find your perfect postgrad program
Search our Database of 30,000 Courses

Gap Year Checklist

Once you have made the exciting decision to spend either part or all of your gap year travelling or working abroad you’ll find yourself wading through a swamp of preliminary paperwork and running around town making sure you have all the necessary kit for your travels. Chances are the more exotic the location the more bureaucratic hurdles you’ll be required to jump and the more paraphernalia you’ll need to lug with you in your rucksack. Gap year travel should be an experience to remember, and with our gap year checklist at your disposal you can make sure it’s for all the right reasons!


Pre-gap year travel preparations

In order to be deemed fit to enter a foreign country you need a combinations of various forms of documentation beyond the mainstay that is the passport. This stage of your gap year travel preparations can either be no sweat or a bit of a mission depending on your destination; if you’re from the UK the stack of paperwork needed for travelling to Europe is notably smaller than if you were to go to Southeast Asia for example.

Travel visas

A lot of far-flung countries require some form of travel visa, which can be obtained through the country’s embassy. Such visas can take up to a couple of months to be approved – often not as long – but it’s worth checking in good time just to be on the safe side. An additional piece of documentation for those flying through the US on their gap year travels is the Visa Waiver form, which can be filled in online, and is essential for anyone who will pass through the US even in transit. 

Inoculations and vaccinations

The other thing you need to think about well in advance of gap year travel is your programme of inoculations. As with your documentation, the more remote the country the more hassle this may prove to be, as the more weird and wonderful diseases you will need protect yourself against. The vaccinations you had as a kid will cover you for a lot of maladies, but if you are going to areas exposed to Hepatitis A and B, Yellow fever, Typhoid, Encephalitis and Rabies among others you will need more.

Normally you need to be vaccinated several months in advance in order for the inoculations to be effective during your travels. Moreover certain diseases, Rabies for example, require a course of three injections over a period of a few weeks so don’t leave it until the last minute! Gap Year Checklist

Some jabs are free on the NHS but for most of them you will need to go to your GP or a private travel clinic. This can be fairly costly, most vaccines cost about £50, so will need to be included in your travel budget. Also if you are going to a malaria-ridden zone you may want to invest in anti-malarial tablets to safeguard yourself in lieu of the vaccination.

Gap year travel plans

Although this section of your preparations technically takes places before you go, it is during your gap year travels that you will reap the rewards of your foresight! The first thing to get sorted is your travel insurance; if you’re lucky you won’t need to use it but if vital possessions get stolen or you become ill out in the wilds of India it will quickly come into its own! To speed the process up even further register with LOCATE, which is a service run by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Enter the details of your trip on the website and the British Embassy in whichever country will have a record of your presence on file, making it much easier to track you down and help you out in case of emergency.

Gap year travelling essentials

Once the general tasks are done you can focus your gap year checklist onto your day-to-day existence. We’re talking mosquito repellent, to be slathered on in copious amounts every day, lots and lots of sun cream, a good bottle of hand sanitizer, all your favourite toiletries in travel size form... You’d be amazed with what things you need to take – in fact you can actually find something called ‘compressed loo roll’ which will be your saviour in a crisis!

As well as all these things, wet wipes are great, a stash of Dairy Milk is non-essential but magical to have in the foothills of the Andes, Imodium does what is says on the tin..., altitude sickness pills do their job to perfection if you’re up in the mountains at any point during your gap year travels, plasters if you’re doing a lot of walking/wearing sturdy boots, zinc tape to prevent blisters on your hands/feet and damage to soft tissue if you’re doing hard graft and, last but not least, Dioralyte is your best friend if you become dehydrated.

You’ll probably think of other necessities to augment our gap year checklist (let us know if you think we’ve missed anything big!) but these are the basics that will render you prepared for most eventualities at least. Your exhaustive preparations will stand you in good stead throughout your gap year travels and we await your postcard!

Read our other articles on Taking a Gap Year .