With over 230,000 18-25 year olds taking a gap year every year, a break away from the demand and structure of everyday life is becoming an increasingly popular choice for young people across the length and breadth of Britain.
Whether you’re looking to enhance your CV, discover more about yourself and the world around you, or simply experience something new, Africa provides the perfect location for life-changing experiences that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
Understandably, though, the thought of planning and embarking on a gap year in Africa can be a daunting prospect – so, today, the budgeting experts at Jolly Good Loans are breaking down everything you need to know for the perfect African gap year, guiding you through all the essentials to ensure you get the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
How do I save?
Gap years aren’t cheap, but this barrier doesn’t have to be an immovable obstacle as long as you’re prepared to put in a bit of hard work and exercise some determination.
Work as much as possible during the planning process, keeping the ultimate goal in mind to help drive you through those long and gruelling shifts. Give yourself a weekly allowance, setting money aside in a separate savings account each week, and, before you know it, the money will really start to build up.
For the bravest and strongest amongst you, consider staying or moving back in with your parents – again, keeping the ultimate goal in mind to help see you through this transition.
What should I pack?
With money in the bank, it’s time to start planning your trip. A thoroughly planned packing process is essential to ensure you have the right clothing and accessories to really make the most of your gap year in Africa.
It’s important to consider the religious and cultural contexts of the places you visit. For example, Algeria’s breathtaking architecture makes it an absolute must-visit – but with Africa’s highest Muslim population, appropriate cover-up clothing such as a thin shirt and long skirt are important for any woman. Being respectful of local cultural and social norms will help you gain a greater understanding of African communities, broadening your horizons and creating a more authentic travelling experience.
Remember, you’re in Africa to experience the unique cultures and sights this amazing continent has to offer, not to treat the streets like your personal catwalk – so pack for function rather than style! Trekking sandals might not be making their way to high-street windows anytime soon, but their comfort and durability make them a reliable footwear option.
Aside from the obvious things like your passport and papers, remember to check on all health and immunisation requirements. Medical insurance is an absolute must, ensuring you have the correct cover for any activities you may be planning while on your travels.
Where should I go? What should I do?
Africa is rich with history, culture and adventure, meaning there really is something for everyone. Think about what you’re looking to get from your gap year and plan accordingly.
For those looking to experience Africa’s unique culture, consider visiting Morocco. Featuring world-renowned cities such as Marrakech and Casablanca, Morocco provides the perfect opportunity to soak up some African culture amongst the bazaars, hammam, unforgettable food and even snake charmers! Better yet, consider incorporating a visit to one of Africa’s many festivals en route to really get a feel for the artistic expression African culture so proudly boasts.
For the history buff, there’s arguably no greater place in the world to visit than Egypt. Immerse yourself in the ancient world, being sure not to miss the unforgettable pyramids and catacombs.
The adventure-seeker should consider a trip to Swaziland, where you can get up close and personal (well, not too close or personal) with Africa’s stunning wildlife – from forest to bush.
A popular choice for many gap year travellers is to give something back to the communities you explore. Volunteering in Africa is a hugely rewarding experience that benefits both the humanitarian and sociological development of the continent, and the philanthropy of the traveller. From wildlife conservation projects in Zimbabwe to community volunteer projects in Cape Town, volunteering is a highly rewarding way to gain a greater understanding of yourself on your gap year, while doing some genuine good in the process.
From wildlife and adventure to history and culture, there’s something for everyone in Africa to make their gap year one they’ll never forget.
Keith Harrison is a content creator and writer for Jolly Good Loans – your online personal loans encyclopedia.