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Plan My Gap Year

About

Plan My Gap Year is an award-winning volunteer travel organisation, offering life-changing experiences across 15 countries in Africa, Asia & South America. PMGY provide a safe, structured and social platform with volunteer, travel and immersion 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?

Founded
2011

Reviews

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Elma
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

PMGY INDIA 🇮🇳

I decided to join medical volunteer programme in India for almost 3 weeks.
It was my first time in Asia and I had so many worries before leaving.
My experience was beautiful, much more than I would have imagined. Vishy and Simar welcomed us like family, accompanied us to every destination, and always made sure everything was ok. They took care of each of us and even made special requests.
During the day there are many activities where you can decide where to go and if you need something they are always available to accompany you everywhere. We visited a lot over the weekend and also had the opportunity to go to an Indian wedding. It was magical.
I felt at home despite the different culture.
Nilesh cooked for us together with others and always made sure we had eaten by always offering us snacks.
It was a fantastic experience that taught me a lot. The children, the medical work, and the whole team from India were fantastic. Thank you all for making me feel at home, safe and giving me the best experience of my life.
I hope to go back there and meet them again.
I would recommend India 100000% to anyone that is thinking to do this magic experience.

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Spyros
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome experience

The volunteer trip to South Africa was a unique experience that you live once in lifetime. First the country of South Africa has the most beautiful and majestic landscapes I have ever seen. The nature and the wild animals combined just astonish you! The program was perfect when it comes to the transportation, quality of accommodation and food in the reserve and staffs communication and friendliness. Especially the staff were so kind and caring that are one of the main reasons that I would return to the program just to see them again and see how they doing. The program has the full Africa safari and animal close encounter experience that it promises.

Pros
  • Friendly staff
  • Nice food
  • Close animal encounter
Cons
  • The work was too easy and basic at least for me
  • I wanted to contribute a bit more
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Elina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best two months in Sri Lanka

I spent 8 weeks in Sri Lanka and it was an incredible experience!
It’s hard to say anything negative about the pre-departure support. Whatever I had in mind I got an answer, sometimes even in few minutes! In country Ash and the rest of the local team were always happy to help when needed and with their help we got to experience so much more than what a ”normal” tourist would experience! I did the childcare project at girls home and everyday I left the project with a smile on my face. When we taught them English, they taught us to dance in return!

I highly recommend PMGY Sri Lanka, my advice is to book flexible flights because you might want to extend your trip!

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Lluïsa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wildlife volunteer in Cusco, Peru

I went to Peru last autumn and volunteered in the Wildlife Sanctuary. It was an amazing experience and I met loads of lovely people there. The actual sanctuary was so welcoming and the included us in their work, we could interact with the animals and show the visiting groups of tourists around. It was also so nice to have a volunteer meeting place to hang out at with everyone and the host family was lovely too. I wish I had stayed for longer! Cusco is such a nice city, safe, lots of fun and good night life. I loved it!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I originally planned to stay there for 4 weeks, but once I got there I realised there was no way I was going to have enough time to have the whole experience in such a short time. Time flies by when you're there so make sure you book your trip for as long as you can because you will for sure love it once you are there!
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Tarique
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best time ever!

I went to Ghana on the PMGY programme and I can honestly say it's the best decision I've taken in years! Before I had finished planning my trip, I got a lot of support by Philip, who is always available for a quick reply to any question you may have and even for Zoom calls to discuss your plans, and the volunteer handbook which had all the important information in there as well and also provided a detailed description of what to expect when there. At the airport, Kelvin was already waiting for me with a PMGY sign and when I didn't see him at first, the local people were very helpful as well. After a day we travelled to our accommodation which is a lovely house shared with all the volunteers who were there. Being around each other so much really made us bond with each other and you'll make a lot of close friends there. Also the local staff are wonderful and always there to help out, you'll get very close to them as well. If we ever had any questions we could always reach out to one of them and it'd be answered. Personally I did the medical project for three weeks and teaching for one week. The medical project was mostly observatory, though, there are some actions that you can undertake if you ask for it, especially if the healthcare workers get to know you. Going to the hospital will definitely be an enriching experience for your life. The school as well was VIBES. The kids got endless amounts of love in them and they transfer that energy to all of the teachers! In our free time there was always something to do and in the weekends you can go on trips (the PMGY trips are great!). All in all, had an AMAZING time. If you've got any doubts, I'd just say go for it and ask any questions you have to Philip.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 12

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!
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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.