It’s normally the last thing students think about when preparing for a gap year, but organising what you will take is one of the most important things to consider for your trip. Remember, space is at a premium when you’re travelling, so if you don’t need it, don’t take it.
The best way to decide whether you’ll need something or not is to ask yourself whether the item is a ‘need’ or a ‘want’ and if it’s only a ‘want’ then you should leave it behind. We’ve put this post together to help you decide what to pack for your student gap year.
What Type of Bag do I need for my Gap Year?
Although a suitcase may hold more of your belongings, it will be a real pain to travel with, especially if you need to run to catch a bus, flight or camel. Most gap year students take large backpacks because they’re easy to transport, they don’t take up too much room and you can still walk about freely with one on your back.
Ideally, you should take a toploader backpack that opens at both ends, so you don’t need to take everything out if you need to get something at the bottom of your bag.
What Documents do I need for my Gap Year?
Wherever you are spending your gap year, you will need to take all the documents relevant to your placement, travel and finances. Some essential documents that you’ll need to take are:
- Your passport
- Driving license
- Travel tickets
- Travel insurance documents
- Work placement details
- Proof of residence
- Proof of income
- Bank details
It’s important that you bring both the original documents and at least two photocopies of each. This is particularly important in the event that you lose an original document as photocopies may still be accepted as alternatives and it will certainly make it easier for you to arrange a replacement of the original if you have a photocopy.
What Clothing Should I Bring?
When it comes to packing for your gap year, substance beats style every time, so you might want to think twice about packing that ballgown or bow tie. During your gap year, there’s a good chance that you’ll be doing a fair amount of walking, so packing comfortable walking boots is a must.
If you’re travelling to a warm country, you should bring light, breathable clothes and consider leaving your winter jacket behind as it’ll only take up unnecessary room.
What Should I Have in my First Aid Kit?
What do you mean you weren’t planning to bring a first aid kit? You may think you won’t need it but when you get bitten by your first insect, you’ll be glad you packed one. Some of the things you should have in your first aid kit are:
- Small scissors
- Insect repellent
- Antiseptic healing cream
- Antiseptic wipes
Most chemists and pharmacies sell travel first aid kits, which are ideal for student gap years. Although it may not be something that you’ll need straight away, there are more than enough good reasons to pack one.
What are the ‘Must Have’ Essentials for a Gap Year?
There are a few items that will definitely make your life easier when on your gap year. The following items don’t take up much room and should be at the top of your packing list:
- A travel pillow
- A money belt
- Ear plugs
- A mobile phone
- An iPad
- A padlock
‘Wait a minute…what was that you said at the start about needs vs wants? What is an iPad doing on the list!’
Okay, we slipped that one in there but hear us out. The chances are, you’ll be spending a lot of time travelling and let’s face it, after a while, travelling can become a bit boring, especially if you don’t have anyone to chat with. Having an iPad can help keep you entertained during less exciting moments and if you have access to Wi-Fi, it’s also a great tool for researching destinations and booking accommodation and travel.
We’re all allowed one small luxury right?
Are there are any gap year essentials that we’ve missed? Do you have any advice on packing for a gap year that you’d like to share?
For more gap year advice for students, check out the Gap Year section of Success at School.
Image credit - https://www.flickr.com/photos/oter/4459834166