Gap Year: How to plan a year abroad

If you want to spend some time abroad after graduating from high school or college you should start planning your journey early enough. From deciding what to do during your time abroad to returning back home: The following checklist gives you an overview of the steps you need to consider when planning a gap year.

Travel Guide

What to do during your gap year

What would you like to do during your time abroad? Try to find an answer on this question early enough. You have numerous options:

You would like to travel and discover the world? Or do something meaningful and become active as a volunteer? Taking part in educational courses, doing an internship or Work and Travel are popular gap year ideas. Consider thoroughly which option is suitable for you.

Depending on your gap year plans it may be a good idea to refresh your English skills or to improve your physical fitness beforehand.

Financing your year abroad

The costs of a gap year are dependent on what you want to do during your time out. What is valid in any case: Carefully calculate your financial resources before departure!

This means you should think about how much money you spend on food, leisure time activities, public transport, cellphone plan etc. per month. Perhaps you are already living in your own apartment and need to pay rent? Make a list of your monthly costs – the sum will be at about the same monthly sum you will need during your gap year.

Creating a financial buffer is particularly important if you don’t earn any money during your year abroad, for example by doing side/temporary jobs or receiving some extra money from your family. But even if you will earn money during your gap year – for example through work and travel – it is essential that you deliberate whether other financial resources are necessary.

Health and insurances during your time abroad

Health insurance

A suitable insurance cover is essential – especially if you’re going abroad during your gap year. Make sure to get foreign health insurance first. If you live in a European country and want to stay within Europe you are insured by the statutory health insurance in most European countries. If you plan to travel outside of Europe for a longer stay you need a private supplementary insurance.

If you live outside of Europe your insurance conditions may be completely different.

In any case the exact contributions usually comply with your age, your preferred destination and the duration of your journey. Talk to your insurance company for more information.

Liability and travel insurance

The conclusion or renewal of a liability insurance is also important. It protects you from financial consequences and takes the claim settlement if any misfortunes happen to you.

In the worst case you might fall ill and therefore cannot join the flight you’ve booked. A travel insurance helps you out and takes the costs of your air trip. You can usually book a travel insurance quite short-term.


When traveling it is essential that you protect yourself from vaccine preventable illnesses. Depending on your final destination different vaccinations are recommended. Get information on the website of the Foreign Office of your country and talk to your doctor. Sometimes more than one vaccination over several months needs to be given in order to receive full immunization protection – check your vaccination record early enough!

Travel preparations for your gap year

Depending on how you want to spend your gap year, you should deal with the following travel preparations several months prior to departure:

  • Booking flights and transfers
  • If necessary: apply for visa(s)
  • Getting insurances
  • Booking accommodations
  • If necessary: renting a car
  • Making a packing list and getting necessary equipment
  • Checking out payment methods abroad
  • Checking the status quo of your document and, if necessary, renewing them: Passport, (International) driving license, Credit card, Vaccinations
  • If necessary: checking the right to receive child benefits

Returning home from your gap year

Your year abroad is coming to an end and you are about to go home again: if you are still living with your parents the organizational steps you have to take now are surely not as many as if you were living in your own apartment. In case you sublet your apartment, you should start early enough taking care of a new home.

In any case it is important that you decide which direction you would now like to take: Would you like to study? If yes, which field of study is suitable for you? To make it short: You think about how to make a bridge out of your gap.

Planning your gap year: Natucate’s support

The team at Natucate assists you in planning your gap year and supports you with necessary decisions and organizational tasks. Just reach out to us – we help you plan your personal adventure abroad.

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