Mind the Gap – in Europe

Exams are consigned to recent history. The cold sweat, butterflies and dry mouth are a thing of the past. You have to wait a bit longer for your results. But you’re not sure that you want to go straight back into education and University this coming year.

That, my friend, sounds like a prime candidacy for a Gap Year. The time when you take a year out and see the world, get stuck in to some conservation, or go and help people less fortunate than us Brits. If the whole concept of a Gap Year – where to go, what to do –  is a bit bewildering, here’s the first in our series. For this one we’re starting close to home and focussing on the best of Europe…

The Earth seems an awful lot smaller than it used to. Modern transport networks mean that you can be in almost any city on the planet inside a day’s travel. That accessibility means that Gap Years are becoming more and more popular with young adults who are ‘between studies’. If you’re thinking of taking a year out and heading off to see the world, then Europe might well be on your list. Well that’s a nice coincidence, because it’s exactly where this blog is heading…

Europe as a Gap year destination has a lot going for it. It’s easy and relatively cheap to travel to, English is widely used as a second language (and you’ll probably have at least a GCSE level grasp of one or two of the native tongues), plus (for the most part) the people are friendly and welcoming.

Job or Jolly?

That’s a critical question. Are you able to finance up to a full year away, or are you looking at ways to get the costs paid? It is possible to manage bit of both.

Here’s our pick of ways you might go:


We’ll start with granddaddy of Gap Year ideas, the concept that started it all, as long ago as the 1960s in fact. Interrailing is a great way to see lots of Europe. A second class 1 month ticket is just £359 and covers a staggering 30 countries – from inside the Arctic circle in Norway to the mediterranean Islands of Greece – and pretty much everything in between. Of course you’ll need to have some funds for accommodation, food, drink and any attractions you want to visit – but it’s hard to find better vale on travel costs alone.

It’s up to you whether it is a Job or Jolly – you might be able to find yourself some stay in one place for long enough and you might be able to find yourself the odd bit of casual work on your way across Europe to largely pay your way. Or if your budget allows, you might just make the most of enjoying the locations you visit. You can find out more – and purchase an InterRail Pass – on the Interrail.eu website.


Another cost-effective way to experience Europe is to volunteer – and the possibilities of where to go and what to do are vast. You might choose environmental conservation, teaching or even humanitarian aid. Savvy volunteers pick something where the experience gained is directly related to their chosen future studies. So if you’re enrolled on a Marine Science Degree in Plymouth – starting in autumn 2017 – then Turtle Conservation in Greece might be just what you’re after.

There are plenty of Volunteering organisations that can help get you started – but a great place to start and find the really reputable ones – is the Department for International Development Volunteering pages on gov.uk and the DFID funded International Citizen Service 


If volunteering is less appealing, and you’re after something where you can work hard and play hard – then repping is probably it. Tour Operator Representatives look after holiday makers, so they get to meet lots of people and learn some really useful life skills. It’s also possible to make some money – provided you don’t blow it all in the bar every evening. It doesn’t have to be guiding crowds of 18-30’s around Faliraki either. From guiding summer ‘Sound of Music Tours’ in Salzburg to Winter Ski-hosting in Schladming – the choice of where to go and what to do is as broad as the range of holidays on offer at any travel agent’s.

The best way to approach it is to decide where you’d like to go, see which tour operators go there – and then contact their recruitment departments.

If you are heading of on travels for an extended period of time, you’ll need to sort some things back home. One of them is sure to be storage. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to leave all your worldly goods in the care of Mum & Dad. If that’s not an option – and you need somewhere safe and secure for it all – then a unit in one of our stores is the perfect solution.


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