Plan My Gap Year

Why choose Plan My Gap Year?

Plan My Gap Year is an award-winning volunteer abroad organisation, offering volunteer projects in Africa, Asia, Europe & South America primarily for 17-22 year olds. PMGY provide a safe, structured and social platform with volunteer travel opportunities available from 1-40 weeks. With over 10 years of experience and expertise, PMGY is widely regarded as the global leader in affordable and trustworthy international volunteering experiences.

Our international headquarters are based in the UK & USA and we have local teams based in every host destination to ensure you have a positive impact whilst overseas. Whether you’re looking to take a gap year, give back to a local community or simply travelling overseas we are here to help organise every aspect of your trip. Are you ready for it?


Ethical Impact

Plan My Gap Year is committed to providing ethical volunteer opportunities that truly benefit the local communities. We have personally vetted all of our Volunteer Programs in every destination. We support a small network of Volunteer Programs abroad that we have specifically chosen due to their efforts being sustainable for our volunteers and the local communities alike. We work closely with each of our local teams to ensure we are assessing and adapting to ensure quality experiences for all involved.

For this reason, PMGY does not provide volunteer opportunities in orphanages in any of our locations. Research and studies have shown that visiting and volunteering in orphanages has the potential to generate an industry that separates children from their families. In turn, putting children at increased risk of neglect and abuse. Therefore, we do not support these institutions with our volunteer network.

Instead, we focus on offering alternative childcare volunteer opportunities whereby children come to and from the placement setting each day. In other words, our local teams collaborate with childcare projects which do not offer any form of residential care. These are safe, responsible, and vetted projects, where participants continue to provide valued assistance supporting local staff.


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Yes, I recommend this program

memories to last a lifetime!!

I absolutely loved everything about volunteering with pmgy!! I did childcare volunteering for 5 weeks! I extended my time as I was living it so much! It’s like a big family, they help you with everything and truly care! the rooms are comfortable and the food is really nice although a bit repetitive. We extended our visas and the process was easy with pmgy. The volunteering was so much fun and the kids are the best, so eager to learn making it feel so rewarding. Thank you for the best time plan my gap year Bali!!❤️

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Just enjoy every moment, it goes to quickly!
  • Safe
  • Social
  • Fun
  • Repetitive food
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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience!!

Amazing experience!
The staff at PMGY were so helpful and organised so much for us. Everyday there was something going on, whether that be a culture night with traditional dancing, henna and sari night or an opportunity to try Tuktuk driving lessons, there was something for everyone!
The volunteering was very well structured, a great opportunity to help the local community and make an impact. I spent the first two weeks of my trip taking part in the childcare project, where I played with the children as well as taught them some basic English, such as colours and the alphabet. The final two weeks I spent on the dog project – I really enjoyed looking after the puppies, daily tasks included walking and bathing the dogs as well as giving them medicine. One day we even had the chance to take the dogs to the beach and help them swim, this was so much fun! Overall, I really enjoyed the mornings volunteering and found the experience very rewarding!
As well as the volunteering during the week, the weekends were also very enjoyable. I took part in two of the PMGY weekend trips – the Maldives chill out weekend and the Cultural Triangle Trip. Maldives was so beautiful and a great chance to take part in activities such as paddle boarding and snorkelling as well as relax in between the busy weekdays. The Cultural Triangle Trip was also amazing, and I think the day where we went on the elephant safari was my favourite day of the 4 weeks!
Overall, I had the best month volunteering with Plan My Gap Year and highly recommend visiting Sri Lanka!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve-racking moment was probably landing in Sri Lanka! I travelled solo and was so nervous before going but I really had nothing to worry about. Everyone was so friendly and I had the chance to meet so many amazing people.
  • Safe environment
  • Amazing weekend trips
  • Enjoyable dog project
  • A month wasn't long enough!
  • Food became slightly repetitive
  • I felt that the childcare project had a few too many volunteers but I realise that January was a popular month
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Yes, I recommend this program

My Plan My Gap Year Experience.

I Volunteered with PMGY Sri Lanka for a month. I chose to do the English teaching project. It was probably one of the craziest 4 weeks of my life, but I loved every single moment of it.

