How Do You Plan An Independent Gap Year?

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1. Do a deep dive into your interests and passions.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but the first step to planning your independent gap year is to narrow down what you might be interested in doing with your time.

Do you like to travel? It may come as no surprise that there are numerous travel companies that cater specifically to gap year students.

Do you want to explore different career paths? You can.

That experience was the first of many.  For the next five years – before entering grad school for Experiential Education – I embarked on a period of my life that I like to refer to as “conscious wandering.”  I would come back to the U.S., work in seasonal jobs – primarily in the youth camping industry – then use the money I saved to fund more adventures to Europe, South America, and Central America.

There’s a lot to say there, but it boils down to one thing for me.  I like to think about our journeys through life as periods of “being” vs. “becoming.”  Those years were undoubtedly focused on me “becoming” the person I am today.  It’s the reason I got into this line of work, as I want to provide life-changing experiences for young adults – much like I had in my younger years.

As a case in point, I remember spending some time reflecting on my flight home from Paris during that first trip abroad.  I asked myself what I learned or didn’t know or feel before.  I distinctly recall thinking, “there’s more than one way to live your life.”

It may sound small, but this takeaway was life-changing for me.  I grew up in a small town in Texas where the dominant view was that there was no need to travel as Texas was the best place to be. 🙂  Now, having seen many places in the world – more importantly, having had so many profound experiences overseas – has opened my eyes and changed me for the better.

We live in a beautiful world full of natural and cultural wonders.  Experiencing the diversity that exists all around us is a truly humbling experience.  In my opinion, it’s something every young adult should do – and something that we in the industry need to increase access to.  And it’s not just for young adults!  Even later in life, it’s important to re-enter those times of our “becoming.”  It’s a cycle that doesn’t really end, in my opinion.