9 to 5.

There’s nothing worse than having to come home from a trip early because you can’t afford to eat in the other places you’ve booked

There is a wealth of books out there which advise you on how to create your perfect gap year. Some, like Your Gap Year by Susan Griffith, are aimed at those taking a gap year before continuing their education. Griffith also has an option for those who are taking time out later in life, titled Gap Years for Grown Ups. She isn’t the only one who has an option like this. Lonely Planet also do a version titled The Big Trip: Your Ultimate Guide to Gap Years and Overseas Adventures.

Before going somewhere new, it is important to research, to know exactly what you are getting yourself into. Books are a great place to start when planning a new trip. These books can tell you about how to budget for your trip, which is something you will almost definitely think of the moment you decide to take a gap year. It is no secret that travelling is expensive and doing it for a whole year when you aren’t necessarily working will require very careful budgeting to ensure that you don’t run out of money before reaching your final destination. There’s nothing worse than having to come home from a trip early because you can’t afford to eat in the other places you’ve booked! In Your Gap Year, Griffith has an explanation on budgeting in each of her country sections to tailor it to your destination.

you definitely don’t want to be kicked out of a country before you’ve even stepped out of the airport

However, such books will also explain other things which you might not have thought about. These may include risks, travel warnings and health precautions, such as which vaccinations you’ll need for a specific country. Another important thing is your travel visa – you definitely don’t want to be kicked out of a country before you’ve even stepped out of the airport!

Griffith’s Your Gap Year also has a section on ‘Overcoming anxiety’ for if you become nervous before your big trip. Lonely Planet’s The Big Trip has a part on ‘Tailoring your trip’, where you can find out more about the festival circuit or getting a job, if you would like to work while you are away, perhaps teaching English or volunteering.

You don’t need to use books specifically tailored to gap years to plan your own. While 2019 1000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz is a wall calendar, it can provide great inspiration for things you may want to see when on your gap year.

travel journals will give you the perfect account of exactly what it was like to be in that place

Once you’ve decided where you want to go on your year out, you can use specific guide books to find out more detailed information about your destination. Guide books will allow you to discover where key landmarks are and the best places to stay based on this.

If you’re not going away on your year out, another thing you can do is use books as a method of escape. There are plenty of travel journals out there. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is to name just one, where you feel as though you are experiencing the trip of a lifetime. Often, travel journals will give you the perfect account of exactly what it was like to be in that place, which is something guide books usually can’t do. Guide books try to portray the positives of a place, as they aim to persuade you to go, while travel accounts are a raw, real reflection of what happened.

Reading a travel account of where you are going before you go can give you a different perspective. The writer will explain what they liked and didn’t like about the place, giving you an insight before you arrive.

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