I taught on an afternoon at a temple. There were about 10 children, ranging from the ages of 4-17. (though the attendance did range depending on the weather)
The lessons were a combination of both teaching and many many games. Break time was one of my favourite times, the utter joy a simple game a duck duck goose brought the children was infectious.
I also chose to teach English to monks one of my weeks in the morning. Which was an unforgettable experience in itself. One of my favourite parts of teaching was the things the children taught me.
If you are even considering volunteering at all with Plan My Gap Year, DO IT. You will not regret it. This experience was one of my first times travelling and I was a little nervous but it's a lovely environment, you settle in very quickly and all the coordinators are so supportive, kind and funny.
It was probably one of the craziest 4 weeks of my life, but I loved every single moment of it.
If you are thinking about doing English teaching do not worry about experience and do not worry if English is not your first language. As long as you can speak it confidently enough to teach others. There is also masses of support available both from Plan My Gap Year coordinators and a Sri Lankan teacher (who teaches English) if you require it.
When I started teaching I was given a curriculum to follow, then I pretty much designed the lessons myself. Choosing how to teach each topic.
Everyday it was a joy to teach. All the games brought the children so much joy and their laughter and cheekiness was infectious.
On weekends you could go on organised trips, which were incredibly fun and a brilliant time to explore more of the beautiful country. The weekend trips were some of my favourite memories. There was also organised evening activities, games, henna, performances and more.
There was not a moment when something interesting and fun was not happening.

What was your funniest moment?
One of the funniest moments was definitely when our tuk-tuk got a flat tire and our hilarious driver just hoisted the tuk-tuk up on his shoulder and changed the tire.
  • amazing support
  • lovely food
  • good accommodation
  • Some of the food didn't agree with my stomach
  • leeches (wear long socks and you will be fine)
  • losing personal items
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Yes, I recommend this program

The real sri lankan experience

I went to Sri Lanka on the real experience, it was amazing! Recommend for anyone thinking about it. The staff were all really nice and made the experience, shout out to Ishan!!! Everyday was something new, I got to travel around Sri Lanka and meet great people. The real experience was great we were so busy for the first two weeks visiting temples, going on safaris, boat trips and seeing Sri Lankas incredible landmarks. My favourite day was climbing up Sigiriya Rock, the views were incredible, and the tour was really interesting. The real experience was well organised, and I felt safe the entire time. The food we ate on the first two weeks of travelling was mostly a buffet. There were loads of options and Sri Lankan food is very tasty.

Then I volunteered on the turtle sanctuary for my final two weeks which was so much fun. We got to feed, release the turtles to the sea, clean their tanks and give them medicine. The volunteer house was fun to be at with plenty of activities each evening and also the option to travel to Hikkaduwa where there were lots of things to do and places to go. I recommend going to citrus for karoke!!! They also had options to do canoeing, boat trips and a waterfall day trip. The staff were also great with helping us plan weekend trips. PMGY was such a great experience, and I can’t wait to sign up for my next trip! Thanks for all the hard work the staff put in to make my experience so amazing!!!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Bring bug spray and medication!! A few people had food poisoning so it’s best to have some things just in case. The first two weeks on the real experience I barely spent any money but when you get to London house expect to be spending a lot more. This is just because there’s you end up going to the nearby town. Also bring a neck pillow, this was my best thing I brought with me. For the first 2 weeks you will be travelling loads and a lot of the locations are around 2 hour distance away from each other. Everyone was sleeping on the coach and having a neck pillow just helped a lot for a good nap.
  • Travelling Sri Lanka
  • Friendships you make
  • The staff
  • Busy days, make sure to get your naps in as it can be very tiring!
  • Mosquito bites, bring insect replent!
  • At the airport on the way back you can't use your Sri Lankan currency so either use it before or exchange it.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering in Childcare in Arusha, Tanzania

On September the 29th, my two closest friends and I made a trip of a lifetime.

We joined the childcare program, volunteering in preschools in Arusha, Tanzania for 4 weeks. We made connections with people we'll most likely never meet again, but their impact will be remembered.

We booked the trip with PMGY, with a strong will to help and experience as much as we could. We created a fundraiser months in advance so that we could donate to the schools - we ended up doing a lot more than we realised we could.

