A guide to gap years for parents
We at Real Gap Experience understand that you, as a parent, may have concerns or worries about your son or daughter on their gap year travels. It is for this reason we have put together this page to try to answer some of the questions you may have.
You may also find the following sections on our website useful:
• About us
• Who we are
• Health & Safety
• Funding & budgeting
• Planning your trip/gap year
• Getting the most from your trip
• School leavers
• Students & graduates
Personal and Financial Security should go without saying, security is a big issue these days and at Real Gap we take this issue very seriously. We have put in place various systems to help ensure personal and financial security for anyone who travels with Real Gap.
Our quality control team complete risk assessments on all our programmes abroad. Of course we cannot eliminate every possible danger or risk (and there would be little point traveling abroad if it all became too sanitised), but we aim to reassure participants, and their loved ones, that we consider their safety paramount.
Real Gap adheres to legislation regarding travel operations. Your funds are secure.
01. Personal and Financial Security
Personal and Financial Security should go without saying. Security is a big issue these days and at Real Gap we take this issue very seriously. We have put in place various systems to help ensure personal and financial security for anyone who travels with Real Gap. Our quality control team complete risk assessments on all our programs abroad, and every Real Gap program manager completes a detailed program analysis to make sure that projects are suitable. Of course we cannot eliminate every possible danger or risk (and there would be little point travelling abroad if it all became too sanitised), but we aim to reassure participants, and their loved ones, that we consider their safety paramount.
02. Staying in touch with your son or daughter
The internet has made it far easier and cheaper for gap year travelers to stay in touch with family and friends. Email is without doubt the simplest and cheapest form of contact. Email accounts are free of charge and can be set up quickly and easily. Gap year travelers and backpackers making their way round the world don't have to look too far to find one of the countless internet cafes which have sprung up throughout the globe. They can even share what they've been up to by posting their latest digital photos online. Some computer savvy travelers these days go one step further by using a webcam or even setting up a website where they can write articles or post pictures regularly. Of course, nothing beats a phone call. It's possible for your son or daughter to buy very reasonably priced international pre-paid calling cards whilst they are away. These offer far cheaper calling rates and can be used on any phone simply by typing in an individual pin-code. There is one other option for keeping in touch that you might not have considered. If your son or daughter's gap year or career break is for an entire year then why not fly out to join up with them for a while? Those working on a volunteer project or job abroad aren't permanently tied down and have plenty of opportunity to book ‘vacation' time while they're on their year out. Whatever you do, though, don't plan on springing them a surprise!
03. Is my son or daughter ready for a gap year?
A good gap year program can provide an ideal link between the structured lifestyle of high school and the more relaxed life at university or college. At Real Gap Experience we offer planned gap year programs that have been researched by our experienced travel advisors. We insist on a policy of stringent safety precautions, ensuring our clients are never too far out of touch with the western world. We would say that a gap year program booked with us has far fewer un-known factors than if your son or daughter went traveling independently. The internet has certainly made life much easier for gap year travelers making their way round the world. Travelers can easily find internet cafes and keep in regular touch with family and friends at the touch of a button by email. Emails are instant and cheap so you'll find it easy to keep in touch and hear about all the amazing things they have been up to. The question of your son or daughter being ready for a gap year ultimately falls to your son or daughter together with your input. However, if they are mentally prepared, have thorough travel plans and all the equipment they need, a lot of concerns can be eliminated.
04. What is a gap year?
A gap year or career break can be whatever you want it to be. Some people travel solo or with a group of friends. A gap year can be anything from spending a month or so in one destination to an entire year away backpacking and traveling around the world. Some people might opt for work on a volunteer project with animals, children or within a community, whilst others may choose to find paid work abroad simply as a means to make their gap year funds go further on their travels. A gap year is typically taken before, during or after university or college. Those seeking a career break to re-charge their batteries can be any age or at any point in their career when they decide to go for it. Perhaps the only common link between the many different activities, duration and destinations of gap year or career breaks is that everyone who takes one seems to come back saying it was the best decision they ever made.
05. Managing gap year money
Your son or daughter will obviously need money as they travel round the world on their gap year or career break. In our experience the safest, easiest and most convenient option for gap year travelers is to carry a Visa or Mastercard. Banks do charge for each transaction on credit cards, but using them is definitely by far the simplest way for your son or daughter to access their funds. It's also a good idea for your son or daughter to back up their credit card by taking away with them a good supply of travelers' cheques. These can easily be exchanged at most banks and also at airports, (again there is usually a charge for this). As with credit cards, if they are lost or stolen they are also easily replaced. One thing you could consider as a parent is to set yourself up a power of attorney on your son or daughter's bank account. This means that, in the event of any emergency, you'll be able to pay in money or pay bills speedily and without any complications. If your son or daughter is planning on finding paid work abroad then we advise they contact the travel advisor for that particular program. We try and take the hassle out applications and paperwork by doing as much of the advance financial leg-work as possible. We can even set up the bank account. We have loads of ideas for gap year fundraising too.
06. Gap year preparation
Gap year preparation puts minds at ease prior to departure and also helps to ensure the trip goes smoothly throughout its duration. Our experts can put together anything from a full year backpacking round the world to just a few weeks away working on a volunteer project worldwide. Your son or daughter will be assigned their own travel advisor who, aside from helping to plan the trip, can offer advice on everything from negotiating a good deal on the flights, right down to what they should pack. The advisors are all experts on the specific country or countries your son or daughter is visiting, as well as the gap year program they're participating in. They are always more than happy to take calls from parents too, whatever the query may be. All of our clients are handed one of our pre-departure gap year preparation handbooks, containing just about every piece of information you or your son or daughter could wish to know before they leave.