Published piece: So you want to create your own gap year – here’s how

WHEN YOU TAKE a gap year, you are not only giving yourself an opportunity to see the world, you are also giving yourself a gift of a lifetime. Through planning, learning, and experimenting along the way, you’ll develop and harness life skills hard to learn otherwise. The experience opens the mind to different cultural perspectives where you’ll learn to thrive with significant autonomy.

The initial idea of a gap year, where students take a year of academic sabbatical to travel, has evolved. Gap years are no longer limited to students and have grown to include those who have found a way to work remotely. The line between work and travel has since been blurred, and has ultimately spawned the creation of combining the two into a whole different work and travel experience, appealing to freelancers, entrepreneurs, and digital nomads alike. However, many companies nowadays are trying to get you to pay them to handle the back-end work, such as travel and lodging logistics, for you. But they are expensive, and outsourcing that work ultimately robs you of part of the travel experience. Planning this gap year on your own will provide you the flexibility of choosing where you want to go. Take off as fast as you want, or stay for much longer, visas permitting.

Whether you have been itching for your chance to create your own gap year before you buckle down and shackle yourself to a desk job, or have finally found a way to work remotely as a digital nomad, here are the things you need to consider in order to create a successful gap year.

Figure out your intent

This might be a never-ending question, but having a basic idea of the big WHY will help you construct a plan to create your own gap year. Sometimes it’s to explore the rich cultures of a foreign country and try unfamiliar things. Other times the goal is to explore possible careers, gain international experience, and build connections with the locals. Maybe it’s a chance to fully embrace the “work hard, play hard” motto and find a community with that same commitment, or to challenge your comfort zone and find yourself. Often it’s simply a desire to escape from the realities of life back home, even for a while.

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