Booking with PMGY was very simple, and we were provided with a very large handbook with lots of useful information. The taxi from the airport to the house was arranged by PMGY - a 1.5 hour drive with a gorgeous view of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The PMGY house itself is quite big, with 3 stories, and multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. I realise now that we arrived in one of the busiest times, ending up with very limited space. We were cramped in the top floor - a joined bedroom, 18 people to 1 bathroom.
Getting breakfast and dinner seemed like a fight for survival; first come, first serve. Being late wasn't an option. There is a set menu, repeated each week, but you have the option of ordering delivery if you no longer want the provided options.

There are constant power outings in Tanzania, but fortunately the house has a generator. When the generator is on, it basically shakes the entire house from how loud it is, but it keeps the power on. A downside, when generator is on - there is no hot water.
So, timing your shower is crucial.
The pressure varies depending if anyone else is using the water, and it is either boiling hot or freezing cold, and don't take too long because several other people are waiting to shower.

When you arrive, you are added to the house group chat, where everyone in the house can communicate easily for various reasons, including the ordering of tuktuks from place to place.

Sim cards are organised by the coordinators. These were provided to us on the second day of arriving, as there were other volunteers arriving, so you should let your family know you might not be able to contact them immediately.
The sim card is a reasonable price, and can be topped easily. Please also keep in mind the free wifi advertised does not exist.

Before placement, you will be given an orientation with the rest of the new group. On orientation, you will be shown the most trustworthy ATM, where you can take out money - my regular debit card worked completely fine. You will be taken to the Maasai markets, where you will be taught to bargain, as you will 100% purchase something incredibly overpriced if you are not careful.

On the first day of placement, the PMGY coordinators organised the volunteers into separate groups to be sent to each school. We were allowed to change our schools with a good reason. We were also allowed to change to the medical program for a reasonable fee. We walked to our placements everyday, having breakfast at 8am, and setting off by 8:45am, finishing at around 12:30pm.

The 4 weeks of placement flew by, we were incredibly sad to go, every child and every teacher we met were so beautiful and welcoming of us - but 4 weeks was the perfect amount of time for me.

Weekends are free, so you have time to do lots of funs trips; eg. safari weekend, Maasai village, hot springs, waterfalls, Maasai markets etc.
It gets a little tricky to find things to do after placement, and may get a little repetitive. Spending money is necessary to get the full experience, but chilling at the house can also be fun.
It's very communal at the PMGY house, perfect for socialising, and getting to know people. Only breakfast and dinner are provided, so you need to eat out for lunch - a perfect time to explore with friends.

I spent on average 150,000 shillings ($90 AUD or $60 USD) a week, not including weekend trips or shopping for souvenirs.
We got around via tuktuks, small motor vehicles with 3 wheels (fit up to 4 people, 5 is pushing it), which are organised and ordered by the coordinators to ensure they are safe and best price.

We went to Zanzibar at the end of the trip, which is a 1 hour flight from the Arusha airport. If you are planning to go, I would 100% recommend staying in Nungwi (up north) so you are near all the activities. If you are going during your program time, you are only allowed to miss 3 days of placement, but 3-5 days is plenty of time for Zanzibar.
If you are asking my opinion, I wouldn't recommend Zanzibar. It was very overpriced, and I was very underwhelmed with my experience.

Overall, my experience with PMGY was incredible. It has changed my views of travelling immensely. Volunteering allows you to have a much bigger insight to the culture and country you travel to. I would love to travel with PMGY again, and 100% recommend to anyone who is planning on travelling for volunteering.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
The only thing I'd change about my trip, is the amount of luggage I brought. I'm an over-packer, and since I was staying for 4 weeks, I took a gigantic suitcase full of many clothes I didn't end up using. It was extremely inconvenient, from the point of view that I had limited space.
  • Changed my entire perspective on travelling
  • Met so many amazing people
  • I was able to experience so many incredible things
  • It was expensive, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

Plan My Gap Year just caught my eye from it's amazing reviews and it's response to all my questions (plenty of this there was). I was encouraged to join their Facebook Group for Sri Lanka where I got to talk to past, present and future volunteers about their experience - this really cemented my choice for me!

I wanted to do something where I could make an impact and I wanted to go some where both developing and needing of the help, and slightly more untouched than the other Asian countries - Sri Lanka was the perfect location!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

They assisted with everything!!

The Handbook was my holy grail. PMGY have created this handbook for your specific country which answered every question I had. We had to get Visa's and CRB checks ourselves, but they helped me and advised me with all this during the process. They even had their own insurance if you wanted it and they offered flight quotes. I took them up on this and they did everything - found a flight, booked it and sent me all the details, it was very hassle free!

