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7 Tips for Convincing Your Parents that Gap Years are Great

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My Gap Year was the best thing I have ever done.

It might not have been the most epic adventure anyone has ever had, but those 15 months in between me finishing college and starting university prepared me for the last three years more than anything else could have.

Girls jumping at Maya Beach, Thailand

Now, I was pretty lucky in that I never had to do any persuading in order to get my parents on side. If they ever had any qualms about me deferring my UCAS entry, they kept schtum. Mainly because I think they knew they didn’t have a hope in hell’s chance of convincing me that it wouldn’t be anything less than awesome.

So, even though I didn’t have to try any of these myself, I do consider my gap year to have been a pretty successful one. I’d like to think I can offer a few tips to try to convince your parents that yours will be just as fantastic.

Machu Picchu covered in cloud

1. Show how serious you are.

One of your parents’ main concerns might be that you’ll spend the next year dossing and not doing anything. Whether you want to take a gap year to work or travel, start planning. Involve them in your planning. Start applying for full time jobs as early as possible and if you already have a part time job, ask about the possibility of getting extra hours. I was so lucky that my Saturday job turned into a full time job for me over my gap year. Show them all the articles (including this one) you’ve been reading about why gap years are amazing!

2. All that seriousness leads to life skills.

Planning and researching is a great skill to have. Working towards a goal and saving – tick off another skill box. Going to countless interviews – you’re getting better every time. I’ve lost count of the amount of people who have said to me whilst I’ve been at uni, “Just you wait until you’re working full time”. I smile to myself because I’ve already spent 11 months working full time, I know how that feels.

3. You become a lot more independent.

However you travel, whether it’s on your own, with your mates or on a guided tour, you’ll be out there in the big wide world, without mummy and daddy. For some, it might be like jumping in the deep end, but you know what, you’ll swim. Fending for yourself isn’t that hard when you’re made to do it. You will be capable of finding a roof to go over your head for the night, you will be capable of feeding yourself.Beary good hostel sign, Singapore

4. You learn about money management.

This is great if you’re heading off to university, where you definitely need to budget. You need to work out how much of your monthly pay you need to save and how much you can spend. You have to be restrained and make sacrifices to make sure you can save that much. Once you are travelling, you need to use that same money brain to make sure you don’t go broke 5 minutes into your trip. Working really hard to save for your travels sucks when all your friends are posting photos of their fresher’s week on Facebook, you need some grit and determination. Think how proud your parents will be!

5. Gaining confidence.

Looking back now, I can’t imagine how 18 year old me would have coped at university. I could be painfully shy and generally had no confidence in myself. When I started the next year, I was much happier, much more assured and so much more confident. Of course I was still worried about making friends (isn’t everyone?!) but from throwing myself out of my comfort zone during my gap year, I knew I could do it. I never, ever, spoke out in class when I was at school or college, now you can’t hold me back from a debate in a seminar.

6. Employability.

Most (if not all!) parents send you off to uni expecting that you’ll get a job when you’re finished. Everything I’ve already mentioned adds up to make a nice rounded person with lots of transferable skills that employers are looking for. Sometimes I think without my gap year, I would struggle with what to talk about during interviews. Generally I’ll use lots of examples from when I was working full time to answer the interviewers questions. They’ve also been open in the past to hearing about situations on my travels where I faced a challenge. When I interviewed to volunteer at the London Olympics, they wanted me to tell them about a time when I had gone out of my way to help someone and I had plenty of examples to pick from (travellers watch out for other traveller’s backs, yo!).

7. If your parents are worried about your safety…

Think about joining a group tour, even if it’s just for the first few days of your travels. You could meet some great people to continue travelling with. The guide could be awesome and give you loads of insider information, you never know. I’ve already written a post on the pros and cons of joining a group tour, check it out and see what you think!

Scuba Diving, Indonesia

Good luck to everyone getting their results tomorrow and especially good luck to those who are still convincing their parents about gap years! Just do it!

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Author: Kirstie

A 23 year old day dreamer. I don't think the travel bug ever bit me, I think it was passed down in my genes.

6 thoughts on “7 Tips for Convincing Your Parents that Gap Years are Great

  1. Nice post! I’m really trying to convince my youngest sister, she’s only a sophmore in high school to consider a gap year. She has no clue what she wants to do and need sto grow up a bit. I wish that I had studied abroad longer than I did ( I went to NZ for 2-weeks but compared to a YEAR! Wow.) Good luck in uni.

    • Good luck – I’m sure she’d love it! I only actually travelled for 4 months out of the year, I’d have loved to have travelled for a year if I had the money.

  2. I’ve always felt that a Gap year is important. As my daughter approaches her senior year, being that we don’t have a lot of money, I’m just not sure how I would feel about her taking off a year. But it might help her to be more successful in college if she has a year to see what happens to people who don’t get a college degree. Thanks for sharing. Love the insight.

    • I’d never thought about how having a year off might have encouraged me to do better at uni but I think you’re right! I worked in a shop during my gap year and saw some fellow colleagues who were fed up with still working there even though they had graduated.

  3. I never had a gap year though I did travel to France for 3 weeks by myself before starting university and I didn’t want it to end. After finishing university, the next thing I did was get a job overseas and I have been in Canada for almost a year. It has taught me so much about myself already that 3 weeks wasn’t sufficient for when I was 18, and I know if I had taken a gap year before university then I probably would’ve strayed down a completely different path. I don’t regret going straight to university because ultimately that led me to where I am now and I wouldn’t have gotten this job without my degree. Problem is I have a huge student loan and I’m looking at going back to studying for something else… if I had taken a gap year first I may have done that other degree first and saved myself some years and money. Sure it’s not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life, but I’m enjoying it and it has definitely helped me travel and get to where I am today. I don’t regret the path I have taken at all, but learning from my own experience if I ever end up having children I will definitely ENCOURAGE THEM to take a gap year before going straight to post secondary studies.

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