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It is really popular and exciting to take a GAP year after school, and I agree with the advantages of doing this instead of going straight away to university.
What are the advantages?
Well, when you are young you don't know much about yourself or what do you want to do in your professional career, but at the same time you know that it is really important to choose something that you like, so you don't feel that you are ‘working’ for the rest of your life. So this life changing decision can be quite stressful, and you can end up choosing something that you are not entirely sure about, but you just think that you are running out of time. What's the rush?
Better just to take a moment to enjoy your life, relax and think without stress now that you don't have big responsibilities in your life.
Travelling with a budget through a whole bunch of countries will make you grow faster, you will need to adapt to different scenarios, different cultures, and if you use all the tools out there you can even end up exploring all kind of different jobs that you never knew you were gonna do, and who knows, maybe you find your vocation without even trying to find it!
Some of the tools you can use to make the best of your GAP year and get incredible experiences are WorkAway, WWoof and CouchSurfing.
WorkAway is a site that gives you access to a lot of different types of volunteering jobs around the world. Literally anywhere in the world you can go and volunteer in exchange of accommodation and sometimes some extras such as food, drinks, discounts.
They charge a small fee in order for you to get the account, but if you are planning to travel for long time, it will definitely worth it!
Once you have your account you can choose between hospitality work, teaching jobs, construction, housekeeping, or more random stuff like volunteering in the middle of the sahara with the bedouins, or participate in an art project in a really small community. Possibilities are endless!
WWoof on the other side it is quite the same concept of Workaway but focused in organic farms only. Mostly used in Australia and New Zealand, but options available also worldwide. You will also work in exchange for accommodation and food, so in the end... what else do you need to live? This will help you save your money and keep travelling longer.
CouchSurfing will allow you to meet local people and learn the culture in a faster and better way than if you are only surrounded by foreigners. The idea is to stay on someone else's couch. Although I know that sounds quite ‘dangerous’ as you don't actually know that person in advance, the experiences that you can gain through this app are absolutely amazing if you know how to filter the people that are really worthy of your trust. Anyways, if you think that's not your style, you can still simply use it for ‘hangout’ or ‘events’, this way you will meet a lot of interesting people.
At the same time, there will be a few tricks you will get use to while travelling, but I will make it easier for you and just tell you about it.
Taking night buses and night trains to cover long distances will help you save one night of accommodation, plus save time as you will arrive in the morning ready to start doing things.
Always eat the typical food at local places. That will always be the cheapest food you can get.
Western food in a country where they are not used to eating it can get really expensive. And also, always follow where the local people eat, that way you will know for sure that's a good value place and good quality of food.
Do your research. That doesn't mean that you need to have everything organized and booked, no, not at all. I even recommend not to do that, as your plans will constantly change while travelling. But anyways, once that you get to one place, do your research about that place. Don't settle with the first price they give you, especially in countries where the bargain culture exists. And where that happens, don't be afraid to use your bargain skills. Go for it!
Each person needs to find his own way of travelling, what are they comfortable with.
My way, it is all about balance I would say.
I use a lot of these tools, that's true. But I always give myself some ‘permitidos’ as we would say in Argentina... if one day I want something that it is quite away from my budget.. I will still get it! I will just keep a low expenses approach the next few days.
All about balance!
Enjoy your trips!