Everything before I left was guided and the 'service' didn't really feel like a service at all - it felt very personal.

In Sri Lanka, the local team assisted with everything I asked for whether it was a weekend trip I wanted to take myself or transport back to the airport. Nothing was ever too much - I think thats what made the organization so special.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I would say to go with an open mind!! Especially as you are volunteering in a developing country; things may not be on time or may not be organized in the place you're volunteering like it is in your home country, but just be patient and understanding.

The worse volunteers were the ones who weren't understanding of the culture and the situation. PMGY did everything they could to provide us with a platform to volunteer and help the local communities, but every so often a tukuk would be late or there was a power cut so you couldn't charge your phone - but you're in a developing country... What do you expect?

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

As I did the renovation project - this was a morning project - , it would be around 3-4 hours every morning, depending on how much work you had to do.

An average day would be wake up and have breakfast at the house (pancakes on Thursday was my favourite!!) and then take a tuktuk to project at about 8:30-ish. After project, we would go back to the volunteer house for lunch which was at 12:30ish and then the afternoon's were free.

If you have your afternoons free, you are able to pick up teaching or the orphanage project as a free addition, as they are afternoon projects and the help is wanted and encouraged. This was a two week minimum commitment and I decided against doing it... However, after my first week, I instantly regretted this, as travelling and going to the beach in the afternoon was great, but I should have grabbed the opportunity to make the most of making an impact in my afternoons!!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was fearful about travelling alone. I have travelled before, but never alone, and I was wondering If I would make friends or if it would be dangerous to travel as a solo female to a developing country.

I think PMGY helped with all this a lot. Social wise, there were so many volunteers, all like minded and keen to help like me. I made so many friends and at the start PMGY made it so easy for us to do that. Even before I arrived, I used the Facebook group to meet other people who were arriving the same day as me. The local team in Sri Lanka put on lots of social evenings, like quiz nights and a Sari social, that just helped us all bond.

Not once was I ever really fearful for my safety. The local team were always so careful and aware and looked after us so well. Even before I left, I joined a 'safety webinar' that they do for there volunteers, which made me feel safe before I had even left.

Anything you would have done differently?

Like I mentioned earlier... GET INVOLVED. I had the opportunity to do the childcare program and I decided against it. They gave me the opportunity to make even more of an impact, and I didn't take it?? The childcare is a minimum two weeks commitment, so when it got to my final week, it was too late. I understand why it's a minimum two weeks: for the children, but next time I will take every opportunity they give me.

Also, PMGY always offered opportunities, such as language lessons and to ask Ash (the main coordinator/director in Sri Lanka) questions about the projects, but I really didn't get involved as much as I should have. Make sure you do... You'll only regret it if you don't.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Laine Hodges

Job Title
Volunteer Coordinator
Laine is a free-spirited American from Virginia with a love of curry & Vegetarian cuisine. She has a keen ear for Spanish, will always greet you with a smile and if you ask her about the best places to visit in Cusco, she will offer endless recommendations!

What is your favorite travel memory?

In Ecuador, I got to hang out in the Amazon Rainforest for a week, which was awesome. I learned all about the various fruits and plants there and how the community uses them for sustenance and nutrition, medicine and healing.

Probably one of my favorite parts of exploring the rainforest was hiking out to the thick of it and spending the night in a hammock. All of the sounds and sights and smells were just so captivating and beautiful.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have grown a lot in my field professionally, learning how to produce and edit videos and growing in graphic design. But I have also grown personally, just getting to meet and talk with our volunteers and learn their stories, and learning about Peru.

I think anytime you have the chance to learn about another part of the world and gain a new perspective you also have a chance to broaden your horizons and grow as a person.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I feel that we offer a very personal experience from start to finish. The moment you read about the programs on the webpage you are met with a friendly chat, from there after application there are loads of way to communicate and get questions answered.

Upon arrival there is a smiling face and a warm hug to greet you and each day following, it is no doubt an adventure.

We dedicate our time to offering a unique and secure experience to ensure that this trip across the world isn't your last! The world is beautiful and there is so much to explore.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

A good team is a team with trust in each other, and lots of communication. They know and understand each member’s strengths and weaknesses and use the power of the team to balance things out accordingly, lifting and supporting each other.