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10 Things Stopping You From Taking a Gap Year Abroad That Shouldn't

Common excuses for not taking a gap year

So you've heard about how awesome taking a gap year overseas is, but you're convinced it's not for you. After all, travel isn't for everyone -- right? You might be wrong on this one. Here are 10 things holding you back from taking a gap year that totally shouldn't.

1. There's A Language Barrier

Some people have a fear of being unable to verbally communicate when they travel, and understandably so. After a lifetime of speaking to people who share the same language, the prospect of spending a gap year in countries that don’t share your native tongue is a little scary. But did you know there are over 50 English-speaking countries in the world? Yes, that means these countries have English as their official or primary language, and you wouldn’t even need to learn a new one!

While digital solutions won't replace a hug, you’ll find it can really bridge the distance and help everyone feel in the loop with your adventures.

If you’re one of those people who feel like it’ll be almost blasphemous to travel the world and only visit English-speaking countries though, try spending part of your gap year volunteering in exchange for language lessons or download an app like Duolingo to help you decipher a new language for free.

2. You’ll Be Away From Family And Friends

Choosing to take a gap year overseas is a difficult choice, mainly because you’ll miss your friends and family.

Thankfully, technology is advanced enough that you can travel the world and practically take your loved ones with you in your pocket! Use your smartphone (and other handy tips) to keep in touch, no matter the distance, by connecting via Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, Google Hangouts, What’s App, and more.

While digital solutions won't replace a hug, you’ll find it can really bridge the distance and help everyone feel in the loop with your adventures.

3. You’re Worried About Healthcare

gap year in Europe

Healthcare is a reasonable concern, but it shouldn’t keep you from traveling. Some countries offer even better healthcare than the United States, and at much cheaper rates. Medical tourism is totally a thing.

Before you leave, check with your primary and travel doctors and let them know about your plans. They can make sure you get the right vaccines, are in top shape to travel, and even offer insight and medical recommendations depending on what countries you are visiting. Be sure to also bring all of your medications and sign up for travel insurance if your regular insurance doesn’t provide international coverage.

While you’re away, remember to eat fresh foods, small portions, walk a lot, and stay active. Participating in something as simple as learning the local dance of each destination can keep your heart rate up and body active.

4. Your Loved Ones Don’t Want You To Go

We all have that family member, friend, or significant other who doesn't want us to leave. Whether it be due to fear, ignorance, or even jealousy, having someone you love fill your head with anxiety and apprehension is one of the hardest dilemmas to deal with.

Here’s why it shouldn’t influence your decision: coming out from under their wing is the only way you can fly. They love you and want you to stay safe, but ultimately, it is your opportunity to grow and become your own person. They have to understand that. Plus, it's totally doable to keep a long-distance relationship while you travel.

5. You Haven’t Saved Any Money

Admit it: that last holiday sale got you, and you realize you haven’t saved a dime for travel expenses. So what do you do? Figure out how much money you’ll need for your gap year (start at about $20,000) and the amount of money you can save per day to calculate your savings deadline. To put it in perspective, you'd have to put away $54 per day for a full year to save $20,000.

Think you can’t save any money? Try these eight tips for starters:
  • Sign up for overtime hours at work
  • Take on a side gig like Task Rabbit where you can run errands for people at an hourly rate
  • Open a savings account where you can earn interest on the money you deposit
  • Create a strict weekly budget
  • Cook your meals instead of eating out
  • Politely decline invites to pricey concerts, happy hour meet ups, and shopping sprees
  • Quit smoking (or other vices) that add up fast
  • Get a roommate or return home to decrease rent costs

Still strapped? Consider taking a shorter gap year -- it doesn't have to be a full year, after all.

6. You’re Overwhelmed With Planning

Planning for a gap year is a lot less sexy than daydreaming about taking a year overseas, meeting the most amazing people, and visiting the most breathtaking destinations. Here’s the thing: you don’t have to plan as much as you think you do. Yes, you should figure out visa requirements, have money saved up, and have a general idea of what continent you’ll be on, but you can stay realistic and travel slowly.

By choosing to travel slowly, you can take planning down a notch and focus on bucket list items for your trip. Grab a journal and begin to note down the people you might want to visit, events and festivals that you’ve always wanted to see, activities you’ve always wanted to try, and landmarks you’re dying to get a photo of.

Grab a world map and pin those special locations to have a better idea of what is realistic. Keeping in mind seasonality and flight costs, this easy way of planning a gap year can be a crucial, yet stress-free approach, instead of a hindrance.

7. You Don’t Want a Resume Gap

Reasons to take a gap year

You’re not alone. Lots of gap year newbies are afraid of the looming resume gap after returning from a year overseas. My take? I think it's the corporate world using fear as a method of employee retention.

Yes, once upon a time showing a gap in your resume could be seen as detrimental (depending on the reason), but who says a gap year equates to a gap in work experience? Gap years can involve teaching, study abroad, and volunteer work, and are more likely to help you in the profession you are most passionate about than not.

Think about it: if you are working in a finance job that you hate (if you love it, that’s totally cool too) but have a passion for food, spending a gap year volunteering around the world as a foodie could actually boost your career back at home.

Still with me? Food volunteering isn’t just about eating delicious local cuisines (wait -- it isn't?), it's about helping with landscape maintenance, training communities on how to sustain income from farming, and more. Can we say leadership and managerial qualities?

8. You’ve Heard About The Dangers of Terrorism

It's natural to be afraid of terrorism. But don’t let the media trick you into being afraid of leaving your doorstep.

While you should certainly be aware of everything that’s happening in the world, it is very likely that the places you are interested in visiting aren’t any more violent than your own country.

Yes, there are some countries in the midst of war or with high crime and political strife, and you should be prepared to respect the cultures, laws, and warnings just as you would at home. However, it is true when they say, "It could happen anywhere."

For peace of mind, be sure to always register with the embassy, keep a copy of your passport, and stay updated with current events.

9. You’re Afraid To Travel Alone

For many people, the idea of traveling solo can feel like the bravest yet scariest thing ever. From wondering whether you’ll be safe to feeling unsure of your ability to make new friends on your own, the prospect of facing your biggest critic (you) is terrifying.

There are ways to beat that fear. From embracing spontaneity, being less hard on yourself, and trying new things, you’ll find that traveling alone will open doors to newfound confidence, friendships, and experiences.

Besides, the best part about traveling alone is not having anyone to (reluctantly) compromise with when you decide to create your own quirky itinerary for the day.

10. Long Term Travel Isn’t For You

You might think travel is awesome and solo travel, even cooler, but long-term travel? Nope. Not for you.

If you're avoiding a gap year overseas because you can’t fathom being away for so long, here's another way to think about it: you don’t have to choose to stay in one place for a whole year. In fact, you can feed the ants in your traveling pants by visiting a new destination every three weeks.

Forget about where you’ll be in six months or a year. Sign up for shorter programs, or go wander for a few weeks. Don’t let the anxiety of being away “for so long” overshadow the adventures you’ll enjoy around the world.

And remember, once you start making friends, you’ll find it quite difficult to leave them (cue your ugly-face cry).

Ready? Browse gap year programs abroad.

Olivia Christine Perez

Olivia is a travel writer and wellness advocate from NYC. With over 30 countries under her belt, you can find her featured on CNBC, Bustle, Huff Post, NYLON Magazine, and more. Traversing the globe as a writer and marketing consultant, Olivia spends her free time seeking outdoor adventure, pursuing personal wellness, and sharing the joy of travel with others. Follow her journey on Instagram, @ochristine.