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Tips for taking the best gap year

by ben


Kayaking photo for a personalised cardIf you break into an ugly-cry upon hearing Slade’s ‘Far, Far Away,’ or sob after watching ‘Into the Wild,’ then it sounds like you’re ready to take a gap year to travel rather than go to uni.

Read on to find out our handsome tips to make sure your year-long excursion becomes an A+ trip of a lifetime!

No money means no travel
Sigh… The harsh realities of being a free spirit. Unfortunately, flights, travel, food and shelter (and anything fun) all cost money. Budget well, and save-up before buying that giant backpack and walking boots you’ve had your eye on. You may find that you’ll only have enough money to tramp around with them for a month before running out of cash. You don’t want to end up watching them sit in your wardrobe at your parent’s house for the remaining 11 months…

Not totally sure you want to travel? Exchange!
University exchanges are most certainly an option for most schools. Swapping with a student in Belgium or Australia or Canada kills two birds with one stone! Not only would you be getting a university education (to keep your parents happy), but you’ll also be experiencing an entirely different culture and country with the security of having accommodation taken care of.

Think of your CV
You may just want to skip off into the distance and live life to the full and on the edge… But more often than not, you will eventually want to stay somewhere that’s not a hostel for longer than a week. When this day comes, you don’t want to panic when looking at your blank CV. Don’t get me wrong, travelling looks great on the CV, but volunteering and internships in between look amazing too. This also means you’ll have recent references!

Seeing the sites without the hassle
Coach tours such as ConTiki or TopDeck have incredible reviews. They have itinerary sussed, and you’re travelling in a big group of people your own age. They travel all around the world, so pick a place and go! You don’t even have to go for that long, from a few days for those who are tight on time, to a couple of months for those who are dedicated.

You’re far, far away with your head up in the clouds – but with a plan
Know why you’re travelling. Having a rough list of places you want to go or things you really want to do, brings structure to your fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants lifestyle. Believe it or not, a bit of planning is a good thing because it’ll keep you motivated! Particularly if you’re travelling on your own, some days you may find it difficult to muster the enthusiasm to leave your hostel. But if you have a checklist, then you will feel more focussed and will use your time well.

Camp America
Camp America is a massively popular Camp to work at for the summer. You get your accommodation sorted and even get a little cash! All you need is a talent to teach children (art, sports, swimming, horseriding, woodwork…). Once you’ve worked at the kids’ camp, most employees travel around America together – great for those feeling nervous about going on their own.

But the sound of home is loud!
“Enjoy yourself, but when you stop having fun, come home” – more wise words from my Dad.
A year doesn’t seem like a long time if you’ve been working and schooling and keeping busy. But travelling can make the days seem longer if you don’t have to be up for 7am every morning with a regular routine. Once you have had a few weeks of hang overs and a few reality checks, you might just have everything out of your system within a month or two. Make the most of your time and do what you need to do, but don’t waste your money – it’s not a failure to come home early. You can always go to uni mid-semester, or work for a bit.

Best of luck for your travels!

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Got the in-laws over for the weekend? Need a break after the first week of school? We’ve got you covered! Read on to find out what you could get up to in Dorset. With the weather being this good, you have to get outside!

1. Durdle Door
Durdle Door in Dorset on a personalised cardA classic beach day spot to marvel at natural rock formations on the Jurassic Coast. Despite the pebbly beach, it’s a beautiful place to spend the day. After a bit of a walk, you will find yourself looking over the cliffs to the coves below. Once you’ve picked your way down the rocky path with your towels and picnics, I suggest walking an extra two minutes around the cove, you will usually find yourself almost isolated.

Durdle Door photo:// http://www.visit-dorset.com/

2. Old Harry Rocks
If you’re a fan of views of the open ocean – from the safety of spongy grass clifftops – then I suggest going to Old Harry Rocks in Swanage. A lovely stroll from the road to see the view is worth it. You can carry on around the cliffs for as far as your legs will take you.

3. Wareham
Perhaps a slightly underestimated old town located between the rural town of Wool and Holton Heath. With a few lovely pubs and market days looking over the river, Wareham is a relaxing place to enjoy good food at a leisurely pace.

4. Burley, New Forest
Burley village new forest on a personalised postcard
Burley Village is in the heart of the New Forest with a rich history of smugglers, dragons and witches. Today, it is likely to be witch-less, but full of quaint shops, walks, horses and bike rides. A perfect family day out to relax with the roaming cattle and ponies. Don’t forget your ice creams! Find out more here.

Burley photo:// http://www.new-forest-national-park.com/burley.html

5. Bournemouth Pier
If you’re looking for something a bit more exciting and bustling I would certainly recommend Bournemouth. If you can brave the traffic and limited parking, you’ll find numerous shops beyond the seafront, which sport a picturesque pier beside a large aquarium.

6. Weymouth
In the 2012 London Olympics, Weymouth’s waters were the host venue for the sailing events. Golden beaches and old fashioned seafronts, Weymouth is a popular holiday spot particularly on a hot summer’s day.

7. Chapman’s Pool
Chapman’s Pool is a beautiful cove to spend a day in (if the weather permits). Walking around to Chapman’s Pool can be challenging depending on where you start, or super easy if you cheat and drive to the nearby carpark. Either way there is a golden reward close by – a pub with the best cider and pasties around called The Square and Compass.

8. Tyneham Village
Tyneham village in Dorset. A great place to get away to on the weekend.
An enchanting ghost town that was evacuated in 1943 during World War II. The eerie and interesting village located near Lulworth is only open on the weekends as the area is still used by the army during the week, and managed by the Ministry of Defence. It’s not just ruins, the church and schoolhouse have been renovated to emulate how it would have looked. Every building has a descriptive plaque to explain who lived in each house, including a brief history of them. A pleasant walk back in time.
Tyneham photo:// Jodie

9. Corfe Castle
A haunting thousand-year-old castle ruin, partially demolished in the 1600s during war, overlooks the romantic and historic township of Corfe. A fascinating tour of Corfe Castle, followed by markets and tearooms in the town below makes an ideal day out for all.

10. Postsnap your weekend!
On your weekend, the top thing to do in Dorset is to download the Postsnap app. This way your beautiful photos can be shared to your friends and family in the form of physical postcards sent straight to their door.

Hopefully the weather stays beautiful and sunny for you. But if not, enjoy the tearooms and pubs of Dorset’s beautiful villages. Find out more here.

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