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Izzie Prankerd shares some incredible photos and gives a convincing ‘yah’ to her gap year experiences.

It’s the last term, summer is fast approaching and if you’re in third year you are trying to figure out what to do for the rest of your life. It’s a daunting prospect. Job applications, taxes, loans, yuck. Luckily for you I’m here to suggest a solution: take a year out and go travelling! I can promise you won’t regret it.

Hiking on a glacier in New Zealand.

I’ll start by introducing myself: Hi, I’m Izzie and my gap year changed my life. I know that’s not a very fashionable thing to say, if I ever said that to any of my friends I would be met by a chorus of “gap yaaah”, but it is true.

Let’s start with the benefits (which are probably obvious, but I’ll say them anyway):

You get to explore different cultures and cities, seeing how other people live. It will broaden your mind and you’ll learn so much more about the world. There are experiences you could never have at home. You can’t hike on glaciers, swim with dolphins or see komodo dragons in the UK!

However, the real treasures are the friends you make along the way. It’s a different type of friendship, you meet people you just click with and end up travelling with them for a few weeks and becoming life long friends. You also discover things that you never knew about yourself and gain confidence.

Some of you will be thinking, okay that sounds great but…

“It’s too expensive”.

Yeah it can be, but it doesn’t have to be as much as you think. Having a full bank account is always nice, but as a student it may not be entirely realistic. There are several options out there. As you are no longer restricted by term dates you can use sites like Kayak and skyscanner to find the cheapest flights. You can go to less expensive countries like those in South East Asia where the cost of living is less. The other option is to work while you’re away, which is what I did in New Zealand. It can be hard, but if you find a job with other backpackers it can be amazing fun as well.

Sunset in Luang Prabang, Laos.

“I can’t find any friends to go with me and I don’t want to go on my own.”

Firstly, I would say don’t be afraid to go on your own. I’m not going to lie, it’s scary at first, really really scary. But that goes quite quickly, as soon as you sit down and get talking to other people in hostels. You just get to know people so much better when you’re on your own. If you still don’t think that’s for you, then find a tour. There are so many tours out there designed for students where you can meet people and then continue travelling with the people you met there. The same is true of volunteering projects.

Playing with elephants in Chang Mai.

“I’m worried I won’t get a job so I just want to get University over with.”

That’s fair enough, it’s horrible out there. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be able to mention in applications though. When they ask for those good old transferable skills you’ll be able to give some interesting examples. It does improve organisational skills and your confidence in handling unexpected situations.

Traditional fisherman on Inle Lake, Myanmar.

So there you go! Go travelling! There’s no rush, it’s never too late but why put off a good thing? My gap year was the best year of my life and I’m sure yours will be too!

Do you have photos or stories to share? Let us know at @e2travel

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