Some people leave matric with a solid five-year plan for their future. If you aren’t one of those people who are lucky enough to know exactly what they want by when and how to get it, read on.

Giving yourself a break to explore your options and decide what course your life should take can be the best thing you ever do. Taking a GAP year to gain focus and direction can save thousands on pursuing a university course that you end up hating, and save you from getting stuck in a dead-end job that you only thought you wanted.

On the other hand, sitting around thinking about your options won’t do you much good either. Get out there and go after experiences that will help you to learn what you really want and teach you life skills that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.

Going abroad is first prize when it comes to GAP year travel but even jetting off on flights from Johannesburg to Durbanor anywhere else in South Africa, will give you the benefits of getting out of your comfort zone for a while.

These are the benefits of travelling somewhere new during your GAP year.

  1. Experiencing A Different Way of Living
  2. Getting out of the sheltered enclave of your parents’ home is a big step and full of important lessons. When you’re in a new place, you’ll have to learn how to things are done in that neck of the woods.

    If you’re travelling abroad, you’ll get to immerse yourself in different cultures and new ways to do even the most basic things. Don’t forget that South Africa is filled with its own opportunities for learning about other cultures.

    Traveling on a formal GAP year exchange program is an excellent and safe way to get the best of authentic travel experiences. These are available on a paid-labour or volunteer basis.

  3. Learning New Things
  4. Getting out of the sheltered enclave of your parents’ home i
    You won’t gain anything from your GAP year unless you work at it. Make the effort to learn new languages, try out odd jobs that broaden your experiences and do as many unique things as you possibly can.

  5. Gaining Life Skills
  6. With work comes responsibility. You’ll learn more about money management from paying for your own upkeep than any formal learning institution can teach you.You’ll discover the responsibilities involved in feeding, housing and clothing yourself and get free lessons in budgeting courtesy of the school of hard knocks.

    You’ll also learn to master the art of living and packing light when you’re lugging everything you need around in a suitcase or backpack.

  7. Finding What Inspires You
  8. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Chances are you could discover a previously hidden passion while working your way around the world.

    When you’re forced to do tasks that you wouldn’t usually consider, there’s a chance you could find joy and fulfilment in something you’d never have considered before.

  9. Preparing for College
  10. When you’ve had to care for yourself out there for a full year, starting university is much easier than if you’d done it straight out of school.In fact, armed with your new-found sense of purpose, perseverance and maturity, university is a walk in the park.

  11. Gathering Priceless Life Experiences
  12. You’ll be telling tales of your travels around the campfire for the rest of your life. No matter where you travel, be it on flights from Johannesburg to Durban or South Africa to Thailand, there will be unique things to do and see and new friends to be made.

  13. Boosting Your Employability
  14. If you’re skipping university and entering the job market straight away, you’ll have a ready-made resume.Proof that you’ve gone it alone in the big bad world on your own shows that you’re tenacious, flexible and willing to do what it takes. These are all desirable qualities for future employers.

  15. Letting You Test Drive Your Chosen Career
  16. So many students study in a particular field for years only to end up hating the day-to-day reality of the job they’re qualified for.

    If you fancy the idea of becoming a vet or game ranger, volunteering in nature conservation can either help cement your ideals or put you off the idea entirely. Dipping your toes in your chosen career is the best way to find out if it’s the right fit for you.

    Many a part-time waiter has enjoyed the hospitality industry so much that they’ve changed direction entirely and ended up pursuing a career in that field.

Getting Going

The main question around a GAP year isn’t really an issue of whether to do it, rather when and where. If you’re undecided about what to do after school, all you need is a little courage, a lot of research and some cheap flights to your chosen destination or departure point within South Africa.

Start planning here and now.